My editor here at The Bureau Asia, Matt Cowan, doesn’t like Jollibee Chickenjoy. 

He also doesn’t like Jolly Spaghetti. 

He thinks they’re vile. Okay, maybe not vile, but he definitely doesn’t like them.

I’m fine with that.

After all, I don’t stand to gain anything from promoting Jollibee. Who am I anyway for Jollibee to get me as an endorser? I’m not an influencer by any means.

Going back to my point, I’ve never been butthurt that Matt doesn’t like Jollibee. 

[Editor’s note: chicken butts are fine, though]

He has, however, tasted a few choice Pinoy food items when he visited Cebu in December of 2019.

We went around Cebu City and he had a taste of Pinoy lechon (roast pig), ginabot (pig mesentery), pinaypay (fried banana dusted with sugar), and some other stuff. 

Kilawin – ftw, right?

And yes, he did like them.

Which brings us to the issue at hand: Why do many Pinoys feel they have to cram our food items down these people’s throats? 

I’m mainly referring to Chickenjoy, because it really IS pretty good. You can ask Anthony Bourdain but sadly, he’s already gone to the great kitchen in the sky.

Why do we have to force foreigners to react to Filipino food, Filipino singers, or anything Filipino?

I’ve seen several videos where a Filipino takes people of other nationalities into a Jollibee and asks them to taste the food. 

I’ve seen many videos of Filipinos who ask their foreign spouses to react to Jollibee Chickenjoy, Globe commercials, and Morisette Amon, Marcelito Pomoy, or whoever or whatever Pinoy thing is viral at the moment. 

I’ve even seen foreigners who do the same to their countrymen, too.

And whenever the content creator doesn’t get that “Ohmigawd, this is so insane, it’s changed my life” reaction, he or she is disappointed. It’s pretty obvious, you can see it in their faces, a sort of glazed look of wonder and disbelief that these people actually had the gall to not go into fits of ecstatic joy, or not have the same exaggerated, “I was not expecting that!” kind of reaction they had.

It’s okay for foreigners to go into a Jollibee on their own, to taste the food. They’re obviously curious about it because of all the hype they’ve heard. 

Chicharon Bulaklak – that tissuey bit attached to the intestines of pigs

It becomes a totally different thing, however, when a Filipino does it. 

It’s putting people in a spot and forcing them to lie, for fear of insulting the Filipino content creator, and indirectly, the whole Filipino nation. 

Yes, Chickenjoy can be a source of pride, but Filipinos have to realize, it’s cringe-inducing when we ourselves force the “food tasting” on foreigners. 

Same goes for Pinoy creators who ask their spouses to react to Pinoy singers, or anything Filipino.

Again, it becomes a means of validation. 

Pinaypay na saging at a Cebu City streetfood market

It’s like saying, “We can make fried chicken better than you people,” or “Our cover singers get more YouTube hits than the original artist so she’s better!” ergo, “We are as good as or even better than you.”

Are we Filipinos so poor in self-esteem that we have to rely on Chickenjoy, lechon, balut, sisig, adobo, Fourth Impact, TNT Boys, and KZ Tandingan to uplift ourselves? 

Do we really have to make videos saying our country is the best, richest, most beautiful, whatever in the world? Especially when the creator probably hasn’t even traveled out of the country at all?

Sisig by the beach on Panglao Island

Are we so needy for recognition that whenever someone with the slightest bit of Filipino blood “achieves” something, it actually makes the primetime news in our country? 

Do we always have to drag Manny Pacquiao into the conversation? Like, “Manny Pacquiao is a world champion because he’s Filipino”? 

I’ll probably get hell for this but nope, Manny Pacquiao is a world champion because he’s Manny Pacquiao. His being Filipino is just incidental. He can be Mexican or American and he’d still be Manny Pacquiao, world champion in eight divisions.

Lechon at Ayer’s in Cebu City

Same way Kirk Hammett is a guitar god, Rob Schneider is hilarious, and Nicole Scherzinger is hot. 

They’re that way because they’re them, not because of an accident of birth that they have Filipino blood. 

We Filipinos shouldn’t be riding on the coattails of world-famous “Pinoys” because they got to where they are through their own skill and effort. We had nothing at all to do with their success. 

Even more important, do they even consider themselves “Filipinos”? Do they even care? 

I know some have acknowledged their Filipino ancestry, but who’s to say they’re just being nice, or worse, Pinoybaiting?

Oh, there’s that word again.

Don’t ge me wrong. I’m proud to be Filipino but I feel we shouldn’t have this morbid need for recognition.

We shouldn’t have this low sense of self-esteem that we have to rely on tourists and foreign vloggers to make videos about our country, our singers, our food, and all things Filipino to feel validated. 

We shouldn’t feel indebted to them. We shouldn’t feel that we have to prove ourselves to foreigners to have self-respect.

That is beneath me, as a person. That is beneath us, as a nation.

Words by Jigs Arquiza. Jigs is a journalist-turned-mechanic who lives on the island of Cebu, Philippines. He’s been cooking since he was 12 years old, but refuses to go professional because he doesn’t want to get into arguments about how authentic his food is. Follow him on Instagram at @eatssogood