13
Jun

American Expats Visit “The Bistro” in Buenavista

I was posted at Parola Dock in Iloilo City waiting for  The Tom Cat, my American expat friend from Guimaras, and his main squeeze, LenLen. We were on a sojourn to  Buenavista, a town located at the northern tip of Guimaras Island, to visit the VeneZia Bistro, a restaurant/bar operated by our crusty British colleague, Keith.  Sporadic showers slapped me in the face as I dove for cover underneath a battered, corrugated metal roof that looked like it  had gone 12 rounds with Brock Lesnar and lost.  Buenavista Guimaras

Tom and LenLen, one of my asawa’s legion of relatives, soon disembarked from the Super Parola Jeepney. We scouted the wharf looking for a venue to quaff a bottle or two of cold San Miguel Pale Pilsen as we waited for the rain to abate.  But the former eateries and sari sari stores that once lined the decrepit  dock were demolished.  Looked like the construction of the  new,  much-needed, P260-million Iloilo-Guimaras Ferry Terminal,  had begun.

We drifted towards the pump boat ticket office for Buenavista and I asked the Coast Guard officer on duty where we could purchase a cold bottle of our favorite beverage. He smiled and pointed to an eatery adjoining the pump boat ticket booth.

My lanky American amigo asked the lola (grandma) standing nearby if she served “cold bottles of Pilsen.” She did not seem to understand. I repeated the question but added “cold bottles of San Miguel Pale Pilsen.” She understood and nodded “yes.”  We ordered two and sat down on the concrete embankment surrounding the dock. LenLen passed on any liquid refreshment at the time. 

After downing a bottle, Tom consulted with his girlfriend to see if we should make a dash for the boat and head to our destination. It was only 4:30 pm. We had time to kill. Keith’s establishment opened at 6 pm.  Though it was still raining, it wasn’t at the torrential downpour level…yet… so we made our move.  I paid our bill, only 50 pesos, P25 a bottle,  58¢, and made our way to the ticket booth. 

Purchased three tickets at P14 each (32¢) and somehow managed to maneuver the narrow, wet  plank walkway to the vessel (see next photo.)  I clung to the ropes tighter than a monkey strung out on shabu,  as I slowly edged my way across. 

Thankfully, I had only consumed one bottle of San Miguel at this point.  The boats to Buenavista are much smaller than the pump boats from Ortiz Dock in Iloilo to the Jordan Wharf in Guimaras. But the quickest and cheapest way from Iloilo  to Keith’s place was via this much smaller passenger boat.Narrow plank to the Buenavist boat

My own lovely asawa stayed at home in Iloilo. For some reason, sitting around and watching me drink beer and shoveling out copious amounts of verbal cow manure does not particularly appeal to her. I really can’t comprehend why. But I planned to stay overnight at “The Farm” with my expat colleague and meet my wife the next day in Guimaras where she was to drop off some supplies for her family in San Miguel, about 30-35 minutes from Buenavista. 

Tom, LenLen and I took a 60 peso, 1.39 USD,  trike ride from the Buenavista wharf to the plaza in beautiful downtown Buenavista.  We were still an hour away from “The Bistro’s” 6 o’clock opening and after eating ice cream from our favorite ice cream stand on the town plaza, we strolled inside a local joint that served our favorite Filipino beer.

We downed three bottles each of decently chilled Pale Pilsen and then the downpour started. Tom and I split the bill. Only 168 pesos for six bottles, P28 each. It was past six, so we hailed a trike driver to “The Bistro” and made our way to Keith’s establishment. 

At “The Bistro,” along with Brits Paul and  Keith, the owner,  (seen in the next photo with “The Tom Cat”), you’ll meet guys from Switzerland, Germany and other far flung places.  Of course, you might also encounter a couple of American expats, like The Tom Cat and I, along with a flock of Filipino’s. Keith-Tom

(Keith and “The Tom Cat”)

“The Bistro” had a decent crowd that Friday night.  Despite the torrential rain, a good mix of Westerners and Filipinos had made it for the party.  We greeted our host and owner and I expressed my unbridled admiration for Great Britain’s Queen. Queen Elizabeth recently marked the 60th anniversary of her coronation. 

Keith wondered how many beers I had already consumed.  “Only four” I replied, and promptly ordered  a Guinness,  a popular Irish dry stout that originated in the brewery of Arthur Guiness in 1759 at St. James Gate in Dublin.  It was my first bottle of Guinness ever. Worlds apart from my usual San Miguel Pale Pilsen, but the goal tonight was to sample a wide variety of beers found throughout the world. My British expat friend had a eclectic assortment of brews to sample. 

Ordered a Murphy’s, another Irish beer,  after the Guinness,  upon Keith’s recommendation. I believe a palette cleanser bottle of San Miguel Pale Pilsen followed that. I made my way to the bar and announced to the whole assemblage of expats, that I dearly loved and admired the Queen. I then went back to my two platters of french fries and homemade chicken nuggets. Excellent bar food. 

While at the bar, Keith made mention of hiring a bar maid, but his vivacious Filipina wife, Vivian, was opposed to that idea. I thought it an excellent idea (as did many of the males lingering around) but Keith informed me his spouse was firmly opposed to the plan.

I spoke to Vivian later and expressed my opinion that an attractive Filipina bar maid could increase beer sales. No offense to Keith, but I believe most of the male beer drinkers would rather gaze at a pretty pinay than a Brit in his 60’s, even though the majority of expats were happily married to some wonderful ladies from the Philippines. I asked Vivian to at least consider the idea but doubt that I made any headway. The Bistro staff

(Staff members at “The Bistro” from a previous visit)

Remarked to Keith that I had spoken to his wife regarding the bar maid issue and his response was something that I cannot publish on this website.  A young Filipino man was also working at the bar, but again,  no offense, I don’t think his presence is going to generate any more business unless a bevy of lady boys begin hanging out at the establishment. Keith and Dave at The Bistro

(Keith and “The Kano.” Photo courtesy of “The Tom Cat.”)

Tom, LenLen and I were soon approached by a foreigner that neither of us had met before.  The stranger and Tom began conversing about snorkeling on Guimaras when the gentleman stuck out his hand and introduced himself as “Mark.” “Mark,” an American who now resides in Buenavista,  used to follow my first website, “The Rooster Crows at 4am!” 

I recalled Mark’s name from previous comments that he had left on my first blog and chatted with him for a few minutes. It was quite a pleasure meeting him and hope to see him on future visits to “The Bistro.” Keith and Dave at The Bistro in Buenavista

(Keith and I were talking about our wives, but don’t tell them. Photo courtesy of “The Tom Cat.”)

After finishing a beer from Oregon, the name I cannot recall, Tom decided it was time to head back to “The Farm” in San Miguel. His contact back at “The Farm,” a trike driver, due to the inclement weather,  had cancelled on his promise to go to Buenavista and bring us home.  Tom went to the nearby Plaza to try and locate a local tricycle driver that would take us home, but none could be found. No one wanted to venture out in the heavy rain.

LenLen began to get worried. My American expat friend hadn’t been seen in awhile. She was going to locate him. I stayed behind and continued to work on my beer. A few minutes later Tom came barging through the front door and loudly announced he had a ride home for us.  I cannot divulge the source of our transportation but I am very grateful to them and to Tom. We arrived at “The Farm,” safe and dry, and rode in air con comfort all the way. 

Keith offers traditional Filipino fare and Western dishes on his reasonably priced menu along with good values on imported beers. The menu changes weekly as does the supply of imported beers in stock.Keith-Dave4

(The effects of one too many beers. Photo courtesy of “The Tom Cat.”)

If you’re interested in visiting “The Bistro”,  please contact Keith at the following email address: keith_r_warren60@hotmail.com

He’ll send you a copy of the week’s food and bar menu and advise you if his establishment will be open the particular Friday night you plan to visit.  

Update information: Per Keith’s comment on this post, make sure you give the trike drivers the following information: “If you’re proposing a visit, tricycle drivers will not relate to Dave’s terminology. The place he’s talking about is called CALINGAO (“callin-gow”) which is within the Municipality of Buenavista – the place itself is NOT called Buenavista, unless you’re bladdered on Pilsen Wazz. The locals do not know the central grass area as “the plaza” so far as I’m aware.”

And thanks to Keith for the following pictures that were taken the night of our visit. Hope to see you at our next visit to “The Bistro.” 

The well-stocked bar at the Bistro

 (The well-stocked bar at Keith’s fine establishment)

Alan

Alan and company at “The Bistro.”  Keith, help me out. Is this Alan’s wife sitting next to him?  Remember, I was not in any sort of condition to remember much of anything.

Alan and Paul

Alan and Paul enjoying a good time with some fellow expats. If Paul looks like he is falling asleep, that is only because I had chatting with him for awhile. 

Alan and the Filipinas

Alan getting the royal treatment. Live like a king in the Philippines.

At the Bistro

The Kano,  along with some of the patrons,  at “The Bistro” that Friday evening.

 

 

 

 

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60 Comments

  • Art says:

    A pretty girl always makes a man spend more but sometimes the wife has the last call. How many beers did you have before declaring your love for the queen? A shot of Jameson goes great with a Guinness.

  • Fearless Frank from Florida says:

    The Bistro sounds like Great Fun !

  • Lee says:

    Looks like fun had by all. Good read! On Camaguin Island my wife and I stayed at the Secret Cove Resort. The Canadian owner had a Pretty Pinay named Rose whom was the bar tender, waitress, cook (probably cleaning lady and desk clerk.) I am quite certain my consumption of Red Horse was increased by her presents and she even suggested some fruity drink with an umbrella that my wife enjoyed a lot. So I am with you Dave, Keith should hire a bar maid.

    • Dave says:

      Lee, I absolutely have no problem drinking a Pale Pilsen that is being served by an attractive bar maid. Perhaps on our next trip to “The Bistro,” Keith will have convinced his asawa to hire a pretty pinay. I’ll have to give a full report on our next adventure. 😀

  • Ricky says:

    Aye, I like the Bistro, hope I get to visit one day, they have my favorite, Guinness! Will down 6 in a sitting! It really is good for you. Cures all kind of ailments. Glad you got to leave home unaccompanied. When we in PH, she says I cant leave home cauz a light colored person will be kidnapped. Her dad and I at the market and a pinay asked him if I was available! Live life like every day is another holiday I say. Have fun!

    • Dave says:

      Well, Ricky, as I’m sure you know, the Good Book says to “eat, drink and be merry.” Oh, sure the Apostle Paul comes along later in the New Testament and admonishes us to “do all things in moderation” but I choose to block out Brother Paul’s advice when I’m at “The Bistro” with The Tom Cat. 😉

      My own wife thought I was kidnapped by Americans during a visit to “The Moon Cafe” in Iloilo a couple of years ago. If any pinay would EVER ask if I was available and my wife was by my side, that Filipina would certainly face the wrath of the bolo!

  • Gary says:

    Ricky my wife is the same way. Some young girl will kidnap me and take me to her home. 🙂

  • Gary says:

    Meriam was once asked if I was Muslim. If I was the good looking young lady could be my wife. Muslims can have up to 4 wives in the Philippines.

    It is a hard life Dave but someone has to do it. 😛

    • Dave says:

      Gary, you’ve got it all, good looks, charm and a winning personality. How can the ladies refuse you?

      I’ve been told some Filipino’s are converting to Islam in Iloilo, where we live, for the sole purpose of allowing them to have four wives. I dearly love my wife and adore her. But do I need three more? Methinks not. 😯

  • PapaDuck says:

    Dave,
    I’ll be more than glad to buy the first round for the house when I get there lol. Bistro sounds like a great place to go when we get there. At the top of the list. Last Saturday they had a retirement party for me and had a little bit too much to drink for driving. We made it home safe and sound. I guess its just a warm up for moving there.

  • nick says:

    I just want to say thanks to dave I recently purchased the philippines expat advisor from amazon it was packed full of information I’m going to save for ten years before I make the big move but your book convinced me it can be done thanks again

    • Dave says:

      Nick, thanks so much for purchasing the paperback version of my book. I’m extremely happy to hear that you liked it. I’ve sold quite a few copies of it since offering it on Amazon. I appreciate the feedback. You’re smart to be planning so far ahead. Any questions, just give me a holler. The Philippines Expat Advisor is also available from this website for immediate download.

      • nick says:

        Thanks for replying back to me I am a disabled army vet i have heard that they have a v.a. office in the philippines somewhere I was wondering if you had any words of wisdom for me thanks again nick

  • Dave says:

    Thanks for the pictures, Keith. I’ll be updating the post with the new pics and your email listed on your comment so it will be easier for my readers to get in touch with you. I’ll also make sure to add “Calingao” as the reference point for the trike drivers. Tom and LenLen conversed with the drivers and we managed to get to what we referred to as “The Plaza” without any difficulty, though I did take a bit of a splashing from the rain as I rode in the back of the trike.

    Busty filipina barmaid?” I do not recall the word “busty” anywhere in the conversation, though in my inebriated state, it’s possible that might have slipped by me. You could use a barmaid like “Mae” that used to work at The Shirven. Pretty pinay with a great personality who could deal with the guys. But unfortunately, she’s working overseas in Egypt.

    As you know, Maricel has also left the building. While quieter than Mae, also a nice girl but no longer employed at The Shirven. Too bad. It’s much easier for my fat feet to board one of the pump boats to Jordan Wharf in Guimaras than the vessels that pass for passenger boats to your stomping grounds. But I’ll manage.

    Rogue Mocha Porter? Thanks, Keith, thoroughly enjoyed that brew, though by that time I could have downed a warm pint of piss and deemed it tasty. Looking forward to our next visit, tentatively planned for next month, and I’ll be in touch.

  • Gary says:

    Nick, the VA has a small doctors office in Manila. To be treated there it must be a service related disablity. I understand it is a good place to get the meds you need. Nothing else in the Philippines for vets. Tri-Care seems to be the way to go but if you are 65 or over you must care Medicare. You can’t use Medicare here but you still pay for it. It’s more fun in the Philippines. 🙂

    Gary in Tagum City

    • Dave says:

      Thanks for the information, Gary. I appreciate it.

    • nick says:

      Thanks for the info Gary I am service connected rated at 100% I require daily meds so this is great to know. The other thing I was wondering about is can I get my srrv visa here in the states before I move to the philippines and where in the states can I do that I’m from iowa thanks again nick

      • Dave says:

        Nick, the Philippine Consulate General handles immigration matters. The office that handles Iowa, among other states, is located in Chicago. Here’s their new address according to their website:

        122 S. Michigan Avenue, Suite 1600
        Chicago, IL 60603
        Tel. No. : (312) 583-0621
        Fax No. : (312) 583-0647
        Email : chicagopcg@att.net

        Here’s a LINK to their website.

        My Filipina wife and I visited them in 2009 to obtain her new passport, which had expired, to the Philippines. I know of some Americans that have obtained their 13a Permanent Visa from a consulate office in the States, but I opted to get mine in the Philippines. Back in 2000 when we visited the Chicago office, the staff members were extremely friendly and helpful.

  • Gary says:

    Dave: Went to the movies yesterday. While Meriam fell in line to buy the tickets the next thing I know I have this pretty young lady hanging on to me. At least she wiped the lipstick off of me before Meriam saw it. What a life!!! 😛

    Gary in Tagum City

  • Rease says:

    Nick, there is a US military Retiree Affairs Office in Iloilo. You can get VA assistance, Tricare assistance, FPO address for meds and such and other help. Costs about 75 dollars a year. Very helpful office.

    • nick says:

      Thanks for the info Rease i’m not retired but I have 100% disability rating from the V.A. do you know if that would make a difference with the services they offer thanks nick

  • Rease says:

    Nick, the RAO can help you with VA paperwork but the only VA in country is the one mentioned earlier in Manila. At 100% disability you will have a military ID, so full RAO services. This will save you tons of money and time with Tricare medications and VA related paperwork. When you first register with VA in Manila it is on your dime. After that they will pay travel, per diem, etc for annual visits. Quite a few military retirees on this island.

    • nick says:

      Thanks again for the info Rease that is excellent news I already have a disability id card from the army its the tan one if you have any other pointers feel free to let me know like I said before I have about ten years before I make the move but I’m trying to get all of my ducks in a row way ahead of time

  • Rease says:

    Any time 🙂 This is a pretty good island.

    • Dave says:

      Rease, thanks much for all the information you’ve provided Nick. I’m sure it will be helpful to some other future military expats also.

      And yes, great island, Panay is, love it here.

  • Rease says:

    Just curious Nick, with 100% you can also draw social security. That gives enough money to live very comfortably here. It’s nice being “younger” and retired here.

    • nick says:

      Yes I also draw social security I could afford to live in the philippines now but I’m waiting ten years because my youngest boy is still a minor and me and his mom just recently divorced I feel it would be to much for him if I left iowa now this way the ten years gives me time to save some money so I can get the srrv when I turn 50 it will only cost $10000 for a life time visa a price I’m willing to pay to live in paradise

  • Gary says:

    Nick, you would have to have special permission to leave where you live. It all depends on your ex-wife.

    I have the 13a, much cheaper in the long run…

    • nick says:

      The way I under stood it was that the SRRV would only cost $10,000 once your 50 and have a monthly pension of at least $800.00 I also thought that the $10,000 is in a time locked account that will always be in that account until you turn in your visa or pass away my question is a v.a. at a 100% rating considered a pension? I also draw social security but the way I understand it is that the s.s.won’t be a pension until I’m 65

    • Dave says:

      The 13a is a lot cheaper and a lot less hassle, Gary. I personally don’t feel like leaving the country every year to renew the balikbayan privilege I had when my wife and I first entered the country, but some married expats I know do. Personally, just less hassle for me with the 13a.

  • nick says:

    Thanks Dave but I just got divorced at this point in my life I’m not thinking about getting married just yet it was a bad long divorce the divorce took over a year because she wanted full custody I have seven years before my youngest is 18 I thought it would be smart to wait until I was 50 before so the SRRV wouldn’t cost so much but you never know some sweet sincere filipina girl might catch my eye

    • Dave says:

      Yeah, I thought you might not be too receptive to meeting someone right away, Nick, I was thinking of possibly sometime in the future. After my American wife gave me the boot after nine months, I wasn’t ready to settle down and spent three solid years bar hopping until I got tired of that. Fortunately I met Melinda, my beautiful Filipina wife, through a pen pal service. We’ve been married over 13 years now. How she puts up with me is beyond my comprehension.

      • nick says:

        Dave you should give yourself more credit on how your wife puts up with you. You seem like a nice guy one of the things I loved about your book is you tell it like it is no sugar coating my dads like that and I know him to be an honest hard working guy just as I suspect you are all you guys have been a great help thanks again nick

        • Dave says:

          Thanks, Nick, I appreciate the kind words. I’m currently working on a new book which will really take the “kid gloves” off and present an even more detailed and unvarnished look at life in the Philippines. I can’t publish the new material on this website due to advertiser restraints. I’ll keep you posted on it as it progresses.

          Hope your Dad had a great Father’s Day. He sounds like a good guy. My own Dad is living in Vegas. Soon to be 81 and still playing the slots and bingo. And probably checking out the cocktail waitresses. 🙄

          • nick says:

            I can’t wait for the new book I will make sure I will get my self a copy as soon as Its becomes available I have a army buddy from vegas he happens to be married to a filipina her family is from palawna I think I spelled that right he also plans on moving to the philippines in ten years to retire with me

            • Dave says:

              Thanks, Nick, it’s still a work in progress, but I’ll keep you, and the rest of my readers, updated on it. Palawan, that’s where one of my wife’s brothers lives. Used to be a fisherman, now he’s a traffic enforcer. On his first day of work, some motorist, tired of waiting in traffic, pulled a gun on Amando. Tough job.

              • nick says:

                That does sound like a tough job I was wondering about transportation I read the section you covered in your book but how big is a taxi or jeepney over there I’m a 6 foot 400 pound guy will I be able to fit in a taxi or jeepney my plan was not to purchase a vehicle when I get overseas I figure it would be safer not to drive there thanks nick

                • Dave says:

                  Nick, I’m 6′ and weigh 200 pounds. I ride the jeepneys all the time. We don’t plan to purchase a vehicle until next year when we buy our new home. We’ve done just fine the past four years by riding the trikes, jeepneys and taxis.

                  But I have a 6’4″ expat friend who is too tall to ride the jeepneys. I have to be careful about not hitting my head on the jeepney ceiling. Most, bigger cabs, such as GDR in Iloilo, are a good size for me.

                  Nick, I honestly don’t think it would be that feasible for you to ride around in the jeepneys. I think it might be too difficult for you to get in and out of them. Jeepneys are designed for the general population of Filipinos, of course, the majority of whom are much shorter and (sometimes) lighter than your average kano.

                  • nick says:

                    Do you think it would be more feasible to purchase a vehicle when I get there and do you by chance know how much they cost ball park figure is good enough

                    • Dave says:

                      Probably would be more feasible to buy a vehicle once you get here, Nick. When we buy our vehicle next year, I won’t drive it in Iloilo but would hire a driver. In nearby Guimaras, where my wife has a home, I could drive there without any problems.

                      As far at price goes, here’s a LINK to AyosDitos.ph. They have thousands of vehicles for sale at varying price ranges.

  • Rease says:

    Mornin’ guys,
    Yes 13a is definitely the way to go. Especially if you get it before you leave the USA. Saved me a ton of hassle and cash.

    VA disability is considered a pension. No worries there.

    Dave, have you spent any time in Antique? There is a lot to see there.

    • Dave says:

      Morning, Rease. I’m with you guys, as I’ve stated. 13a has personally saved me a lot of money and frustration.

      I’ve been through Antique one time with a Canadian friend of mine and his wife, Rease. Here’s the LINK to that story.

  • Rease says:

    Thanks, Nogas is a good spot for snorkeling. Was not impressed with the hot springs. If ya go North there is a 7 tiered warefall you can swim in, rivers to tube, cold springs to swim in, multiple ziplines, white water kayaking, hike the “crying mountain”, good diving areas, etc.

    • Dave says:

      I, agree, Rease, I wasn’t impressed with the hot springs, either. We’ll have to check out the waterfalls and the cold springs area you mentioned. I can’t swim, can’t even float, but I’m sure my asawa and our relatives would love to go there. I’ll make sure to bring a cooler full of San Mig’s and just sit back and watch. We’re planning more trips in the near future and a visit to the places you mentioned would make for a great post, thanks.

  • Rease says:

    Cool, can get you good rates on rooms, phone numbers, good restos, etc. If ya want. Quite a few expats over there too. If you are ok with fan rooms, no more than 500php a night.

  • Tom cCat says:

    I always enjoy going to Keith’s place! The company, the GREAT beers and food, everything. I look forward to our next trip there in late July. Keith may have me say a few words about the beer selection for that evening. Trust me guys after years of brewing this nectar of the gods I know my ales, stouts, barley wines, porters, lagers, IPAs, and on and on and on. “CHEERS EVERYONE”

    • Dave says:

      Good to hear from you Tom Cat, had a great time at “The Bistro.” Hope to hook up with you on my next trip to the mango island. Take care and remember the wisdom of Red Green in regards to bars: “Two things you need at a bar is ice and water; water for mixing drinks and ice to drop into people’s shorts and into their hats, depending on where their hangover is.”

  • Gary says:

    Nick: I looked at a couple of new trucks at the mall a couple of months ago. Full size was priced at 85,000… That is US dollars! Twice the price as in the United States. Also saw a small SUV that cost 100,000 US dollars. Again twice the price for the same car in the USA.

    I walk or ride the tricycle here in Tagum City. No Jeepneys or taxi here. At your size you might fit in the front seat of a taxi, forget about the backseat.

  • nick says:

    Thanks for the info about using taxis vs buying a vehicle the link dave gave me shows some reasonable prices. how much does a driver cost? my friend said something about renting a vehicle when need it how do you guys feel about that as an option and my next question is how much will that cost thanks nick

    • Dave says:

      You’re welcome, Nick. I had an American expat friend that used to pay his driver P300 a day, about 7 bucks, but that was using my expat friend’s vehicle.

      Renting a vehicle? Never tried that. We did rent a taxi cab in Manila back in 2000. Paid him 1,000 for the day, and that included his gas. We drove two hours outside of Manila. Anyone else out there have any thoughts on renting a vehicle or hiring a driver? Thanks in advance.

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