Addicted to Sisig sa Gata from Bagwings

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  • May 10, 2023

I blame my brother Coco for my current addiction, he was the one who introduced me to Sisig sa Gata from Bagwings. SiGa for short, the dish forces me to bow down to the call of extra rice. “Yung bagnet china-chop na parang sisig tapos tinitimplahan ng mga sangkap na meron sa sisig. Pero ang nagpapasarap dito ay yung gata,’ reveals Jaycee Recto, founder of Bagwings.

The bagnet alone is extraordinary. “It’s nothing like you’ve tried before, sira ulo ako and sira ulo din yung product ko,” Jaycee proudly declares. “I roast the pork liempo with Cebu lechon flavors then deep-fry it like the Ilocos bagnet, so sobrang crunchy ng balat and sobrang juicy sa loob na malasa.” Best of all, the meat is very tender.

Bagnet Fusion is how he calls his flagship product. This is the foundation for many of Bagwings’ menu items. Aside from Sisig sa Gata, the list includes KaBag (Kare-Kareng Bagnet), SiniBag (Sinigang na Bagnet), TokNet (Tokwa’t Bagnet), and BOngGa (Bagnet Bagoong sa Gata).

In an interview that I came across, actress Ria Atayde asked Jaycee, “are you Ilocano?” He quickly replied, “No, no, no, lasinggero!” It was during drinking sessions that he developed his dishes. “Ang Bagwings ay pinanganak sa inuman, I don’t have a background in cooking, I don’t really cook except for pulutan for friends,” he says.

So how did he sustain a food brand for more than a decade and grow it to five restaurants? “I’m an artist, I create something out of nothing. I’m just using my taste buds this time.” Jaycee has always been creative. During high school at Don Bosco Makati, he reproduced his drawings and sold them to his classmates. In college, he was a full scholar and football varsity player at Far Eastern University. When he first enrolled, he signed up for Mass Communication because that’s where most of the girls were. “Sa isang class na 40 students, 35 are girls and five are boys. Sa boys, tatlo diyan bakla, isa pangit, so matitira ka. Solo mo yung 35 girls,” he rationalizes. Later on, he shifted to a course that was more in line with what he really loves, he took up Advertising major in Fine Arts.

When he got his college girlfriend pregnant, he had to get a job fast. He was accepted at a call center because he could speak English well. He owes his American accent to the many hours he spent watching superhero movies and TV shows like “Friends” and “Ally McBeal.” “Ang dali, parang wala lang. Ginagaya ko lang yung napanood ko,” he recalls. “From being a pasaway na member to a top-seller to a team leader to a manager then na-bore ako.”

He decided to freelance as a face painter. The gig became lucrative after an American client was impressed by Jaycee’s English-speaking skills (particularly his accent) and helped spread the word about his services. He was having fun and making money, he was happy.

But a personal challenge pushed him to seek a change in environment. In 2004, he responded to an ad calling for face painters with good command of English. This landed him in Wild Wadi, the iconic waterpark in Dubai. However, reality did not meet his expectations, the Ambassador of Admissions role assigned to him turned out to be a clown of sorts. “So pipinturahan mo pala ang sarili mo at iwe-welcome mo yung mga tao sa entrance. I thought I was going to be face-painting guests. I wanted to resign on the first day of training,” he laughs at the memory. He ended up being transferred to the retail department where he worked as a henna and airbrush tattoo artist. This led to him meeting his mentor, Stephen.

Nag-vacation sila sa Dubai from Florida, tuwang-tuwa yung anak sa akin kasi nilagyan ko ng dolphin tattoo,” he recounts. This got them talking. Because of his accent, Stephen assumed he was from the US. Jaycee played along, pretended he was from Hawaii, that he loved Mickey D’s and all. But he eventually fessed up, this elicited a lot of laughter and started a strong bond between the two men. After a year, Jaycee found himself working as a graphic designer at Stephen’s boutique creative agency, still in Dubai. He held the position of creative director before he returned to the Philippines in 2007.

He regretted coming home after learning how low the pay is for those in the creative industry. “Sobrang na-frustrate ako, gusto kong bumalik sa Dubai, gusto kong umalis ulit ng bansa kasi wala talagang buhay sa Pilipinas.” Everything shifted when he found love and his wife Mejie encouraged him to put up a creative design agency. “Nakita ko na sa Pilipinas, the small to medium enterprises don’t take branding seriously. Eh I’m a brand guy, ‘yun yung forte ko. So ang ginawa ko, instead of charging P20,000, I said I’m gonna charge them only P3,000 para si Manong’s Barbeque, Esther’s Carinderia, Kuya’s Barbershop o kung anumang maliliit na negosyo eh matutulungan ko.” His idea clicked! He received a steady stream of projects and made a lot of contacts.

Sometime around 2012-2013, he was tapped by GMA-7 to come up with the branding for Barbecuers and Grillers Association (BAGA) Manila, a food bazaar that won in a contest of one of the network’s shows. He went on to create logos for all the concessionaires and eventually became one of them. “Sabi sa akin nung owner ng BAGA Manila, naghahanap siya ng magbebenta ng bagnet, wings, pasta, at pizza. Eh lasing na ako nu’n so sabi ko, ako na yung bagnet and wings,” he chuckles. The conversation happened on a Sunday, he was expected to sell by Thursday.

It was within that short period that he came up with his special Bagnet Fusion. “I had to put on my advertising cap and figure out what’s gonna set my bagnet apart from others,” he relates. “The wings part, since I came from Dubai, I fell in love with the curries and yung medyo sweet soy sa atin. Tapos I was able to bring a sauce na Arabo na nasarapan ako. Ayan, chili wings!” he explains. This later evolved to Chili Garlic Wings after his dad Restituto jazzed it up with his special home-made sauce. A former cruise line chef, he is also responsible for adding bottled products to Bagwings’ menu.

Bagwings was an instant hit! “I had two inquiries for franchise on our first day,” gushes Jaycee. But making a business out of it was far from his mind. “I was just having fun, ako yung nagluluto, hindi ko inisip kung lugi or ano. It was more the joy na ‘tangina ang sarap nito, ang ganda. That’s what fuels me and feeds me to move further ahead.” He went as far as operating in eight food parks and building two food trucks.

In 2017, Bagwings won in the Food Startup Summit of The Spark Project, a platform and community for creative conscious entrepreneurs and changemakers. ”Nung nangyari ‘yun, naisip ko, teka, meron akong something dito ah,” Jaycee discloses. “Naisip ko, kailangan ko nang mag-restaurant, dream ko ‘to.”

Now Bagwings has restaurants in Pasig, Manila, Makati, Alabang, Bacoor and a commissary in Biñan, Laguna. “Dati ako ang nagtitimpla, a pinch of this and a hint of that, amoy-amoy ka lang. But if you’re dealing with tons of meat, kailangan mo na ng science. So I’ve industrialized the business in a professional way.”

Soon, he will be ready to franchise, the business packages are expected to be available by mid-year. Jaycee is excited to introduce Bagwings Express which he conceptualized for aspiring small entrepreneurs. It will offer whole roasted chicken, whole roasted liempo but only for take-out, no dine-in. “Franchisees will get a rotisserie, initial stocks, plus training and support from the mother company. At the same time, they will be able to sell frozen Bagwings dishes so mas madami silang pagkakakitaan,” he enumerates.

“What I’m offering is a business venture, it’s not just for me to earn shit, that’s not how I do it. There’s a saying that if you teach a man how to fish, you’re gonna feed him for a day, if you teach him how to fish you’re gonna feed him for a lifetime. What I’m doing now is I’m teaching them not only how to fish but also how to build a boat! That’s how I envision Bagwings to be. I empower small people, I’ll empower businessmen so we can help a lot of individuals who deserve the help.”

People tell him that he won’t get rich by how he runs things. He has been called out for putting too much into the business and for being too nice to the employees. “Because I’m the brand guy and I need to take care of the brand because the brand is my name. At yung mga empleyado, pinapangalagaan nila yung produkto na pinag-hirapan ko and that’s what’s more important for me,” he points out.

“It was never about the money since day one,” he emphasizes. “It’s that fucking smile that the customer is showing me with every bite na nasasarapan. And another the reason why I’m still here is kasi nung babayaran ko na yung mentor kong si Stephen ng pinautang niya sa akin when I was starting out, he said I don’t have to pay him back, I just have to pay it forward. Putang ina, kinilabutan ako at medyo naiyak-iyak. So what I’m doing now is I’m choosing the deserving people. Maliit man ‘yan na tao, kung na-impact-an mo nang maganda, ang ganda ng balik sa ‘yo,” imparts the 43-year-old father of five. As he pays his “debt” to his mentor, he continues to expand his brand. I’m building a Bagwings empire starting in Metro Manila and then provincial then hopefully go international in the next two years,” he closes.

Try the Sisig sa Gata and other Bagwings specialties. Visit or call their branches in Pasig 09662150710, Manila 09277374335, Makati 09176203380, Alabang 09155081553, and Bacoor 09774625547. You may order via Grab too.

To inquire about the Bagwings food truck for events and catering, and to get more details on franchising opportunities, send a message to Bagwings on Facebook. Or check out their website,

All images are from Bagwings

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