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  • Writer's pictureArmand

Ronald and Ronnie: A Deep Friendship Forged Through a Shared Journey (Part 1)

Updated: Mar 13

RONALD BURGOS is 42 years old and single. RONNIE DUYONGAN is five years older at 47, has been married for seventeen years and has two kids; a son age 16 and a daughter age 10. Ronald comes from a middle-class family while Ronnie was raised in more modest circumstances by his mother. Both were born and raised in Bacolod City but didn’t know each other until 2003. Their respective personal circumstances prior to that made it highly unlikely that their paths would ever converge.

They were then in their twenties. Ronald was a few months shy of his twenty-second birthday. With a baccalaureate degree in Hotel and Restaurant Management from La Consolacion College, he was eager to try his luck in the real world. In fact, he had already sent out job applications to several hospitality establishments in the continental United States and Canada. Though he hasn’t received a reply from any of them, he remained optimistic.

Meanwhile, Ronnie, who was nearing thirty, had been operating a makeshift barbecue stall across the road from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. It barely made enough to support him and his mother. School breaks are dreaded times because they meant zero sales. He works hard to make an honest living. He gets up early each morning to buy the meat portions he needs, works through midday to prepare them, then grills and sells them from midafternoon to dusk. He often wondered if he would ever get the chance to have a better life. It was something that he constantly yearned and prayed for

At that point, Ronald and Ronnie had only one thing in common aside from being born and raised in Bacolod City: both were in search of their own proverbial place in the sun. Neither one could have imagined that it would become a shared journey in which they would, in the process, also forge a deep friendship.

It was the summer of 2003 when they met at JT’s Manukan Grille at Granada St. in New Manila, Quezon City. They were the first hires of its owners, multi-awarded actor Joel Torre and his wife Cristy, who also hails from Bacolod City. This first branch of what eventually became a food chain was not even intended as a dining place. The original plan was quite modest. A take-out counter for chicken Inasal (Hiligaynon for roasted or grilled meat) in a space made available to the couple by the Vera-Perez family at their Sampaguita Pictures compound.

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