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 ~

Izumi: The Real House of Ramen

Can you believe that there is a place you can go, if you are a little run down on your soul and you want authentic comfort food? I  can tell you right where to go. Izumi Ramen House, which I call The Real Ramen House. Their Ramen is the real deal! Izumi is located in the Nolan Building on BS Aquino Drive in Bacolod City.

My family and I dined at Izumi Ramen House yesterday and we all enjoyed it. We ordered their large # 1 Ramen Bowl and my wife & I shared it. Four Thumbs up! After all, 2 people only have 4 thumbs total, di ba, so Izumi gets the highest rating from us.

Our 11 year old son was with us and a Filipino friend as well. We also ordered Japanese Dumplings and BBQ Pork on Skewers. All were very well pleased with their food and we were indeed hungry.

Cold Beer! Yep, Izumi has ice cold San Miguel Pilsen.

I Think I’m Turning Japanese

Not exactly but do you remember that song by the Vapors from 1980? I certainly do! Hey, I am age 62 now but I can take a licking and keep on ticking! And you can believe that!

I have been to Japan a number of times over the past 30 years and I lived in China while working as an English Teacher for 9 years. Personally, I prefer Japanese Food to Chinese Food. Moo Goo Gai Pan is a Chinese-American dish but you will not find it anywhere in China. Believe me, as I looked for it. I love Moo Goo Gai Pan!

I find Ramen as good Comfort Food. It is alright if you slurp the noodles and the soup! Go all out, have fun and check out Izumi Ramen House. Once you do, you will never eat instant Ramen again. It will not be Lucky Me but Lucky You!

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

White Knuckle Drive

I recently said that driving in Bacolod is a snap and it usually is. However, that was not the case yesterday! Many things came up!

A young boy darted in front of me when he was crossing the street. It was close. I don’t tailgate but a red Honda without brake lights came to a screeching halt that I was behind and if not alert, I would have rear-ended it. I almost clipped a jeepney when the driver cut me off!. A dog decided to stop in the middle of the street and I almost ran over it. It seems like every slow driver in the city was waiting just for me! I was behind 3 or 4.

Detour, there’s construction ahead and not even a single traffic enforcer. Cars were trying to move in both directions in only one lane. They were in a Mexican standoff and none were giving way until they realized, we would stuck like that until hell freezes over. Cars don’t fly yet. An empty pedicab was parked in the right lane, blocking it, and I had to wait until traffic was clear to go around. The pedicab driver was nowhere to be seen!

I wish I had just stayed at home yesterday! Normally, it is not this bad but I guess yesterday was just one of those days. I can’t hardly wait later today because I know it will be a much better yesterday to make my day.

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

~ Gary McMurrain ~

Gangnam Style-Bacolod Style

The Korean Wave is popular in Bacolod City. We can watch Korean TV shows on ABS-CBN TV but the language is in Tagalog. There are many Korean students and Korean business owners in our city. New Korean restaurants open up almost monthly. Pizzaro is a pizzeria located in Goldenfield, Bacolod, which also has Korean food on their menu. There are a number of small Korean grocery stores in the city. SM Supermarket has one half aisle of Korean food products.

One of my favorite restaurants in Ft Walton Beach, Florida was The Seoul House. Gina’s Place was another good Korean Restaurant. Korean owned and manged. They both had great Korean food that was the Real Deal! They did not pull punches and they served Korean food that was not catered or changed for anyone. Korean food is what you ordered and Korean food is what you got! Yes, it is spicy and it is hot. I really enjoy good kimchi and it is available all around Bacolod. It would be nice to find the ultimate real deal Korean Restaurant in Bacolod City. It is still elusive at this point. Help?

This was a great program put on by students at a local school. Gangnam Style-Bacolod Style!

Gangnam Style-Bacolod Style


This wasn’t exactly a Gangnam Style flash mob, but still a great performance. Parents, students, teachers and others in attendance were doing the Gangnam style at their seats, as others were standing in the background. With hands on my hips, even I can break out into the leg kicking Gangnam style routine. I was riding horses back in rural Alabama when I was still a teenager, so that is the easy part. Oppa is just my style.


El Taco

I can’t say that I am a Taco Man from Macho Land but tacos are one of my favorite foods. I can buy the Old El Paso brand taco shells at SM and my wife and I can turn out some very good tacos at home. Yes, we even have our own jalapeno peppers to kick it up a notch. I prefer a beef taco and I also like a chicken taco but I never cared much for a fish taco. I can tolerate a Century Corned Tuna Taco in the place of chicken and beef.

Since Fat Boys was closed last Sunday at lunch time, we hit Trey’s Restaurant instead in Bacolod City. It is located right across the street from the newest and very large Shakey’s on Lacson Street. Crave Burger is also across the street.

Trey’s is pretty famous in Bacolod among expats for their chicken fried steak, which is actually beef and I think they refer to it as country fried beef steak on the menu. Same thing as chicken fried steak, which is not chicken at all but only beef that is fried like chicken. It is battered beef, deep fried and topped with gravy, served with mashed potatoes with the skin still on. The price is P270 at Trey’s.

Not because I am cheap but I decided to try the steak taco at Trey’s last Sunday for a change of pace. Only P99. I was not disappointed. Lots of steak strips and very little lettuce and tomato as filler. The salsa is homemade and not hot and spicy. Ask for some Tabasco Sauce to kick it up a notch if you like it hot! Trey’s steak taco has nice melted cheese on top. It is served with a small portion of nachos and homemade salsa.

El Taco

Looks great, doesn’t it? It is not a perfect taco but one of the best I’ve had in Bacolod.

I am not sure how well a taco wagon would work in Bacolod but it would be nice if there was one. A different kind of food cart. A taco wagon.

Now, I can stand the heat of the kitchen and I know how to cook and prepare food. You gotta have a good, hard taco shell to make tacos. I use Old El Paso brand, which is available at SM Supermarket, most of the time, as is ALL the ingredients needed to make a very good taco. My tacos include ground beef and shredded chicken. McCormick Taco Seasoning added to the beef and chicken when cooking.

But first, saute some chopped onions and bell peppers, too, if you like. Add the ground beef and shredded chicken and cook all together until no red juices are evident. To save time, have a jar of Old El Paso Taco Sauce or Salsa on hand. Pace Salsa will work, too.

To load the taco, I put the beef and chicken first, together with the sauteed onions and  peppers, then I add the taco sauce or salsa Good shredded cheese is required on top but it does not have to be pre-melted. An original taco is like an original sandwich in that you can add what you like. I also like sour cream or cream cheese on my tacos. I also like jalapeno peppers. I don’t like lettuce and certainly not shredded cabbage on my tacos but I can tolerate a few chopped tomatoes. A slather of refried beans is also good on your taco but hard to find in Bacolod. Old El Paso makes canned refried beans and I have bought them at SM but not available year round.

Some other restaurants try to copy Taco Bell but their product is more like Taco Hell! The taco falls apart in your hands when trying to eat it. Not fun. I really think making your own tacos at home is more fun. However, for sure, Trey’s Steak Taco is a good one if you want tacos out.

God’s Beauty


Beauty in Bacolod

The beauty of nature, God’s handiwork, is something we sometimes overlook. We are too busy to stop and smell the flowers or else we just don’t see it. It is there for us but we don’t see them. Everyday in our area of Philippines seems to unfold a new adventure and I am thankful that I am never too busy to enjoy God’s beauty.

A Child Sees The Beauty

Children often see things that we don’t see. We may see certain things but life’s stress may cause us not to really see the beauty.

Stroll in a Garden

Taking a stroll in a garden can do wonders for us if we do so in appreciation of the beauty. 

Sugar Cane

Some may never see the beauty of sugar cane growing in a field but it is one of God’s wonders and many people in Negros Occidental grow sugar cane to support their families.


We sometimes need to spend time in the valley to appreciate the exhilaration of the mountain top! 

Living Waters

There is refreshing in the rushing water of a cool mountain stream. Water is symbolic with life and from us can spring forth rivers of living water. 


It is not the best taken photo but I included it as a reminder that perfection and being unblemished are not required to show the possession of one’s beauty to others. 

God’s beauty and God’s miracles are everywhere, if we open our eyes and see them. The inward beauty of many are more precious than gold in comparison to their outward beauty.






Punta Bulata

Punta Bulata

Punta Bulata is about 160 km south of Bacolod and it is our favorite resort in Negros Occidental. Punta Bulata Resort and Spa is located near the city of Sipalay, in the southern part of Negros Occidental. One of the fabulous rooms is P2,500 a night. There are nipa beach cottages for up to six people that are more in the P1,500 price range. Rates do vary according to the season and this is the current seasonal rate.

Tree On The Beach

                                                Castles in the Sand

White Sandy Beach

Pilsen Time

Rooms at Punta Bulata

The first floor rooms are Japanese style rooms, complete with zen garden inside.

Sittin’ By the Pool

Now That is a Taco!

The restaurant at Punta Bulata is very good. I was happy seeing tacos on the menu.

Giant Star Fish

No, don’t worry! We did not catch, capture or disturb the star fish since we are conservationists and protectors of the environment. 

Our experience at Punta Bulata is one we will never forget and we plan to go again in the future. Chinese friends were visiting us from Shanghai, actually still on their honeymoon, so we took them to Punta Bulata.Yes, we left them there a few days and nights, and then picked them up to bring them back to Bacolod. My wife, son and I also enjoyed our one night stay at Punta Bulata.

Friends from China

The Love of My Life

“And you decorated my life!” Yes, she has. 

Punta Bulata is not so famous outside Negros Occidental but it is well worth the trip, especially for a quiet getaway, far from the maddening crowd. I love it!