Another Day In Life of Living in Negros Occidental

Yesterday morning, my wife gently woke me up and said she had something to tell me. One of her cousins, who she had not actually seen since the late 1990s, was taking a break from filming in the Western Visayas to visit us. He is not famous but works regularly as a character actor with ABS-CBN TV. RV is his stage nickname.

My wife told me that our taxi driver, Randy, would be picking up RV at the pier in Banago, Bacolod, and would be bringing him to our house. I had about an hour to eat something light, shower and get dressed. I beat the deadline!

About 90 minutes after RV arrived in our home, my wife had a large spread on the table. Time for me to eat more. The on the spot plan, which unfolded, was to drive RV to the home barangay of his relatives in Negros Occidental and he would spend the night at our farmhouse. No problem. Our farm is also located in that barangay. RV speaks excellent English, so it was a treat for me in talking to him for one full day.

We made several stops so RV could briefly visit with relatives he had not seen in about 17 years. He was a young teenager when he and his parents moved to Manila in the late 1990s.

After arriving at our farmhouse, other relatives had heard the word and were dropping by. My wife and one of her brothers began preparing food. Grilled boneless bangus, grilled ribs & chops and pan fried potatoes for me. Rice for everyone else.

RV enjoys singing, so we broke out our home karaoke system. It lead to a 4 hour singing session. Everyone had a great time and no one embarrassed themselves singing. No one was drunk, resorting to yelling into the mic. My wife does not allow such behavior.

The Ride

We had to get RV to the Bacolod-Silay Airport no later than 1pm today for his check in and flight to Manila at 130pm. We made one stop at the municipality cemetery, as RV wanted to visit tombs of relatives and light candles.

Upon arrival in Bacolod City, we had time to spare, so we dropped by The Ruins.

We arrived at 12 Noon, with time to spare, at the airport.

This experience is not uncommon in the Philippines. Many things are spontaneous and I can keep on rolling with the flow without objection. It is part of the life here.

After being rousted from a deep sleep yesterday morning, I would not trade my wonderful experience of meeting and spending time with RV. Otherwise, I may never meet him…except on TV. RV has a role on a current daytime ABS-CBN Drama Series but he is not one of the stars. I had a fabulous time the last 2 days.

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

~ Gary ~


Pasalubong is a term in the Philippines which means giving gifts to family or friends after being away abroad or in some other location of the Philippines. I always have great joy in giving pasalubong to the people I love and like. Even to those who are not on my favorites list! I enjoy giving to others.

When we visit the homes of Filipinos, we never arrive empty handed. We always take something with us to give to the host and or hostess. It does not cost a lot of money to spread so much joy in the Philippines.

What Should I Give As Pasalubong?

While the Filipino Culture is similar all over the Philippines, there are many regional differences.

I can’t say all but a number of Filipinas do not want to receive flowers because they are symbolic with a funeral in the Philippine culture. “I’m not dead yet,” may be the response you receive if you indeed give flowers to someone you are courting or married to.

Stuffed animals, chocolates and a gift basket of food goodies seem to be more readily accepted and happily received by everyone. Young and old alike. Be sure to throw in a few imported items!

Among some of the small gifts I brought back to my wife when I returned to the Philippines from my trip to Florida in 2014: a large designer leather handbag from Belk (she loves it), Cruz Chocolates made in Miami, several bottles of perfume, Nescafe Coffee (her favorite), Folgers Coffee (for something new), Orange Pekoe Tea and Panda Green Tea. Of course, I knew in advance the things my wife enjoys, the things she does not like and I also asked her for a more personal list of things she wanted me to bring back. Well, that is personal!

Other Pasalubong

Of course, you should not give others what you give to your wife, girlfriend, fiance or a fine lady you are courting. No Victoria’s Secret or Triumph, di ba?

Some very popular items. Always chocolates!  Stuffed animals. Corned Beef, Spam, sardines, tuna, canned ham, instant noodles, spaghetti, spaghetti sauce, wine, liquor, craft or imported beer, coffee, tea, sandwich spreads for bread, pastries, doughnuts, hard candies and what else? The sky’s the limit! Give what they need and want, not what you want them to have. Some imported food items will never be eaten, so think about what Filipinos eat, di ba? Grits? Forget about that!

It’s the Culture

Giving pasalubong strengthens the bond between family and friends in the Philippines. It shows you love them and care about them. Handing out gifts also spreads happiness and gladness that *you* are back home safe and sound. You were missed! No need to wrap pasalubong but give it as it is. The receivers will be more excited when they see it. Guess what? The receivers of your pasalubong will even share it with you! When they crack open that Dak canned ham, you will be eating some! Right here and right now! Filipinos are among the most hospitable people on the face of the planet!

Next time, you visit Filipinos, please don’t forget the Pasalubong. You will be as blessed as they are. You can believe that!

I hope to see you one day, somewhere…all around Bacolod.

Your Amigo, always,

~ Gary McMurrain ~

Beautiful Philippines Sunshine

philippine sun2

I am a proud and patriotic American, however, my love for the Philippines runs deep, as it has for the past 29 years. Whenever I see the Philippines sun, the Philippine flag, or hear the Philippines National Anthem , I also get goose bumps! Just as when I hear the songs, God Bless America and the Star Spangled Banner from the USA. Wow!

I think if a foreigner is going to live in the Philippines, they should embrace the country. They should embrace and respect the vibrant Filipino Culture. They should also abide by the laws of the Philippines, which they are subject to while spending time in this wonderful country with beautiful people. The Filipino.

The Philippine Sun

The eight-rayed sun has symbols of unity, freedom, people’s democracy and sovereignty. Also representing each province with major involvement in the 1896 Philippine Revolution against Spain. The three 5 pointed stars represent the 3 major island regions of the Philippines. Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao.

Sun Philippines
There is plenty of sunshine in the Philippines! Not only in the sky but from Filipinos themselves. They will surely brighten your life, if you allow them.

I have about a hand full of foreign friends in Bacolod City but I have 10 X that many wonderful Filipino friends and even more family members! Life is great here in the Bacolod area and I am happy everyday.

The Road Goes On Forever and the Party Never Ends!

The Philippines is a much larger country than some realize. There are so many interesting places to visit, just on Negros Island alone. Cebu is another area I enjoy visiting, as well as Panay Island.

Everyday is a party! This sums up the Philippines, alright. Everyday of life is a celebration. I am not referring to the American sense of the word party, where many people drink and get smashed. No, I am referring to a party in celebration of enjoying life. Happiness. We know that no matter what, God has us in his hands. As I like to say, if things don’t work out the way I expected, I can’t hardly wait to see what God has planned for me next! I know it will be awesome!

A party is a groovy thing! Getting together with Filipino friends and family, talking, laughing, having fun, eating and having a few cold ones. If you ever spend one evening with a group of Filipinos, you are hooked for life! Their sunshine and radiance are indeed addicting. You want it and you want to keep it around you every single day of the rest of your life! And…you can believe that!

I hope to see you here one day soon, somewhere, all around Bacolod. Enjoy the Philippine sunshine and keep it over your shoulder. Life is always better!