Manila, Philippines – When Miss Philippines Janine Tugonon lost the 2012 Miss Universe crown to Miss U.S.A. Olivia Culpo, two million Filipinos took to the streets of Manila to protest what they claimed to be unfair judging by the international panel of judges. “Our Miss Philippines was clearly the winner,” proclaimed Elias Batongbakal, one of the protest organizers. “Janine not only showed her amazing poise and beauty. She also answered the final question with great intelligence and confidence — none of those ‘major, major’ stuff.” Batongbakal was obviously referring to another Miss Philippines – Venus Raj — who competed in the Miss Universe Pageant in 2010 and lost the crown because of a not -so- smart answer to the final question.
On Wednesday, Filipinos took to the streets again, this time to protest the failure of Manila to take the No. 1 spot in an international survey of “The World’s Ten Worst Public Transit Systems.” Manila came in No. 2, second only to Mumbai. “We were robbed,” protestors chanted. Protest organizer Elena Katigbak said, “Manila’s public transit system is the worst in the world, hands down! How can they take this great honor away from us?”
Katigbak continued, “Where else in the world can one find colorful funny cars (jeepneys) –complete with gas fragrance and obnoxiously loud stereos — stinky buses, dilapidated taxi cabs and sardine-packed light railway system? And did I already mention the 24-hour standstill traffic?”
A Manila public official, who requested anonymity to avoid retaliation from his boss at the Department of Public Transportation, said that he suspects the foreign nationals who undertook the survey were probably met at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport, whisked into air conditioned limousines with dark tinted windows, treated with shots of Johnnie Walker Black Label and taken through backstreets inside gated millionaires’ villages before being dropped off at their 5-star hotel in Makati. “They didn’t see the real public transport system of our Metropolis,” the official said.
As of press time, the Department of Foreign Affairs was reportedly preparing a formal letter of protest to the authors of the survey to demand that Manila be declared No. 1 and rescind the honor earlier given to Mumbai.
Manila, Philippines – The clown can’t compete with the fat bee in the Philippines. McDonald’s has conceded that it can no longer ketchup with the enormous business success of Jollibee. In a surprise announcement during a press conference held at the Mall of Asia in Manila, Tony Tan Caktiong, the man behind Jollibee Foods, said that McDonald’s has agreed to merge with Jollibee. Effective immediately, all McDonald’s restaurants in the Philippines will become Jollibee. Customers will not find any of the McMenus since Jollibee has decided to sell only its own champ burgers, in addition to its Chicken Joy, spaghetti, rice meals and sweet desserts.
The merger stunned many local investors at the Manila Stock Exchange. The big question was: How can McDonald’s whose net worth is over $61 Billion be totally absorbed by Jollibee which is worth just over $1 Billion? “It’s clearly a case of David defeating Goliath,” exclaimed Jonjon San Pedro, a veteran investor.
Caktiong opened Jollibee Foods back in 1978 with two Manila ice cream parlors. Today, it has turned into the largest fast-food company in the country with numerous chains including Jollibee, Chow King, Greenwich Pizza, and more than 2,000 stores in the Philippines and 541 overseas. Furthermore, Jollibee Foods owns the Burger King franchise in the Philippines, with plans to expand to Singapore.
During the press conference, Caktiong also announced that all the remaining beef inventory of the now defunct McDonald’s will be distributed – free of charge – to small local restaurants to be used as ingredient for lumpia, the popular Filipino egg roll.
There is growing speculation that Jollibee is also considering to buy out all McDonald’s restaurants in selected U.S. cities with a large Filipino population, including Daly City, Vallejo, Los Angeles, Chicago and Jersey City.
Manila, Philippines – Edward Snowden, the former U.S. National Security Agency contractor who admitted revealing secret surveillance programs to media outlets, and who has been charged with espionage, has reportedly been sighted in Manila, roaming the traffic-ridden streets of the Philippine Metropolis. Manila, as many will recall, has been described as the “gates of hell” in Dan Brown’s latest best-selling book, “Inferno.”
An eyewitness said he saw Snowden dressed as a Catholic nun and entering a gated mansion owned by the Archdiocese of Manila. Analysts surmised that the Catholic Bishops may be unaware that the supposed nun was Snowden because of their lack of skill in picking out cross-dressers from a crowd.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila, upon hearing of the report, immediately filed a formal request with Malacanang Palace, the official residence of Philippine President Noynoy Aquino, for help in bringing Snowden into custody. It was unclear whether the Philippine Government would have the balls to gatecrash the Catholic mansion to search for Snowden. While the Philippine Constitution provides for the separation of church and state, the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines remains to be a driving force in the conduct of government affairs. Politicians are constantly fearful that any action on their part that would piss off the bishops will lead to the former’s political demise, as was the case with Presidents Ferdinand Marcos, Joseph Estrada and other high-ranking government officials.
It was not immediately known if Snowden plans to seek political asylum in the Philippines, after several unsuccessful attempts to do so in China, Ecuador, Cuba and Russia.