To bee or not to bee, and from lockdown to breakdown: A Senior Independence Day

Published June 13, 2021, 12:06 AM

by Philip Cu Unjieng



Philip Cu Unjieng

1) Chickenjoy! To be honest, I’ve had Jollibee’s Chickenjoy two or three times in my lifetime. I’m more of a burger guy, and that holds true whether it’s Jollibee, McDo, Shake Shack, or other fast food brands. So this isn’t some die-hard ringing endorsement of the brand, or the product itself. What this is, is more an indictment of our crab mentality and our undisguised glee when the ‘mighty have stumbled’. Pinoy humor is often at its best when these things occur; but I can’t help but feel this is also indicative of what our problem is as a people – how we’re so ready to get on the belittling bandwagon, and enjoy perverse pleasure in the travails of others.

The perennial Filipino favorite that’s under attack, Jollibee’s Chickenjoy.

Jollibee is a company that has produced much Pinoy pride all around the globe. Two years ago, I was in Milan and we dropped by the then newly-opened Jollibee near the Duomo, and I’d overhear the Filipinos there who drove from nearby towns just to get their bite of hometown nostalgia, and be with Kababayans – indulging in Chickenjoy’s, Champ and Yumburgers. And you couldn’t replicate the genuine smiles on their faces to see the familiar signage. 

Jollibee has also meant employment for so many, and has literally brought ‘Joy’ to countless dining patrons over the decades. And don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing a ‘throw in the towel’ piece of fried chicken. But I think we should allow them to get to the bottom of this, and if it happened as a breakdown in their commissary or franchising system, establish the safeguards to ensure it doesn’t happen again. Things do happen, isolated incidents occur in every industry, and the food industry is one very sensitive and tricky arena when it comes to quality control and standards.

I look around today, and whether you’re talking restaurants or fast food franchises, it is a beleaguered industry because of the pandemic, and most are just trying to keep their head above water, and still be of service to the public. And while you can say that’s only a given as it’s their survival on the line, I can point out the many others who’ve decided to close shop, and laid off people. So whoever is surviving or hanging on, deserve better than ridicule and presumptuous condemnation. Just saying…

2) For a good number of us over-60’s, this shift from ECQ to GCQ still feels like a condemnation, a cruel and unusual punishment. While I fully understand our high-risk status and the prevalence of co-morbidities within our geriatric demographic, the insistence of the government that we stay put and remain in our homes has taken on the semblance of a prison sentence, an incarceration that fails to take into account other aspects of general health, such as mental well-being.

I still remember all too well how, in the 3rd quarter of 2020, I was refused entry to a mall that’s a stone’s throw away from the Makati condo I reside in. The security guard manning the door pointed to a sign, and it referred to senior citizens and young children being barred entry to the mall, but it listed the exceptions. Silently, I cursed my misfortune, as both my parents have passed away, and I couldn’t fall under the ‘unless accompanied by a parent’ exception. I know, I know, that really wouldn’t work either; but I was clutching at straws, as I had walked to the mall to do my regular drugstore/supermarket run.

Your columnist at his Makatizen SinoVac appointment. Ready & willing to be part of the solution.

And even back then, there seemed to be some conflicting pronouncements about what was or wasn’t allowable for us senior citizens. Friends working in companies who operate malls messaged me that as long as I had the quarantine pass (I did), and I was out to purchase essentials, I should have in fact, been allowed ingress. And yes, that’s precisely what I knew, but I wasn’t in the mood to argue with the security guard, and make it a ‘Give me Liberty or Give me Death‘ proposition. And yes, those who know me will be wondering what it was I ate that day to be such a docile creature.

Today, the situation has drastically altered; as A2’s, I can only presume that a good number of us seniors are fully vaccinated. And yes, again I’m aware that vaccinated doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed immune. From what I hear, there is hope that a special ‘fully vaccinated’ ID card will help integrate us back into social mobility. That would be great, a version of Independence Day for us seniors. I’ll still be cautious and wary, but happy to celebrate my official newfound freedom. So please tell me the news about the card is real.