Bataan restaurant showcases works of local artists

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By Anna Valmero

BALANGA CITY, BATAAN – Sandok at Palayok is more than a 24/7 restaurant. It is a place that gives visitors a glimpse into the talent of local artists in this city.

The walls of the restaurant show acrylic and paintings by local artists  while the counter holds the beautifully-painted clay pots, an art form unique to the city and promoted by Balanga artists.

Likas na magaling sa sining ang mga taga-Balanga. Bukod sa paintings at papier-mâché, meron din tayong mga banga na may iba’t ibang design dito. Malapit talaga sa puso naming yung art kasi nakakapag-express kami ng ideas na mas maiintidihan ng maraming tao (Locals here are natural born artists. Aside from paintings and papier-mâché, you could see here the painted clay pots with various designs. The arts is very close to our hearts because it is a universal language that we use to express our ideas so people would understand),” says owner Jose Suarez, who is also the president of Balanga Artists Society.

Just before you reach the restrooms, there is a giant papier-mâché of an Aeta head,  which has been immortalized in the dozens of photos taken by tourists and locals alike. Suarez says  he made the art installation years ago when he was into papier-mâché, just some years before he got interested in painting.

The walls of the restroom were not left untouched by the brushes of local artists – the female cubicle even has a pair of eyes wittingly painted and hidden on the garden background.

Asked if the artworks at his restaurant are for sale, Suarez says: “Halos lahat ng mga nandito na painting at banga ay binebenta ng mga artists. Kung may interesado, tinutulungan ko na makontak nila yung gumawa ng painting o banga. Ang sa akin naman ay makatulong ako sa kanila na maidisplay yung gawa nila at makabenta sila (Most of the items here especially the paintings and painted banga(are for sale). If a customer wants to inquire about a piece, I connect them to the artist so they are the ones to discuss. I let the artists display their paintings here for free and help them out as well in selling their pieces).”

Cleanliness is very important for this restaurant. A witty sign has been posted at the smoking area saying: “Please don’t throw your cigarette ends ANYWHERE; cockroaches may get CANCER.” A glass jar nearby served as the trash bin for cigarette butts.

Dining at the restaurant is also superb because you could eat a lot of fresh seafood delights minus the expensive bill. When we were there, we sampled sinigang na hipon, grilled squid, tokwa’t tokwa.

You may even get a free dish of what boxing champ Manny Pacquiao called as roasted highland legumes courtesy of new friends at the next table because Balangueños are simply hospitable.

In case you are wondering, the word Balanga originated from Tagalog word banga (clay pot), which the town used to produce and said to be among the best that can be found in the country. When Bataan became a separate province in 1754, Balanga was made its capital by General Pedro Manuel Arandia due to its favorable location.

J&D Sandok and Palayok is accessible by tricycle from Balanga City. Minimum fare for a one-way trip is P20. Or, you can call them at (047)2373746


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