Remembering the JollyJeeps

My last 5 years in Manila were spent in the City of Makati, the financial district of Metropolitan Manila.  While almost every other corner had a Starbucks, most of the interior streets of Legaspi Village or Salcedo Village (to the east and west side of Ayala Avenue) had a sprinkling of restaurants and fast food centers.  A common source of food for the many white collar workers in this area were the so-called JollyJeeps, eateries selling complete meals (rice+viand) from jeepneys or other similar vehicles “adapted” to be a rolling eatery.

The food was already prepacked in plastic bags and were “assembled” depending on the customer’s request.  (Adobo with double rice + gulay + sabaw)  My last company was an American insurance giant which had tried (in vain) to start up an Asian business (the company has long since pulled out of the region, dismantling its International business) and had put up beautiful offices in the Valero area.  With buildings being constructed on various streets surrounding our building, there were a couple of these JollyJeeps catering not only to the office workers but to the construction workers as well.

For merienda, they would often have turon or some other kakanin.  My dear friend Reggie and I would often stroll down, both in corporate attire, sometimes affectionately holding hands.  Of course half the world didn’t know that I was hold hands with my “sister”, because despite the fact that Reggie was “out”, he carried himself in a very manly manner.  Some of the JollyJeep attendants thought we had a thing going, causing us to incur the ire of one of the servers who had a big crush on Reggie. 

It was the closest you could get to home cooking in the heart of Makati next to bringing your own baon for lunch.  And you would see people in corporate attire and hard hats lined up, taking their pick from the day’s offerings.  There would be adobo, pinakbet, chicken curry, fried chicken, pork chops, daing na bangus, tinola, nilaga.. the list goes on and on.  You could eat on a plate by a makeshift table (sometimes INSIDE the jeepney), or as we were wont to do, bring up your stuff to the office where you could eat in silence by your desk or join the lunch crowd in the pantry room.

Here in New York we have the breakfast carts selling coffee, tea, bagles and other assorted pastries.  In Manhattan even, they have the carts selling hotdogs and gyros.  Still they do not compare to the very enterprising eateries on wheels which I am sure still dominate the streets of Makati. 

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