Category Archives: Lifestyle

Feel The Old Negros at Buglas Coffee Bar


Filipinos are known for their passion for food and it is said that we eat a minimum of five times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, few “official” snack times like the obligatory merienda, and a few munches in between. Nowhere is this passion for food larger than life than Bacolod City, the unofficial food capital of Western Visayas. Lacson Street is Bacolod’s tourism strip, cafes and restaurants are lined up in the whole stretch. Feeling the urge for afternoon snacks? I recommend trying Buglas Coffee Bar, beside Business Inn.

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Hope Shines Brighter in Negros for the 27th Negros Trade Fair


Inset: Official poster of the 27th Negros Trade Fair – Beyond Limits at Rockwell Tent.

Image of men in fashionable clothes, dancing to the latest beats, drinking the most expensive imported wines, these are the Manila based Negrenses taking part in the almost bacchanalian parties of the Kahirup Society. The onset of the sugar crisis in the 1980’s has stopped these parties altogether the Negros Trade Fair has replaced it as the Negrenses’ opportunity for socio-civic interaction now with a purpose, and that is to help their poor kasimanwas back home, reeling from the effects of what was once a mighty industry. Now on its 27th year, the Association of Negros Producers has reflected the desire to go beyond limits for this 5-day event.

Inset: Interior of the Negros Showroom branch in Buendia Avenue, Makati City.

Inset: One of the trendy house lamps available at the Negros Showroom Makati.

Inset: Durable and stylish dinner table at the Negros Showroom Makati available for sale.

Inviting some bloggers for a preview of the upcoming 27th Negros Trade Fair, Negros Showroom Makati Manager Mike Claparols, descendant of the first and only Negros Republic President Aniceto Lacson, entertained guests in the old Negrense way of serving an afternoon coffee treat of Negrense delicacies. This homey showroom reminds guests of the lifestyle back home in Negros where people come in the afternoon to have a small chat over coffee and treats. The Negros Showroom Makati’s space was given by the Department of Trade and Industry for use of the Association of Negros Producers as a showroom until December 31, 2012 this year.

Inset: Piaya and barquillos from Virgie’s served in Nong Mike’s ceramic products.

Inset: Caramel Tarts, also from Virgie’s, one of the Negros Showroom Makati bestsellers.

Inset: Quan’s napoleones served fresh from their commissary in Dian St., Makati City.

The treats served were best seller ones like the signature Piaya and Napoleones from Bacolod. Sweetness from the treats reminds us very well of not just the sugar industry but also the innate sweetness and gentleness of the Negrenses. Nong Mike remembered the days where people would simply go to a relative’s house and how the host would let out a feast of sweet treats for the visitors. Much of the delicacies we see now are innovations by the home cooks who got their ideas from abroad or simply by the needs of the times as people adapt. Abundance of sugar with availability of ingredients and flour has led to innate culinary creativity of the Negrenses.

Inset: Combination of capers, basil and olive oil makes up this delicious vegetarian pate.

Inset: Addicting natural squid rings available at the Negros Showroom Makati.

Inset: Negrense twist to the original Italian puttanesca sauce from Jarvis.

There are quite a lot of people who carelessly classify Negrense cuisine as “Ilonggo cuisine” due to undeniable similiarities in some dishes up to the name but, educated tongues would know that the food culture has gone beyond its original Ilonggo offshoot just a century ago, to a unique body of cuisine. Negrenses are well-traveled people and has so adopted cooking styles from various regions of the Philippines and even foreign influences, mainly Spanish, with some Italian, Mexican and Chinese. Fusion is best seen in the various recipe from other places, but blended well with local ingredients that the taste has now become characteristically Negrense.

Inset: Trendy but durable hand bags made of local materials in Negros by Kiculo

Inset: Export-quality local and organically-made personal care items from Fresh Start Organic.

Inset: Girls’ Accessories available at the Negros Showroom Makati.

Quality and advocacy mixes well for the Association of Negros Producers where products have wonderful stories behind them. The years of experience with Negros Trade Fair and the Negrenses’ creativity has ingrained a sense of quality for each of the products sold by the association, showroom and trade fair. Each has been carefully scrutinized to pass a standard test that most items sold are vailable for export. One of the success stories is Fresh Start Organic that started almost a decade ago and has been leading in the Island push for organic products. Aside from organic produce, they have also personal care items entirely from organic sources.

Inset: PUREZA The Story of Negros Sugar will be showing for the Negros Trade Fair.

Negrense products are merely a reflection of the actual welcoming warmth of Negrenses. Negros Trade Fair and Negros Showroom  Makati are unique chances for Manileños to have a feel of little bit of Negros in the middle of the busy Rockwell Center and Buendia Avenue. PUREZA The Story of Negros Sugar will screen tomorrow, September 25, 9pm at Power Plant Cinema 6 to give us a preview of a crisis that started this all. I recommend the Negros Trade Fair for your early shopping needs or just for your fancy of export quality products for your daily needs. Do set one day between September 26 to 30 to visit the little bit of Negros at the Rockwell Tent.


Firehouse Cafe: Fiery Food Destination for Negrense Foodies


Inset: Fellow Trinitarian Denise Go and a friend from USLS.

Inset: Loyal student patrons of Firehouse Cafe from USLS.

República Negrense and yours truly is back in the cradle for couple of weeks! Bacolod City is the Ultimate Food Trip Destination of the Philippines, a claim to fame supported by every satisfied and full food tourist that goes to Negros Island’s shores. My immediate question right after I landed at the Bacolod-Silay International Airport is where to eat. Good thing that my fellow Trinity Christian School alumni and Chamber Fire Brigade volunteer firefighter, Makoy Go had me to visit his cafe near the University of St. La Salle and I tagged along another fellow alumni, Denise Go and her friend from USLS Accounting to join us in food tasting session there.

Inset: Firehouse Cafe’s Spicy and flavorfully sour hot Cansi.

Inset: Bombastix or Cheese and Chili Sticks.

One of the local dishes I would miss in Manila is Cansi, beef shanks boiled for hours soured with a mangosteen relative of batwan and spiced with pieces of chilis. This marriage of bulalo and sinigang always makes me crave for and good thing that Nong Makoy had it served first. No rice for me with this, just a bowlful of soup and some utok or bone marrow! Spicy you say? Try Bombastix or pieces of chili with cheese rolled in spring wrappers. It is spicy but the spiciness is tamed by the sweet cheese and the creamy mayo, the undisputed bestseller in the restaurant’s menu, something I will not get surprised for I ate four pieces with much satisfied gusto.

Inset: Firehouse Cafe’s version of a Chicken Cordon Bleu.

Inset. Extra fiery Sizzling Sisig as pulutan or a meal in itself.

Try Firehouse Cafe’s version of the Chicken Cordon Bleu! Bacon and Cheese covered with fillet chicken strips in a thin crispy batter which plays a contrast of not just flavors but textures as well. I love how the sweetness and saltiness come into play for this one in so much so that I did not even mind the dip. Perhaps the most classic side dish or pulutan with a drink of beer is the Sizzling Sisig but well, since it was school day, no sight of drinking people. I prefer Sizzling Sisig without rice for I love to savor the good flavors.

Inset: Grand Finale – Baby Back Ribs with Onion Rings and Atchara.

Perhaps the best taste for the night is the Baby Back Ribs with Onion Rings and Atchara! Atchara is definitely a local taste for it is Bacolod’s very own signature pickled papaya which accompanies every meal especially Chicken Inasal. Firehouse Cafe’s Baby Back Ribs is so tender that it falls off the bones and almost melts in the mouth. Sweetness of the sauce is given a contrast by the Atchara which works well to let stay in the mood for more. Once more, yes, no rice to accompany this one, just the delicious taste of the ribs.

I give my Kudos and Best Cheers to Makoy Go for this unassuming but lovely cafe. With a friendly and entertaining staff, a unique ambience, a student-friendly price and most all, good food, Firehouse Cafe definitely deserves a place in the already vibrant Bacolod foods scene. Open daily from 8am to 9pm, visit the place to savor the food yourself and tell me your own Firehouse Cafe experience.

The Firehouse Cafe

No. 104 KYLT Building,
La Salle Avenue, Bacolod City
Tel. No.: (034) 476 4547
Facebook: /Firehouse-Cafe