IT was a quick trip to Malaybalay City in Bukidnon and because it was that quick, I just had the chance to eat out once – dinner for the one night I was there.
The suggested place was Sir Edward's Seafood Grill and Restaurant. It's a pretty well-known place and so you do not need to know the street name (we were not told the street name), and we just told the “rela” (short for motorela, which is the name for tricycle in Malaybalay much like in nearby Cagayan de Oro) driver that we were going to Sir Edward's and voila, we were there a few minutes later.
In Malaybalay, there are only the “relas” and multicabs. Multicabs for relatively longer trips, and relas for going around the city. They have big relas – can fit in six at the back and two beside the driver.
From what I observed, Sir Edward is a big white man. No, we didn't meet him, I saw the photos – group photos of what looked like a pose with the restaurant staff, the kitchen staff, and just about every other group picture, displayed in frames at the waiting area where the pasalubong section is.
It's a big, non-aircon restaurant with bamboo poles as walls. It serves lots of food including chicken, both barbecued and friend, pansit, bulalo, and many more.
Vicky, the workshop facilitator said she did not have much or lunch because she had to handle the workshop all throughout, and so she demanded a special treat – garlic fried rice. We all had plain rice that went with our order of barbecue chicken.
Along with the barbecue chicken were a "large" order of bulalo (since there were nine of us), an order of humba, an order of chop suey and adobong kangkong, and chicken skin.
Rewind... I arrived at lunch since I was expected to take part as interviewer in the workshop later that afternoon. The team from Probe Media, the workshop organizer, arrived the day before and so they already tried the cuisine in our hotel – the Pine Hills Hotel, and one other place downtown, which I cannot remember.
But I remember their stories... Dinner the night before, one of them ordered salad and was served salad that had almost three heads of lettuce. Huge, yes.
At breakfast, one other member ordered a fruit plate and was given a plate full of different sliced fruit. Huge, too.
They were joking about how huge the servings were in Malaybalay. "They literally make mountains out of molehills," one said, but since we ordered chicken barbecue that night, then it was unlikely that a chicken slice could exceed normal sizes. They didn't.
But we were not prepared for the bulalo, and... Vicky's garlic fried rice.
The bulalo came in one huge, overflowing bowl with one huge chunk of super tender beef with marrow. The fried rice was one heaping plateful. Since all our barbecue orders had rice to go with them, Vicky had the heaping plate all to herself becoming the butt of jokes all throughout.
"Ah, ganun ha, gusto mo ng fried rice? Eto ang fried rice!"
The food was good, and service was fast, very fast in fact such that we were still milling around the waiting area looking around at the pasalubong items and didn't notice that the food we ordered for all nine of us were already being served. Very quick.
I would have wanted to explore Malaybalay, but there was no time, and on that night, we were all so tired. With a five-hour trip on top of the very animated exchanges during the workshop, I went straight up to my room to rest my weary body. At least, as I prepare to explore Bukidnon soon, I already know one place to drop by should I feel the hunger pangs. But definitely, I'll be careful about ordering the bulalo and the fried rice.