In the midst of the western modernism we see today in the Makati Central Business District, there is an element of Filipino-ness one can see behind the tall skyscrapers of glass and concrete. I’m not even talking about the jeepneys that ply along the main thoroughfares of the district but something not many people realize.
I am referring to those tin-colored food stalls located along the inner streets of the district that served the lunchtime needs of the working population there. The ones popularly known as the “jollijeeps.”
It is said that the jollijeeps began as simple enterprises where the food servers would have the food transported to a certain part of the business district via a jeepney they would use and serve the food from there. Hence, the name “jollijeep” as a portmanteau of sorts between jeep and the popular Filipino food chain Jollibee. In a way, the early jollijeeps can be considered the equivalent of today’s food trucks.
Eventually, the Makati City Government worked on giving these enterprises a more “permanent” home, providing them with stalls around the district where they can carry on with their business. While the “mobile” element in the jollijeep has now disappeared, they are still called as such until today, somehow immortalizing its humble origins through its name.
Despite these stalls being exposed to the elements, they have remained popular food haunts, especially during for lunch. From construction workers to the rank and file employees, many of them would line up to have whatever is on the menu that day. Even with the presence of fastfood chains and airconditioned food courts found in many office buildings in the district, the jollijeep still stands as a popular Makati food place.
It can be said that this love for the jollijeep stems from the Filipino’s fondness for the carinderia or the neighborhood eatery. Perhaps it’s the love for home cooking or the affordability of the food compared to fastfood choices at least, but such is the carinderia experience that the food-loving Filipino still has an affection to, an experience that not even fastfood chains and food courts can match in providing.
Say what you want for or against them, but jollijeeps are as Filipino as they can be. And they’re not going anywhere any time soon, literally and figuratively.