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Home is where the world-famous Chickenjoy is


The lady taking my order knew instantly I'm Filipino. Maybe it's because of the way I pronounced "two-piece Chickenjoy with mushroom rice." Perhaps it's simply because on Sundays, people who come to this branch of Jollibee in Hong Kong are mostly Filipinos. Or maybe it's simply because of how I look. 

But whatever it was, she wasted no time speaking in English and asked me in Tagalog if "yun lang po?"

I carried my tray of my Php300 Chickenjoy meal which came with a paper cup of orange Fanta. The tables with Filipinas eating their chicken and spaghetti seemed like a maze. I really was in Hong Kong. In the Philippines, any Jollibee would be swarming with children on a Sunday morning. Save for me and one table with an elderly local grandpa, the restaurant was full of women speaking in Tagalog with hints of regional accents. 

To my right were two ladies who were comparing their kids. I haven't had enough context clues if they were actually talking about their own children. One of them expressed how pleased she was that the younger boy has acquired the habit of placing his used clothes in the hamper, while the eldest just throws them on the floor all over the house. 

In front of me was a lady, who was making a rather emotional conversation with a woman much older than her. Speaking in hushed tone, the younger lady was sharing things about her husband at home in the Philippines while the older woman gave advice. I stabbed my Chikenjoy with my utensils, careful not to break apart the crispy coating and spread crumbs on the floor. There was that satisfying crunch, drowning all the conversations around me. It's rude to eavesdrop on conversations this senstive and personal. 

Placing a piece of Chickenjoy near my mouth - there was that satisfying Chickenjoy warmth and aroma. It's weird how I needed to go to Hong Kong to catch this connection with a Chickenjoy leg and thigh again. I posted a story of my meal on Instagram. "No Chickenjoy shrinkage here," I captioned. I am one of the many people bothered by the continuous shrinking of Filipino Chickenjoy parts - so much that I reply to Jollibee's social posts asking them to please do something. 

The fried chicken was insanely delicious of course. Indeed crispylicious, juicylicious, as advertised and cleared by the ASC in the Philippines. I regretted not getting extra rice. I looked around again to see the current mood in the restaurant (or do they call it store?). I was happy to see Jollibee being a safe space for Filipinos living and working abroad, and of course, for those like me who drop in for a few days and look for a taste of familiarity and the comfort of being one's true self. The diners look happy to be among their own people. Jollibee is a piece of home in a foreign land.

It will be my flight back home in a few hours. So I quickly finished my Jollibee meal and observed if customers actually clean up after themselves after eating. I don't see a tray return area. One group stood up, leaving their trays on the table. With a slight guilt, I did the same. The slight guilt became full blown as I exited the store and saw the tray area was actually by the exit. To the staff of this branch, my sincere apologies. But I hope to see you again soon, because your Chickenjoy has become much better than what we have in its very birthplace.