Rice Is Nice!

philippines-rice field
As many already know, rice is the staple food in the Philippines. Many eat rice 3 times per day, day in and day out! I am not so fond of rice on such a regular basis but I do enjoy rice from time to time, just not every day.

I do like rice because we grow it! We have 3.1 hectares of rice and we have 2 harvests each year. We do not have irrigation or otherwise, we would have 3 rice harvests each year. Currently, an un-milled sack of rice sells for P585 in our area of the Philippines. We sell as much of our rice as we like to one rice trader and we do not sell it by the kilo, which is a long, drawn out affair.

Rice Dishes

For breakfast, I can enjoy rice, with two over EZ eggs and I mix the eggs with the rice. It is actually yummy. But other mornings, I enjoy grits, with over EZ eggs. I also enjoy biscuits and gravy, so I have a good variety to choose from.

Spanish Rice! I love Spanish Rice! Tomato sauce, bell peppers, onion, and crispy bacon all mixed together in one rice dish.

spanish-rice
Chicken and Rice. I take any cut of chicken I am interested in on that particular day and make one of my favorite dishes that includes rice. I cook this dish in one pot. The chicken, the rice and grated ginger. I get a good boil going with a homemade broth, add the chicken, the rice and the ginger, lower the fire, and let it simmer. Wow! It is fabulous. The rice really soaks up the taste of the chicken.

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Dirty Rice. This is very simply made and the rice dish will be brown in color, so this is why it is called dirty rice! Chopped chicken livers, chicken gizzards and rice, cooked in one pot. Flavorings according to taste. Dirty rice is well known as a Cajun dish down in Louisiana but you can prepare it right here in the Philippines. Ayee!

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Stir Fried Rice. This is one dish in that you can really let your imagination run wild! The sky is the limit. I lived in mainland China and in Hong Kong for 9 years but nowhere could I find the fabulous fried rice dishes that I ate in Chinese-American Restaurants back in the States. There was chicken fried rice, shrimp fried rice, pork fried rice, beef fried rice and pretty plain egg fried rice. But, wow! So delicious. I am sure you can kick up some fried rice at home using your own imagination. Don’t forget, you must use cold rice when making stir fried rice and you must cook it in a wok or skillet! Don’t forget the soy sauce seasoning!!

stir-fry-rice
Beans and Rice. My favorites are black eyed peas and rice, red beans and rice and black beans and rice. In the Philippines, black eyed peas in our area are known as white sitao and black eyed peas over rice is known as Hoppin’ John!¬† Both black beans and red beans are available in the Philippines but make sure you are not using the Chinese black beans with this dish, otherwise, they will be far to salty to eat! Yes, Chinese black beans are salted beans. All bean and rice dishes are 100% better if you add sausage! The local chorizo and longaniza will work but I prefer Kielbasa, Italian or the Portuguese Linguica Sausages. Yes, they are all available here in the Philippines!

red-beans-and-rice
Rice does not sound so bad after all, now does it? You can really do a lot with rice and it does not have to be eaten plain!

Rice is really nice and you can kick it up a few notches right here in the Philippines.

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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.

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.

Mambukal Mudpack Festival 2013

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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.

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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!

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

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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!!

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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.

Panaad Festival 2013 at Night

Sunglasses at Night

Sunglasses at Night

There are hundreds of vendors at the Panaad Festival selling so many different items, which is part of the fun of looking around.

Balut and Peanuts

Balut and Peanuts

One of the most common night time snacks in the Philippines is balut. Balut is duck eggs that have been fertilized with the embryo for about 8 days and then boiled before eating. The peanuts are simply roasted peanuts.

 

Seafood Market

Seafood Market

There are a number of seafood markets at the Panaad Festival. After choosing your favorite seafood, you can have it cooked or packaged to take home.

Fish

Fish

 

Nice Looking Prawns

Nice Looking Prawns

Grilled Scallops

Grilled Scallops

One of my favorite treats at the Panaad Festival is eating grilled scallops on the half shell. P150, or less than $4, will buy a lot of scallops for several people to share.

Local Handicrafts

Local Handicrafts

More Handicrafts

More Handicrafts

 

Beautiful Vases

Handicraft Vases

There are many beautiful handicrafts to choose from at the Panaad Festival and these are only a very few among the vast variety.

There are still 4 nights and 5 days left of exuberant activities at the Panaad sa Negros Festival 2013. You still have time to make it!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Panaad sa Negros Festival 2013

Today, April 8, is the official opening of the Panaad sa Negros Festival and we already made the rounds. The 19 towns and 13 cities of Negros Occidental have exhibits at the festival.

Fruit

Avocado, Mango and Singkamas

This photo was taken at the exhibit of my wife’s hometown in Negros Occidental. Singkamas is also referred to a jicama and Mexican turnip.

Calabasa

Calabasa Squash

The first day of the Panaad Festival features the local fruits, vegetables and livestock. By sundown, the Festival will be in full swing with the pulsating beat of music.

Cabbage

Cabbage

Panaad 2013

A prize pig! Unique coloring.

Carabao

Carabao

The carabao is the National Animal of the Philippines. Locals also refer to the carabao as a buffalo and foreigners often refer to them as water buffalo.

Panaad 2013

A prize goat! This is not your typical local goat but what is referred to as a hybrid, of Nubian stock.

Brahman Cattle

Brahman Cattle

The Brahman Cattle on exhibit today are from Sagay City.

Arrival of Lechon Baboy

Arrival of Lechon Baboy

It is lunch time! A festival is never complete without lechon baboy, which is roast pig.

This is my first post about Panaad Festival 2013 and we still have six more days of festival to go. More later!

 

 

Mambukal Revisited

Mambukal Revisited

It is a family tradition going to scenic parks, resorts, beaches and other interesting places on holidays. Easter afternoon was no exception! We loaded up the Crosswind and took off for Mambukal Hot Springs Mountain Resort.

Flying Bat

Flying Fruit Bat

There are thousands of fruit bats at Mambukal and locally, they are known as flying foxes.

Hanging Fruit Bats

Hanging Fruit Bats

During daytime hours, most of the fruit bats can be seen hanging from one of the many trees, however, some enjoy flying around even when it is not dark.

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

In the later afternoon, the crowd in the hot springs pool had thinned out. There are private spas one can avail at Mambukal, providing hot springs from the mountain.

There is a lively food court inside Mambukal where fresh seafood, native Filipino dishes and a few Western favorites are served. We decided to dine at Ikea of Kabankalan in the Mambukal Food Court.

Bacon Cheeseburger

Bacon Cheeseburger at Ikea of Kabankalan

The owner of the restaurant came over to our table to speak to us personally. The Bacon Cheeseburger was not on the menu but I asked nicely and the owner agreed to prepare it just for me! Lots of crispy fried bacon. Keeping the burger with the local influence, it was garnished with sliced green tomato and cucumber. It was awesome! The bacon cheeseburger was also served with a side of deep fried shrimp or lobster crackers.

Halo Halo

Halo Halo

Halo Halo is a delightful treat and is found most everywhere in the Philippines with each region having their own favorite variation. The Halo Halo at Ikea of Kabankalan in the Mambukal Food Court is made with shaved ice, firm cubed gelatin, purple yams, rice krispies, various slices of tropical fruit and ice cream. Fabulous!

If you haven’t been to Mambukal Hot Springs and Mountain Resort, by all means, check it out ASAP. You don’t realize what you are missing! If it has been awhile since your last trip to Mambukal, a revisit is always as fun as the first time. Adult admission is P50 per head, a little more than $1, and children admission is P20 or sometimes, even free.

Have Fun! It really is more fun in the Philippines!