“Let’s all go out to that new Filipino restaurant”….said no-one ever.
Being an Englishman, I have had my fair share of atrocious food in my time; however no amount of previous experience could prepare me for my first stone cold, gut-insulting foray into Filipino cuisine…
But before we could have our first taste of the infamous Filipino food, we had to get to there first. Our first stop was the tiny island of Coron, which was only accessible via an internal flight from the larger city of Cebu.
For this journey, we made the mistake of booking through Philippines Airlines, who turned out to be the most incompetent airline that I’ve ever flown with. Seriously, these guys make RyanAir look like a good option!
I’m a bit of a nervous flyer, so when I saw someone walking around our departure lounge saying that they needed eight people to volunteer to get off the flight so that the aeroplane would be light enough to take off, it didn’t fill me with confidence.
Surprisingly there weren’t many volunteers offering to remove themselves from the flight and go on the next flight which wasn’t until 5am the next day.
After a three hour stand off with nobody budging, Philippine Airlines decided that we weren’t too heavy after all and off we went to Coron. However, as we’d wasted so much time, the late afternoon winds in our arrival airport were too strong to land safely in so we had no choice but to turn around and go all the way back to Cebu!
Upon return, although Philippine Airlines kindly put us on another flight, this wasn’t until 2pm the next day so we had the best part of twelve hours to kill. We were put in a hotel, and whilst this was a long way out of town, it did give us an opportunity to experience the worst meal that I’d ever had in my life.
The service at the restaurant was the worst I’d ever seen, after asking three times for a wine list that never turned up, I blindly ordered a glass of the house red which turned up an hour later and tasted like vinegar. The meal turned up a couple of hours after that and consisted of completely stone cold deep fried chicken which looked awful, gluggy rice, and vegetables that had probably been steaming since I’d departed Bangkok twenty-four hours earlier. We didn’t even risk having a bite, and instead piled out of the hotel in search of a fast food restaurant.
When you talk to a Filipino about fast-food then they’ll no doubt mention Jolibee, which is their alternative to McDonalds or KFC. Jolibee always seems to be filled with happy locals and even hosts kids birthdays. I’m not sure why.
The first time I arrived there was 2pm and they’d already ran out of chips. I’ve been in Asia for three months so I’m used to every restaurant always being sold out of the first five things you order, but for a fast food restaurant to have run out of an item that must be sold with 90% of dishes twelve hours before it’s closing time is quite an achievement.
I returned to Jolibee a couple of weeks later and was a bit luckier this time as the chips were on! Sadly I overcomplicated things though by ordering cheesy chips; whilst this was one of the main things listed on the menu it had clearly never been sold before, as I needed to speak to three different check-out people to confirm my order and then wait for fifteen minutes whilst specialist chefs dug out the recipe book and attempted to make it.
At this point, I should probably stop slagging off the national treasure of 103 million people and take you back to Cebu Airport, for our 2pm flight the next day which was thankfully able to depart the airport at 4pm, which felt prompt compared to the day before. Vowing never to book a flight with Philippine Airlines ever again, we finally arrived in Coron for our sailing tour knowing that things could only get better!