May’s Organic Garden: Magnificent Beauty

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On the holiday, Ninoy Aquino Day, we went to May’s Organic Garden, which his located south Bacolod City and before Barangay Sum-Ag. We did not go until the afternoon, so the restaurant was about to close up but we were not hungry yet! Next time.

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There are a number of bonsai trees near the convention center.

Bonsai
If you are interested, you can rent one of the Swan Boats and take a spin around the lake!

May's Organic Garden
Fabulous landscaping!

Convention Center
A great place to have a wedding reception or for holding a large association meeting in their convention center.

Fountain
A photo taken from the bridge, the large fountain.

May's Organic Garden
Across the lake.

Papaya
Papaya

Pine Tree and Corn
A Pine Tree and Corn.

Greenhouses
Greenhouses

Lagoon Style Pool
Lagoon Pool

May's Organic Garden
A Bridge Over Untroubled Waters!

May's Organic Garden

We had a fun-filled afternoon at May’s Organic Gardens! Admission was P100 for adults and no charge for children. If you plan availing the swimming pool, it is P100 for adults and P50 for children. We did not need a cottage rental for the day, so we did not ask the price. There were plenty of shaded places to sit because there were not many people there in the late afternoon. There is a hotel on site and we were told it was P1,500 per night. Since we live in Bacolod, we didn’t need a hotel room! The restaurant closes at 2pm, so if you want to eat, go early. The restaurant is located at the entrance of May’s Organic Garden. A friend told me they have great fruit shakes!

There is organic fertilizer, vermicast, and we were told that organic fruit and vegetables are also sold, when available. We saw a lemongrass distillery for making lemongrass oil. One use for lemongrass oil is mosquito repellent.

If you want to enjoy the beauty of nature, I recommend putting May’s Organic Garden on your must see list.

Burning Down The House

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Burning down the house is exactly what happened to this beautiful mansion during the early days of World War II to prevent the Japanese Imperial Army from making it their Headquarters when they invaded Negros Occidental. It is reported that it took days for the inferno to burn down the roof and the thick wooden floors. Today, this mansion and beautiful grounds on the border of Bacolod City and Talisay City still has the original 4 tier imported fountain and the gardens are lovelier than ever! This is The Ruins, a famous tourist attraction with daily visitors from all over the entire Philippines. Former President Gloria Arroyo visited Bacolod when she was still in office and she visited The Ruins. This mansion was originally built by a rich local sugar baron, Don Mariano Ledesma Lacson, for his new bride, Maria Braga, who was Portuguese from Macau.

Picking Up The Pieces

The Ruins was actually in ruins for many years after World War II. It remains surrounded by sugar cane fields, however, when several great grandchildren inherited The Ruins, they decided to develop it and I am very happy they did! So are so many others who have visited The Ruins, some even many times, such my family and I! Whenever we have family and friends visit us from abroad, we always take them to The Ruins. A trip to Bacolod City would never be complete without seeing the Ruins and taking photos of its majestic presence.

The Ruins is much more than just a photo op and seeing the luscious gardens. Children always have fun at The Ruins, as do adults who enjoy games. There is a mini golf course, which we refer to as put- put golf in the States, there is a large as life chess set to enjoy a few games and there is plenty of space to run around the grounds and play.

There is a cafe at The Ruins, which is also a pizzaria. The menu is not limited to pizza, as there are also a number of other dishes on the menu. Their shredded beef dish is awesome! Among several ice cold beers served is Bogsbrew, which is an organic craft beer brewed in Bacolod City.

The Ruins is a popular venue for weddings. I can see why! The Ruins is a step back in time but it also is in step with today. Music concerts are held at The Ruins from time to time.

Once you get to Bacolod City, every taxi driver knows where The Ruins is located! It is not difficult to find, as it is in the area of Bacolod City known as Bata.

In my opinion, The Ruins is a great place to spend the day or an entire evening. To us, The Ruins is more than only a tourist attraction, as it is also a good place to hang out with friends and family.

Philbilly Cornbread

fried cornbread3
Being a Southern guy from the USA, I grew up with cornbread being one of my family’s meal time staples. Both my parents were born and raised in Alabama but my dad was a career US Navy officer, so we lived in several states in America when I was growing up. California, Rhode Island, Florida and South Carolina were all places we called home for 2-4 years, depending on my dad’s tour of duty. Yep, I had a Southern accent, no matter where we lived. We all know that classmates can be cruel, so I heard all the snide remarks, referring to me as a hillbilly, a redneck, a country hick, a rebel, and on and on. It didn’t really bother me much, as I was proud of my Southern Heritage and I am still proud of it!

Since I now live in the Philippines, I would like to share one of my favorite dishes right here in the Bacolod Area. Fried Cornbread, which I have named “Philbilly Cornbread.” By the way, I never had one Filipino refer to me as a hillbilly, a redneck or a country hick in my 27 years connection with the Philippines. I have received some compliments about my Southern accent in the Philippines from Filipinos and more than once they commented that they enjoy hearing me talk! One Filipino friend commented that I talked like Nicholas Cage in his movie, “Con Air!”

Fried cornbread can be easily made here in the Bacolod area, as all the ingredients are available. Fried cornbread is great with fried fish, beans, chili con carne and just about anything imaginable. You can add sliced green onions to your cornbread mix before frying or you can make crackling cornbread by adding pieces of chicharon to your cornbread mix. I will just touch on the simplified recipe and you can kick it up a few notches the way you like. Adding  diced jalapeno peppers or diced green chili peppers will give you a version of Mexican cornbread! I never, never put actual corn kernels in my cornbread mix but some like to.

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The above is fried cornbread with green peppers and green onions.

Recipe

In a large bowl, add one cup of corn meal, 1/2 cup of flour and dilute with 1/2 cup of milk, which makes the cornbread mix loose like pancake batter. Add one egg and stir the cornbread mix very well. Add 1/2-1 stick of real butter in a skillet, frying pan or wok and allow it to melt until it sizzles, over medium heat. Drop the cornmeal mix, about the size of a Tablespoon, into the skillet/cooking utensil and make it about the size of a pancake. When the cornbread browns on one side, turn it over on the other side, mashing it down with a spatula and let the flip side brown.

Wow! Fried cornbread is awesome! I hope you enjoy it.

Hot Dog, Hot Diggity Dog!

hot dogs
After taking some time off from eating hot dogs, I recently decided to add it back to my menu, at least once a week! The two Johnsonville American style hot dog stands in Bacolod, that I was aware of, are no longer in business and those were the only two that came close but not exactly. They did have Johnsonville franks and sausages. They did have hot dog buns and they did have mustard, chopped onions and relish. However, they did not have sauerkraut, chili, good cheese, celery salt or sliced tomatoes. Hero Sausages in the SM Mall Food Court was another decent hot dog stand but they had less to put on a hot dog than Johnsonville. So, I remedied the hot dog stand problem by starting my own private hot dog stand, right in our home kitchen!

When you shop at a supermarket in the Philippines, you will notice all the many different brands and styles of hot dogs! Most every Filipino I know really enjoys a good hot dog, only they don’t particularly like what they refer to as a “hot dog sandwich.” Hot dogs for breakfast with an over EZ egg and rice is common in many local households. Buying a grilled hot dog on a skewer is a very popular street food snack. My personal favorite is Pure Foods Tender Juicy Hot Dogs!

There are a number of brands of different hot dog buns available in Bacolod and one of my favorites are the ones that SM Supermarket makes and are for sale in their bakery, located up front of the store. P40 per package and they are large hot dog and sausage buns that will not normally fall apart when you load them with your favorite additions to your hot dog.

Build Your Own Hot Dog

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You will find most of the excellent toppings for building your own hot dogs in Cafe Bob’s Deli and in Lopues Mandalagan Supermarket. Both have many different kinds of mustard! Horseradish Mustard, Nathan’s Coney Island Mustard, Honey Mustard, Stone Ground Deli Mustard, Dijon Mustard, French’s Classic Yellow Mustard and a number of others.

No Ketchup! No thank you! I never put ketchup on my hot dog but I know some who do. More power to them. This is the great thing about building your own hot dogs. You can put whatever you like on them. One of the stranger hot dogs I have heard of is the canned tuna hot dog, which is topped with, yep, tuna fish from a can. With that noted, I recall last year when Century Tuna put a hot dog on the market that was actually made of tuna instead of pork, beef, chicken or a combination of the three.

Other than different styles of mustard, there are a number of other ingredients I enjoy using when topping my hot dog. Sometimes, I go for the Chicago style hot dog which is, adding to the hot dog bun the actual hot dog, yellow mustard, sweet green pickle relish, chopped onion, tomato wedges, pickle spear, peppers and celery salt.

chicago hot dog
An authentic Chicago style hot dog! Looks great, doesn’t it?

Sauerkraut is another one of my favorite toppings when I am building a hot dog. When I want to add some bite, I add sliced jalapeno peppers. One of my all time favorites is the chili dog! I make my own chili when building a chili dog, however, one can buy canned chili at Cafe Bob’s Deli. Shredded cheddar cheese is always a great addition to a personally built hot dog.

I am ready to eat my hot dogs now, as it is time to enjoy one. I wish you could join me!

SM Supermarket Beer Haus

Beer

During the past month or so, SM Supermarket has largely expanded their beer section with a good variety of imported beers. In this article cover photo, I have included some of the beers I recently purchased and enjoyed from SM Supermarket. Of the 7 samplers I bought, my favorite is the Belgian Beer, Stella Artois. It is beer that literally danced on my tongue with such a marvelous taste! I also liked Victoria Bitters from Australia but a distant second from Stella Artois.

I hadn’t had a King of Beers, Budweiser, since I moved to the Philippines, so that is why I bought one Bud. It seemed to taste better here than it ever did in the USA or in China, where I lived for 9 years! In mainland China, Pabst Blue Ribbon is one of the most popular imported American beers among Chinese. Believe it..or not! It is true and it is even served on China Southern Airlines. I can’t say it is among my favorite beers.

I’ve found most of the Japanese Beers to be pretty good and Sapporo Beer is no exception. When I eat at Cafe Bob’s Deli, I usually have a Kirin or Asahi Beer, both of which are Japanese Brews.

Some of the best beer in the world comes from Germany and while Beck’s is not top of the line, it is better than many local domestic beers. Yeah, I enjoyed the ice cold Beck’s from SM.

Dos Equis XX was popular where I lived in south Florida, with the large Hispanic population. It is a Mexican Beer and it is much better than Corona in my opinion! Corona is available at SM but I did not buy one. Had it many times and is much like San Miguel Light in taste.

I had never heard of Bear Beer before! It hails from Denmark but I think Carlsberg is better and it is also available in the Philippines.

I don’t drink beer to get drunk or to raise hell but I enjoy sampling beers made from around the world! Being a Beer Connoisseur is a personal hobby of mine. I have my own favorite in the Philippines and it is Beer na Beer Pale Pilsen, brewed by Asia Brewery. I also drink San Miguel Pale Pilsen when I am out and about since Beer na Beer is not common in most establishments.

If you enjoy a different taste every now and then with your beer, check out SM Supermarket’s new imported beer section. They should have something you like when you are ready to go for the gusto!

Retiring to the Philippines

If you are a music lover, you can check out my new article and read about the music that is alive and kicking in the Philippines!

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/entertainment/the-music-is-alive-and-kicking/

Without a doubt, Music is a very important part of the Philippines Culture! I enjoy listening to music and I enjoy singing every chance I get.

I hope to see you soon, somewhere…all around Bacolod!

Mambukal Mudpack Festival 2013

mudpack
The annual Mambukal Mudpack Festival is enjoyed by people of all ages! This little guy was one of the better contestants in the body painting competition.

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Just one more look!

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I believe I can fly!

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Somebody’s watching you!

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Another good contestant with his form.

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Squid Man!

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Tattooed and Painted!

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Lunch time! Grace’s Sliders. We brought these mini burgers with us to the Mudpack Festival. There is a Food Court at Mambukal but we came prepared. I can recommend Ikea of Kabankalan at the Mambukal Food Court but we did not want to waste time in the Food Court, as we came to see the Mudpack Competition this trip.

mudpack
The swimming pool at Mambukal is stocked from cold mountain spring water. Yes, it is cold!

The Mudpack Festival crowd was a little down compared to years past but we still had a great time, as always. The theme of the Festival is always Harmony of Man and Nature and there is no better place I know to hold this type festival than at Mambukal. The Festival is also a showcase for Negrense artisans to exhibit their artistic creativeness in ethnic song, dance and crafts.

Retiring to the Philippines

A big thank you to all the regular followers of All Around Bacolod, who also read Retiring to the Philippines, the online expat magazine. Thank you for your comments, as we welcome them all.

Here is a link to my latest article:

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/living-in-the-philippines/confessions-from-a-jollibee-tagalog-speaker/

I write 2-3 new articles on Retiring to the Philippines every week for those who are still learning about the Philippines and who are considering the Pearl of the Orient as their retirement home.

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

Who’s Got The Look?

jumping-tiger
We have the look! A new look on All Around Bacolod. After 16 months, I thought it was time for a change. A makeover, if you will. I hope you like our new look.

Please do not forget about the Mudpack Festival this weekend at Mambukal Hot Springs and Mountain Resort. If you have never been, you are in for a treat! I have a post here on All Around Bacolod from the Mudpack Festival 2012. I will be there again this year, this weekend..hopefully.. unless I personally get rained out due to the weather. A lot of rain here lately in Bacolod. If all goes according to plan, I will have a new post on All Around Bacolod about the Mambukal Mudpack Festival 2013.

Do not be alarmed if you have water thrown on your vehicle when going and returning from Mambukal! The Mudpack Festival is always the same time as the Feast of St John de Baptist and people delight in dousing vehicles with water. It is funny, really funny, especially if you are riding in a jeepney or on a trike! It is all in fun and nothing malicious at all.

An American friend is visiting this week in Bacolod. He wanted to know the best pizza in town. I know this is highly opinionated but Rio Bella Pizzaria has the best pizza in town.

Retiring to the Philippines

I have a couple of new articles on Retiring to the Philippines that I think you will enjoy. My latest one is, “New Philippine Tiger Has Wings.” Check it out here:

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/travel/airline-news-and-promotions/new-philippine-tiger-has-wings/

I hope to see you soon, somewhere …. all around Bacolod!

The Quiet Place Farm Resort

The Quiet Place

If you are looking for a peaceful and scenic getaway for the weekend, The Quiet Place Farm Resort may just be the place you are looking for. Less than 5 km from Barangay Sum-Ag in Bacolod City, many enjoy the ride in the countryside to The Quiet Place, located in Barangay Tabunan, Bago City.

The Quiet Place

You will have a good view of Mount Canlaon, the famous local volcano.

The Quiet Place

There are many shade trees at The Quiet Place.

The Quiet Place

The Quiet Place Resort is actually a working farm, growing rice and corn. Corn for sale! The farmer in charge will do a small harvest for you if you are interested in buying the fabulous white sweet corn and it is only P25 per kilo! We bought 5 kilos to take home. Immediately after returning home, we grilled some corn and boiled a lot more. Wow! It is really tender and sweet corn.

The Quiet Place

The rice is nice.

The Quet Place

The Quiet Place

Poolside!

The Quiet Place

The Garden Hotel. The Quiet Place has several small hotels on site for you to choose from. Surrounded by the lush beauty of nature, this is an ideal spot for a romantic weekend or just a place to get away from everything for rest and relaxation. For me personally, the luxuriant plants, flowers and trees are the perfect setting for me to enjoy personal down time and spend quality time with my wife and son.

The Quiet Place

For those who do not intend lodging for the night, there are cottages and pavilions for rent by the day. Admission to the Quiet Place is P35 for adults and P20 for children. Use of the pool is an additional P50 per person.

There is a restaurant at the Quiet Place but it was not open the day we went there. I have heard good things about the restaurant, which has such dishes as tenderloin roulade in red wine sauce and rosemary and garlic potatoes with stuffed peppers. It sounds awesome doesn’t it? Dessert includes lemongrass ice cream, mango-ginger ice cream and a few other fabulous desserts. You will want to call ahead and make sure the days and hours of the restaurant.

This past week was our first time going to The Quiet Place but we intend to go back. If you enjoy the beauty of nature, then it is a place for you to check out!

Retiring to the Philippines

Please do not forget to check out:

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/

Every week, I add 2-3 new, interesting articles that I think anyone interested about retiring to and living in the Philippines will certainly enjoy. All my articles are based on my personal 27 year connection with the Pearl of the Orient and my living here full time. In my opinion, the Philippines really is the Pearl of the Orient and I would not be happy living anywhere else in the world!

A Day In The Countryside

Pontevedra

A buffalo cart, an old tire, an old wheel and fresh country air! May 13, 2013 was Election Day in the Philippines and many people traveled to their hometowns to cast their votes. My wife was no exception. We are extremely blessed in having a home in the city and a home in the countryside, so we can enjoy both worlds in the Philippines.

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Coconut tree, very pretty…..

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I love the taste of coconut in the morning!

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A countryside breakfast! Chicken Mami noodles, alligator bread and Barako native coffee.

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The Chicken House. All of our chickens and ducks are free range, so they can go in and out of the chicken house as they like.

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Mother hen with chicks and baby ducks.

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Peek-a-boo!

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Our countryside home.

Retiring to the Philippines

I enjoy sharing with others about the great life I discovered in the Philippines. Our countryside home is about 45 km outside of Bacolod City. In front of our home is a 1.8 hectare rice farm and a 1.8 hectare sugarcane farm. It is all fun! We also maintain a home in the city and we spend most of our time there when the academic school year is in session. We are very proud of our son, who has been the Top Honors Student for 3 consecutive years! Way to go!!

If you would like to join our forums, where you can discuss topics about the Philippines, it is EZ to join:

http://forums.retiringtothephilippines.com/

Retiring to the Philippines is the best online expat magazine concerning this wonderful country, its beautiful people and its vibrant culture.

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/

I write 2-3 new articles every week about Retiring to the Philippines. I cover pretty much everything anyone would want to know about the Philippines. There is a Guide about moving to the Philippines, a section on living in the Philippines and other interesting topics, such as Traveling around the Philippines like a local, Food & Drink, Entertainment, Health, Shopping and the Economy.

Thank you for reading and following All Around Bacolod and I know you will also enjoy Retiring to the Philippines!

Panaad 2013: Kabankalan and Victorias

Kabankalan

I am a little late with my final post about the Panaad Festival 2013 but I will cover some very memorable highlights that we enjoyed as my favorite festival was winding down. I am already looking forward to Panaad 2014.

The Greater Bacolod Area is my favorite place in the Philippines and Negros Occidental is my favorite Province. When one attends the Panaad Festival, they can see all the greatness of the 19 towns and 13 cities of Negros Occidental. Two places that I would like to spotlight, a little bit, are Kabankalan and Victorias City. They both had interesting exhibits and I had my photo taken with two of the Festival Queens.

Kabankalan

We have very good friends who live in Kabankalan and also family members. Kabankalan is a First Class City and outside the Metro Bacolod Area, Kabankalan is the fastest growing city in Negros Occidental. The second airport of Negros Occidental is under construction in Kabankalan. Kabankalan is being developed as a highly urbanized city in the province and while it will not be overnight, it is happening! The Mayor of Kabankalan is the former Governor of Negros Occidental, Isidro P. Zayco, and there are about 170,000 people living in Kabankalan. It is the home of the annual Kabankalan Sinulog Festival, which is held the third Sunday of January.

Sinulog Festival

Sinulog Festival

Mag Aso Falls is one of the more famous tourist spots in the Kabankalan Area.

mag aso falls

Victorias City is a Fourth Class City, located NW of Bacolod City. Like most Filipino families, there are relatives living everywhere and Victorias City is no exception. Victorias Milling Company touts as being the world’s largest integrated sugar mill, as it sits on 7,000 hectares. Inside the Victorias Milling Company is their chapel and its mural of the Angry Christ is famous worldwide. It was painted by international artist, Alfonso Ossorio, and it has been featured in Life Magazine and in other famous publications.

angry christ jpg

Victorias City is also famous for Victorias Sardines!

victorias sardines

I have been a lover of music all my life and I always have a blast at the Panaad Festival! The different towns and cities spotlight an excellent band almost nightly and this year was no exception. I would like to mention Band Aid. An excellent band that I listened to at the Victorias City exhibit, two nights straight. I have met and listened to many guitarists over the years but one of the best I ever heard was in Band Aid. Marlon is his name. Tony, the front man of the band, told me that Band Aid plays on Monday and Friday evening in Bacolod at a resto bar. More on that later!

Marlon of Band Aid

Marlon of Band Aid. He can really play the guitar! Carlos Santana and Stevie Ray Vaughn good!!

Band Aid

Band Aid

Band Aid did a number of songs by song stylists such as, America, the Beatles, Santana, Neil Young and a host of others. If anyone does not like Band Aid, something is wrong with them! Great songs.

Please do not forget to check out Retiring to the Philippines. It is the best online expat magazine about the Philippines and we also have a forum, where you can ask questions and have a discussion about Retiring to the Philippines.

http://retiringtothephilippines.com/

My good buddy, Steve Fleming, and I have some great new articles up about the Philippines that I think you will enjoy. Retirement is a Lifestyle and I do not know a better place on earth retiring to than to the Philippines! There are many islands to choose from in the Philippines and there is one island waiting just for you! I found my retirement paradise in Bacolod City. After 4 years of living in Negros Occidental, my family and I have not even scratched the surface of all the things to see and do here in the fabulous province of Negros Occidental.