National Pizza Day

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National Pizza Day is still on in the USA, Feb 9. In the Philippines, as well yesterday, as a number of pizzerias had all day promos.

According to the statistics, 1 in 8 Americans will eat pizza on any given day and 3 Billion Pizzas are sold each year. The statistics indicate that the number of American pizza eaters do not vary among race or gender. According to Pizza Hut, 94% of Americans eat pizza at least once per month.

One Pizzeria I will mention is Rio Bella, aka “Rio” Greenoz, located on Lacson Extension in Bacolod City. Their Pizza Chefs have changed over the years but they are still better than a number of other so called pizzerias. I still enjoy singing there in their Karaoke Bar. That is exactly what we did last Sunday afternoon with our Chinese friends from Shanghai.

I am not a big fan of Pizza Hut or Shakey’s in the Philippines. I did enjoy the 1954 Vintage Classic Pizza at Shakey’s in 2014 but it is no longer available. I remember the days back in the 1980s and in the 1990s when Shakey’s Pizza was great. The Shakey’s on Roxas Blvd in Manila had Draft San Miguel by the pitcher and a kick butt Rock n’ Roll Band at night. Ever hear the cover of “Mexican Black Bird” by ZZ Top?

Papa John’s Pizza is in Manila.

National Pizza Day Survey

In today’s National Pizza Day Survey, Lombardi’s in NYC, Capo’s in Chicago, Bollo Woodfired Pizza in Houston, Ken’s Artisan Pizza in Portland, Pizza Domenica in New Orleans, Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia, Proof Pizza in Miami (Neapolitan Pizza), Sotto Pizza in LA, Cart Driver Pizza in Denver and Tavola in NYC are the top Pizzerias in America. Never tried any of them but it may be true, although I do not put much stock into American surveys or polls. Otherwise, Hillary Clinton would be in the White House!

I really cannot tell you why but we have never tried Pizza Republic in Bacolod or in Cebu City. We need to check it out since it seems that more Indie Pizza Restaurants are losing their touch.

I would enjoy it very much if Hungry Howies Pizza came to Bacolod, as they have great pizza in Florida.

I remember very well my first pizza and that was way back in 1960 in Middletown, Rhode Island. At a Mom & Pop Pizzeria, owned by a Portuguese couple. They also had fabulous Spaghetti & Meatballs, Grinders (submarine sandwiches) and Antipasto Salad. Wow! Would love to eat there again right now.

Filipinos Love Pizza

Filipinos in Bacolod and in Cebu City also eat a lot of Pizza. It is a mixed bag when you read online pizza reviews and listen to recommendations from others. It does not matter how good the pizza toppings are, if the pizza crust is not good, it is not good pizza…to me. If the crust is excellent, I can enjoy a plain Cheese Pizza. Others have different standards for pizza. Mama Maria Pizza in Kabankalan had very good pizza but we have not been there to eat in several years. Not sure if they are still on the planet or have the same ownership if still open. Mama Maria Pizza in Bacolod folded several years ago.

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In the Bacolod and Cebu City malls, there are a number of kiosks making and selling pizza but I never try those. I can see them on display and I know, it is a poor attempt at making good pizza. They can keep their Eden Kraft Cheese!

Sbarro Pizza is or was in SM Mall Bacolod but I am not a big fan of them. Seems they were much better in Florida, best I recall.

I find Pizzaro Pizza to be very good. There are several branches in Bacolod City but we prefer their Gold Field Branch. Pizzaro also has branches in La Carlota and in Victorias City. Pizzaro has Korean fast food on their menu. However, Hanok in Golden Field is the place to go for authentic, full service Korean Cuisine, as I wrote in a recent article right here on All Around Bacolod.

I could write more about pizza in Bacolod but this article is long enough. I will recommend Italia Restaurant on Lacson Street, as they have excellent pizza. They are the A-Lister these days, as other once excellent Bacolod pizzerias are falling by the wayside.

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 ~

Wing Master: The Taste of Real Buffalo Wings

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On a tip from an American friend, a former pro wrestler in Boston, we checked out Wing Master last night. It was an awesome experience. Wing Master is located in Zone 15 of Ayala North Point District Mall in Talisay, just north of Bacolod City.

The husband of the owner of Wing Master, Ron, is a member of LinP3. His wife, Russel, is the hands on owner of Wing Master. Both are from Buffalo, NY, so you know their Buffalo Wings are the real deal! You can believe that.

I cannot resist Country Fried Steak, aka Chicken Fried Steak, with White Gravy and Wing Master has it on their menu. It was great. Of course, later in the evening, I had to try their Buffalo Wings.

It’s Still Rock n’ Roll For Me!

A fabulous bonus for me was the live band, which is every Friday night at Wing Master. They were gracious to allow me to sing 6 songs with them during their sets. Every night is a good night for singing and last night was no exception. The guitar player in the band is a real pro, as he may not have been so familiar with my songs but he picked it up right away to lead the way on his electric guitar. Sweet Home Alabama, My Sacrifice, Unchain My Heart, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Nothing Else Matters and Free Bird.
Rock n’ Roll and a little Blue Eyed Soul. Sad songs and waltzes do not help me at all. I enjoy Full Tilt Boogie and Ram Jam.

You Got Friends

At Wing Master, there is not only great food and fabulous music but Ron and Russel are good people. Very friendly and talkative. I already know that you will like them!

I am passing on this information to you free of charge. I am not a paid advertiser. If it is real, I tell you about it, if not, I will not mention it to you.

Let’s Party Like It Is 1999

I just have to mention it. It is been awhile since one of my favorite NFL Teams, the Buffalo Bills had a great team. They were 11-5 in 1999. Let’s hope a new coach will make the Buffalo Bills great again! The talent is already on the team. Just a few more good men needed to be added. Tired of being 7-9 every year!

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

Have a good one!

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Izumi: The Real House of Ramen

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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 ~

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 ~

It’s My Life: Philippines

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I really do not have any major regrets in my lifetime. I experienced disappoints, had a few heartbreaks when I was younger, made some mistakes along the way but I would not want to go back and do anything differently. I would not be willing trading all the blessings in my life that I have experienced to try to re-plan my life on my own. Everything has worked out for almost 62 years and will continue on that path.

God Has Made a Way

I am not religious but I am a Born Again Christian. Since 1972, I have been on a Purpose Driven Life, with Faith in my Divine Life Plan. When I look back on the disappointments, the few heartbreaks and the mistakes, I realize those were all stepping stones to get me to the right place in Life, where I am destined to be. At that very moment in time. Otherwise, I would have missed the boat or missed my last flight out of Miami. Many times, we have to be at the right place at the right time. If we are not, it can often be a life changing event, which influences our future greatly.

That is the way I see my personal life since 1972. Before that, my parents directed my life and made most of the decisions for me. They did not do badly, either!

My Philippines Connection

I would not trade my life in the Philippines over the past 30 years for all the tea in China or for silver and gold. My experiences are priceless. From Luzon, to Negros Occidental, to Panay Island to Cebu, I’ve had a wonderful life in the Philippines. Yes, I love this life!

Everyday, I engage in discussions about the Philippines on LivinginthePhilippines3 Yahoo Group and in person. Please feel free to join us and post questions about the Philippines. Join us in our daily, lively discussions about this wonderful country with beautiful people.

I think I have several more decades in life and I look forward to seeing what God is going to do for me.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

Essential Pantry Items

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For me, having a well stocked pantry and ref is not only essential but is like having money in the bank.

A friend recently asked me, what are the essential pantry items available in the Philippines. I told him what is essential to me may not be essential to him. We are all different. I cannot really think of any item I cannot buy in Bacolod, which I enjoy, within reason, of course. I will most likely never see Martha White Flour but the local White King Flour works great for me.

The Basics

There are a few basic items that I keep on hand at all times in the ref. Home Brand Mayonnaise, Crystal and Trappey’s Bull Original Louisiana Hot Sauce, Lea & Perrins Worcestershire, Heinz Chili Sauce, Morehouse Prepared Horseradish, Heinz 57, Morehouse Mustard-The Official Mustard of the LA Dodgers/French’s Mustard as backup, Any brand of deli peppers in a jar, Dona Ellena Olives, Kweichow Chili & Garlic Sauce, Parmesan Cheese, Sharp Cheddar Cheese, Hunt’s Hickory BBQ Sauce and Barrio Fiesta Sweet Bagoong.

We are not big on using salt but sometimes, it is required. Nowadays, I buy McCormick Iodized Salt. I also use Morton’s Kosher Salt but it is not Iodized and I do not use it in pork dishes.

I also keep the more common spices on hand. Black Peppermill, Sage, Thyme, Oregano, Italian Seasoning, Chili Powder, Turmeric, Bay Leaves and Cajun Seasoning of any brand. McCormick Cajun Seasoning is usually in stock at SM.

Canned Goods

Every kind of canned beans and peas that I see, I have in my pantry. Garbanzos included. The locally grown Mountain White Beans, famous in Hinoba-An Negros Occidental, and the White Sitao Black Eye Pea are the only dry beans we had much luck with, concerning coming out soft enough to my liking.

Tuna, Salmon, Sardines, imported Corned Beef, Vienna Sausage, Spam, Stewed Tomatoes, Sauerkraut, Imported Spaghetti Sauce in jars, are other items I keep on hand.

Misc

Misc Items are several kinds of Vinegar, including Spiced Vinegar, Soy Sauce, Patis Fish Sauce, local Molasses, Brown Sugar, Onions, Garlic, sometimes Ginger, Vegemite, Jif Peanut Butter, Smucker’s Strawberry Jam, Canned Peaches & Pineapple Rings and Corn Meal.

In the freezer, I always have Ground Round Beef and different Sausages. Also Fish Fillets, Wings/Leg Quarters Chicken, Pork Chops/Pork Steaks. Rarely Beef Steak these days.

I buy Marca Leon Vegetable Cooking oil, product of the Philippines but keep a bottle of Dona Ellena Olive Oil on hand.

Although I do not drink Red Wine often, I try to keep one unopened bottle on hand. Of course, cold beer in the ref at wholesale price. I never buy whiskey/spirits to keep on hand but on occasion for friends.

I hope you are also keeping your pantry well stocked. Shopping for food is one of my favorite hobbies.

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

Your Amigo,

~ Gary ~

What’s For Breakfast?

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Expats living in our area still enjoy their Fruit Loops, Cherrios and other breakfast cereals with milk. I do not remember eating those past being a teenager. As I got into young adulthood, that type of breakfast no longer appealed to me. Our son eats several brands of the American style breakfast cereals but he prefers the ones made locally, by Milo and Nestles. He is 10 years old.

I like variety at every meal but I know some people, foreigners included, who can eat the same thing day in and day out for breakfast. I am not the traditionalist who must have ham or bacon and eggs for breakfast. Unless we are traveling, breakfast is always at home.

The cover photo of my article is Biscuits and Gravy. My all time favorite breakfast and brunch. I sometimes make Sausage Gravy to eat over biscuits but plain gravy is fine with me! Anytime.

I keep tortillas in the freezer and I enjoy a breakfast burrito but not every morning. I do not always include meat in the burrito. I am fine with scrambled egg, cheddar cheese, onion and tomato, with salsa.

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SOS is another old time favorite that my dad taught me how to prepare many years ago. My version in the Philippines includes deli corned beef because I have not run across chipped beef. Sometimes, I follow the World’s Greatest Navy Recipe and I use ground beef, tomatoes and onions to make SOS.

Rolled Oats is a simple stand by, with fruit. I pay less than P100 per bag for Australian Harvest Rolled Oats at SM and at Lopues. Bob’s Red Mill Steel Cut Oats are now almost P300 per bag. Forget that. When they were first introduced at Metro, they were much cheaper. I recently bought a bag of Golden Oats for P48. I tired it once and did not like it. At least it came with a free plastic drinking glass with a lid.

Avocado with an egg and toast is a good breakfast to me.

We have a 2 sided waffle iron and we can make both pancakes and waffles on it.

I have not completely shut out the Filipino style breakfast. The only fish I like for breakfast is fried catfish with grits.

Arroz Caldo, Lugaw, Pan de sal with Peanut Butter or Pineapple Jelly, Corned Beef with over EZ egg on rice, Tapa or Tocino with egg and rice, all work for me…but not everyday. I do not really care for the local Chorizo or Longaniza that I have tried. Not very much but I will eat it. It seems like the sweet Longaniza I used to buy in Manila was much better. In our area, the Negrense Chorizo is more popular than Longaniza. Often times, it contains too much fat for my liking. The Chinoy Longaniza is too hard and too salty for my taste.

I am no stranger to eating chili or fried chicken or pizza for breakfast. Tuna Salad on Toast was today’s breakfast.

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Potatoes for breakfast is a favorite! Hash Browns, Home Fries, Rosti, Potato Rounds with fried Onions. I like them all. Tater Tots have been out of stock at K-Mart for several years now. I like them as well but I doubt I will ever see them again.

While growing up, my Mom would sometimes prepare breakfast food for supper. I thought it was cool. We had to be the only family who ate scrambled eggs, bacon, fried potatoes and biscuits for supper. That was my thinking back then.

Regardless of what we eat for breakfast, it is best not to skip it.

If you have any unusual or unique breakfast dishes that you enjoy eating, I would like to hear about it. I am always looking for new things to eat for breakfast. Or anytime for that matter.

Don’t forget…eat your breakfast.

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 ~