Five years as a bartender at TGIFridays Philippines, four consecutive years as a contender various bartending competitions, she has one goal: to win the much-coveted title of World Bartending Champion. This what Marinel “Manel” Paguia looks looks forward to months from now.
Paguia bagged the title of Asia’s Bartending Champion at the recently concluded TGIFridays Asia-Pacific Bartending Competition held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Now she’s on her way to conquer the world!
Paguia’s winning move in the flairtending/freestyle competition was a two-tin finger roll and she wowed the judges when she lit up a long, tall, and glowing decorative bottle and balanced the glass while straining a martini on LED. The crowd went wild!
But for Paguia, the freestyle round was an icing on top. “Ask any bartender and he/she will tell you that the Compulsory Round is just as difficult. It involved memorizing hundreds of recipes, accuracy of pour and excellent knowledge of the TGIFridays bar. I’m proud to say that I was number one in the Compulsory Round in the Asia-Pacific Championship. And I also topped the Freestyle Round. I’m happy I made my bosses and fellow bartenders proud,” she said. Paguia brought home a plaque, $1000USD and a chance to represent the Philippines at the World Bartender Competition in Tennessee, USA next year.
Paguia prepared well for the Asia-Pacific tilt, dedicating 8 or more hours of daily training with fellow bartenders-turned-mentors Mike Rabago of Fridays Bonifacio High Street and 2017 World Champion Jholan Penafiel, her constant sparring buddy and good friend. Her intensive training was focused on pouring the right amount of liquor without using any measuring tool and her aptitude in memorizing Fridays drink recipes. She also amped up her speed to make drinks accurately within the shortest possible time—all of which should adhere to the BCBIT (“Best Corner Bar in Town”) Manual Exam according to TGIFridays’ bartending standards.
Paguia is now gearing up for the World Bartender Championship in March 2020 where she will be pitted against veteran bartenders from TGIFridays braches across the globe.
She hopes to duplicate the feat of her predecessors Penafiel and Rizza Umlas (2015 World Bartending Champion). “I’m claiming it now!” she said.
The journey from behind the bar to the top of the world is long and arduous. “I will only move forward from here. This year, I believe winning is my destiny.”
Shown in photo during the championship event in Indonesia are from left: celebrity Ashraf Sinclair; Taiya Ryan – Director of Marketing, TGI Fridays Asia Pacific; Roy De Dios – Regional Manager, TGI Fridays Asia Pacific; Marinel Paguia – TGI Fridays Philippines, Asia-Pacific Bartender Champion; Craig Burt – Vice President , TGI Fridays Asia Pacific and Chandra Supandi - Owner of TGIFridays Indonesia.