Hello First-time Travelers!

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Are you going on a trip to a particular place for the first-time? Will you be setting foot in a foreign and unfamiliar soil? Rest assured that you have fellow travelers on the road who are embarking on new journeys.

I have been to many places, and the first time I stepped into unfamiliar territory I had to feel my way and rely on what I have on-hand especially when all I had were travel books, maps and print-outs from the web. My friends and I make our own itinerary. It is truly advisable to check out anything about the place before going on a trip.

Yet, you need not necessarily hire a travel agent or tour guide to get you around every time you visit a place for the first time. A little help from locals can add spice to your first-time travels. It can give you the freedom to explore the place and enjoy the feeling of not spending much, based on my own travel experiences.

You can take my word on some tips and information on the places I visited but feel free to be creative and be adventurous. I may offer some advice here and there but, as they say, “experience is the best teacher”. So, read on and find out more about my first-time travel adventures.

I want to make things easy for you. If you want to view the articles I wrote in this site, click the Table of Contents tab.

Photos used in this site are taken by the author, unless otherwise indicated.

Meganox and the Sugarcane Paradox

I live in what is known as the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines – the province of Negros Occidental. I grew up with the sugar mill as my playground. I breathed the whiff of caramelized sugar during milling season. I was attuned to the noise the heavy machineries make. The long sticks that produce sweet nectar and the heavy trucks and iron trains carrying them were all too familiar sights to me. So whenever I touch down at the Bacolod-Silay airport and find myself trailing behind a slow-moving truck loaded with sugarcane chunking its way to a sugar factory, I know I’m home.

Sugarcane plantations are found everywhere in the Negros Island.

Sugarcane plantations are found everywhere in the Negros Island.

My parents worked in sugar milling companies and my father taught me how to extract sugarcane juice manually. We have lived in the housing facilities inside the sugar mill compound that were provided by those companies. Sugar is very much part of my life and when I thought I’ve known it better than many of my counterparts who grew up in the capital, something new and incredible was revealed to me.

Sugarcane is loaded in trucks or train carts to be transported to the mill.

Sugarcane is loaded in trucks or train carts to be transported to the mill.

There I was gorging the delectable food offerings of Delicioso as I was enjoying a sumptuous lunch together with other bloggers and the team from Forever Nutriliving Corporation (FNC). As I was finishing the last of my food, their consultant, Mr. Teddie Rivera, started sharing to us about FNC and its breakthrough product, Meganox.

Though I was already full, what I was hearing was pleasing to my ears and my mind was just as willing to digest the information given to us. Through a an extraction process that has been patented by Dr. Chou Technologies, Inc. of New York, USA (eSugarTech), it has been found that sugarcane extract has superior antioxidant properties.

A sugar factory from afar, operating during milling season.

A sugar factory from afar, operating during milling season.

Meganox is extracted and produced from fresh, all natural sugarcane grown in sun-drenched plantations in Negros Island, Philippines. The extraction is done at a multi-million processing plant, the first and the only one in the world, at Sagay Sugar Central, Inc.

A new product from sugarcane, called Meganox.

A new product from sugarcane, called Meganox.

Laboratory tests have supported a breakthrough discovery that sugarcane extract yielded the highest ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity) level  compared to other popular food supplements such as acai berry, moringa (malunggay), and mangosteen. The benefit of this product is that it counters damaging effects of free radicals, improves digestion and prevents constipation, lowers bad cholesterol and prevents cardiovascular diseases, promotes resistance against infections, and improves skin and slows down aging.

Mr. Rivera went on and on citing the good qualities of Meganox and sugarcane extracts, which you can also access at www.meganoxantioxidant.com. He also showed us photos of the patented manufacturing process in Sagay. I would very much like to visit the plant although outsiders are quite prohibited in the facilities nowadays. Funny thing was that when I shared all these information to my mother, the Resident Manager of the Sagay Central, Inc., Mr. Primitivo “Tibong” Rivera, Jr. turned out to be her college classmate. I half expected she would know the person since she came from the sugar milling industry, but never have I thought that they are good friends.

Nutri Brown Sugar, good for diabetics.

Nutri Brown Sugar, good for diabetics.

Now, apart from Meganox, FNC and Sagay Central, Inc. have also started producing healthy sugars, such as the Low Glycemic Index Sugar – sugar for diabetics, which is not aspartame or other sweetener, but from sugarcane itself. It is the first ever locally manufactured sugar with a naturally low glycemic index. This all natural and naturally vegan Nutri Brown Sugar prevents the steep rise or spiking in blood sugar levels which is helpful for diabetics. They also have premium natural muscovado sugar, which is coarse grained sugar with high molasses content that made the product darker, healthier, strongly flavored and aromatic.

Muscovado sugar.

Muscovado sugar.

So, let me back track a bit. Sugarcane, which is known to produce that sweet ingredient that almost everyone is trying to avoid, actually produces antioxidants and healthy products.  Now, the notion that many people from Negros are diabetic, although it may come as a joke, can be eliminated. With Meganox, along with the local government’s determination to make Negros Occidental a wellness and organic province, one can imagine that people from my island live healthily.

Negros bloggers with the FNC team.

Negros bloggers with the FNC team.

As I drive past sugarcane plantations on my way home, I can look at the scenery in a different way. I smile as I ponder on the paradox of the sugarcane.

Healthy products from sugarcane.

Healthy products from sugarcane.

Truly Negros Products at the Negros Trade Fair

Living in the Philippine capital for 20 years, the closest thing I have come to apprising myself on the latest about home (home is Bacolod City in the province of Negros Occidental) that has tangible evidence of progress are the products I see at the Negros Trade Fair that is held yearly in Metro Manila.

There, I would taste the sumptuous desserts and famous products from my province, see the amazing crafts and new designs created by my kasimanwas (this is the local dialect for people who come from the same town or province), and know the developments happening at home. The Negros Trade Fair was something I looked forward to when I was working as I already had the capability to purchase Negros products and patronize them.

Patronize Negros products.

Patronize Negros products.

Association of Negros Producers (ANP)

The Negros Trade Fair is organized by the Association of Negros Producers, Inc. (ANP) to showcase local crafts and products of the Negros Island to the nation’s capital. Those who couldn’t go to Negros would eventually have the opportunity to buy Negros products through this fair.

ANP has been around for years and is the leading micro-small medium enterprise-business service organization providing relevant, excellent products and services to stakeholders and the global marketplace. It provides support and mentoring assistance to its members so that they will have an opportunity to grow and operate on fair trade practices.

The ANP has and will continue to empower its member-producers through assisting, equipping and inspiring them to utilize their innate sense of creativity, hard work and passion in developing sustainable entrepreneurial endeavors that uplift lives and contribute towards economic development.

The good thing about this is that when you patronize the products of the member-producers of ANP, you are also helping communities with their livelihood and, at the same time, enabling start-up businesses to flourish.

The Negros Showroom

The Negros Showroom, located at the 9th Lacson Street of Bacolod City, is a social enterprise wrought out of the sugar crisis. The brainchild of the ANP, it represents close to 100 companies and sustains thousands of Negrense families. The rare and storied treasures that are on display at the Negros Showroom gives visitors a peek into the charming and oftentimes intriguing Negrense lifestyle.

My mother would go to the Negros Showroom to buy gifts for her visiting friends whenever they come to our province. Lately, I visited it, too, and found these products that friends and families, both here and outside of Negros Occidental, will surely like – souvenir shirts, mugs, bookmarks, candle holder, crafty decors, and food items.

These goodies are great finds in the Negros showroom.

These goodies are great finds in the Negros showroom.

Delicious Pasalubong

The Negros Showroom and the Negros Trade Fair features a wide array of delectable native delicacies that are not only a “must-taste” but also a “must-take-home”. A variety of renowned producers, such as: Chicken Inasal, Caramel Tarts, Mango Tarts, Flavored Barquillos, Crunchy Squid Rings, Pili Crumble and more are sold at the Negros Trade Fair.

When my mother’s college batch mates from other parts of the country and abroad came for a mini-reunion in Bacolod City, she bought boxes of delicacies for them to take home. One favorite of ours are the Sugarlandia products, with barquillos as the most popular. Sugarlandia Barquillos, as a cottage industry in the 60’s, became one of the pioneer members of then National Cottage Industry Development Administration (NACIDA). It then carried the label “Delicious Barquillos Homemade by Tiya Dami.” Once can also taste quality dessert and food products of the ELG Gourmet Foods, known for its specialty artisanal breads and select sinfully delish desserts.

Barquillos, piaya and all these goodies from Sugarlandia.

Barquillos, piaya and all these goodies from Sugarlandia.

Aside from these famous treats, natural and organic food products are also available, especially that Negros Occidental is fast-becoming in its popularity as an organic province. There are mascovado, native cacao, ginger/turmeric tea, and other personalized care products that are worth checking out.

Fashion, Crafts and Home Accents

Take-home goodies or pasalubongs are certainly not limited to edible sweets. Apparels and accessories, bags, reusable souvenir totes, and other products made by businesses that provide livelihood to rural families are also part of the Negros Trade Fair, which can also be found at the Negros Showroom. Just take for example the attractive Azatri souvenir shirts.

Masskara-designed shirt.

Masskara-designed Azatri souvenir shirt.

Crafts that has the ingenious use of sustainable natural products are gathered and created into masterpieces. One takes fibers growing wild in the Negros island, like the “tinalak” and “maranaw” and turn them into fashion lamps, baskets and house decors. There are also unique architectural and interior designs of decorative accessories for the ceiling and the floor as well as art pieces by Rodney Martinez, with his bold paintings of warmth and joy, and by Jojo Vito, with his colorful masks that are the symbol of Bacolod City’s Masskara Festival.

A miniature relief of the San Sebastian Cathedral.

A miniature relief of the San Sebastian Cathedral from the Negros Volunteers for Change Foundation.

30th Negros Trade Fair

Would you believe that the ANP has been running the Negros Trade Fair for 30 years now? This year, it will celebrate thirty years of brilliance, authenticity, and dynamic partnerships coming together as one voice, one region. The 30th Negros Trade Fair, which will take place on September 16 to 20, 2015 at the Glorietta Activity Center in the City of Makati, promises to share not only to the whole country but to the rest of the world what is “Truly Negros”.

The Negros Trade Fair will also launch a new mobile game application, called KaBaLoKa (a Hiligaynon term for “Did you know…?”) that tests the player’s knowledge of the province’s attractions – from its people, places, festivals, food, and so much more.

Special events will also be held at the Glorietta Activity Lobby throughout the duration of the Negros Trade Fair. You can also tweet using #ntf30atglorietta or keep yourself posted on the happenings as you follow this hashtag.

So if you want to have a taste, feel and experience of what is “Truly Negros”, you can visit the Negros Trade Fair this year, and the years after or if you happen to come to Bacolod, you can stop by the Negros Showroom and enjoy the best products of Negros. As you purchase an item or two, you are also helping a family in Negros earn a living.

For more updates, check out www.negrostradefair.com or www.facebook.com/thenegrostradefair or contact them at +6334-4341600 or +63-998-536-0788 or email them at negrostradefair.anp@gmail.com.

Tree planting at Upper Caliban-Imbang Watershed; Adopt an Animal at NFEFI-BCC

Last week, I trekked several kilometers from Sitio Campuestohan to the Upper Caliban-Imbang Watershed in Talisay City for a tree planting activity, coupled with a free clinic that the Dr. Pablo O. Torre Foundation, Inc. (DPOTFI), where I work, spearheaded for the little community that is found in that area.

The ;plains of Bacolod City and Talisay City could be seen from Campuestohan.

The plains of Bacolod City and Talisay City could be seen from Campuestohan.

I have only been to Campuestohan Highland Resort, where our bus stopped because the vehicle could no longer climb the rough road filled with large stones and muddy soil that was softened by the rain. And so, we had to walk from the entrance of the resort to about 10 to 15 minutes uphill until we reached what seemed to be an abandoned school building.

The trail that we had to traverse.

The trail that we had to traverse.

There we had our briefing. We assembled the medicines and items we brought for the free clinic, while the company that organized the tree planting stationed the food they brought and the materials for the storytelling and games for children in one of the rooms.

The raging waters going downstream.

The raging waters going downstream.

Some volunteered to look after our stuff while the rest continued with the journey. We again trekked, this time passing through narrow trails, part of which was sandwiched between walls of soil. We passed by a small canal with fresh water raging through that came from the mountains. We climbed hills and slopes, walked along edges of cliffs and passed by houses until we reached a clearing. There we initiated our tree planting activity.

The breathtaking view at the clearing.

The breathtaking view at the clearing.

The scenery was breathtaking with plants growing healthily. Wild ferns were also found at the clearing with twirls of its branches sprouting up in between. Flowers were also everywhere. We saw a cable car facility along the way which crosses Talisay City and Murcia.

The cable car going to the next mountain which is in the Murcia area.

The cable car going to the next mountain which is in the Murcia area.

We did the activity in partnership with the Negros Forests and Ecological Foundation (NFEFI), which supports the community in the Upper Caliban-Imbang Watershed area.

As one of the country’s most active not-for-profit conservation groups, NFEFI has also launched an animal adoption program the day before we had our tree planting.

Maral at the NFEFI-BCC (Photo by William Oliver)

Maral at the NFEFI-BCC (Photo by William Oliver)

In this program, individuals, schools, corporations and clubs are invited to adopt one (or more) of the many threatened animals kept at the Biodiversity Conservation Center (NFEFI-BCC) in Bacolod City. By doing so they will be helping to maintain a safe haven for threatened species.

Rufous-headed hornbill (Photo by Roland Seitre)

Rufous-headed hornbill (Photo by Roland Seitre)

NFEFI is committed to saving threatened endemic species from extinction. The NFEFI-BCC is a breeding center for some of the world’s most threatened species; majority of which are found only in Negros and Panay and nowhere else in the world.

Visayan spotted deer (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

Visayan spotted deer (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

It has been successful in breeding these species and plan to eventually return the captive-bred individuals into their natural habitat. Meantime, while sites are still being evaluated for release about 100 animals call NFEFI-BCC their home. The Center is working closely with the Philippines Biodiversity Conservation Foundation Inc., the Department of Environment and Natural Resources and several international partners.

Negros bleeding-heart pigeon (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

Negros bleeding-heart pigeon (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

For just P33 a day, adopters can play a vital role in helping to save threatened species by providing funds to enable the NFEFI-BCC to continue to provide world-class care of these animals.

Visayan tarictic hornbill (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

Visayan tarictic hornbill (Photo by Godfrey Jakosalem)

All adopters will receive a welcome pack featuring an adoption certificate, an image and fact sheet of the chosen animal; quarterly updates about the adoptive animal; free access to the NFEFI-BCC, 20 visitor passes  acknowledgments at the BCC and on the group’s website.

In addition, adopters can go behind the scenes for a private meet-and-greet with the chosen animal or bird.

Adoptions run for one year. The monthly cost of P1,000 per animal or bird will cover its food, supplements, veterinary care, enrichment and improvements in the animal’s enclosure.

Animals and birds available for adoption include Visayan spotted deer, Visayan warty pig, Visayan leopard cat and Large Flying Fox; Rufous-headed hornbill, Visayan tarictic hornbill, Southern rufous hornbill, Negros bleeding-heart pigeon, Luzon bleeding-heart pigeon, buff-eared brown dove, metallic wood pigeon, pink-bellied imperial pigeon, Philippine cockatoo, white-bellied woodpecker, Philippine eagle-owl, Luzon hawk-owl and Philippine hawk-eagle and the rare Philippine sailfin lizard.

The NFEFI-BCC also welcome donations, however small. Every centavo goes to the center’s work of protecting and conserving some of the world’s most vulnerable animals.

Please contact NFEFI-BCC’s curator Dr. Joanne Justo on (034) 433-9234 or visit http://www.negrosforests.org/

Different Kinds of Travels

We travel for different reasons and purposes. Traveling is an activity that encompasses a lot of things that it’s even harder now to box it in just one kind. The constant debate and comparison between a “tourist” and “traveler” had always been interesting but my personal take on this, which has been echoed by several people who have been on the road for long, it is a waste of time setting these two apart because one is conjoined with the other.

We wander. We explore. We travel.

We wander. We explore. We travel.

I may not have been to many places or may still lack experience when it comes to traveling but I have picked up bits and pieces here and there that had me thinking about this passion of mine. When you are at an airport, you’ll see different kinds of people  with different destinations. And for those who are going to the same place, each have different journeys as well.

Sometimes you travel just to unwind or to take a vacation and time off from the regular thing you do. Other times, it is because traveling is needed, whether for work or for learning or for something else. As I have come to interact with other travelers, I found out that there is now an increasing number of people who travel for a longer period of time, often staying in a place or on the road for an extended interval.

Let me share with you my discoveries and learnings, not necessarily factual, but more of my own observations about the varying types of traveling depending on one’s purpose and activities. This is not to create labels but to provide an understanding on the kinds of traveling people take and to know that there are varying needs for these types of travels.

Family & Friendly Visits

This is the  most basic traveling that I have done. Our country, the Philippines, is an archipelago with 7,107 islands. Our culture, especially in the provinces, is known for close-knit families. During Christmastime, parties and reunions take place and there are people who travel to their hometowns just to reconnect with their roots. And with many Filipinos now living in various parts of the globe, reunions during special occasions, anniversaries, alumni homecomings, and festivals are customary.

My early travels, during my childhood years, were primarily composed of having a vacation for weeks or months with relatives every time we have our school break. I usually stayed with relatives living near the sea and I remember watching fishermen arrive with their catch every sunrise and collecting shells along the beach during sunsets.

These kind of travel would often involve bringing of goods from one place to another, such as food or souvenir items, as gifts to the people you visit or their gifts to you.

Backpacking

As I have begun working, I have met friends who share my passion for traveling. We love to explore and tour cities and towns, whether urban settings or the countryside. We often set a trip or two each year within the Philippines and abroad. Traveling within our country is mostly composed of going to the beach, snorkeling and island hopping while traveling abroad is filled with visiting famous landmarks and trying the local food.

We try to keep a low budget when we travel so we take advantage of low-fare airlines and promo fares, we stay in hostels or backpacker’s inns, we go around cities by local commute, and we eat in local eateries. It’s fun because we get to see how locals go about in their own place and experience those, too.

Since this travel would require a traveler mostly on the road and can move about easily, clothes to be used must be convenient and comfortable and the items brought must be packed lightly and compact.

Business Travel

My first trip abroad was to attend a seminar in Thailand. And for the first time, I have also crossed continents and have visited the United States because I had to attend a seminar in San Francisco, California, and moderate a particular session. Because of work, I have traveled to Indonesia and made Jakarta my home for seven months while granting me the opportunity to visit Bekasi, Bandung, Yogyakarta, Solo and Surabaya.

Many people travel for business.

Many people travel for business.

Since business traveling would require attending social functions, suits and dresses that are apt for the occasion should be packed. Oftentimes, gadgets used for work, along with papers and notebooks are also brought for the trip.

 MICE

This stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conferences and Exhibitions. Whether you are a presentor, moderator, or participant, you have to be prepared to bring things needed for this purpose. Oftentimes, there are kits given out, which will add to your luggage. Attending such would sometimes require you to be cooped inside the hotel or venue and will only provide you with an opportunity to explore the place after sessions are done. Unless you extend for a few more days to tour the place on your own, then business travel becomes pleasurable. The good thing though is that business travel often billet you to posh accommodations where the setting of the MICE or business activities are held.

Business travels are often held in hotels and convention centers.

Business travels are often held in hotels and convention centers.

Familiarization Trip

This is one kind of travel I experienced when I became adept with blogging. I have attended some familiarization trips where the organizer pamper you to give you the best experience they can offer. A fixed itinerary is prepared and some activities would require you to dress properly, whether for cocktails or a formal gathering. A fam trip is often given to the media or target market and the traveling party is expected to promote the trip through whatever means they have.

Medical Tourism

I went on one familiarization trip geared towards medical tourism. It opened my eyes to travelers who go to another place for medical purposes. One often does this because there are medical procedures that are cheaper in a particular country compared to where the traveler comes from. Those who do this also takes advantage of a vacation to recover faster. However, travelers who go for medical tourism must be prepared to bring the necessary items for the procedure, especially medications that the traveler must take while on the trip.

Volunteer Travel

I have come to know of this kind of traveling when I was in the non-profit sector. Others call this voluntourism, but it has elicited a negative connotation to the development world. Some have coined this volunteer vacations. For those in school, they call this their gap year. Whatever it is called, traveling to volunteer is something that people see as worthwhile because there is a purpose and it effects change and impacts the local community. When I went to Vietnam and Cambodia, I found out that many travel and tour agencies offer this as an activity to tourists. Even in business traveling, volunteerism is often included as a corporate social responsibility activity for companies and organizations.

There are those who travel to volunteer to help the local community.

There are those who travel to volunteer to help the local community.

Those who volunteer travel does not bring much and they are prepared not to experience comfort nor convenience. They bring clothes that are appropriate when they “sweat it out.” Volunteering in a particular place, whether it is done in days, weeks, months or years, requires sacrifice but the returns are often fulfilling and priceless.

Academic Travel

There are those who travel to study and this is often done in a year or two. Others take a short course which can run in days or weeks or a few months. I have experienced academic travel because my group and I had to do research in a local community and we had to gather data and observe the locals for a number of days. I also met a Polish girl and her friend in a train from Beijing bound for Shanghai because she was in China to study.

A person who travels for studies will have to bring materials that are being used for learning. He or she sometimes live in a dormitory, along with fellow travelers, such as exchange students.

Religious Travel

One goes to another place through a pilgrimage. The whole journey is a prayer and a spiritual exercise to delve deeper into oneself and one’s faith. It is a process of spiritual communion with the divine. Others do this type of traveling to attend to a religious activity. My sister and I traveled from our province to Manila when Pope Francis visited it recently. During holy week, my friends and I visit a holy place to pray and reflect. There are some who go to a remote place as a spiritual retreat.

Many religious travelers go on a pilgrimage.

Many religious travelers go on a pilgrimage.

When you do religious travel, be sure to bring decent clothing and to experience the simplicities of life. An inspirational book or a holy literature is also a help when you bring one.

Sports Travel

There are travelers who visit a place to play or to watch a big sporting event. With sports events happening all year round globally, sports travel is something that others do on a regular basis. I have once met a golfer who travel around the world just to play golf. Similarly, when I had to oversee organizing a golf tournament in our locality, there were several players who traveled from different parts of our country just for this event. When I was in Indonesia, surfers with their huge surfboards, were seen in the airport in throngs as they were bound for Bali and other parts of the country.

There are those who travel to play or to witness a sports event.

There are those who travel to play or to witness a sports event.

Those who travel to participate in a game would have to bring the necessary equipment, tools, uniforms and other essentials. They would be very particular when it comes to proper handling of their things.

Eco-travel

There are a quite number of people who visit a particular place to commune with nature, study the natural habitat of that locality, and help preserve the biodiversity of the ecosystem. Some who backpack and/or take a vacation inject some form of eco-travel as there are many ecotourism activities that are being offered to travelers. Often, eco-travel is also being made in conjunction with volunteer travel.

There are those who travel to commune with nature.

There are those who travel to commune with nature.

Others travel for an entirely different agenda and purpose. There are some who mix many of the activities above. Terms such as fashion tourism, farm tourism, and many others are also cropping up as time goes by. You might want to add to this list. I’d be happy to learn more and hear from you. If you have something to share, please feel free to add them at the comments section below.

Kenny Rogers Roasters is roasting in Bacolod

With all the restaurants and food outlets sprouting all throughout Bacolod, it is no big surprise to find global brands, like the Kenny Rogers Roasters, finding its way in the City of Smiles. After all, just utter Bacolod and food instantly comes to mind. Travelers who come to Bacolod find their checklist of must-dos full of food menu and restaurants to try. And if there’s one big thing Bacolod has to offer, apart from its Masskara Festival, it’s the hodgepodge of eateries that will leave visitors full and satisfied.

The newly opened Kenny Rogers Roasters in SM City Bacolod.

The newly opened Kenny Rogers Roasters in SM City Bacolod.

Chicken inasal, or barbequed chicken, is a favorite food fare in town. Walk by the Manokan Country and you will find each stall enticing you to choose their outlet. It may sometimes make you dizzy with all the choices spread out before you that you opt for some comfort food, something familiar yet not common.

Roasted chicken.

Roasted chicken.

If you prefer your chicken cooked in a different fashion, where it is done healthily, you can always rely on Kenny Rogers Roasters to serve you with its mouthwatering  Kenny’s Classic Roast Chicken marinated in herbs and spices, slowly roasted in an open fire.

A hefty meal with a siding.

A hefty meal with a siding.

Add to that the slew of delectable sidings: coleslaw -crunchy vegetables sliced thinly and tossed in a creamy sweet and tangy dressing; steamed vegetables – choice fresh vegetables perfectly steamed and seasoned; macaroni & cheese – perfectly cooked macaroni mixed with a creamy cheese sauce; mashed potato – creamy mashed potatoes with delicious gravy; fresh fruit salad – a variety of sliced fruit in a light sugar syrup; corn on the cob – grilled to smoky flavorful perfection; chicken macaroni – delicious macaroni and chicken chunks with carrots and pineapple in creamy mayo dressing; and my all-time favorite corn and carrots – tender corn and crunch carrots, steamed and buttered.

Fruits in Cream for dessert.

Fruits in Cream for dessert.

Kenny Rogers Roasters is now located in the food strip of SM City Bacolod’s North Wing. It is really convenient especially if you go there to dine in the store. Freshly cooked and fast service combined. If you want to bring home some goodies, grab a box of those freshly baked cornmeal muffins.

Oh, those muffins!

Oh, those muffins!

A “Bitter” (Better) Way to Help Negrenses

As July ushers in, the rainy season has arrived in this part of the globe. Being in the tropics, where it’s warm and sunshiny all year round, and in an archipelago, where sea travel is a common mode of transport, the heavy rains and typhoons are not welcome visitors especially to beach lovers and travel junkies. Rains are fine as long as they don’t disrupt one’s itinerary. I, for one, was planning on a road trip to the southwestern part of the Negros Island but had to cancel it due to bad weather.

Philippines, an archipelago and a tropical country, has many beaches.

Philippines, an archipelago and a tropical country, has many beaches.

Apart from beaches and warm weather, another thing to enjoy in the tropics are the fresh tropical fruits. Those who are from the other side of the world who want to enjoy a vacation in the Philippines and other parts of Asia delight on consuming these fruits. And when you happen to be in Negros Island, you will surely want to taste the freshly squeezed sugarcane juice or go the local way of chomping on sugarcane.

Tropical fruits are plenty in the Philippines.

Tropical fruits are plenty in the Philippines.

However delectable these food are, it is always good to go easy on one’s intake especially on food with high sugar levels (I’m not sure on the sugar level of raw sugarcane, but having everything in moderation is precautionary). And if you think you went overboard and consumed too much of high-sugar content food, you can turn to an all natural solution to counter this concern.

Sugarcane abound in the Negros Island. Sugar is one of its primary products.

Sugarcane abound in the Negros Island. Sugar is one of its primary products.

I recently met executives of Nattural Quality Corporation (NQC) and they shared their advocacy on wellness and healthy lifestyles. Among their products are Ampalaya Plus, formulated for diabetes; Ampalaya Plus Junior, version of Ampalaya Plus Capsule for children ages 7 and above; Delite Herbal Tea, tea form of Ampalaya Plus capsule; Renalin, supports kidney health; Slenda, for weight loss and obesity and Enduranz Capsule for Men, for male infertility problems and promotes men’s health.

Go Natural with these products from Nattural Quality Corporation.

Go Natural with these products from Nattural Quality Corporation.

Ampalaya is bitter gourd, known for its bitter taste. Not a favorite of many, especially children, but it has medicinal qualities and great nutritional content. It can help level sugar in our body. Recently, NQC started a promotional campaign, dubbed as the “Gusto Kong Makatulong” (I Want to Help) promo that will help residents of Negros Occidental and Negros Oriental, the two provinces in the Negros Island. What better way to combat diabetes than to begin a campaign in the sugar capital of the Philippines, right?

Their campaign, in partnership with radio stations such as MOR, Love Radio and Aksyon Radio, will benefit three Weekly winners of P1,000.00 from each partner FM Station for the months of July and August and three Grand Prize winners of P5,000 (one from each partner FM Station). My fellow Negrenses who are interested on this campaign can definitely join by following the mechanics.

If you are planning a trip to Negros, understand that the people are not just sweet and friendly but we also have a sweet tooth. If you share this sentiment, then, probably you’d want to try a “bitter” solution to moderate your blood sugar level. You might just want to give ampalaya or bitter gourd a try.

How to be part of this promo. It is NQC's way to help Negrenses.

How to be part of this promo. It is NQC’s way to help Negrenses.

For information on Nattural Quality Corporation, visit their website www.gonatural.com.ph or check out their Facebook page.