As told by a home-sick Filipino, living in New York, visiting Los Angeles.
Matt Ortile / Via BuzzFeed
1. I’m in Los Angeles for a week, foregoing all the touristy things such as hitting up the Hollywood sign, going down Rodeo Drive, et al.
2. But my friend Alex asks, « You’ve been to Jollibee though, right? »
3. I screech loudly.
4. After looking it up on Google, I make plans to feast at the branch on Beverly and Vermont.
5. I chuckle to myself that a Filipino fast food restaurant is on a road named after a state in New England that probably has very few Filipinos.
6. Then I remember that I might have extended family in Bennington, so my previous point is moot.
7. So I wait.
8. And I starve.
9. The afternoon oozes by, like the Jollibee gravy I dream of drizzling over hills and hills of white rice.
10. At the office, I attempt to quell my stomach with Milanos, Goldfish, and coffee.
11. I cannot be satiated.
12. I am insatiable.
13. I chew on the cords of my headphones.
14. I begin to hallucinate.
15. I start to smell the greasy limpish fries, the steam wafting off the rice, the crispy skin of Chickenjoy meals that await.
16. I nearly lose it.
17. I manage to keep it together.
18. But not without whispering-cum-chanting to myself, in a trance-like state, as my ancestors have done before me: Isa pa. Isa pa. Isa pang Chickenjoy.
19. The clock strikes six.
20. IT’S TIME.
21. I make the pilgrimage down Beverly Boulevard by car.
22. But the traffic is terrible.
23. And it’s been a while since I’ve been in an automobile.
24. I get a little carsick at the stop-and-go nature of LA roads.
25. My head gets woozy.
26. My stomach turns.
27. I get nauseous.
28. Therefore, I panic.
29. Fearing that my weak constitution might hinder my attempt to gorge myself on chicken and gravy and rice.
30. So I concentrate on the task at hand.
31. I imagine the warm and tender drumsticks that await on Vermont and Beverly.
32. The salty goodness of the Filipino french fries.
33. And the sweet and cold halo-halo.
34. Success. My mind is focused, my intentions clear.
35. As I approach my intended destination, I learn I’m actually in LA’s Koreatown.
36. But between all the Korean signage, I spot a hair salon with a sign in Tagalog.
37. It says, « Pamilya tayo dito. »
38. Though I know what it means, I say it aloud in English anyway. « We’re family here. »
39. In the front window of the Filipino hair salon is a poster of Filipino actor and model Diether Ocampo.
40. I rediscover a different hunger altogether.
41. But I step out of the car and onto the parking lot.
42. And I spot another familiar face, an old friend.
43. We hug.
44. I am near tears.
45. We take a selfie.
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