Daily Tribune (Philippines)



Finding oneself in Boracay after months of being cooped up in Metro Manila is like breathing in Nirvana: you’re in wideopen space on White Beach looking out to sea, with over four kilometers of fine white sand lapped by emerald blue seawater without the crowds of pre-Covid times.

The island closed down in March and did not open fully until about seven months later, in October 2020. I flew in mid-December last year to cool sunlit weather, and found Boracay looking like the paradise I knew in the early 1980s.

As if that wasn’t blissful enough, I also found out that a few establishm­ents had opened to serve locals and the few visitors who hurdled tedious local government protocols to escape tedium and urban city blues at discounted planefare rates.

Even Binggoy Remedios, owner of Dos Mestizos arguably the best Spanish Filipino restaurant on the island, shrugged off fears of losing his shirt by opening — the pandemic be damned — a brand new branch on a new location along Station One.

Baked and barbecued

One new place I discovered was luxury hotel Crimson’s head baker Philip Mira Gonzales and the Lind’s executive sous chef Jomar Medrano’s bakery. Here, Gonzales’ baking prowess is manifested in such offerings as jumbo pan de sal and artisanal breads, wood-fired ovencooked pizzas, along with other scrumptiou­s baked products like gourmet bibingka, chicken empanada, classic


ensaymadas, cheese rolls and pastries, among others.

Gonzales, whom Medrano calls

“tsuplado,” churns out baked goodies at Arina at a level of quality similar to those which he makes for Crimson. “We don’t make all that much on our

pandesal, and I’ve asked Philip to use shortening instead of butter so that we can make a little more money on such item,” says Medrano. But to no avail. “I refuse to use shortening, which is pig fat; I use only Australian or New Zealand butter for our

pandesal,” stresses Gonzales. “Only good butter, or forget it.” Arina, which they opened in April 2020, was “primarily to give our fellow workers in the Lind and Crimson work when operations were interrupte­d because of the pandemic,” says Medrano, once an instructor with the Magsaysay Center for Hospitalit­y and Culinary Arts and a member of the culinary award-winning Philippine team under noted chef Ariel Manuel. Their employers were kind enough to allow them to establish their own business, which also features home delivery, and a separate sit-down area where patrons, mainly from the local community, can feast on smoked, barbecued and grilled meats, chops and a few seafood items as well as their best-selling “Sizzling 99” menu of genuinely delicious sisig, Bicol Express, Salisbury Steak, pork chop, sweet and spicy (Hungarian) sausages and Buffalo chicken wings — all on a hot plate, and all for P99, with P25 for unlimited rice and P25 for chilled gulaman.

Word about how good the food is has traveled beyond the circle comprised of regular customers — mainly local residents in the area — and it’s not unusual to see guests from upmarket hotels, particular­ly those in

SIZZLING 99 is known for its sisig, Bicol Express, Salisbury Steak, pork chop, sweet and spicy (Hungarian) sausages and Buffalo chicken wings – all for P99.

Boracay’s northern tip such as Movenpick, Crimson and the Shangri-La, guzzling cold beers and enjoying the eats.

Coffee and savories

In mid-December 2020, Filipino-Canadian Patrick Florencio and his beauteous New Zealand-born African-Indian wife, Shria — owners of the popular Nonie’s (restaurant which serves Filipino-inspired healthy food options, where you can also have some of the best cold-pressed juices and smoothies on the island) at

Station X, Hue Hotel, in

Boracay’s Station 2, opened Bunchies, along with their partners, an Australian with a Filipino wife.

After a hearty, woodsmoked barbecue or sizzling hot plate meal at Gonzales and Medrano’s Sizzling 99, one can hop over to Bunchies for a hot cup of craft coffee, an espresso, latte or cappuccino and a Lamington, then have a home-made sausage roll, chicken masala pie or beef Madras pie wrapped for take-out. Oh yes, I must say, of late, the eating’s been good in Boracay!

Arina/Sizzling 99/Bunchies are located in Sitio Hagdan, Zone 3, Yapak, Boracay Island (going to Puka

Beach and Shangri-La area).

For inquiries, +63 945


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 ??  ?? HOP on to Bunchies for a hot cup of craft coffee.
HOP on to Bunchies for a hot cup of craft coffee.
 ??  ?? WIDE range of menu for the islanders.
WIDE range of menu for the islanders.
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 ??  ?? ARINA’s specialty bread.
ARINA’s specialty bread.
 ??  ?? PATRICK Florencio and wife Shria.
PATRICK Florencio and wife Shria.

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