All Around Bacolod: Sharing the Grandeur of the Philippines


February 2018 will mark the 6th year I have been publishing articles about the Philippines on my website, All Around Bacolod. My Vision and my Mission have always remained to share the Grandeur of the Philippines, especially about the Bacolod Area.

Who Reads All Around Bacolod?

Word Press has daily statistics that I can refer to as to where my readers and followers are actually located. Today, thus far to this moment, people reading All Around Bacolod are located in the USA, Canada, Singapore, Saudi Arabia and the Philippines. Yesterday, Russia and Australia made the list together with the mentioned 5 countries.

There are many people around the world who have not yet visited the Philippines. There are many others who have visited the Philippines, some have visited many times, and they have plans to live in the Philippines during their retirement years.

I do not mind expats living in Bacolod reading my articles, however, they are certainly not the base or core of my followers and readers. They are already here and if they get out of their houses, they should already know much about Bacolod City and about the surrounding areas.

The Bacolod Area is not the only location in the Philippines but it has been my home since June 2009. From 1986-2000, I lived in Metro Manila 2 times and I most annually visited, sometimes 2-3 times during the year. However, my experience in Manila is highly outdated and is no longer accurate.

More Than Beaches


Many beaches in the Philippines are very beautiful, however, not everyone likes the beach. Some expats prefer life in the rural mountain areas of the Philippines. Murcia and Don Salvador Benedicto are the two mountain areas I am most familiar with in the Bacolod Area.


All expats do not like the beaches or the mountain areas and they prefer living in a large city in the Philippines. Some prefer many more choices to enjoy a vibrant nightlife, many more choices for great dining and many more choices to enjoy great shopping. The city lifestyle is for them!

Why I Chose to Live in the Bacolod Area

My wife is from the Bacolod Area, however, she did not pressure me to live here if I did not like it. After 3 extended visits to the Bacolod Area, 6 weeks each time, I decided that this is the area where I wanted to retire to and live in the Philippines. I have never regretted my decision!

Bacolod City was named this year by a panel of experts as The Model City in the Philippines. Previously, Bacolod City has been awarded as the Greenest, Cleanest and Most Livable City in the Philippines…several times.

In Bacolod City, there is great dining, with many choices of Cuisine and there is also great shopping. Education from K-University is excellent…if the right educational institution is chosen for attending. There are 5 Private Hospitals in Bacolod City. Overall, based upon the words of Filipino family and friends, the Medical Care in Bacolod City is very good to excellent, depending upon the Hospital and their personal MD.

Currently, there are 8 Shopping Malls in the Bacolod Area, which also includes Talisay City. A new larger Ayala Mall is under construction as I write.

Compared to the well known large cities in the Philippines, Bacolod does not have the traffic, crime or pollution problems. Bacolod is a mid-sized city and we feel it is a great place to raise our son.

The City of Smiles

Bacolod City lives up their reputation of The City of Smiles. The vast majority of the Filipinos who are friends, family acquaintances and among those I newly meet are very nice, extremely friendly and are eager to be helpful if needed.

The vast majority of the Filipinos in my circle and the ones I know on a more casual basis are originally from Negros Occidental. Not being critical of other Regions and the people from those Regions, I have found the Filipinos in Negros Occidental to have a very gentle character and a laid back lifestyle. I lived in the Southern USA most of my life and the Filipinos and their hospitality in our area reminds me very much of the people in both Alabama and in Northern Florida. The elderly are respected, God, Family, Flag and Country are loved and people are neighborly.

I have many wonderful Filipino friends in the Bacolod Area. People should do what they need to be happy and having many foreign friends is not a requirement for my happiness. There are only two foreigners living in the subdivision where we live…me and another American. We have not even seen one another since last year.

Moving to the Bacolod Area is the best move I have made.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

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The Palms Food Complex


Yesterday, we went to The Palms Food Complex in Bacolod, located behind Starbuck’s and the Shell station on 18th Street, off Lacson Street. We wanted to order Pizza at the new Neenan’s Shack…Pizza and Burgers. The principal proprietor is a foreigner.

The Pizza was great, prepared in a wood fired brick oven. I rank Neenan’s Pizza among the best in Bacolod and the 4 in our party all agree. Two thumbs up! Now, we come to the prices. Margherita Pizza is P145 and Pepperoni Pizza is P160. All pizzas are the same size but among us, we had two slices to bring home, leftover from those two Pizzas we ordered. Those were my breakfast today!


At The Palms, there are maybe 6 restaurants and most all the tables are outdoors but covered by an awning up high. No beating down hot sun or rain to be concerned about. I noticed on the end of the Food Complex, every outdoor table was taken, so I walked down there to see what is so popular. It is…

Beers and Wings! On Wednesdays and Saturdays, 3pm-8pm, there is Unlimited Buffalo Wings and Rice for P199 per head. Beer is extra, of course.

I would like to thank the Bacolod Food Hunters for telling all their followers about the newest and greatest restaurants in Greater Bacolod City. Thank you much!

Almost every week in Bacolod, new restaurants open their doors. Bacolod City has long been known as a Mecca for Fabulous Food. There is something here for just about everyone! Negrense and other Regional Filipino Cuisine, American, British, Indian, Latin American, Spanish, Mexican, Middle Eastern, Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Asian Fusion and other delicious Cuisine as well.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Bacolod Jazz Fest 2017

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I send this out to all you folks in Bacolod City, the City of Smiles, and to all you folks in Negros Occidental. Some of you expats are mean little bastardos but we can’t do without you! Also to those of you who may be visiting soon, I have something for ya.

The annual Bacolod Jazz Fest will be at the L’ Fisher Hotel La Proa Grand Ball Room on Friday, February 17th, with warm up jam session beginning at 6pm. Tickets are now on sale at the hotel and they are selling quickly.

Anders Paulsson, recognized as one of the world’s best saxophonists today, is the headliner. Kat Agarrado and her band, Manila Blues Experience, will also be one of the headliners. Working Stiff, Manila’s Premier Jazz Fusion Band will perform, as will AMP Nonet.

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Classical Jazz, New Age Jazz, Latino Jazz, Reggae Jazz, Fusion Jazz and All That Jazz will be featured by a number of Jazz Stylists. Get ready, it’s gonna be Awesome!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Eating Korean Food In The Philippines

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A new Korean restaurant opened at Golden Field in Bacolod and the name is Hanok. I have been hearing a lot of talk about how great the Korean food is at Hanok. Of course, if you already know you do not like Korean food, no need to go there, as that is all they serve. Some of the dishes, you can cook at your table. There are many dishes that are prepared in their kitchen by an actual chef, so you do not have to cook!

A friend contacted me and told me that there is a Korean owner and a Korean chef at Hanok and he knows I know Korean food very well. I ate Korean and Thai food 4 or 5 times each week when I lived in Ft Walton Beach, Florida. A Korean friend owned my favorite restaurant/watering hole/karaoke bar in the Florida Panhandle. Mary Esther, Florida.

Korean Dining Experience

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Four of us dined at Hanok last evening and even our 11 year old son raved about their food! We could not eat all the food, of course, as each dish is for 3-4 people, depending on appetites. It is about social, getting together, ordering 4 or 5 dishes, sharing and having a few drinks. We ordered 5 dishes, a pitcher of house blend cold tea without ice and a couple of beers for my friend and I. My wife and I were the only ones who could use chopsticks and Korean chopsticks are normally metal, not wooden. Do not worry, as they have regular eating utensils as well at Hanok. The fare was exactly P1500 and we had a ton of leftovers to bring home.

For brunch today, I had leftover Korean Green Onion Pancakes and Cheese Egg Rolls. These egg rolls are not like Filipino Lumpia or Chinese Egg Rolls. No, no, no. They are actually eggs, rolled up and stuffed with wonderful cheese.

Finding an Excellent Korean Restaurant

I will be the first to tell you, finding an excellent Korean restaurant in Bacolod and even in Cebu is hit or miss. Mostly Miss from my experience. I have eaten at 2 different Korean restaurants in Cebu City and both were not good at all. Not authentic. Hanok is the only authentic Korean restaurant we have found in Bacolod. The only one!

A good tip for ya. See which restaurant has many Korean patrons eating there. If they eat in a Korean restaurant that is crap, they will not go back again. If you find a Korean restaurant with many Korean patrons, I think you have found the gem. Word of mouth spreads. “Don’t go to _____(fill in the blank.) No good!”

Last evening, there were two lovely young Korean ladies dining there and each had a full bottle of Soju. They are a better man than I am if they can drink a bottle of Soju! Perhaps they were drinking the 18% ABV Soju? I have only tried the 45% ABV Soju in the past and I already knew if I messed around drinking much of it, it would knock my socks off! I found it to be a hard drink.

No thanks! Just give me an ice cold OB, a Korean Beer. There is a joke that OB is Oriental Budweiser Beer. It is good beer.

I had not eaten an authentic Korean Green Onion Pancake since 1995. I am very happy I found them again at Hanok.

If you want to enjoy excellent authentic Korean Cuisine in Bacolod City, I highly recommend Hanok in Golden Field.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Eat Like A Viking: All Day Buffet!

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Two days after our son’s birthday, we went to Vikings Buffet, located in SM Mall. Their lunch hours are 11am-230pm and the one price, all you can eat and drink, allows you to stay the entire time, in what they promote as All Day Buffet. The wait staff did not come around until around 2pm to hand out the bills.

Vikings begins taking reservations and handing out Walk In Numbers at 10am and we had W-2, second to be called in at 11am. P588 per adult and P388 for our son, which was based on his not being over 4’6 in height.

Draft San Miguel is included in the price. Red wine is P149 per glass or around P600-P900 per bottle.

When we went to Vikings on Wednesday, no one in our party ate plain white rice or any of the Filipino Cuisine. I had the Louisiana Dirty Rice with Chicken Livers & Gizzards as a side dish. There was a whole pig and diners could ask for Lechon but none in our party wanted any. Everyone wanted the dishes that are not commonly eaten at home or in local Filipino restaurants. Exactly the way it should be.

The Carving Station of the Buffet featured beautifully marbled Roast Beef, Lamb, Chicken and Smoked Sausage. I went with the meat first but I skipped the Chicken. I headed to Mexican Corner on the Buffet and made my own Taco Salad with ground beef chili with beans, lettuce, tomato, onion and sour cream.

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The Japanese section of the Buffet has all the good sushi, such as Salmon, Tuna, California Maki and others. The Chinese section of the Buffet only had Egg Foo Young that I was interested in and I did not really look at the rest too much.

I had a small Cucumber Salad, which was hot & spicy as hell and I only took one bite! Too bad. I don’t like it that hot. The only seafood I was interested in was the deep fried crabs and you can eat shell and all. I have developed an allergy with Shrimp and Prawns but I can eat all the other seafood/shellfish.

Several types of ice cream and many types of cakes and pastries are on the Dessert Bar. There are many other drinks other than beer but I wanted the Draft.

Dining Entertainment

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Vikings puts on the best Birthday Show I have seen anywhere here. A Reggae version of a Happy Birthday song, other Birthday songs, all their staff come around to sing and dance, including the ladies who keep the CR clean. The photo op includes wearing a Viking helmet with horns. I really enjoyed the show.

I know that Vikings have branches in Bacolod, Manila and in Cebu City.

The bill for 4 of us was P2,300 for the 3 1/2 hour feast and party. A fabulous deal to me!

I think everyone will enjoy Vikings Luxury Buffet. If not, I will wonder about them!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

A Filipino Way of Life

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Last weekend, we headed south about 25 km from Bacolod. One of my brothers in law had contacted us about fresh live sea crabs for P250 per kilo. He helps his girlfriend operate her restaurant in a fisher folk village. They buy their seafood direct from fishermen. A number of people go to the restaurant because it has a good view of the sea and Guimaras Island, which looks like a large crocodile in the distance. They also have some of the cheapest prices for ice cold beer.

We left home in Bacolod around 1pm. When we arrived at the fishing village, the fisherman was just going out to check his crab nets in his motor boat. I got a cold one and watched the fisherman from a distance. He went out in his boat about 1 1/2 km and he began checking 8 or 10 crab nets he has. It took him a couple of hours to get his catch of crabs and re-bait his nets.

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Several children were playing a game in the sand, using the larger bottle tops from soft drinks, placed in a drawn square in the sand with a stick, and smaller crowns from beer and soft drink bottles. Each larger bottle top children were able to hit, after throwing their crowns at them was theirs. At the end of the game, whoever had collected the most large bottle tops was the winner.

I also watched our son playing tag with two girls on the beach. They ran around for about an hour. One girl is about our son’s age and the other one was about 6 years old but she could run fast! We had to ask them to take a break long enough to drink bottled water. They were having a blast!

When the fisherman returned to shore, a number of children ran up to his boat to see what he had. A number of adults also walked out to take a look. He had a mess of crabs!

There were 6 of us and my wife boiled the crabs in the restaurant kitchen. She used the Zatarain’s Crab Boil that I took along. Everyone compliment the flavor of the craps that was enhanced by Zatarain’s, which is a little spicy. I had fresh boiled sweet corn with the crabs and others had rice, of course. I had forgotten to bring the Sweet Chili Sauce but the crabs were still very good. Others used coconut vinegar as dipping sauce for the crabs.

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I really enjoy going to the fishing village on Sunday afternoons and we go as often as we can. My wife, our son and our best friend Randy also enjoy it. Randy has to drive back to Bacolod because it is usually dark when we return home. I do not drive at night.

We are friends with a number of people who live in and around the fishing village. I enjoy the atmosphere very much. Cool sea breeze and watching life going on with the Filipinos who live there. It is about as laid back as it comes! The people do not complain about anything and they are really happy every time we see them. They do not create cares or create worries that do not exist or fret over things they can never change. They have the wisdom to know the difference!

The people in the fishing village eat from the sea, they have free range chickens and there is always rice. There are a number of cashew trees right there in the village and many more coconut trees. The children do not spend hours with electronic gadgets but they know how to really play together. They create their own games. In my opinion, the people, young/old/middle age know how to really live and be happy. Their happiness is contagious to those who can really see and who are open minded. I already know this and I have for years. I only wish more expats and visiting foreigners can experience it.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

While I Was Away

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A little time has passed since my last article but I have not forgotten about you. I have not left the Philippines but I had to take 2 trips within the Philippines.

If you live outside Metro Manila, there will be times you must travel to other areas of the Philippines. Especially when dealing with government agencies, such as BI, Bureau of Immigration. Within the Philippines, I normally fly Cebu Pacific Airlines and they still use prop planes on shorter trips within the country.

Life is still great in the Bacolod area! My family and I are in great health and everyday still unfolds a new adventure in the Philippine.

Traveling for Fun and Business

My first recent trip was to Cebu City to visit an American friend. Cebu City has a vibrant nightlife and great shopping but the city traffic is getting to be a real nightmare. There is also a large expat community in Cebu City. The flight from Bacolod to Cebu City is only a 25 minute flight, even though it is listed a little longer on the Cebu Pacific Airlines website. If you watch the promos on their website and book your ticket online, you can buy a RT ticket for as little as P994. Even without a promo, a flight from Bacolod City to Cebu City is about P2,300 on average, if you book online.

I had to travel to Iloilo to renew my 13a Visa ACR I-Card but that was a day trip. I had a little time to kill before I returned to Bacolod City that afternoon. I decided to hang out at Robinsons Mall until time to return home.

At Robinsons Mall, I did not see too many interesting places to eat but I decided upon lunch at Irish Potatoes. I ordered the Irish Potatoes with Chili and Sour Cream. I also ordered an ice cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen. Total cost was less than P130.

New Articles

I was unable to access the other photos from our trip to Sipalay, so I am unable to write another article about our trip there in March 2016.

I will be writing more interesting articles in June and moving forward. Our son will soon be back in school and I will have more free time to write more.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

An Expedition to Sipalay: Day One

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We had never spent any time in Sipalay, Negros Occidental, so last weekend, 42 of us loaded up in a van and in 2 SUVs, heading south. We departed at 330am. Everyone was excited!

We made a stop at Ella’s Famous Coffee Shop in Valldolid for a cup of hot native coffee. By the time we reached Kabankalan, the half way point in our journey, it was time for a CR/Restroom break. In short order, it was time to saddle up and continue south!

There is a stretch of road in the mountains, between Kabankalan and Sipalay, which reminds me of the Pacific Coast Highway in California. As you look down to your right, you can view the sea. Excellent view from up on high of the sea down below.

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Tired on Arrival

Yes, I was! We checked in the Jamont Hotel in Sipalay, which I consider a nice hotel. Not a 5 Star but a Good Star! We ordered a pizza in the hotel restaurant, I had a beer and the planners of our group met to map out our day and evening. After that, I was ready for a much needed afternoon nap. I was to meet an expat from UK, a fellow Living in the Philippines3 Group Member, and his lovely lady at 3pm at the hotel.

Our son was enjoying swimming in the hotel pool. My wife enjoyed talking to the others in our Expedition to Sipalay.

I woke up from my afternoon nap at 2pm and I was ready for Merienda. I ordered Chicken and Pork Adobo from the hotel restaurant. It was much better than the pizza!

I greatly enjoyed talking to my new friend, my fellow Living in the Philippines3 Group Member. My wife greatly enjoyed talking to her new friend, his lovely lady. Time flies when you are having a good time and after a couple of hours of talking, our new friends had to leave, as they had other things planned for the evening.

The Nightlife is a Good Life!

First stop was at Mixed Food Restaurant in the Sipalay Waterfront area. It is operated by a French National and you can easily find it by the mall replica of the Eiffel Tower out front, made of bamboo. I ordered the American Hamburger and it was Triple Stack! It was a great burger, to say the least. The sound system across the way was warming up and we were told that a live band would perform around 930pm. It sounded good to us!

We went back to the Jamont Hotel and joined our friends for a beachfront cook out. Fish, octopus and chicken were the fare. Very gooda!

Before we knew it, time to go listen to the live band was upon us.

I really enjoyed the band. It was one of the better bands I have listened to in the Philippines! The male lead singer also played the saxophone. The female vocalist was also very good. They really energized the crowd of several hundred people at the waterfront. Great Entertainers, as many Filipinos are. We were happy!

It’s a Good Night For Singing After Midnight

We went to Topaz Bar in the same area of the waterfront and sang karaoke until about 4am. There were about 12 of us singing. I found many good songs on the playlist of Topaz. “Load Out/Stay” by Jackson Browne is one song not commonly found in karaoke bars in the Philippines but Topaz had it. Of course, I had to sing it.

Several in our group of Blues Travelers live in Manila and we do not often get to spend time with them. Singing together was a great way to spend time with them. That’s exactly what we did!

We were the first to come and the last to leave. We could have sang even longer but we had a trip planned, after sleeping, to Sugar Beach.

My article is Day One of our Expedition to Sipalay. My Day Two article will soon follow. Look for it!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Are Women Who Work in Bars Trustworthy?

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This is another million peso question that has been tossed around for years. For many women, working in bars is just a job but for many others, the bar is a lifestyle. It is always about hustle to them. To others, it is a venue to meet Mr Right. They want to be rescued by a Knight in Shining Armor. It may be you if you are a single guy, although I do not promote such entertainment. I do not condemn it, either. The nature of some men will come out, however.

I know guys who met their wives in a bar and you would never know today that they ever worked in bars. I think we have to be realistic. How many guys in the Philippines or around the world never spent time with girls who worked in bars? It takes 2 to tango. It is like the pot calling the kettle black. You must have been to the bars to know about bar girls, di ba?

Buenas Noches from a lonely room! Looking for love in all the wrong places can be a big mistake but it can also be a blessing in disguise. It is a crap shoot, just like in any relationship.

People Are People

I do not see bar girls as trash. There are also women in the USA who work in bars. To some, it is just a job, to others, it is a venue to scam men. I am not advocating for readers to cruise bars but I would like to say that there are women who work in bars who are nice women. I met a few over the years. No, I did not meet my wife in a bar but if I did, I would not be ashamed to say so. I would not love her any less.

I have posted many times about my love to sing and I sing often. Not to put a superstar status or a badge on my chest but I enjoy singing. One song I enjoy singing is by Bret Michaels. The chorus includes this, “Guys like Girls dancing on bars, Girls like guys driving fast cars!” I think this is reality.

God bless all the girls who work in bars. They are not all trash but they are people who have to make a living. Many years ago, I had a Filipna friend who was only 4’9 and working in bars was the only job she could land. Not her fault here. To those who are con artists, Karma lives on. We all reap what we sow.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

She Still Has My Ray Bans On

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This post is inspired by a song I heard recently, by JT Hodges, which I can relate to. My wife still has my Ray Ban Sunglasses on after 14 years!

We read posts on LinP3, Living in the Philippines3 Yahoo Group, and on All Around Bacolod about bad relationships, relationships that were good but went south and we read posts about guys who have been married 40 years to their wife, who is from the Philippines.

I think a tribute to our Filipina wives and girlfriends is in order. We often read posts and articles about our opinion and our view as foreigners. It would be nice hearing from the Filipina Point of View!

Dalagang Pilipina

It was in the early 1990s when I met and heard the great Filipino folk singer, Freddie Aguilar, perform at Bodega City in Quezon City. There were only about 30 of us in attendance since it was a spur of the moment performance. “Ang Dalangan Pilipina” is one of my favorite songs by Freddie Aguilar. It is about the Virtues of a Filipina. There are so many!

Women

Some want to portray all Filipinas as Gold Diggers and Scammers but this is just a dark side of some women from all around the world. These women are everywhere. But they are not all women! It does not matter if you are in Atlanta, LA, Paris, London, Berlin, Rio, Boca Chica, San Juan, Kingston or anywhere, there are predators who are women. But not all women are predators. Especially not in the Philippines.

My wife is an Angel sent from on high to me. She is proudly from Negros Occidental and I can never praise our relationship enough. I have several close Filipina friends but we are friends only. My wife and I are not teenagers or newlyweds, we do not have a leash around one another neck. We are not green eyed monsters or crabs! My wife also has Filipino friends. Trust and respect is alive. Neither one of us are concerned about our relationship or about our relationships with friends. Male or female.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~