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 ~

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.


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 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.



Panaad 2013

A prize pig! Unique coloring.



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!



Mass Wedding in Bacolod City

Mass Wedding

On Saturday, February 16, the annual Mass Wedding was held in Bacolod City at the Bacolod City Government Center. In keeping with tradition, 2,013 couples were wed for 2013! A number of Philippine celebrities were on hand for the event, including Philippine boxing icon, Manny Pacquiao.

Mass Wedding

There is Senator Franklin Drilon! The security was tight and hard to get near for a close up photo but Senator Drilon is in the pink colored shirt, near the door with his left hand raised. The Honorable Senator revealed that he is allocating P5 million to the City of Bacolod for the improvement of Bacolod City Public Plaza. This is very good news. The newly weds and other city residents will have a nicer place to go and relax in the near future in downtown Bacolod. A great and appreciated gift to the City.

Mass Wedding

A sea of umbrellas on the grounds of the Bacolod City Government Center.

Mass Wedding

The crowd is swelling! The brides and grooms are ready to begin the ceremony, performed by Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia.

Mass Wedding

Here come the brides!

The Bacolod Mass Wedding was a fun event and I imagine some of the newly weds are still on their honeymoons! May they all have a long and blissful marriage, full of health and prosperity.

It was reported that the youngest couple being married was 18 and the oldest couple were both 70. Among those with the largest age gap, the groom was 44 and the bride was 82. Yes, you read it right. They were applauded by the crowd because they appeared to be really in love due to their long kissing session.

It was a nice day for a wedding!





Best Sandwich Deli in Bacolod


One of the newest arrivals on the Bacolod food scene, which expats will enjoy, is The Fat Chef Bistro and Deli. It is located behind Lopues Mandalagan shopping center, near the Mandalagan Art District. I knew I was in the right place when my pulled pork BBQ sandwich arrived with the diagonal cut. This is the indicator of a good deli sandwich!

Fat Chef's

Every sandwich on the menu of The Fat Chef Bistro and Deli is served with choice of fries or garden salad. I chose the garden salad with my pulled pork BBQ sandwich. Price is P140.


A pulled pork BBQ sandwich with fries.


A banana and Nutella Crepe. There are four different dessert crepes on the menu at the Fat Chef’s, including Mango and Rum. Sounds good, huh?

Amstel Sterk Beer

Amstel Sterk Beer from Amsterdam. This was my beverage of choice to go with my pulled pork BBQ sandwich.

Fat Chef's

There are a number of imported foods and beverages in the deli. A large can of ravioli captured my eye! I also saw a jar of gourmet peanut butter made from mixed nuts. P280 per jar.

Fat Chef's

Fat Chef Bistro and Deli has a fairly large wine selection. P99 per glass or P400 per bottle when dining in. Red and white wines are available.

Fat Chef's

The Day Menu.

There are many items on the menu at Fat Chef Bistro and Deli that I think many expats and Filipino customers alike will enjoy. Some of the items that sparked my interest are New England Clam Chowder, the six different sausages served with sauerkraut and German Spatzle, several specialty salads that include salmon and anchovy, baked artichoke, a cold cut platter, a cheese platter, savoury crepes such as Crepe Benedict and Spinach & Ricotta Crepe and 7 exciting side dishes, which include rice pilaf!

Yeah, I would love to film a Man vs Food episode in Fat Chef Bistro and Deli! Let me be the MAN! If I skip breakfast, I think I can handle it!





Totally Thursday in Bacolod

At Imay's

At Imay’s Restaurant

Our favorite place in Bacolod to eat Filipino food is Imay’s Restaurant. Located on Luzuriaga Street, Imay’s has been a tradition in our family, as it is the first restaurant we introduce to foreign friends and family members who visit us from the USA and China. Everyone always raves about the food at Imay’s, as they are eating the local Negros Occidental Cuisine for the very first time. 

Private Dining Room

Private Dining Room

It was hot and a little dusty outdoors, so we went to the private dining room to enjoy our lunch.

Fried Squid Heads

Fried Squid Heads

Fried Squid Heads is our son’s favorite dish at Imay’s.

Baby Back Ribs

Baby Back Ribs

My favorite! Imay’s Baby Back Ribs are not mostly fat and bones but have plenty of great tasting, tender pork rib meat. Only two small bones, surrounded with nice pork BBQ rib meat. Wow! Onions rings come with the order. P190 for the Baby Back Ribs and they are the real deal with the right amount of grill charring.

Gary and Friends

Gary and Friends!

Next stop was Lopues Mandalagan Shopping Center on Lacson Street. There is a new open area in the back of Lopues where one can shop outdoors but the area is covered on top. One can find here almost any type Christian religious statue for home or garden!

On a note of interest. In this area behind Lopues is a new establishment opening next week. Fat Chef’s Bistro and Deli. The owner saw us looking in the restaurant windows and despite not even being open for business yet, he invited us in to take a look. The stock is very little at this point, since not officially opened, but we were allowed to buy Croissants with strawberry filling, which are imported from Germany. In the refrigerated showcase, I saw different cheeses, sausages and cold cuts. I also saw jars of German Sauerkraut on the shelves, among some other imported items. Their restaurant menu was still being developed but deli sandwiches will be available and I noticed clam chowder, too.

Cool Birds

Cool Birds

Back home, our son decided to make some Cool Birds with modeling clay. He and everyone else were gearing up for the night’s Birthday Celebration for our best friend, Dudz.

Cool Cake

Cool Cake!

Our son’s cool birds found their way to the top of the cake.

Grilled Pork

Grilled Pork Liempo

Don’t be concerned, as I trimmed the fat before eating the liempo.

Cake Smearing

Cake Smearing!

My wife is always the culprit. People at a birthday party are going to get their face smeared with cake icing.

We had a nice Birthday meal for our friends. Grilled Liempo, BBQ  Chicken and Lasagna were the main meal items. After the meal, we sang karaoke until 1130pm. Friday, my voice was hoarse!

Totally Thursday was a fun filled day for us all. Lunch at Imay’s, window and real shopping at Lopues Mandalagan and a Birthday Party, BBQ and Karaoke Jam Session to cap the evening.

It really is more fun in the Philippines! Especially in the Bacolod area.

I hope to ………..

See you around Bacolod!

See you around Bacolod!













Dhaliwal Indian Restaurant in Bacolod City

A new location, a larger restaurant, a new chef, same fabulous Indian food and same great prices! Dhaliwal Indian Restaurant has moved to their new location, just south of their old location on BS Aquino Drive in Villamonte, Bacolod.

Indian Restaurant

Dhaliwal Indian Restaurant

We dropped by Dhaliwal Indian Restaurant last Sunday for a late lunch, after church. 

The owner, me and the chef

The owner, me and the Chef

The owner, the Chef and the wait staff were extremely friendly and we enjoyed the fellowship, as well as the food!



An open Samosa

An open Samosa

These samosas had cubed potatoes, peas, onions and a hint of ground meat. Ground lamb, goat or chicken is often used in the samosa.They are served with a wonderful hot sauce, which is just right for my taste. Not too mild and not too hot! You can also ask for a yogurt dipping sauce or a curry dipping sauce. We had all three dipping sauces.



For me, an Indian meal is not an Indian meal without roti. It is the bread made with stoneground flour. We ordered the plain roti but you can order onion or garlic flavored roti. We also had a curry dipping sauce with the roti.

Tandori Chicken

Tandoori Chicken

Wow! My favorite, Tandoori Chicken! Tandoori Chicken is Indian style roasted chicken. Traditionally, it is marinated in yogurt and seasoned with the spice mixture, tandoori masala. Turmeric is also used to give it the orange-red color. It has a nice red color! It is also fabulously delicious! Our order was garnished with hot green peppers and purple onions.

Biryani Rice

Biryani Rice with Chicken

You gotta have a rice dish with an Indian meal, in my opinion, and our favorite is Biryani Rice with Chicken. Many different spices go into this traditional Indian dish. Nutmeg, mace, pepper, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, coriander, mint leaves, ginger, onions and garlic are commonly used in various combinations, depending upon the chef.

Inside the Restaurant

Inside the Restaurant

It was a great dining experience for us and we also made some new friends. The Indian Music in the background is just the right volume, not too loud that you can’t comfortably talk at your table and it is a good setting maker.

I had Indian colleagues and friends in the States but I never really got into the Indian cuisine there. I always enjoyed watching the local Indian TV show, “Roshni,” on Saturday mornings in south Florida, as it had all the latest Bollywood music and dance videos. Man, I wish I could really dance like that but it is fun trying. It was not until I moved to China that I really began to enjoy the Indian food. The Holiday Inn Hotel in one city, where we lived, had the Indian Kitchen Restaurant and the Food & Beverage Manager for that Holiday Inn was Indian.  In the last city where we lived in China, the medical university had more than 300 Indian medical students studying to become doctors at the Medical University. We made many friends among the Indian students. They trained a Chinese couple how to prepare all the favorite Indian dishes and they opened an Indian Restaurant near the campus gate. The Indian students kept the Chinese couple supplied with all the indgredients to prepare the Indian dishes. It was a great little restaurant.

My wife is also very familiar with Indian food since she lived and worked abroad for about 15 years and she agrees that Dhaliwal is by far the best Indian Restaurant in Bacolod City. It is as great as the ones we have dined in during our travels and work in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

Another New Expat Hang Out?

First of all, a big thank you to Martin and the Bacolod Food Hunters, who  have a blog right here on Word Press, for telling me about Kristin’s Steak House on Lacson Street. They did a full review about Kristin’s Steak House a short time ago. Kristin’s Steak House is located in the area of Bar 21 and Mushu Asian Fusion Restaurant.

Animal Heads

Animal Trophy Heads

My kind of place! There are several deer, a wild boar and a mountain goat trophy heads hanging on the wall inside the restaurant. I didn’t see a Jackalope, though. A jackalope is an antlered rabbit with spike horns and ears a foot tall! Made famous in a Jerry Jeff Walker song back in the 70s, “Taken Again.” To the left of the animal trophy heads is a painting of John Wayne, the famous American actor, in full cowboy outfit. 

We dropped by Kristin’s at 330pm and it was way too early for me to have supper, so I had a late Merienda (snack).

Bacon Cheese Burger

Bacon Cheeseburger

A bacon cheeseburger is a snack, right? Wow! This cheeseburger had an excellent char on it from the grill. I really enjoyed it. The price was P75, including the small side of “tropical potato salad.” The potato salad had papaya in it.

Others had a bigger idea of what their snack would be!

Spare Rib

Spare Rib

A Philippine version of grilled spare rib with mushroom and veggies.

Grilled Chicken Steak

Grilled Chicken Steak

Mushrooms and gravy were added to this grilled chicken steak. Mashed potatoes came with the grilled chicken steak but our son does not like those, so I was given the task of eating them. I poured a little gravy over the mashed potatoes and I completed the task without a problem!

Due to the odd hour, we were the only diners in Kristin’s Steak House but two other tables were soon taken before we finished our meal.

We were well pleased with the service and the menu prices. The prices for imported steaks were P300-P320. These included New York Cut, Rib Eye, Porterhouse and T-Bone. Great prices! Especially compared to other steak houses in the city where an imported steak will set you back P800-P1,000! Steaks from local beef are also on the menu for less than P200. 



For the adventurous, crocodile is on the menu at P400 per serving. Not bad. Our friend, who dined with us today wants to try crocodile. His Birthday is later this month, so we told him we will treat him to a crocodile Birthday meal! He can’t hardly wait! Ostrich is also on the menu for P450 per serving.

Our next trip to Kristin’s, I will try one of their imported steaks. I normally prepare my steaks at home on my home grill but I will give Kristin’s a shot and eat one of their steaks soon.

Kristin’s opened in their Lacson location on December 15 and I think it will become another popular expat hang out due to their excellent food and great prices. Yes, they do have cold beer. Maybe I will see you there one day in the future.








Rio Bella Pizzaria In Bacolod


Rio Bella Pizzaria

Rio Bella Pizzaria

Located on Lacson Extension, near Alijis Road, is Rio Bella Pizzaria & Bar. Rio Bella has quickly become our favorite pizza restaurant in Bacolod City. My wife, son and I really enjoy the pizza made at Rio Bella. I judge a pizza by its crust and it does not matter to me what the toppings are, if the crust is not very good, the pizza is a failure. We dined and ordered pizza at Rio Bella Pizzaria at least a half dozen times and every pizza has been a smashing success! There are 17 different pizzas to choose from on the menu and our favorite is the pepperoni pizza. Basically because it is our son’s favorite!

XL Pepperoni Pizza

XL Pepperoni Pizza

Our good friend, Randy, is helping us eat this massive XL pizza! No, we could not finish it, so we had a lot of pizza to take home with us, to enjoy again. Which we did!



Rio Bella Pizzaria has a number of Swiss dishes on their menu. We ordered rosti and we really enjoyed it. Rosti is coarsely grated potatoes which are mostly fried but they can be baked in an oven. Rosti is more like the Southern Style homemade hash brown potatoes that I grew up eating. Rosti is nothing like the hash browns one orders at Jollebee or McDonald. I refer to rosti as “scattered hash browns” and not one large lump of commercial cookie cutter potatoes. I will add that the rosti on the platter is only half the amount that came with the order, as we could not wait to dig in!

The menu at Rio Bella Pizzaria is in English and German. There are also several Filipino dishes on the menu. Schnitzel (a breaded cutlet meat dish) and wurst (sausages) are a few more available Swiss dishes among several others. My wife has ordered the popular Filipino dish, Pancit Bihon, several times and she rates it as “Excellent.”



The decor is nice in Rio Bella Pizzaria and it gives off an Old World or European atmosphere in the Bacolod Area.

Every time we have dined at Rio Bella Pizzaria, there have always been other expats there at different times of the day, Noon, later afternoon and evening. This is usually a good indicator to me that the food is good but I know that already!

Other dishes on the menu, which many expats enjoy, are chili con carne, Cordon Bleu, fish & chips, and Caesar Salad, among a host of others. If you enjoy beer with your pizza or other dishes, the beer is always ice cold! The wait staff are very friendly and the service is very good. The owner is also very friendly and she has chatted with us before at our table.

Rio Bella is a newer addition to the dining scene in Bacolod and we really enjoy it. We look forward to our next pizza at Rio Bella. The bar is separate from the restaurant, so taking one’s children and family to enjoy pizza and Swiss food won’t be a problem. It is a family atmosphere. You will also most likely see other expats there, so maybe you will meet some new friends?



2013 New Year in Bacolod City

We brought the 2013 New Year in right with lots of fireworks, a party with a fiesta amount of food and a 3 hour karaoke marathon singing contest. We finally called it a long night right before sunrise on New Year’s Day.

New year

Fireworks light up the sky

Our personal fireworks show started at 11pm and finished at 1am!

New Year

Fruit and Drinks

It is a family New Year tradition to have 12 different fruits on hand, to bring in the New Year. This year was no exception!

New Year

Whole Roasted Pig

Someone pulled some crispy skin off the roasted pig’s back before it was cut!

It wasn't us!

It wasn’t us!

Nah, I didn’t think so!

We are Fami-i-ly

We are Fam-i-ly!

Bad Moon Risin'

Bad Moon Rising!

I was the first to sing in the 3 hour karaoke marathon singing contest and “Bad Moon Rising,” originally by the Creedence Clearwater Revival, was my song. I scored 96 out of 100 with that blast from the past!

Getting Ready

That’s What Friends Are For

Welcome 2013

Welcome 2013!

And that, we did! In a marvelous way. Fun was had by everyone and we look forward to 2014 New Year Celebration, next time.

Here is wishing everyone a very Happy 2013 New Year. A year full of joy, peace, happiness, health and prosperity!