Battle of the Pepper Steaks

BattleofPepper Steaks

I enjoy fast food every now and then. What I like about the Pinoy fast food scene is the focus on rice meals, which are closer to home-cooked meals that give people the feeling of satiety and satisfaction. (A lot of Filipinos don’t feel a meal is complete without rice; a burger sandwich, then, is just a “snack”.)

The latest battlefield in the Pinoy fast food wars is on the front of burger steaks. Jollibee has had Burger Steak with gravy and rice for the longest time on their menu, but McDonald’s introduced their Mushroom Pepper Steak as a competitor. I’m not sure about the timeline of things, but soon enough Jollibee had their own Pepper Steak.

One good thing that came of this is Jollibee reinstated their two-piece Burger Steak menu item. Prior to facing competition they had phased out the two-piece item, forcing hungry people to order two one-piece Burger Steaks instead.

It was time to put the two pepper steaks to a taste test. While I definitely have the appetite to eat both kinds in one sitting, my waist line won’t allow for further expansion. So, I ate them one week apart, both after arduous gym sessions that left me ravenous. They do say hunger makes meals taste better, so…

Battle of the Burger SteaksBattle of the Burger Steaks

Patty

I loved how thick yet soft the McDonald’s patty was. In contrast, Jollibee’s was thinner and the edges overdone. Some people note that McDonald’s used the same patty here as in their Burger McDo, so it’s not 100% real beef unlike Jollibee’s.

Sauce

Jollibee’s tasted more of pepper, but McDonald’s sauce was so flavorful I spread some of it over the rice, and attempted to scrape up every last bit as I finished my meal.

Topping

I like mushrooms and corn equally but the mushrooms melded into the flavor of the sauce better. The corn on the Jollibee steak reminded me too much of KFC’s Chicken a la King sauce, and I prefer that sauce vastly over the Jollibee pepper sauce.

VERDICT

Unlike most people I know, I prefer the McDonald’s dish! Maybe I just like gravy that tastes more like cream of mushroom.

I seem to be in the minority, according to this informal Twitter poll I took.

A little disclosure: I also prefer McDonald’s hamburgers to Jollibee’s Yum burgers, and would buy McDonald’s french fries over Jollibee Crispy fries. But you will only be able to pry Jollibee’s Chickenjoy from my cold, dead hands.

The Aging Millennial Goes to a Rally

I have gone to protest rallies only twice in my life.

The first time was in 2001. I was 17 years old, in my third year at the University of the Philippines. I had not had the opportunity to vote in the recent election, having been too young. Yet President Joseph “Erap” Estrada in his two years had attempted to bury the disgraced deceased dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani, then committed flagrant corruption. At that point, he was in the midst of impeachment hearings, but with senators voting not to open a second envelope of evidence against him it looked like he was about to get away with impunity.

We weren’t about to let that happen. And so I trooped with my batchmates and other fellow students from Diliman on foot to the EDSA Shrine to join what would be dubbed as People Power 2 or EDSA Dos. That evening, my parents, sister, and I rejoined the rally. The next day, Erap resigned and his vice-president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in to replace him.

This rally was an object lesson to me about the power of peaceful uprisings, a gift that the Filipino people had shown the world was possible during the first EDSA People Power.

(Of course, several years hence we see that Arroyo was in her own way corrupt. Politics is dirty business, after all.)

The second time I joined a protest rally was last Wednesday, fittingly on Bonifacio Day commemorating the birth anniversary of Andres Bonifacio, a national hero who led the revolution against Spanish oppression. I am now 33 years old, university a distant memory. I’ve had opportunity to vote in three presidential elections. The last one was the most contentious and most toxic one, given the extremist rhetoric of the man who was eventually elected president, Rodrigo Duterte. I have since distanced myself from friends who supported him, given his favoring of summary executions and his unholy alliance with Ferdinang “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. who lost the vice-presidential election to Leni Robredo.

November 30

“Andres would have been here.”

This rally was not a call to oust Duterte; rather, it protested his collusion with attempts to rehabilitate the Marcos name and image, revise history, and depict the Marcos dictatorship as the golden years of this country. The end result the Marcoses seek is their return to the highest seat of power in the land so they can rule with impunity once more.

November 30

Millennials taking up the cudgels

November 30

“Temperamental brats”

November 30

Lighters now replaced with smartphone lights

Truth be told, I found it bittersweet that those who had once been student activists back in the 70’s to 80’s were now saying they were passing the torch of resistance on to the millennials. “The price of freedom is eternal vigilance,” it is said — and apparently we have not been vigilant enough with the Marcoses once again knocking on the doors of Malacanang.

The first rally I went to, I was the age of those who now populated the second rally. I’m still what they call a “millennial” albeit one of the older ones. (Market segmentation would call me an “aging millennial”.) Still young enough to rock a funny sign that formed part of news coverage montages about youth involvement in the rallies, but old enough to remember the decades of recovery and unrest that followed after toppling Martial Law.

I grew up enjoying the human freedoms and rights enshrined in the 1987 Constitution, which was crafted as a safeguard against dictatorship. Yet now we’re on the precipice of losing those once again because the propaganda goes, “EDSA wasn’t effective in changing Philippine society so maybe we should just go back to the Marcoses.”

I attended the rally because I still believe in the legitimacy of People Power in deposing a dictator. Whatever happened in the years after, the freedoms and rights that People Power returned to us must be defended. Oppression must be resisted.

I just can’t believe we’re still rallying against this shit.

Don’t Panic: My Quest for Coldplay Tickets

I don’t normally write about music because I am not as much of an aficionado as music bloggers out there. I also don’t really have a diverse range of artists I listen to. But when I do listen to an artist, you can bet I have listened to most of their back catalogue of songs and would love to see them perform live.

Coldplay is one of those bands I’ve listened to over the years. While I can’t say I’ve grown up with their music (I was already in my late teens when they broke out with their album “Parachutes”), their songs were the soundtrack to much of my adult life. So when they finally announced dates for the Asian leg of their “A Head Full of Dreams” tour, I knew I had to get on the ticket train.

coldplay-ahfod

In the same vein that I listen just to music, I don’t follow music industry news nor gossip columns — which is why I failed to pick up on the fact that “A Head Full of Dreams” is said to be Coldplay’s last album and this could be the last time the band goes on tour. This, aside from the Coldplay drought in the region for so many years, has driven demand for tickets sky-high.  Read more

How to Waste 9 Hours at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport

By a sheer stroke of (bad) luck, my flight to Germany a few weeks ago was booked via China Southern Airlines and had THE WORST layover times: 9 hours in Guangzhou, and 9 hours in Paris Charles de Gaulle. This turned what could normally be a 21-hour trip into a 36-hour nightmare that seemed never-ending.

Paris Charles de Gaulle

Hello, Paris Airport.

I guess it wouldn’t have been so bad to be stuck at CdG had I not had to go through the 9-hour layover in Guangzhou before boarding a 12-hour flight to Paris. Free wifi at the airport but stuck behind the Great Firewall meant it was a huge ordeal trying to browse the internet or even blog, which was what I had planned to do. No Google, no Facebook, no Flickr… I ended up subscribing to a VPN service just to Facetime my family back home in Manila.

China Southern to Paris

so much legroom!

cloudy landing in Paris

cloudy landing in Paris

Paris Charles de Gaulle

Air France planes at Paris Charles de Gaulle

The flight to Paris was uneventful: I was knocked out even before take-off in a great window seat that had tons of leg room. We landed around 7am Paris time and my onward flight to Munich was scheduled for around 4pm.

While you might think that’s a decent amount of time to get to the city center and maybe see the Eiffel Tower or the Arc du Triomphe, I had these things to consider…  Read more