Tuesday, March 30, 2010

EASTER In the Philippines

Easter is an intensely religious period of observance in the Philippines. Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter Sunday are all Official holidays. The period is sadly observed as “the day God died” and on Maundy Thursday all the shops close, nearly all traffic stops, and silence reigns throughout the country as people somberly attend their local church masses. Even Philippines Airlines’ flights stop and do not resume until Saturday in a strict observance of the period.

Beginning that Thursday night, and every evening afterwards, long processions of people, many carrying floats displaying statutes of “Mama” Mary, Joseph, Jesus, and various Saints, walk through the neighborhoods gathering additional followers as they go while reciting the Stations of the Cross and the Rosary. On Easter morning, before dawn, every neighborhood church presents a widely attended Passion Play at the end of the procession and then at dawn everyone attends Mass.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

JOLLIBEE: Best Fastfood in the Philippines !

JOLLIBEE is a fast-food restaurant chain based in the Philippines. Admittingly, it is an American-McDonald's-style fast-food restaurant with Filipino-influenced dishes specializing in burgers, but also including hotdogs, fried chicken, spaghetti, and rice dishes in its menu. My particular favorite is the Jollibee Aloha Burger [a Big-Mac-style cheese burger topped with strips of bacon and a ring of grilled pineapple]

Back when Fast-Food was unheard of in this country a man by the name of Tony Tan Caktiong was working with his father operating a kitchen in Fujian, China. In 1975, Tony went off on his own entrepreneurial journey by establishing Magnolia Ice Cream, a small ice cream shop in Cubao, Quezon City in the Philippines. Within a short time, Tony established a second shop.

Despite his success with the two ice cream parlors, Tony didn't stop there. He looked around the world and saw the kind of success that chains like McDonalds were having in the USA market. Instead of opening a franchise for an existing fast food chain like Burger King or Wendy’s, Tony decided to expand his business operation with the opening of his own chain of burger-serving fast food restaurants named Jollibee in 1978.

Since McDonald’s had yet to enter the Philippines market, Tony capitalized on this fact by establishing his own brand among the Filipino people. Instead of trying to learn everything from scratch, he traveled to the United States to learn the tricks of the trade from the already established chains such as McDonalds, Burger King and Wendy's. By implementing their various successful business practices and techniques back in the Phlippines, Tony’s hard work began to pay off as his business began to rapidly expand. The division of Jollibee Philippines really tries to serve the specific needs of the Filipino people and their culture by focusing its product development along with its marketing and advertsing to target the unique and traditional Filipino family. Among which are Weekly Specials on a variety of popular menu-items offered in each neighborhood community.

Today, Jollibee has more than 500 stores in the Philippines and 25 in other countries, selling more than half a million burgers every day. McDonald's has about 235 outlets in the Philippines, according to company records, but it is said that the Philippines have been an embarrassment to the McDonald's Corporation. By the time they arrived in 1981, they had already been out-done by Jollibee and could offer nothing new to the Filipino people.

Jollibee opened its first franchise outside the Philippines in 1986, in Taiwan. Since then, Jollibee restaurants have been opened in Indonesia, Hong Kong, Saipan and Brunei, as well as in Vietnam -- where sales grew 46 percent in its first quarter. In 1998, Jollibee went on to encroach upon McDonald's home territory, adding further embarrassment, by opening its first U.S. store in Daly City, California, which has a large Filipino population.

In recent years Jollibee bought Chowking, a popular Filipino fast-food chain that sells mainly Chinese food, which is now the dominant Chinese fast-food chain in the Philippines that has even entered the Indonesian market. Jollibee also acquired the local franchise for Deli-france, a French café and bakery chain,and acquired Greenwich, a small pizza chain that has aggressively grown larger in the Philippines than another American giant, Pizza Hut.

Other easily-recognized American franchises operating in the Philippines include Shakey's Pizza, Texas Burger, Burger king, Wendy's, KFC, Sabarro, and Dunkin Donuts. It's probably just a matter of time before the Jollibee Philippines Corporation and Tony Tan go up against them head-on, too. Jollibee is now the largest Filipino food company, with average sales of 21.7 billion pesos, or $397 million USD, a year. Jollibee is the best-performing domestic stock on the Philippine stock exchange [stock symbol: JFC] and is now being offered on the U.S. Stock Exchange [JBFCF].