Jingle bells and santa displays on the streets of Manila kick off the season seven premiere of CNN's award-winning travelogue Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. As a viewer, it's a slightly unexpected opening to an episode airing in April — a safe distance from both the end and the beginning of the holiday season. Nevertheless, the filmmakers fully embrace the general cheer of the season and transition into a special Tagalog cover of the series' intro music. The alternative tune is a fitting choice for an episode that delves deeply into the Filipino culture of classic rock cover bands and an economy driven by laborers working overseas.
Filipinos are "probably the most giving people on the planet," Bourdain asserts, and one would be inclined to agree after watching the full episode. As a host, Bourdain remains — for the most part — remarkably quip-less throughout his Manila trip, reserving the sharpest jokes for a trip to Filipino fast-food favorite Jollibee and a drunken corporate Christmas party. In their place, Bourdain allows Manilans to share family stories, values, and aspirations over bowls of homemade adobo, street side sisig, and a Christmas platter of kare-kare. During one particularly emotional segment, Bourdain delivers a holiday message to Aurora (everyone's dream grandmother) who cared for one of the show's co-producers as a child.
Here now are the 10 best lines from Parts Unknown's visit to Manila:
1) On hating fast food but loving Jollibee: "It is true that I lie to my daughter and tell her that Ronald McDonald has been implicated in the disappearance of small children, that I sneer at fast food, revile it at every opportunity, but I am also a hypocrite because to me Filipino chain Jollibee is the wackiest, jolliest place on Earth."
2) On Jollibee mascots: "I hate mascots. You know they fart in those suits."
3) After eating Jollibee's spaghetti: "That spaghetti is deranged, yet strangely alluring."
4) On the Filipino tradition of starting Christmas celebrations in September: "I would lose my mind."
5) On the delights of Filipino lechon: "...not to kiss your ass, but it is the finest pig I've ever had."
6) Reflecting on his drunken antics during a holiday party: "I told them I was Bob from accounting. When they find out, things could get awkward."
7) While eating halo-halo: "It's wondrous. I don't even know what half of these ingredients are. I mean it's delicious but how is it made? What's in it?"
8) On eating a pork street food dish called sisig: "Possibly the best thing you could ever eat with a cold beer."
9) On the pride of people living in Manila's slums: "There's a lot of poverty in this city for sure, but there's not a sense of hopelessness or rage. They decorate. They may not have much, but they decorate. They sweep the street."
10) On the sense of selflessness among Filipinos: "Filipinos give of themselves, of their time, their money, their love to others. They do and continue to do what needs to be done to survive."