Audacious McRib Gal
Xanthe Pajarillo recently contacted me to seek The Signal newspaper’s support to expand awareness to her veterans video series, www.airmentv.com. When she casually mentioned that she’s an Air Force veteran and that she was the young woman who brazenly spoke in 2015 to Santa Clarita’s City Council members about McRib sandwiches, I immediately knew that I must meet her. So, we managed to meet a few weeks ago at the Corner Bakery and we had a thoroughly enjoyable and at times amusing conversation.
Instant Air Force Babe
Xanthe K. Pajarillo was born March 28, 1989, at Langley Air Force Base, Virginia, but she spent her early years living in Hanau, Germany, until she was 12 years of age. Xanthe’s father served as a tank driver in the U.S. Army and experienced Desert Storm in Iraq. In 2001, Xanthe’s family moved to Williamsburg, Virginia, and she graduated from Jamestown High School on May 18, 2007. As a high school student, Xanthe admitted that she was a book nerd and didn’t partake in athletics or cheerleading but she loved her anime club, which focused on expanding Japanese culture. In high school she instinctively knew music would be a major part of her future as she began playing guitar and then later she became a vocalist.
Airman of the Year
After high school, Xanthe returned to Germany to reconnect with old friends and while there she prepared forms to join the Air Force, which led her to enlisting Dec. 18, 2007, at historic Newport News, Virginia. Xanthe took basic training at Lackland Air Force Base at San Antonio, Texas, and then technical school for three months in health service management at Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas. For the remainder of her Air Force service Xanthe served at Laughlin, rising in rank to staff sergeant select E-5. Along the way, Xanthe held a variety of positions working in outpatient records, information systems, commanders support staff, referral management, and patient travel sections. Xanthe proudly pointed out that she received the XLer Award for excellent job performance and she received Airman of the Year Award in 2012. Xanthe pointed out that her mother and father immigrated to America from the Philippines and her father Rene Pajarillo served 20 years with the U.S. Army. Her grandfather Pablo Sangle Pajarillo served with the Philippines’ Navy during World War II and survived the Bataan Death March.
Xanthe chose to leave the Air Force when it became impossible to change her job function so she left to pursue her love of the arts and was honorably discharged after five years of service on Dec. 17, 2012. In honor of her service, her parents gave her a brand new Mini Cooper car, which she and her mom drove from Laughlin Air Force Base to Canyon Country, where she rented an apartment. Xanthe’s next adventure was attending Cal Arts where she earned her bachelor in fine arts degree in May 2017, while fighting ovarian cancer during her persistent pursuit of her degree. That struggle continues to this very day as she endured two surgeries and it appears a third surgery may be necessary. Xanthe is scheduled to attend USC on Aug. 20 to pursue a master’s degree of fine arts. Her focus is on film and television production, though she realizes her health is her highest priority. Xanthe possesses a cheerful and hopeful attitude, which bodes well for her; she was raised with the Catholic faith
and she considers herself spiritual in many ways.
Double Dog Dare?
In November 2015 while attending Cal Arts, Xanthe was inspired to address an issue that she took very seriously and to bring attention to the fact that McDonald’s had ceased offering McRib sandwiches. While Xanthe was growing up in Germany, feasting on McRib sandwiches was quite a popular family treat as this sandwich was routinely available in McDonald’s everywhere, but when she moved to Santa Clarita she was shocked to learn it was simply not available. After writing to McDonald’s Corp. and being ignored, Xanthe brought her issue, sporting bright pink hair, to City Council and delivered a compelling, heartfelt speech. After I asked Xanthe how City Hall reacted, she said our city manager had no comment and that each City Council member looked at her in bewilderment. My wife and I recall watching that public hearing and we could not help but chuckle thinking that she went there on a double dog dare or as a spoof. Xanthe said indulging on McRib sandwiches became a family tradition from her early years and she seriously wanted them back on McDonald’s menu.
Xanthe, being a persistent and diligent worker, continued to pursue her McRib project by writing a song, not surprisingly titled “McRib Blues,” which is available on You Tube. Next, Xanthe spearheaded a silent protest at a Stevenson Ranch McDonald’s, which led to McDonald’s public relations office asking her to present her song at a local McDonald’s, which she did. Finally, McDonald’s replied to Xanthe’s letter to the corporation by mailing her a gift card for one McDonald’s sandwich. Soon, McDonald’s met Xanthe’s request and began serving McRib sandwiches once again.
Airmen Video Series
Xanthe’s current project, which she actually began at Cal Arts, is an Air Force airmen video series that features the trials and tribulations of current airmen serving in peace time. The idea is to illustrate common military personnel rather than the Hollywood war hero stereotypes. She recruited four actors: USMC Jason Barlaan, U.S. Navy sailor Blu Lindsey, USMC Chloe Mondesir, and U.S. Navy Brandon Elonzae, who portray four different Air Force airmen. Themes played out involve an officer’s dealings with a female enlistee’s crush on him; a perplexing personal relationship between a gay airman and a civilian; a black female airman with Filipino heritage determining who she is; a male security force airman figuring out his place in the Air Force. It’s noted that Xanthe’s project received an honorable mention from the Tim Disney Prize for Excellence in the Storytelling Arts, a $500 prize awarded annually. Xanthe informed me that her “Seed and Spark” fundraiser expires Aug. 15 and to date she has received 28 percent of her goal.
Xanthe, your honorable service to our country is much appreciated; thank you for your continued support to all veterans and thank you for your volunteerism at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital. You are a true asset to our excellent family-oriented community.