No birthday treat this year: Bello misses having Duterte’s fave ‘bulalo’

Published March 29, 2021, 8:42 PM

by Ellson Quismorio

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III is reminded of two things whenever the date March 28 comes around.

Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) Sec. Silvestre Bello III (Photo via Ellson Quismorio)

First is his good friend, President Duterte, who celebrates his birthday that day. Second is Duterte’s favorite dish, which they used to enjoy together at a humble but popular carinderia (eatery) in Davao City before the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Sinabi ko, ‘Mr. President, birthday mo ngayon, dati-dati kapag birthday mo dinadala mo ako sa pinakamagandang restaurant dyan sa may Boulevard, Davao City (I told him, ‘Mr. President, it’s your birthday today, during your past birthdays you used to take me to the best restaurant along Boulevard in Davao City),” Bello shared to reporters during a virtual press conference Monday, March 29.

“Ang pinapakain sa amin yung paborito niyang pagkain na bulalo. Pero ito, bulalo ng kalabaw. Kaya ang pangalan nung restaurant, favorite restaurant ni Presidente, ‘Kabawan’ (We eat there his favorite dish, bulalo. But this bulalo is made from carabao. That’s why the restaurant’s name, the President’s favorite restaurant, is ‘Kabawan’),” he recalled fondly.

Duterte, a former multi-term Davao City mayor, turned 76 on Sunday. “I greeted him and wished him well,” Bello said.

“Sabi ko, ‘Mr. President, wala ako sa Davao, hindi ko matikman ulit yung bulalong kalabaw mo (I said, ‘Mr. President, I’m not in Davao, that’s why I don’t get to have your carabao bulalo),” he added, as if missing an integral part of his life.

Incidentally, the Manila Bulletin published over the weekend a special feature on the legendary carinderia, called “Sana’s Original Kabawan and Bulaloan”. Here is the link to the story:

Turning more serious, Bello–a longtime pal of Duterte’s–said Filipinos are lucky to have a chief executive “who has so far lasted in fighting this COVID”. He said that compared to him, Duterte’s scope of work and responsibilities are “100 times bigger than mine.”

“Together let us hope and pray for our President, for his health, his outlook in life,” the Cabinet official said.

As for his birthday wish for “Digong”, Bello said: “Someday we will have another round of Kabawan.” 
Sana’s eatery has also been featured on popular vlogs and YouTube foodie channels in recent years.