We’ve heard a lot of pandemic success stories, and each of them showed the grit of the Filipinos who have willed their way in order to survive the worst global health crisis.
One of them is Jomar Medrano, an executive chef in one of the well-known hotels in the island, who along with his colleagues was displaced during the early part of the pandemic as all businesses had to shut down in compliance with government health protocols.
During that time, even the world-renowned Boracay Island was not spared. No tourists were flying in and all movements of people were restricted. To think that the island had just weathered the supertyphoons that devastated the area, and before that, the six-month shutdown ordered by the national government.
Since most restaurants and food houses were closed and Jomar had nothing left to do, he started a bakery and food delivery in the area. Some of his colleagues also helped out just so they could earn even a measly income. But the earnings from the bakery were not enough even for the basic needs of his colleagues, so he had to think of something more, so that their needs could be provided.
As luck would have it, about a year ago, a commercial space along the road, which is close to Station Zero became vacant. Chef Jomar, along with Ronald Soncio, an event specialist who was also based in Boracay, grabbed this opportunity. They rented the place, painted it black and named it Arina Bar and Restaurant. Because Ronald is a wedding event specialist, tables and chairs were perfectly arranged like there was always a special occasion. Plates and table utensils used at the restaurant are also special, fit for wedding celebrations.
Arina Bar and Restaurant was an instant hit to locals and tourists alike. They offer mostly Filipino food. Some of their early menu came from locals who were just selling their products, like fish caught from the sea, seaweeds, and goats. Yes, the newly opened food house offers goat meat dishes like papaitan, kaldereta, and kinilaw na kambing.
There’s also the KBL (kadyos, baboy, langka) which reminds me of our mother’s dish she used to cook often when we were young. Their grilled liempo is a must-try, it’s smokey, tender, tasty, as well as their baked scallops which were cheesy and creamy. They offer freshly cooked bibingka for dessert.
With the easing of restrictions since the early part of the year, businesses have been booming in the island paradise of Boracay as more and more travelers fly in. Arina Bar and Restaurant has been benefitting from these tourist arrivals, welcome news as it can provide more jobs to people, as they slowly recover from the worst impact of the pandemic.