MILAN - Filipinos thronged the opening of Jollibee's first European store here for a taste of the fried chicken and spaghetti from back home.
Patrons lined up outside the store, some coming from Turin, Rome, Venice and Florence and even other parts of Europe like Switzerland and Denmark.
"Na-excite lang ako nung malaman ko na magkakaroon ng Jollibee rito. Pumunta ako dito kahit apat na oras ang byahe," said customer James Abanilla.
(I was excited when I learned that Jollibee will open here, even if I traveled for four hours.)
Swiss national Frank Fausch said he and his family traveled five hours from Swtizerland to Milan.
"I know that it’s good so we want to taste again," he said.
Italy is home to the seventh biggest population of expatriate Filipino workers, with close to 272,000 people working there in 2013, according to data from the Commission on Filipinos Overseas.
Jollibee Milan has an all-Filipino crew. Labor Sec. Silvestre Bello said he hoped the company would expand to other parts of Europe, bringing more job opportunities to Filipinos.
"It is a symbol of Filipino ingenuity. Talagang kayang-kaya nating iharap ang galing natin sa entrepreneurship," he said.
(It is a symbol of Filipino ingenuity, that we can really hold our own when it comes to entrepreneurship.)