Hua Kong Chinese Pharmacy and Grocery


Hua Kong Chinese Pharmacy has been in Bacolod since 1949. It also is a small grocery store. Hua Kong is located on Tindalo Avenue, near the Triangle Shopping Center.

Since 1984, I have exclusively turned to Traditional Chinese Medicine when I needed medication, which is not often. Acupuncture, together with Chinese Herbal and Natural Medication works wonders for me!

The Traditional Chinese Medications and Herbs are bought OTC, over the counter, at Hua Kong. Tiger Balm, Golden Throat Lozenges and Nin Jiom Pei Pa Koa Herbal Cough Elixir are 3 Natural Medications I keep on hand at home.

Hua Kong is one of the few places where you can buy the American Antacid, TUMS, which is also not a harsh medication.

There are knowledgeable staff on hand to tell you about Chinese Traditional Medicine.

Spices, Herbs and Health Drinks

Hua Kong is the best source in Bacolod for Spices and Herbs, used in your kitchen. It is the only seller of Prague Powder that I have seen, used in Sausage Making and Meat Curing.

Health Drinks! Hua Kong is the place to go. They have a number of types of Chinese tea, Ginseng Coffee and Coffee with Tongkat Ali. Alcohol drinks include Tsingtao Beer and Ginseng Wine, with the whole Ginseng Root in the bottle. It will get your motor running!

You will find Cashews, Walnuts and Almonds at Hua Kong, together with Sunflower Seeds as well.

A few days ago, I bought a large package of Pork Jerky at Hua Kong for P200.


I also bought Hopia that same day. Hopia is a Chinese-Filipino Pastry. Fillings include Pork, Mung Bean or Purple Yam. Hua Kong has several brands of Hopia and I like Salazar brand, Hopia Baboy, which has Pork filling.


Hua Kong has fresh Vegetables and an excellent source for buying Oranges and Apples. Canned Meats are also on the shelves, together with Condiments.

If you have never been to Hua Kong, I think you will enjoying browsing in their store.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

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Expat Fun Activities in the Philippines


There are many Fun Activities in the Philippines that expats will enjoy. Not all expats enjoy the same activities but I think there is pretty much something for everyone.

For me, Bacolod City, the City of Smiles, indeed brings smiles into my life. Never a boring day for me.

The Dog Racing is really great for me because it is something I enjoyed in Florida for years and now, I can enjoy it in Bacolod. P50 is less than $1 bet and it makes it interesting. No one is going to lose much betting that amount and it is cheap entertainment.

Not so many expats enjoy Karaoke but I think it is because they never participated in real Karaoke. Where I sing Karaoke, not many would try to sing if they could not sing fairly well. Many Filipinos are on the pro level of singers, yet they are common people.


Some expats like beaches and some expats like mountains. Both are here in Negros Occidental, as well as in many locations around the Philippines.

Some expats enjoy Casinos and there are many PAGCOR licensed Casinos around the Philippines. PAGCOR also has Poker Rooms and high stakes Bingo Halls. As long as a person can control their bets, I see nothing wrong with playing Cards, Bingo or Slot Machines. Mahjong, either, for that matter. Whatta bout Dominoes? Checkers? Chess? Wagering P10 or P20 per game makes it interesting, for fun! Nothing high stakes and in moderation.

Bacolod has an annual Jazz Festival at the L’ Fisher Hotel.


There are 3 Golf Country Clubs in the Bacolod Area, 2 in Bacolod and 1 in Victorias City.


The MassKara Festival every October and the Pannad sa Negros Festival every April attract many Filipinos and foreigners to the City of Smiles. The Mud Pack Festival in Murcia at Mambukal Hot Springs and Mountain Resort is also popular, every June.


Two days ago, our son was a little achy from Basketball and Volleyball Practice at his school and he wanted to go sit in Mambukal Japanese Hot Springs. So, off we went, as Murcia is only about a 25 minute drive east of Bacolod. Twenty minutes is about as long as I can tolerate sitting in the Japanese Hot Springs, as they are indeed Hot, Hot, Hot…Springs.

I have been dragged into an Entertainment Bar a couple of times by close Filipino friends but at age 63, I know those Non Stop Erotic Bars are just a Fantasy. Nothing I am into. But for those who like it, there are half a dozen such Bars in Bacolod, with many, many more in Cebu City and in Manila.


On a side note, one All Around Bacolod reader told me he met his future wife at the Silver Dollar Bar in Cebu City. She is now in the USA and apparently, they have a good marriage…so far, so good!

Fishing, Boating, Surfing and Diving are widely available…all around the Philippines.

Zumba Dancing? Yep, I have seen foreigners joining in this group dancing in malls and in parks in Bacolod.


I am into Tai Chi and they have it daily, early morning, at Panaad Park in Bacolod. Tai Chi is great, better than meditation yoga in my book. I have created a number of new Tai Chi movements that I use daily. I do Tai Chi at home, mostly.


Art Lessons are given at several Bacolod Malls in a group setting. Low cost and fun in being creative with mostly Filipinos. I have been into Jackson Pollock style Abstract Art for years, so I do not need lessons but I enjoy sharing this wonderful creative technique with others. It is Free Style, basically and you are only limited by your imagination. Run wild!

Do not forget church services! Many think that the Catholic Church is the only church in the Philippines but that is certainly not the case. There are many denominations of churches in the Philippines. Full Gospel, Apostolic, United Pentecostal, Independent Pentecostal, Baptist, Methodist, Mormon churches are all here and others as well.


Every NFL and MLB Season, I draft a Fantasy Football and Baseball Team on CBS Sports and ESPN, while in the Philippines. I am able to manage the teams all seasons.

The above is my team logo for my El Javelinas Fantasy Baseball Team on CBS Sports.

You see, there are many activities in the Philippines for expats to enjoy.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Home Gardening and Small Scale Farming


We have maintained a Home Garden in the Bacolod Area since 2009. It is a Hobby for us, rather than growing vegetables due to inflation. However, a Home Garden can allow you to keep more of your money during Inflationary Times. .

In Bacolod, we live in a city subdivision and we only have two small divided strips of actual yard. My wife planted Pine Trees there. However, we had a Home Garden in the city for 7 years, without a yard.

We made a Planter on our compound property in the subdivision. We dug up some of the concrete, added soil and enclosed the front and sides with hollow blocks. We use Compost and we supplement with Organic Fertilizer.

We grow Calamansi and Herbs in large pots, both plastic and clay pots.


Container Gardening

There are so many ways to have a Home Garden in the city, even a large one. If it is a container, you can use it to plant in. Within reason, of course. Cut off large, upside down Soda Bottles, empty large Ice Cream Containers, Empty Paint Cans and Empty Coffee Cans are only a few ideas of containers that can be recycled as Planters.

Halved Bamboo Tubes, Bamboo Trellis, Wooden Crates/Boxes, old Ice Chest/Cooler and even a Clothes Basket can be used as Planters. Large Mason Jars and Empty Rice Sacks can also be used as Planters.

Potatoes can be grown in a Clothes Basket or you can make a Potato Planter out of Chicken Wire. Just wrap the Chicken Wire around to form a cylinder shaped Planter and there you go!


At our farmhouse, south of Bacolod, we have plenty of space in our yard to maintain a larger Home Garden. Since we live in the city full time, a brother in law maintains our garden down at the farm.

I have researched Agriculture in the Philippines for the past decade. I have read much online and personally talked to experts, while attending seminars as well. All about Agriculture in the Philippines.

If you live in the Province or in a rural area of a city, 1 hectare can feed a family of 4 year round if properly managed. Vegetables, Fruit, Meat and Dairy. If you have more land, you are in business!

Small Scale Farming

My wife and 2 of her brothers grow 3.1 hectares of Rice, south of Bacolod. There is still one half hectare not being utilized. I have suggested planting vegetables on that area.

Honestly, I firmly believe that there is more money to be made in High Value Vegetables than in Rice. And you can believe that! I suggested planting the entire 3.6 hectares with High Value Vegetables and forget about Rice.

You may ask yourself…what are High Value Vegetables? Well, I am happy sharing that information. From personal experience, the Seeds from East-West Seeds, available all around the Philippines, prosper the best with larger crop yields.


Here we go! Galaxy F1 and Santa Rita Ampalaya/Bitter Gourd. Django F1, Vulcan, and Hotshot Hot Peppers. Any variety of Sweet Peppers. Onion Bulb. Diamonte Max F1 and Marimax F1 Tomatoes. Morena F1 Eggplant. Bandana F1 and Jumbo Green Cucumber. Macho Corn and any variety of String Beans. Those are all High Value Vegetables.


There you have it! Enjoy your Home Garden and enjoy your Small Scale Farm.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

LVS Oishii Ramen Japanese Restobar


If you enjoy Japanese Cuisine, you will probably like LVS Oishii Ramen Japanese Restobar in Bacolod. It is located at The Market Place Food Complex, behind the New Govt Center on Circumferential Road.

Their Ramen is freshly made Egg Noodles and not Dry Ramen Noodles. A big plus and much better.

Oishii has Tempura Dishes, Ebi Dishes, Sukiyaki and Sushi on their menu, as well as Japanese Dumplings and other items. I did not memorize their menu, as I knew when I went in, I wanted Spicy Beef Ramen and I greatly enjoyed it, made with fresh Egg Noodles.

A pot of Hot Tea is delivered to your table right after you take your seat. Served in a Japanese Tea Pot and Japanese Tea Cups.

Oishii has cold Beer and they had one my favorites, Cerveza Negra. Kirin and Asahi Japanese Beers are also available for P120 per bottle.


I enjoy Japanese Cuisine much better than Chinese Cuisine in Bacolod. I was spoiled in Alabama and in Florida by the excellent Chinese-American Cuisine, which is not here and I never ate it during 9 years in China, either. No Moo Goo Gai Pan, no General Pao Chicken, no Sweet & Sour Chicken, no Egg Foo Young, no Chinese Mustard and no Fortune Cookies!

The Japanese Food is very good and the Service is excellent at Oishii.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Platos Restaurant


Platos Restaurant, based out of Manila, opened in Bacolod. It is located on Mansalingan Road, in the same shopping center as Robinsons Supermarket.

Platos is a Filipino Restaurant but I can honestly say it is the Real Deal and the best we tried in Bacolod City. The Chef and the other Kitchen Staff have been professionally trained in the preparation of Filipino Cuisine.

Filipino Classics

We ordered several dishes to share among 4 of us. Crispy Pata, Kare Kare, Sisig, Pork BBQ, Pancit Bihon and Filipino Chef Salad. All the dishes were excellent and authentic. Believe it..or not…all Filipino Cuisine is not authentic Some Filipino Restaurants plate Filipino Food that leaves a lot to be desired and that should not be.

The Filipino Chef Salad had generous slices of Mango, together with Lettuce, Tomato and Cucumber. House Dressing. It was excellent.

We ordered Shakes, which were large, and I ordered a San Miguel Pilsen. Our bill was P1,500 on the nose and we had leftover food for take out. The Kare Kare and the Pancit Bihon were certainly for several people.

For those living in the Bacolod Area and for those visiting Bacolod City, if you want authentic Filipino Cuisine, you can check out Platos Restaurant. Service was also great yesterday.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

BBQ/Barbecue/Barbeque


Since Anak Baka Steakhouse went out of business in Bacolod, not a single restaurant measures up concerning their BBQ. At least none that I have tried and I have tried many. Anak Baka had New Orleans Style BBQ Ribs and they were normally excellent, if the Grill Master was working that day.

Best BBQ

BBQ is very popular in Bacolod and all around Negros Occidental. You will find BBQ most everywhere, even on streets. However, it is Filipino style BBQ, for the most part. Local BBQ is often referred to as Sugba, which is used in both Ilonggo and in Cebuano Languages. Some Filipinos try to copy American BBQ but wherever I tried it, it was a complete failure. The Sauce does not make BBQ good! For me, I do not need BBQ Sauce on Ribs if they have been smoked and grilled properly.


Like in America, there are different styles of BBQ all around the Philippines. I sometimes buy frozen Pampanga’s Best Baby Back Ribs at SM Supermarket and they are better than most of the other ribs sold there. This is for a quicker meal. When I want to get serious with BBQ Ribs on our Grill, I buy fresh Pork Ribs at Bahamas Meat Shop.

I do not like Beef Ribs and I never buy them. Tried them a time or two and those were enough for me. Pork Ribs or Goat Ribs for me, please. Keep the Beef.

Someone once asked me in Florida, which Regional BBQ do I like best? Carolina BBQ, Texas BBQ, Memphis BBQ, Kansas City BBQ, New Orleans BBQ, St Louis BBQ? I like all of them!


North Alabama is famous for BBQ Chicken and White BBQ Sauce is homemade and used on the Chicken. I prepare Alabama BBQ Chicken Leg Quarters regularly in Bacolod. I certainly know how to make White BBQ Sauce. I have the Original Big Bob Gibson Recipe for White BBQ Sauce. It is in my head.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Love That Chicken Inasal From Manokan Country in Bacolod


A famous attraction in Bacolod for decades is…Manokan Country. It is a complex of more than a dozen restaurants, all specializing in Chicken Inasal. It is hot off the grill and brought right to your table. The Condiments are on the table to make your own Chicken Inasal Dipping Sauce. Spicy Vinegar and Soy Sauce. The wait staff bring you a generous amount of Hot Peppers and Calamansi to add to the Dipping Sauce. You will not have to ask for those, as they arrive even before your Chicken Inasal so you can make your Dipping Sauce in advance.


We had not been to Manokan Country in a while but we dined there at Aida’s this week. There are a number of items on their menu and I also ordered Grilled Chorizo, which is great. Grilled Oysters in the Shell is another popular item found at most restaurants in Manokan Country.

Aida’s is ranked #1 at Manokan Country as having the best Chicken Inasal in all of Bacolod. The marinade makes the difference! Not far behind Aida’s with excellent Chicken Inasal are Nena’s Beth, Nena’s, Nena’s Rose and Carmen’s. Rosing is an old favorite, as a nephew took me there several times over the years. Seems he is sweet on one of the waitresses.


Aida’s and all the other restaurants have ice cold Beer and a menu full of Pulutan, Grilled Chicken Parts. Isaw (Intestines), Atay (Liver), Puso (Heart), Isol (Butt) and I forget the local name but they also have Chicken Gizzards.


Manokan Country is located near SM Mall and everyone knows where it is. Trip Adviser, Lonely Planet and many other Travel Publications have published articles about Manokan Country.

If you visit Bacolod, Manokan Country is a must see, in my opinion.

Love that Chicken Inasal from Manokan Country in Bacolod!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

 

Cinco de Mayo

 


I do not know about in other areas but In Manila, Bacolod and in Cebu, you will find a number of restaurants and bars with Cinco de Mayo, May 5, Drink and Food Specials.

Some places worth checking out, if you are into Cinco de Mayo & Mexican Food and Drinks, include The Ruins, Manila Hotel, Taco Vengo, Alegria Cozinha and Agave Mexican Cantina, all located in Metro Manila.

In Bacolod, the best place for Cinco de Mayo, in a resto bar, will be at Mexicali in SM Mall. However, the best place for Cinco de Mayo in Bacolod will be at Gary’s El Rayo X Cantina; in my home with familia, amigos and amigas. Ice Cold Dos Equis Amber Cerveza, Tecate Beer, Sangria Wine, Michelada Mexican Beer and Mexican Food.


Suggested Cinco de Mayo Food. Coconut & Lime Black Beans, Enchiladas, Tacos, Burritos, Refried Beans, Nachos, Tortillas, Mango Salsa, Mexican Red Rice, Beef Tostadas, Chimichangas, Fajitas, Veracruz Fish with Fruit Salsa, Mexican Fish with Green Chili Sauce, Taco Dogs and Paella.


Any other suggestions?

There will not be any Tequila. Cerveza, Sangria Wine and Communion Wine…only.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Philippine Business That Expats May Enjoy-Part 1


Above and beyond, if you plan to operate a business in the Philippines, you must have the proper Visa, you must have all your licenses and permits in order and currently valid. It is illegally for you to do otherwise.

Starting a Business

In the Western Visayas, where commercial rent and licenses cost less than in many locations in Luzon and in Cebu-Central Visayas, a neighborhood Bar & Grill may go over well. The key to this business is sound planning and implementation on all fronts.

I cringe whenever I read and hear this business advice…If you have never operated a business before, you will fail. Come on, now! Tell me one person who was born operating a business? Everyone had to start at some point of operating their own business. There are many success stories for first time business owners but honestly, there are more failed first time business owners.

To be successful, it is about planning, location, being innovative, staff hiring & training and managing your profit and loss.


For a Bar and Grill operator. Larger Menu Variety, larger Alcohol choices and better Service are very important. More Food, More Alcohol and Top Rate Service.


Excellent Theme, Decor, Furnishings and Atmosphere of your Bar & Grill can turn your place into a small Gold Mine.

As the operator of a Bar & Grill, once up and running, you do not have to spend 16 hours every day on site. However, you must be on site at some point everyday you are open for business. You can observe problems early on and have them corrected on the spot. There will be problems.


There are not many Bar & Grills that will be successful if you depend mostly on expats to keep your doors open. Your largest Market Base is Filipinos, so you must also cater to them. These days, more and more Filipinos are enjoying Western Cuisine but you must also have Filipino Cuisine available in your Bar & Grill.

Have a daily Happy Hour. An extended Happy Hour is best, say 1pm-5pm. Have a Daily Special on Food Items and have a different Daily Special each day of the week. Switch up the Daily Special every week and do not make, for example, every Tuesday…Meat Loaf and Mashed Potatoes. It is best to rotate your Daily Special on a monthly basis. It is not difficult to come up with 30 or 31 different Daily Specials every month.


Have a number of Draft Beer selections, sold by Mugs and Pitchers. Have a good variety of bottled Imported Beers and have all the Philippine Beers available, in the bottles. Have a well stocked full service bar and trained bartenders.

I have researched operating a Bar & Grill in the Philippines for over a decade. In Bacolod, I see Bar & Grill businesses come and go. I observed the flaws that put them out of business and I observed the positives as to why some are successful. I know a number of restaurant owners in Bacolod, both expats and Filipinos. I have talked to them many times about their business. I have actually made polite suggestions to them about improving their business. Some followed it and some did not.


Never, never, never have to use these words…Sorry, Out of Stock! If supply is short and a menu item is not available that day due to lack of acquiring imported ingredients, cover up the item on the menu with a small strip of black tape. If you are running low on anything that can be quickly locally sourced, send a staff member out to buy it, even if they have to buy it from a market or supermarket at retail prices.


Your Wait Staff, Bartenders and Kitchen Staff are the ones who will make or break your Bar & Grill. Do not hire relatives unless you have the fortitude to say to them…You’re fired!


Last but not least, the name of your Bar & Grill and your logo, will attract customers or drive customers away. Be original and be unique. Gary’s Bar and Grill is not unique and it is not an attraction. Banditos Bar & Grill is a good one!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

You Can Get It If You Really Want


I never really thought about Food Products being produced in Seattle. I buy Eagle Mills Buttermilk Pancake Mix for P60 per box and Albers Yellow Cornmeal and Albers Grits for P250 per box. All have a Seattle, Washington address on the box.

The great frozen Lamb Weston Potatoes I buy, Crinkle Cut Fries and Waffle Fries, are out of Eagle, Idaho.

Metro Supermarket stocks many American Food Items that are Springfield brand, which is affiliated with United Grocers in Commerce, California.

The West and Great Northwest are doing a great job getting their Food Products to us in the Philippines. California is not all bad, you see.

Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez

That is Cajun for…Let the Good Times Roll!

There is one Southern State doing a great job in getting their Food Products to us in the Philippines. The great state of Louisiana and those Ragin’ Cajuns got it going on for us! I buy Crystal Louisiana Hot Sauce from Metairie, Louisiana, Trappey’s Louisiana Hot Sauce and jarred Peppers from New Iberia, Louisiana, Andy’s Cajun Fish Batter from down on the Bayou and Zatarain’s Food Products from one of my favorite places on the Planet, New Orleans.


Who dat, who dat Zatarain’s? Down in New Orleans, Zatarain’s has many fine Food Products. Crawfish/Shrimp/Crab Boil Seasoning, Dirty Rice Mix, Red Beans, Creole Seasonings, Boxed Rice Meals and Long Grain Rice. Plus a number of other products.


I make Hoppin’ John by using Springfield brand Black Eye Peas over Rice. I add both chopped White Onion and Green Onion. Kick it a notch by adding Bacon, Hog Jowl or your favorite Smoked Sausage. Do not forget to eat Hoppin’ John with Cornbread.


If I could wish a favorite American restaurant opening in Bacolod, Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is at the top of my Wish List. It was founded in 1972 in New Orleans and is now a restaurant chain across America. Love that Chicken from Popeyes!

Happy Shopping!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~