To the immense surprise of customers, former President Joseph Ejercito Estrada visited a local Jollibee fast food chain in Agusan del Norte Thursday.
Estrada had just arrived in the region to continue his nationwide goodwill tour called "Lakbay Pasasalamat", when he decided to stop at Gaisano Mall in Butuan City and eat at a Jollibee outlet, a statement said. The awed crowd reportedly took pictures with the former president, who was eating a 2-piece Chickenjoy meal.
Margeux Salcedo, Estrada's spokesperson, said in an interview that the incident was a rare occurence. "He does not usually [eat at fast food chains] at all, it was so hard for him to eat, actually because dinudumog siya ng tao," she said.
Salcedo added that the group only decided to eat at Jollibee because one of Estrada's "Lakbay" companions, Mrs. Gina de Venecia, wife of former House Speaker Jose de Venecia, mentioned that she was hungry and wanted a Chickenjoy.
The Jollibee restaurant was also filled with other bigwigs, all companions of Estrada during his campaign, including Atty. Adel Tamano, Cagayan de Oro City Rep. Rufus Rodriguez, former Senate President Ernesto Maceda, and actor Rez Cortez.
Salcedo said the "Lakbay Pasasalamat" is Estrada's way of thanking fans who supported him through thick and thin. "When he was in jail in Tanay for six years, he promised himself na kung makakalabas siya, he'll go around and thank his supporters. It is for [former] Pres. Estrada to thank the Filipino masses for never forgetting him even if he was incarcerated, even if he was accused [of plunder, graft, and corruption]," she said.
Estrada and his escorts visited the Butuan municipal hall during his tour. Their motorcade, however, a regular feature of the "Lakbay Pasasalamat" where Estrada throws out candies to the crowd, had to be canceled because of the rains.
Estrada and his escorts are set to visit Surigao after touring Butuan. Photo by Charmaine Vargas.