Stories by Erik Trinidad that never made it beyond an editor's desk.
Stories by Erik Trinidad that never made it beyond an editor's desk.
Buena Park, CA – The marketing department of nationwide Asian supermarket chain 99 Ranch Market met last Thursday to discuss better marketing strategies—including a major rebrand to be known as “69 Ranch Market.”
“The number 69 has appealed to young people for decades, as evident with classic comedy movies like Billy Madison and Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure,” said Richard Tsai, marketing associate of the Taiwanese-American company. “We need to lower our age demographic to appeal to new customers. Get them while they’re young!”
“This may also broaden our customer base to include more Caucasians. Middle-aged white guys love Bill and Ted!” agreed Jim Ma, finishing his sentence with an air guitar arm gesture akin to a young Keanu Reeves.
Many marketers in the meeting—particularly the women in attendance—thought this was an awful and immature proposal. “If we are going to change the number, it should be something auspicious, like ‘88 Ranch Market,’” suggested Michelle Tsai.
However, the men steadfastly held onto that number of sexual innuendo from their youth, arguing that at least the number 69 looks like a yin-yang symbol.
In the end, it was determined there was no budget for such a rebranding, and that “99 Ranch Market” would remain.
Secretly, every man in the boardroom still thought the idea was pretty hilarious.
Monrovia, CA — The marketing department of Trader Joe’s, the popular retail grocery chain with a nationwide cult following, met on Thursday to discuss how to better appeal to Filipino and Filipino-American customers.
“The Philippines may geographically be in southeastern Asia, but culturally, Filipinos are actually more connected to Latin America,” explained marketing director Dara Muller in an educated-by-Wikipedia manner, in front of her PowerPoint slide of a map on the big screen of the corporate boardroom.
Ignoring controversies concerning cultural sensitivity, Trader Joe’s currently sells some of their ethnic products under sub-brands like “Trader Giotto’s”—an Italian name used for organic pastas and Oven-Baked Cheese Bites—and “Trader José’s,” name for all Latin-inspired products, from Corona-esque lagers to jars of Salsa Autentica [sic]. “Trader Ming’s” has been their Chinese name for Asian-inspired items—regardless of whether or not a product is actually influenced by Chinese cuisine—including their Gyoza Dipping Sauce “for everything Asian,” and their two-minute Pad Thai.
There has been much confusion in Trader Joe’s’ corporate marketing department when determining where Filipinos fit in their current sub-brands, because Filipinos are generally considered Asian—but many of them have Spanish surnames and don't celebrate Lunar New Year.
Muller continued her PowerPoint presentation and clicked through her next few slides showing side-by-side artists’ representations of Spanish conquistadors brutally subjugating people of the “New World” in the 16th century.
“As you can see, Hernán Cortés slaughtered the natives of present-day Mexico in a very similar fashion that Ferdinand Magellan and Miguel López de Legazpi did in the Philippines.”
Muller proceeded with some market research video interviews of Filipino-American customers at Trader Joe’s’ Daly City, CA location, responding to the question, “Do you consider yourself Asian or Latino?”
“Uh, well, I’ve checked off ‘Asian/Pacific Islander’ as my ethnicity since my S.A.T. application in high school,” said one Ronald Garcia.
“I don’t know, I’m Filipino,” said Josie Buenavista. “I like their dried mango slices either way.”
Muller ended her presentation to her team with a closing thought: “As you can see, it is a bit confusing.” She then suggested the brainstorming session that ensued.
“So I was watching that show ‘Warrior’ on HBO Max, and there’s a character named ‘Jun,’” said Tom Nolan, associate marketeer, referring to Jason Tobin’s Chinese character in the Bruce Lee-inspired period action series. “But Jun is also the nickname of my Filipino friend Eliseo.”
(“Jun” is a Chinese name of Japanese origin, but it is also a common Filipino nickname, short for “Junior.”)
“Jun is like, one letter away from Juan!” added Kristen Lehigh, marketing intern from Reseda, CA, hoping her insight added any value to the brainstorming session.
“That’s true!” added Muller, as she wrote ‘Jun’ on a whiteboard, followed by an ‘a’ with a proofreading caret.
Whether or not “Trader Ming’s,” “Trader José’s,” or “Trader Jun’s” would grace a pack of two-minute sisig anytime soon was yet to be determined. In the meantime, the marketing team proceeded with the next item on the meeting agenda: to determine if adding a third head of bok choy to their mere two head pre-packed bag could drive more produce sales from the overall Asian community.
JERSEY CITY, NJ — Marcie Veracruz, a 69-year-old woman of Jersey City, has started a local campaign to support former President Donald Trump in his historic second impeachment trial—through prayer. "We must pray for Trump that he will be acquitted again," urges Veracruz.
While many Filipino-Americans of Generation X and younger lean left on the political spectrum, there exists a sect of Baby Boomers deeply on the right, focused on embracing whichever side is more religious, regardless of their policies on immigration. Amongst these Boomers is Mrs. Veracruz, affectionately known as "Tita Marcie" by many in her New Jersey Filipino and Filipino American community.
In late December 2019, Veracruz had successfully organized a prayer session for Trump's first impeachment trial—in pre-pandemic times—at her family's home in Jersey City. Dozens in the religious Filipino community came to participate in a recitation of the Holy Rosary, a set of Catholic prayers, in front of her family's sacred statue of the Virgin Mary, which permanently remains as a small shrine in the living room. The prayer session was followed by a buffet of Filipino dishes, including staples like lumpia shanghai, pancit bihon, and a whole lechon (roast suckling pig)—a crowd pleaser for everyone in attendance.
Veracruz is currently organizing a similar prayer session for Trump's second impeachment trial in 2021, this time via Zoom due to the continued restrictions of gatherings and travel in the COVID-19 era. The adjustment to move to the virtual world has been a struggle.
"It was very hard to tell people [about the prayer session] in the Filipino community because I kept getting an alert on my iPhone to enter my iCloud password," says Veracruz. "I had to ask my grandnephew Joey to fix it. He is very good at computers!"
As for the operations using Zoom, Veracruz has already figured that part out—with the help of her grandson—from the learning experiences of previous Rosary prayer sessions that she had organized during previous pandemic months. However, some glitches remain.
"It's very hard because we have a webcam on the Birheng Maria [Virgin Mary], but she never comes up on my screen because she is so silent," says Veracruz's friend Inga Balindong, 71, venting her frustrations about Zoom's Active Speaker View, which only fills the screen with whomever is speaking. "When I have it in Gallery View, she is too small because there are too many people!"
Despite these minor technical difficulties, Veracruz remains satisfied that at least prayers can be said for former President Trump, in hopes that he can be acquitted a second time by the Senate. However, not everyone in her community is on-board.
"Fuck Trump," says her grandnephew Joey Veracruz, 20 of Teaneck, NJ. "I'm not logging into Lola Marcie's Zoom. There's not gonna be any lechon. I need that crispy skin, you know?"
It has also been a challenge for Mrs. Veracruz because many in her local Filipino community have already embraced the Biden presidency, and no longer care about the fate of Donald Trump.
"Biden is our president now," says Bayani Adlawan, 72 of Jersey City Heights. "And he is the first Catholic president since Kennedy!"
The statue of the Virgin Mary failed to comment at this time.