From Bartender to Bar Boss

Rogelio Canales, known to many as Budoy, only knew one thing as a living–being a waiter. Until he learned about bartending.  

Five years later, he finally become his own boss – as chief executive officer of Mixed Temptations Mobile Bar Davao.

 “It’s a dream come true,” says Canales, who completed a two-year-course on Hotel and Restaurant Management at Alemarz School of Science and Technology as a government scholar under the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) program.

Canales opened his own bar recently at Ponciano Reyes Street. “I believe if you follow your passion and dream, everything will happen in the right time,” he said.

Almarie “Al” Ajero, Canales’ loving wife who hails from Kidapawan City, is very supportive of what her husband is doing for the family.  “I totally support him all the way,” said Al.

Canales has gone a long way indeed.  Back then, while still in college, everything was uncertain.  He underwent his on-the-job training at the Marco Polo Hotel in 2006 and after graduation, he was absorbed as an on-call banquet waiter.

From being a waiter, he was promoted as a bartender in Marco Polo Davao’s Lotus Court Chinese Restaurant (2008-2011) and at the Pool Bar (2013-2014).  For a year, he was in-charge at the Banquet Bar as bar captain.  He was transferred the following year at the Eagles Bar, where he was in-charge of all bar outlets. 

From 2016 to 2018, Canales became the officer-in-charge of the Lotus Court and also served as department trainer for service and beverage skills. In February last year, he resigned from his job to pursue what he had been dreaming: a business of his own. After all, he rose to become the president of the Davao chapter of Bartenders Brotherhood Association of the Philippines. Not bad for one who never knew about bartending.

 “I really have no idea about bartending; what I know is only about waitering.  When I was transferred to Lotus Court, it was there that I learned how to brew tea, coffee and fruit juices.  If our guest order cocktails, we went to the lobby lounge or Eagles Bar. The reason was that we were not allowed to mixed cocktails.  Aside from that, we didn’t know how and we didn’t have the ingredients,” he recalled.  “When the Lotus Court was renovated, the staff were distributed to other outlets and I was assigned at the Pool Bar.”

Canales was uncomfortable with the changes in the workplace. “I was afraid because I don’t have any knowledge about cocktails, mocktails, spirits and wine,” he admitted. 

But what really frightened him the most was having conversation with the guests and visitors.  “The Pool Bar is the hangout place for most foreign guests,” he said.  “At that time, what I only know was to answer yes or no.”

Instead of being intimidated, he focused on learning the basics of bartending.  “I forced myself to study, research and attend seminars.  I also asked some techniques in the preparation of basic mixed drinks, spirits and wine from the legends and masters in the bartending industry,” he said. As he learned more about bartending, Canales also gained some confidence in talking with the guests.  

Later on, “I felt in love with what I was doing.  In fact, I enjoy doing it.”

He recalled, “along the way, I learned the ways and means of the bartending industry.  But most importantly, I developed my self-esteem and confidence.  If in the past I had only two English words, I am now able to converse with foreigners although not really fluently thought but enough to talk with them and understand what they are telling me.”

At his own bar, he serves mojito, daiquiri, margarita, whisky sour, piña colada, mai-tai, gin fizz, tequila sunrise, blue lagoon, and Singapore sling. The mocktails include Shirley Temple, pine-orange passion, and four seasons.  There are three shooters: B-52, flaming tower, and blow-job.

For food, the bar serves salmon steak, tuna steak, grilled chicken, crispy kawali, and baby back ribs.  For seafoods, the choices are dragon head squid, fish and chips, kinilaw na malasugue, and black calamares. For pork lovers, there’s sinuglaw, chicharon bulaklak, and sizzling pork head sisig while chicken diggers will be delighted with buffalo and spicy chicken wings.  For pica-pica, the bar serves cheese stick, mani with dilis, kropek, nachos muchos, and French fries.

The mobile bar services include a package of black (P10,800 net), platinum (P14,800 net), or premium (P18,800 net).  All three have 5-hour bar service with two seasoned and experienced bartenders, one well-experience waiter, and one bar manager. 

Canales’ crew is composed of Armand Mortejo, sales and marketing; Clark Ravanas, bar supervisor; Zeus Maruya, mobile bar supervisor; Mark Teves, assistant supervisor; Kenny Meremilla, bartender; and Nino Saniel and Rodel Himtog, waiters. Jayson Remolleno is the bar’s resident chef with George Francia as his assistant.