Excitement over Panda Express arrival exhibits the power of brands over Filipino consumers

Over the last several days, social media’s been abuzz over the coming of Chinese food restaurant chain Panda Express. Funny that as it comes in the middle of all the bad press businesses are getting over their employment practices. Contractualization is now a dirty word thanks to the SJWs (social justice warriors). Beyond the rhetoric of these activists, however, I’m pretty sure ordinary Filipinos will be making a beeline to make the payrolls (as contractuals or permanents regardless) of any new business that comes to our shores.

It seem, though, that the longest queues will not be composed of people seeking employment. They will be made up of Filipinos with cash in their pockets who fancy themselves as connoisseurs of branded multinational “cuisine”. Thanks to the buzz created by “influencers” (many of whom, totally missing the irony in it, double as SJWs when convenient) around it, there will likely be lots of selfies backdropped by steaming Panda Express dishes flying around the Net in the coming months.

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What baffles me about all this is the sort of food involved. Chinese food! I would have thought there’d be enough authentic Chinese food being served (both within households and in commercial establishments) to keep Filipinos happy enough. I suppose you just need to slap a trendy logo on something to make it sell — a seriously effective strategy in brand-crazy Philippines.

For high-rise inhabitants like me, the call of quick meals that appear to be healthy (because, hey, it’s Asian food!) every night has always been a problem. There’s the issue of the slow poisoning-by-MSG we put ourselves at risk to. But then, I think simply breathing Manila’s air puts all that in proper perspective. Healthier options, of course, cost money. And the healthiest of all — home-cooked meals — cost an even more precious commodity: time. Time shortage is just an illusion though because I think that’s all due to the digital lives we need to attend to in between Netflix binges. Fast food brands somehow manage to compete with those distractions (the allure of “belonging” to a clique of consumers drawn by perceptions of “quality” products).

While Panda Express is “trending”, however, probably makes the walk to the nearest store a worthwhile undertaking I suppose. After all, that dopamine fix we get when trying something new is hard to resist. We can also thank the powerful magnetism of our social media timelines for that addiction as well. That’s all premised on the assumption that Orange Chicken rocks. Well, to each his own. I still think chicken should be fried and brown a-la Max’s. But the brand. The Brand.

62 Replies to “Excitement over Panda Express arrival exhibits the power of brands over Filipino consumers”

    1. To taste his own … Panda Express like Chipotle are fake ethnic food.

      Panda Express is Chinese inspired American dish cooked by blue eye blond cooks just like Chipotle. If you guys want to eat authentic traditional Chinese and Hispanic dish go to where Chinese cooks Chinese dish and Hispanics makes hand-made masa.

      But if you want to eat Filipino food make sure the cook is 2nd generation Filipino because you are assured it is up to Health Code. BUT IF YOU REALY REALY WANT TO EAT AUTHENTIC HARD CORE TRADITIONAL FILIPINO FOOD … Go to Filipino restaurant that is rated C or B by City Health because tideness and food handling is not the core of Filipino food. When you do please bring Pepto Bismol with you.

  1. There would be a LOT more foreign food establishments if the country would lift the foreign ownership restrictions. As it is now, these companies have to partner with a local Filipino person/company (in this case Jollibee) who in most cases does nothing more than sign their name and in return get a paycheck for doing nothing.

    1. True that.

      Of course, the whole POINT of the foreign ownership restrictions is to ensure that well-placed Pinoys can “get a paycheck for doing nothing”. This is the holy grail for the Filipino. Everything here involves a “commission” of some sort because Filipinos don’t see anything immoral in taking money while providing nothing of value in return.

    2. Aha! Ha! Ha! You do not need foreign ownership to whip out a pancake, a 3-egg sunny side up, bacon and fried potatoes and tomato chased with Guinness Extra Stout the way Irish do.

      No need foreign ownership to cut up pieces of pineapple and banana over a pancake ….

      No need foreign ownership to grill half-inch thick pork chop with skin on over rice served garnished with mint & cilantro and chicken soup on the side for breakfast.


  2. Yes, chicken should be fried and browned is the only chicken recipe I prefer in between the lesser salty bonchon and occassionaly shakeys.

    1. I do not like KFC. I do not like Church’s. I do not like Popeye. I DO NOT LIKE BATTERED CHICKEN. Here is why. The batter soak up the oil. Oil is bad. Really Really Bad. Bad for you. Bad for your health. I prefer the way Filipinos deep fry chicken: Naked Chicken thrown into boiling oil then fish it out with ladle let it drip off oil and serve. I THINK THIS IS THE DISH I INSTANTLY LIKED IN THE PHILIPPINES. Here is the catch. In the Philippines, because they are lazy, they pre-prepared everything. So, these deep fried chicken sits there until it gets cold.


  3. LOL. Only in the Philippines would Panda Express be considered either “healthy” or “gourmet”. It’s just fast food, same as any other fast food.

    The frightening thing is that it actually IS heathier … at least compared to what’s normally available here. If Pinoys would just stop eating mountains of rice and adding sugar to everything, they’d halve the rate of diabetes and heart disease. And probably improve their kids’ IQ too.

    You’re quite right that it basically just boils down to laziness – prioritizing TV over preparing a proper meal. Typical poverty mentality: buy a TV on credit, spend hard-earned salary on a cable subscription, and survive on pancit canton. Filipino food, done right, is as nice as any other sort of food. But I’ve very rarely seen it prepared right.

    1. Filipino dish is the most boring dish presented ever in every Filipino family restaurants. ALL FILIPINO DISH ARE pre-PREPARED. They sit it in heat lamp or over heated water … sat there for a long time … when a customer comes in they stir it to look fresh out of the grill … why can’t Filipinos prepare food when they are ordered like Vietnamese and Thais and Chinese? Is it because Filipinos are lazy? Or, just un-creative. So, what exactly the Filipino kook do after they finish pre-preparing the dishes? Just sit there and fish some bogers?

      In the U.S. you’d be surprised no foreigners eat in Filipino restaurants. Not even 2nd-generation Fake-American Filipinos. This goes to show Filipino dish is not worth dining for.

      1. You always point of what is not good on Filipinos. It is who we are, accept us or get lost. You don’t belong here, and we don’t like you either.

        If you teach us how we live, and point your superiority to us. It is just in your stupid mind.

        1. You are wrong … I am making you aware what is wrong with Filipinos so you can change. As in Quality Management: TO KNOW THE SOLUTION KNOW THE PROBLEM FIRST

          Since Filipinos do not want to know what their problem is they cannot know the solution. They may know the problem but they are hard-headed they do not want to change because if they do IT WILL APPEAR I AM RIGHT. Filipinos do not want me to look I am right SO THEY DO NOT CHANGE. Psychology 102 for Filipinos

        2. Hyden,
          I do think that GRP is also doing that: pointing out what is not good about Filipinos. Be it in politics and be it in ordinary Philippine citizens. Its funny that I never see you respond to a GRP author/article the way you do with Oratio here. Double standards; double faced?
          Is it really that hard to once in your life admit and say: “Yes Oratio, you are right.”

          In fact: I have seen and talked to so many Filipinos saying: “pls dont change me, accept me for who I am” Well when we have to do that, the Philippines will always stay a poor 3rd world country.
          Oh and one other thing: dont change because I tell you to change. Change because its in your own best interest. The question is will they: most people dont see it that way (that it is in their own best interest.

          And your response to Oratio shows that very clearly. What a pity.

      2. Oratio: believe it or not, there are some Filipino chefs. You must have noticed that there is a thin stratum of society (the tambays refer to them as “the elite”, as a derogatory term) who are mostly normal, capable human beings. I’ve had some delicious, inventive Filipino food prepared by people who know what they’re doing.

        The basic problem is that 99.9995% of Filipinos don’t know what they’re doing, or don’t care.

        1. That is why all the insults Mr Imperata hurl against all the Pilipinos won’t really matter to the 90% uneducated, ignorant, illiterate Pilipino. Being poor is already an insult Mr Imperata’s insults means nothing.

        2. @Robert Haidgtion:

          I respond rightly if the criticism is its purpose is to humiliate us, as Filipinos. If its purpose is constructive, I will even thank you.

          We have our own culture, our way of life, weaknesses and strength , as Filipinos. Just like other nationalities, on our Planet Earth.

          However, foreigners come here, and show their sense of superiority. That their country is first world country; that is, they presumed to know better than any of the rest of us.

          That is not good…It is wrong…and it should not be done on us at any time , anywhere .

          We maintain our dignity and self worth, even if we are a third world country . We are all children of God, our creator and the creator of all !

    1. @Oratio Imperata:

      Live and let live. Accept who we are. Do not teach us how we live. What is “food” to you, maybe “poison” to us . Get Lost !

    1. It’s bad for you in the sense that it destroys your ability to taste anything. I’m sick of meeting Filipinos who think anything that isn’t slathered in Magic Sarap is “tasteless”.

    2. MSG is a chemical name of dried kelp. MSG is naturally occurring. We, Americans maybe susceptible to its side effects but not Asians. Asians mix tons of MSGs into their food every year. If it is bad, there wouldn’t be Chinese occupying Scarborough Shoal but they are there harvesting kelp to mix it with their soup.

      It was Japanese who made kelp part of their soup. Of course, you cannot read this in PHILIPPINE FAKE NEWS RAPPLER because Rappler is busy in science … yes, Baby, POLITICAL SCIENCE ANALYSIS. That is what they are only good at: POLITICS. And their political analysis sucks.

    3. MSG is neurotoxic (excitotoxic — guess which cheap addictive drug has the same effect?)
      It kills brain cells and disrupts heart rhythm. Although sensitivity to it seem to vary. It caused me severe headaches and fogginess. It’s disturbing how they put it in most foods these days.

      1. Japanese mix MSG in every dish they make. MSG is naturally occurring substance and high concentration in kelp. It gives soup a subtle seaside taste.

        1. Readers can look it up for themselves. It’s up to them to judge- there is a ton of info about MSG online and elsewhere. Simply saying it gives an “umami” taste that the japanese routinely use isn’t very reassuring.

    4. Hi Oratio. It’s good to see how many of the “intelligent” readers here do not know where umami came from. Very educational.

  4. Japanese food is also healthy; Medeterenean cuisine is better. If you have a good taste: French cuisine. I like also Mexican food, although it is full of “silli’. OMG, the fake VP Leni “Lugaw” Robredo, may also love Mexican food. And the price of “silli”, will surely go up, if Mexican cuisine will be introduced in the Philippines ! Bon Apetit !

    1. Ohhh Mmmm Geeee MSG !!! I wanted to try your President Robredo’s lugaw. I hear a lot about it. When their conversation converge on their President it comes down to lugaw. One of this days when I get invited to her office I will request a lugaw see how it goes.

      1. Fake VP Leni “Lugaw” Robredo, use “Lugaw Politics”, as a political incentive to voters. I never tasted her Lugaw; but I think, Diggong Duterte, had tasted them already. I don’t know, if Bong Bong Marcos wants her Lugaw.

        If you want to buy Filipino food; visit one of the Food Chains of SeaFood City.This food chain is owned by the EDSA/Aquino crook: Fidel Ramos. You can buy raw balut there; eat in one of the Filipino restaurants, inside it.

        The is SeaFood City in : Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago and Toronto, Canada…

        1. Those baluts are sold by Vietnamese at Seal Beach to Filipinos because Filipinos do not know how to make balut. They only talk about it but never knew how to. Vietnamese do not shriek “Ewwww” because balut is natural to them. A normal dish. To Filipinos it is not because a Fake-American Filipino Angeleno cannot even afford balut. It takes money to buy balut. Balut is expensive to Filipinos because they tack on profit on top of Vietnamese profit.

          So, Filipinos, STOP BEING PROUD OF BALUT. It is normal and natural food in other parts of the country your RAPPLER is not telling you about because they are so busy doing SCIENCE … yes, Babe, POLITICAL SCIENCE. That is what they are only good at. And, Ohhhh Meeeee Gosssh, they are proud graduates of University of the Philippines which is not even comparable to Community Colleges in the U.S. Because Community Colleges in the U.S. which is publicly funded are colleges in steroids.

  5. Go to Chinatown that is where Chinese traditional dish are cooked why the need of Panda Express? Why go eat there at all doesn’t make sense.

  6. Does anybody here have any clue how screwed the Filipino brains are by PHILIPPINE FAKE NEWS like Rappler? Listen to this:
    1. Filipinos are PROUD of their balut as extreme bizarre food. They are proud because Philippine Fake News are not educating Filipinos. Balut is waaaaay more common in Thailand and Vietnam than in the Philippines. When Vietnamese serve balut, hot vit lon as called in Vietnam, it comes with condiments: Red Chili pepper, fish sauce, mint, cilantro and other green vegetables for a very cheap price than balut. In the Philippines balut is serve with nothing except vinegar and salt. Hmppppf
    2. Do you know in Los Angeles Filipinos do not sell balut? If they do sell it came from Seal Beach. Sold in bulk by Vietnamese. Filipinos do not know this because PHILIPPINE FAKE NEWS are just as clueless as the next Filipino next to you.

    In Vietnam and Thailand … balut is not extreme bizarre food … Filipinos are just a bazaar of bizzarly clueless people.

      1. I prefer to eat hot vin lon in Chiang Mai and Sapa than in the Philippines. Because it is fresh … and I know what I am eating is a duck embryo. I hear from Filipinos that Chinese eat human embryo. But not true. It is a myth developed by Filipinos because of their hatred of Chinese.

  7. @Oratio Imperarta:

    We don’t eat canabis. Some snort, Shabu , sold by Mar Roxas and Leni “Lugaw” Robredo, in business partner with Leila de Lima and Aquino.

      1. @Tobias:

        If you cannot smoke it, eat it. Cannabis extract is derived from the “marijuana” plant. The leaves of the plant is used as a “recreational cigarette”…smoked to make people high.

        It is mixed in food like cookies, for use as , maybe as a “recreational food”…

        It is debatable what are the long time effects of cannabis to the human brain ! I myself, don’t like it…I never tasted or smoked any cannabis.

  8. Hyden,
    You always say: “your soup is food for you, while for me it is poison”. (Soup is also food for you.)
    While I approach it in a positive way: “your rice is food for you and also is food for me”. Only you consume it 3 times per day, each day, while I eat it maybe a few times per year. You see and notice the difference in approach?

    Furthermore, when I do (or say) something stupid, I will always listen to others to correct me (in behavior and/or mindset). Even when that other is a foreigner. It is not important who it says, but what is said.
    If people are unable to see that other people’s encouragement to do things in a different way then okay, keep doing it your way.

    PS: why do you always write in the plural form (we)? Do you represent the entire Filipino nation and all its 100+m inhabitants?

    Maybe god may have put Adam & Eve on this planet, but thats about it what he did (if he did that). And if he did so, he did a lousy job doing it.

    1. @Robert Haighton:

      I wrote : “What is food for you, may be poison for me”…It means, we have individual differences, as people. What is good for you, may not fit and is good for me.

      As I have emphasized: I accept criticism, if it is constructive. Not done to humiliate us, or degrade us. We request all foreigners not to involve themselves in any politics in our country. Our politics is for us.
      However, if you are a “paid hack” of any corrupt politician : Get Lost , we don’t need you here…

      I do not speak for the whole Filipino people. I speak for myself, and those who agree with me.

      We may be poor people, but, we have dignity and self respect !

      1. if you had dignity and self-respect, you wouldn’t be poor. It’s impossible for someone with those attributes to be irredeemably destitute.

        What you have is hubris, and you think that’s the same thing. You think this because your “corrupt politicians” taught you that in school when you were very small, and like good little children you carry on believing it.

        1. @ marius:
          Dignity and self respect are in the mind. It is not because you are poor: you stopped thinking; and thinking of your self worth and dignity. Hubris is nothing, but inflated ego.

          Common voters , are always the victims of corrupt politicians. They dangle on the eyes of the voters; promises that they will have better life, if you vote for them.

          Had you ever seen the crook: Mar Roxas , driving a pedicab, in his previous campaign ? Or, that crook : Bam Aquino, doing construction job ? Or, that actor :Erap Estrada’s slogan : “Erap para sa mga mahihirap”?

        2. “if you had dignity and self-respect, you wouldn’t be poor. It’s impossible for someone with those attributes to be irredeemably destitute.”

          And yet, the genius marius and motherland India in this modern age, can’t do anything about their scorned compatriots, the so called “Untouchables”. India’s Dalits, up to this day, are still fighting untouchability.

        3. Hyden, FFS learn how to punctuate properly. It’s not difficult. I’m happy to debate with you but I can barely understand what you’re writing most of the time. Just stop putting random colons, semicolons and commas halfway through your sentences and it’ll be a big improvement.

          “Common voters” are not the “victims” of the politicians. They’re immoral idiots who sold out their votes for pathetic bribes – maybe a P500 note, maybe some empty promise that the candidate will give them something “for free” (ie., he’ll steal State funds on their behalf). Why? Because they have no dignity and no self-respect. They are happy to lower themselves to the status of vassals, and vote crooks into power, if they think there’s a free bottle of Tanduay involved.

          @indie rah: I have absolutely no idea what you said, either.

        4. Marius,
          I do get your point(s) and I do agree with you but Filipinos dont know the word ‘self’. The overwhelming majority of Filipinos (>80%, right?) were ‘created’ by god. They live for god; they do anything and everything for god. So that rules out the ‘me, mySELF & I’ They dream about getting in heaven. That is all they live for. And so, they have to satisfy (being it sexually or mentally or both; lol) god 24/7.

        5. @Robert: have to disagree with you there, I’m afraid.

          Filipinos frame EVERYTHING in terms of “self”. Everything is about me me me me me. This is why vote-buying (or vote-selling) works. The Filipino doesn’t care about the consequences of voting for a crook. He doesn’t care what the crook will do to his country, or to his neighborhood. He doesn’t care what the crook will steal from public funds. The only thing that matters is the immediate benefit to himself (P500, or whatever it is).

          On other other hand … maybe you have a point. The Filipino doesn’t even care what happens to HIMSELF after he votes for the crook. He knows his own life will get worse. And he’s totally OK with that.

      2. Hyden,
        even so, when Oratio said it to humiliate you (and all 100+m Filipinos). What he said is either true or not. Like I said before: it is about what he (one) said. Not who said it or how he said it.
        You always go in the defense when you “smell” humiliation. Next time, please, try to read between the lines.

        Your country may have been colonized once, but I am pretty sure that no GRP reader/visitor was there when it happened. So to use that as an BS excuse is rather pathetic.

        1. @marius:

          Whatever I write, it is my own. I do not beg my readers to understand me. If they cannot comprehend or understand what I am writing : it is their fault, not mine.

          I am not a writer. I have never been in any journalist’s school…Blogging is just my hobby. It is up to them to figure up what I want to emphasize in my blogs.

          If they cannot figure out, just get lost !

        2. Nobody expects you to write like a prizewinning author.

          You can’t punctuate because you’re lazy and arrogant. You just can’t be bothered to learn how to use FOUR SIMPLE SYMBOLS, because, as you’ve made abundantly clear, you think it’s OTHER PEOPLE’S RESPONSIBILITY to deal with YOUR laziness.

          Which is precisely the sort of thing that brings ridicule upon Filipinos in general.

          If you don’t want to be ridiculed, don’t be ridiculous.

        3. @Robert Haighton:

          I know, if some bloggers , especially foreigners are trying to humiliate us. You can read it in their blogs.

          I am not a “blog police”, but I request that foreigners must have sensitivity on what they blog. If you don’t agree with us, or don’t accept us , as who we are as people. Get Lost !

          We have suffered too much on Spanish colonization. We are still suffering from these crooked politicians and Feudal Oligarchs.

          So, cease and desist from humiliating us !

  9. There is nothing more insulting to my core than seeing a Mang Inasal in Bacolod . The rest of the country OK. It is up to others to provide a better product. Bacolod gave birth to inasal via Chicken House. Mang Inasal represents lowest common denominator just sell a product. The fact that the Bacolod market even supports this makes me just question the world I live in.

    1. @Gogs: exactly my point about Filipino food. Proper Bacolod inasal is awesome. 95% of the copies are not. Why? Because people can’t even copy things properly – and in fact that’s a smart business move, because the market is quite happy to pay the same money for a crap product as long as there’s unli rice.

  10. Design that mimics the sensual continuity of nature’s subtle connections of color, light and texture invite the viewer’s receptivity.

  11. Hyden,
    what is it that you want?
    You want everybody to tell you: “Yes, Hyden, you are absolutely right” while everybody knows you are not? And because I tell you that (you are right) you consider me to be NOT your enemy?
    What must people do (and say) in order to show you that you are wrong? All you do and say is “get lost”.
    Have you ever been taught the rules of how to have a conversation/debate/discussion?

    “We are still suffering from these crooked politicians and feudal oligarchs.”
    Who can we blame for that? The voters voted for them. So, pls blame the voters.
    Why is Duterte president in your country? Because he was elected by only 39% of all the voters/votes. That is not close to the majority.

    Conclusion: the system sucks.
    I dont think there is a country where a political party can win an election by less than 50% of all the votes.

    Its a pity that GRP never wrote an article about the voting/election system in PH compared to other – Asian or any other – country/countries.

    1. @Robert Haighton:

      So you claim to speak for yourself and “everybody” ? Did “everybody” gave you a franchise, to speak for them ?

      You and “everybody” are right and I am wrong, as you stated. I don’t give a damn ! I don’t care ! If you agree with me, thank you. If you don’t agree with me, thank you also.

      Pres. Duterte was elected by the Filipino people. It does not matter, if the electorate elected him by 10%, 20% 0r 30%. He was proclaimed the winner. And you must respect the will of the Filipino people.

      He did not cheat in the 2016 national election; like that fake Vice President , Leni “Lugaw” Robredo.

      I won’t accommodate to anybody/”everybody” of their wanting for me to change. If they don’t like my blogs. Simply don’t read them . I am not forcing anybody/”everybody” to agree with me, or to read my blogs !

  12. Hyden,
    “And you must respect the will of the Filipino people.”
    This has nothing to do with the Filipino people. Some time ago, the Philippines (read: the then politicians) designed that system.

    Furthermore, you are not a blogger. At best you (and I) are commenters here. Only the GRP authors/writers are the bloggers here.
    I will always agree with you when you use valid arguments. But “get lost’ is not a valid argument.

    1. @Robert Haighton:

      Whatever you call me: blogger or commenter.It is okay.What I write is more important, than what you call me… Pres. Duterte is elected by the Filipino people, in accordance with Philippine law. You want to change it ?

      I may or may not agree with you. You may or may not agree with me…
      So be it…Get Lost !

      1. Hyden,
        if I could change it, I would change it. Not by having Duterte as president but when a political party/parties can be called the winners.

        What I understand about it, is this:
        Lets say that there are 10 contenders for the presidency. And I (as one of them) get 11% of all the votes and the remaining 9 contenders share the remaining 89% equally and evenly (that is 9.88%). Then that means, I will be the next president, right?

        In short:
        I, the president get 11% but also 89% did not vote for me.
        How easy can it be for a populist to become president in PH?
        And knowing how easy it is to influence the minds of Filipinos, it must be damned easy to become president of PH.
        During my campagne I will promise you heaven, but once I am elected as president, I will turn into a dictator.

        All I see are negative sides about how easy it is to become president of the Philippines (regardless of who the current president is at the moment)

        1. @Robert Haighton:

          I don’t see any wrong in it. The point here is you try to compare your way of electing officials, to our ways of electing officials. It is like comparing apples and oranges.

          Things are much different in our government. Filipinos accept it. They have no problem in it. Let us just leave it that way !

  13. Hyden,
    a) I dont want to be president of everything knowing only 11% voted for me AND 89% did not vote for me.
    b) it opens all floodgates for a Hitler 2.0 in any country with a system like the Philippines (and I can/could be that Hitler 2.0 if I had a PH passport).

    I am NOT comparing MY way. I am comparing countries. I will not gain nor benefit from the PH current system or any better system in PH.

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