Mambukal Mudpack Festival

Annually during the third week of June, there is the Mambukal Mudpack Festival held at Mambukal Resort in Barangay Minoyan, Murcia, Negros Occidental. This year, it was June 23-24. Mambukal Resort is only a 25 minute drive from our home in Bacolod City.

The annual Mambukal Mudpack Festival is an exciting event that advocates and promotes the preservation of the Philippines environment. The theme of the Mudpack Festival is the harmony of man and nature. There is multi-colored clay at Mambukal Resort and it is used in body art to promote ethnic Filipino tribal dance, arts and crafts.

With Tribal Dancers

These were only three among many of the contestants in the competition at the Mambukal Mudpack Festival. There are several categories in the competition. Tribal Dancing, Clay Body Painting, Solo Dance Improvisation and the Miss Earth Mambukal Pagent. Sorry guys, that event was held in the evening and I was not there to get any photos of the lovely, talented and beautiful lady contestants.

One beautiful lady with a tribal dancer

One more beautiful lady with a tribal dancer

I did capture a couple of photos of some beautiful ladies with tribal dancers. One in particular is sooooo near to my heart, mind, body and soul!

Group Tribal Dance

It really was a hot day and the San Miguel Beer Sign is facing the dancers. I think some were ready for a cold one!

The La Carlota Drummers performed but I could not get near enough to get a decent photo. The music of the event was really cool.  Drums, shakers, pan flutes and the type of music that reminds one of a rain forest and tribes in harmony with nature.

In harmony with Nature

The Number One Tribal Dancer

You don’t have to wait until next year’s Mambukal Mudpack Festival to visit the resort. They are open daily and the hot springs are the highlight of the resort. There are several nurseries where you can buy native plants and potted trees. There is a trail taking you up the mountain and to the waterfalls but be prepared for hiking. There is the butterfly gardens if you are interested in butterflies and there is also the boating lagoon.

If you are hungry and/or want an ice cold brew or soft drink, check out Jean’s Place in Mambukal Resort. The chicken inasal, local BBQ chicken, is very good. They also have grilled fish and seafood. Jean’s Place will fix you right up if you are hungry and thirsty with a place for you to kick back, relax and take a rest. The wait staff have a smile and they are friendly.

There is overnight lodging at Mambukal resort in the form of cottages, lodges, suites, hotel style rooms, dormitories and tents for those who are adventurous and enjoy camping. A nice room is only P1,000 and that is about $23 US Dollars. You sure can’t beat that!

We really had a blast at the Mambukal Mudpack Festival. I hope you can make it the third week in June in 2013. See ya there!

Kuster’s Smoked Ham and Food Hub in Bacolod

A new and interesting food cart has opened at Lopues Mandalagan Shopping Center. Kuster’s Smoked Ham and Food Hub is located next to Roli’s, near the grocery store entrance. What is unique about this food cart is all the food that is sold is homemade. The hams are personally smoked, the different breads are baked fresh and not bought for reselling.

Food Cart

You can order food to eat right away or order food to go. You don’t have to buy a whole ham, as  you can buy as little as 200 grams or as much as a kilo. The smoked ham sandwiches are very good, so no need to buy grams or kilos. My wife and our son lean more toward Philippine food, so if that is what you also like, Kuster’s can fix you right up. Lumpia or Philippine spring rolls are excellent, as is the morosqueta rice.

I am really excited about the English muffins!! This is the first time I have seen English muffins anywhere for sale in Bacolod City. I bought 3 packs of English muffins at Kuster’s to take home. Smoked ham on an English muffin with a fried egg will really start your day out with a smile. Whatta breakfast! Mrs Kuster makes the English muffins from scratch and they are fabulous. I know English muffins very well and I have since I was a young boy. English muffins for breakfast were my favorites since the 1960s and still are today.

There are so many things you can do with English muffins! Eggs Benedict is one of my favorites. A poached egg on top of smoked ham or Canadian Bacon, on a toasted English muffin. Eggs Benedict! Cheese, cream cheese, jelly, jam, marmalade, Vegemite, butter or your favorite sandwich spread will go well on an English muffin. Liver pate will work. I’ve never tried it but bagoong, or shrimp paste, will work, too!

It seems that every month in Bacolod brings us new places to eat and new places to buy food. I am busy trying to keep up with the all new places!

Philippine-Hong Kong Connection

It seems that many in the Philippines have a family member, a friend or both working in Hong Kong. Personally, I think it is a great experience because there are more than 100,000 Filipinos, both male and female, working in Hong Kong. It is true that those working in Hong Kong are away from their family and friends in the Philippines but there would be fewer locations in the world that are more Philippine friendly than Hong Kong.

Hong Kong and south China was our home for 9 years. In my opinion, Hong Kong rocks! We are happy living in the Bacolod Area of the Philippines but if we just had to move, it would be to Hong Kong. We still have family and friends working in Hong Kong and we know it very well.

On the weekends in Hong Kong, it is almost like being in the Philippines. You will see Filipinos everywhere! In the malls, in the parks, on public transportation, in restaurants and especially in World Wide Plaza, aka World Wide House, located in the area between Connaught Road Central, Pedder Street and Des Voeus Road Central. Every Filipino in Hong Kong, except maybe those who just arrived during the last day or two, knows where World Wide Plaza is located.

World Wide House Plaza

The photo was taken at night and it has a good shot of the moon!

At World Wide Plaza, you can buy everything Philippines! There are many shops, which are operated by Filipinos, selling cell phone loads, snacks from the Philippines, canned goods from the Philippines, newspapers and magazines from the Philippines and just about anything one would want from the Philippines. There is a San Miguel Brewery in Hong Kong, so no need to go to World Wide Plaza just to buy a cold Pilsen brew! San Miguel Beer is sold in all the 7-11, grocery stores and in small shops most everywhere in Hong Kong. You can send money to the Philippines and receive money from the Philippines at World Wide Plaza. You can also exchange currency. There are also several camera shops, cell phone shops and jewelry shops.

Do you need a new barong or terno dress in Hong Kong? World Wide Plaza is the best place to find both and you can even have them custom designed and hand made. Do you need a Tagalog Bible? Look no further than World Wide Plaza. In the mood for Philippine cuisine, then you will find several small Philippine restaurants located inside World Wide Plaza. There is also a Jollebee Restaurant located right next door to World Wide Plaza. However, be aware, on the weekend, you may have to wait a long time for a seat!

The churches in Hong Kong very much welcome Filipinos to their services. The Baptist churches especially cater to Filipino OFWs, Overseas Filipino Workers. KIBC, Kowloon International Baptist Church, is one where there are many Filipino members and the choir is mostly Filipinas. Kowloon Filipino Baptist Church is another one to attend if you want to meet compatriots. KIBC often has field trips on Sundays to the different scenic places in Hong Kong and they often have Sunday pot luck lunches. You can enjoy food from Manila, Ilocos, Negros, Iloilo, Cebu, Mindanao and other places from the Philippines.

On a Hong Kong Street

Everyone loves to shop in Hong Kong.

Tree house in Hong Kong…

at Disneyland!

Always a drummer!

Yes, I have always been a drummer and you can ask my old elementary teachers! Without thinking in class, I would be drumming on my desk or on my books, sometimes with my hands and sometimes with two pencils in hand.

Donald Duck says “Hey!”

And we would soon be saying, “Bye Bye” and back to the Philippines we would go the next day.

There remains a lively Philippine-Hong Kong connection and it is never as good as being home but it is not so bad if you find yourself in Hong Kong and you need to find some of the comfort foods and other things from back home. The good thing is, people from Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao can meet together without regional differences and unite as being Filipino together.










Get Ready for the Philippines Azkals

Ready to Play

On Tuesday evening, June 12, at 7pm, the Philippines Azkals will take on the Guam National Football Team at Panaad Stadium in Baoclod City. This will be a FIFA friendly match between the Philippines and Guam.

We saw the Azkals defeat Mongolia at Panaad Stadium last year when on their way to the AFC Challenge Cup.

Tickets for the Azkals-Guam match are P200, P400, P600 and P1,000. I hope to see ya there! Let’s cheer the Azkals to Victory. 

A Day at Panaad Park

Some of life’s greater enjoyments do not cost one centavo. A day at the park with family is one such enjoyment.

Avenue of Eucalyptus Trees

Panaad Park in Bacolod City is like being in the country side. It is where the Annual Panaad sa Negros Festival is held.

Sis in law and my nephew

Baby likes to boogie in the park!

Game Time

Dig out!

Play of the Day

A nice backward save and hit!

Refreshment Time

Nothing like ice cream and beer after a day at the park! But not at the same time.

Living in our area of the Philippines has such great moments. To me, it compares to turning back the clock to a time in Southern America when the pace was slower, the family unit was close knit, neighbors were real neighbors, everyone knew everyone in the community, God still lived in our neighborhood, people helped others in need without expecting anything in return, we counted our daily blessings and we were not stressed out about tomorrow. We knew that no matter what happens today, tomorrow is going to be even better!

The Bacolod Area is not perfect but it is the closest thing to Paradise on Earth that I have found. I have been to 30 of the 50 States in America, which were all the ones I cared to see, and I have been to four Asian countries, so I have first hand comparisons I can make.

I hope to see ya one day, all around Bacolod.



Tito Gary’s Ribs

Ribs are popular in the Bacolod Area of the Philippines. Many native Filipino restaurants have back ribs and spare ribs on their menu, which are grilled to perfection. Often the barbeque sauce is soy sauce and kalamansi, which is the local lime. Depending on my mood, I can enjoy the local BBQ Sauce but I also make my own BBQ Sauce. I have three. One is vinegar based, one is red based and the other one is white based.

I made the red based BBQ sauce for today’s lunch of grilled ribs. To make the BBQ sauce native, I suggest using some banana ketchup instead of all tomato ketchup to get a nice consistency with the two kinds of ketchup and add some Tanduay Rhum. The ingredients include banana ketchup, tomato ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, 1/4 cup of Tanduay Rhum, finely chopped onions, 2 crushed garlic cloves, a little mustard, a dash or two of black pepper and honey. Depending on how many ribs you will need to baste, you will adjust the amount of ingredients and also adjust according to your taste. If you really like sweet BBQ ribs, add more honey!

I started with a rack of pork ribs bought fresh this morning at the nearby public market. For the freshest meat, buy early in the morning at this particular market. Boiling the ribs or putting them in the pressure cooker for 10-15 minutes tenderizes the ribs before grilling. I like to grill the ribs after the first step but not completely. I like to finish the ribs by applying the BBQ sauce and putting the ribs in aluminum foil but loosely closing for finishing on the grill. WoW! Fabulous juices from the ribs, together with the BBQ sauce, will be saved in the bottom of the foil. You will want to brush this on the ribs before eating for a wonderful flavor.

Tito Gary’s Ribs

Grillin’ and Chillin’ with family and friends is one of my favorite activities in the Philippines. We often go to one of the many beaches in our area for a Sunday BBQ.

Gold Eagle Beer

My beverage of choice with any kind of food but especially with BBQ! San Miguel Pilsen is the National Beer of the Philippines and Gold Eagle is made by San Miguel Brewery. Many farmers in the province drink Gold Eagle because it is cheaper and it does not hit them hard like Pilsen. I acquired a taste for Gold Eagle when socializing with other farmers in the province since we also have a farm there with rice, sugar cane, chickens, pigs, carabao, goats and cattle. Eagle is the beer of choice for family gatherings.

Just One More Time

Tito Gary’s Ribs! I have many nieces and nephews in the Bacolod Area and I am fondly known as Tito Gary. Some who are not my nieces and nephews also refer to me as Tito Gary.

I hope you can enjoy the ribs recipe, as it has a native Filipino touch with the sauce but still the red based type sauce for those who like it.