In SM Baliwag, the sisig rocks! And you get free wi-fi, too!

I usually do not accept invites to bloggers’ events where you are somehow ‘obliged’ to write about specific products and services. The simple reason is that I do not want to compromise the integrity of this blog. If I want to write a about a restaurant, for example, I make sure that I will pay for my meal.  However, I sometimes (very very rarely, I must say) make an exception particularly if I know that the visit may help future buyers/consumers in their decision-making.

One such opportunity came when hubby and I were invited to  a bloggers event in SM Baliwag in line with the launch of the mall’s wi-fi access. I really wanted to turn down the invitation but I surmised that I also have to try wi-fi services in malls and more importantly, I really cannot say “no” to our good friend and former website administrator, Dave (who’s done a lot for building our site-in-progress, The two-hour trip to Baliwag was pleasant enough and provided me and hubby some quiet moments just looking at the clear blue skies and green rice fields of Bulacan. Upon arrival at the mall, we were welcomed with movie treats (JR and I opted for “Shrek Forever After, the Final Chapter”) that eventually led to a nice lunch feast.

I can say that a lunch that comprised of Pinoy Lugaw’s fresh lumpia, Chef Chow’s shabu-shabu, Baliwag’s Lechon Manok and Liempo, and Sisig Hooray’s pork sisig are well beyond my daily capacity for lunch (wink! wink!) but I really enjoyed the food for the most part.

The lechon manok and liempo are really impressive. Perhaps it goes to show I am really a die-hard ‘carnivorous’ in my previous life (I have been trying to veer away from meat the last couple of years) and as they say, old habits never die! But then who could resist these yummy treats, beckoning to you as if they are bottles of sweet sweet wine suddenly appearing in the horizon while you are sweating in the middle of a Saharan desert? You bet, I am not that disciplined yet!

I also enjoyed the shabu-shabu although my standards somehow are a notch higher after marrying a chef-in-progress. I dare say it needs a bit more of the taste that can only be produced from a dash of spices and herbs (instead of just salt and the pepper). However, over-all, it is already satisfying given that it is a fast food fare.

The fresh lumpia is also good but then again, I have also tasted better ones in the past. One thing I  would recommend to its ‘creator’ is to go easy on the sugar of the sauce. I think it was too sweet. Except for this downside, I will definitely still enjoy it especially if I just wanted a small meal the next time I visit SM Baliwag again.

What’s the winner for me? It is the dear “old” pork sisig! Mind you, I am not really a pork-lover. Nutritionists will probably cry in horror over this post but then again who says it is easy to say “no” to temptations? ;D I just LOVE Sisig Hooray’s Pork Sisig! They definitely deserve lots of “Hooray”!  I will certainly recommend it to SM mall-goers but I must also remind everyone to go easy on cholesterol intake. ;D After all, health is wealth!

This has been an enjoyable day. Food, wi-fi, the company of great people (and bloggers!), and an adoring husband who always makes sure I am happily fed…what more can I ask for?

This day definitely rocks! Thank you, SM Baliwag, Dave, and to all the sponsors!


This is not a paid blog although the event is an sponsored one. This blogger does not normally attend bloggers events for the reasons cited above.

Finding a Partner in Bangko Kabayan

Now, here is a bank that truly ‘walks the talk.’

Hubby and I just opened our first (joint) bank account with Bangko Kabayan (BK), a multi-awarded and SME-friendly rural bank in Batangas province. Their brochures and website are not just for PR purposes – they indeed change lives and support the dreams of small entrepreneurs. Among their most recent awards is the “Most Outstanding Rural Bank in Calabarzon for 2008.”

We instantly know that this Bank has a ‘heart’ when we were personally and enthusiastically welcomed by the Bank Manager, himself, Mr. Rico Arcillas, and their Info and OFW Desk Officer/Product Development Officer, Ms. Gaye Gonzalvo. We came from Laguna (to attend dear friends’ wedding) and so, you can just imagine how tired and ‘shabby-looking’ we already were by the time we reached the bank. [I just hope we did not smell yet!] 🙂 It was also beyond office hours already so that makes the gesture even more admirable and appreciated.

The Bank’s vision statement (pasted below) is definitely reflected in the way it does its services –

Enabled by the Divine Providence and generating His presence among us as a work community united in His name, we will be a leading rural financial institution through the delivery of personalized and relevant financial services in an excellent manner, with a preference for the small and micro entrepreneurs of Batangas, contributing to the development of the countryside. (Source: Bangko Kabayan website)

The term ‘personalized service’ is often abused in the business circle but in the case of BK, the use of such a statement is certainly well-deserved. The BK team truly demonstrates passion, eagerness, and commitment. The words in their brochures and website are backed up with concrete and realistic programs that allow ordinary citizens to open an account or secure loans (for example, in BK, one can already open a savings account with just an initial deposit of P100.00! A balance of P1,000.00 already earns interest. This is no longer widely available in other commercial or big banks. )

They also offer microfinance and SME-friendly loan and financing services that are genuinely sensitive to the realities of small and aspiring entrepreneurs. As I have mentioned before in my online article in Suite101 Media, oftentimes, the big banks  claim to be offering “SME-friendly” packages but in reality, they still require stiff requirements that already limit access for start-ups.

I strongly believe that genuine development can only be realistically attained if there are adequate opportunities for jobs/ employment and more importantly, self-employment. The banking and financial sectors have big roles to play because they are the ones who can truly provide the needed impetus for business development and growth by providing real, easy and tangible access to credit and financial services.

But anyway, you may be wondering why we opted to open an account with them when the branches are all based in Batangas? For one, we have a dream of owning a farm and Batangas is a perfect place because of its proximity to Manila. We want to begin planting the first seeds towards that dream! As they say, you have to visualize your dreams so that they will become true. 🙂 Second, BK allows clients to deposit/withdraw funds via the (Globe) Gcash system and so, the distance no longer becomes an issue. Third, the BK is truly passionate about their mission and we have seen that up-close when we visited their Tanauan Branch. Fourth, opening and maintaining an account does not cost an arm and a leg! (You can practically save every peso because the Bank will not charge you anything, say, if your balance falls below P2,000 – an example of the lowest ceiling for the Average Daily Balance or ADB required in most banks.) Finally, we believe in the Pinoy industry and this is also our way of supporting our own.

Bangko Kabayan is indeed a breathe of fresh air. They know the real situations of small and aspiring entrepreneurs but never will you feel ‘small’ when you enter their premises. They offer you even bigger smiles, which you carry home with you, happy with the thought that you have just gained a lifetime partner.

P.s. This is definitely not a paid blog! I am writing this because I truly believe in the mission of BK. For more information on the bank, please visit God bless!

Bangko Kabayan’s Deposit Products