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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Graduation & Summer at Bet and Choy Farms

Graduation noisily celebrates the future and farewell to student life. 

Teacher Jeycelle Espejo-Inting had been crying last week. "I can't stop feeling sad," she shared. What's got her so heavyhearted? Her students graduated from high school at Cogon High School (Day and Night Class) last April 4.   

Jeycelle Espejo-Inting (center) with her students
The 9th batch of graduates composed of 193 students was led by Christine Ortega, valedictorian of the day class; and Velyn Aninipot, valedictorian of the night class, respectively.

This school year's 90 graduates from the day class is the first batch of Cogon Day High School products. The day class was created at the start of this school year to cater the growing population of the Cogon High school which was originally established as a night high school 11 years ago.

The commencement exercises was attended by the parents, guardians and the 40 solid faculty members of Cogon High school headed by Tagbilaran City Schools Division Superintendent Dr. Evangel Luminarias and the two equally active principals of CHS Day and Night classes, Grace Marie Campos and Nilo Sendrijas.

Jeycelle Espejo-Inting with her 4th year class
The event was hosted by the CHS faculty president Ms. Jeycelle C. Espejo – Inting.

“It feels so great! I’m so proud of my students,” said Jeycelle, CHS faculty president who emceed the event.  “On the other hand, I’m a bit worried and sad because I know not all of them can pursue higher education due to economic status of their families.”

Jeycelle also shared that most of the students of Cogon High are not rich; it made her proud that these students are working hard to finish their studies.

Celian Janice Pesquira and Jerwin Jala
Case in point: Velyn Aninipot topped in almost all subjects and she is a consistent topnotcher of the class from first grading up to 4th grading periods.  She is also the editor-in-chief of the campus paper The Glow. She has been into various inter-schools competitions in the division level.

Speaking of graduates and honor students, we have our own batch in the family: my cousin Jomari Galleros (from Holy Infant Academy in Booy) and Cesarius James Pesquira (from Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School; Congrats Maam Concepcion Bagotchay, the school principal). My niece Celian Janica Pesquira (Booy South Elem. School) was first honor with five “best” awards, while Jerwin Jala was with honors.

I was not there when they marched up the stage in their graduation dress and togas because I hate hearing graduation/marching music. Personally, it makes me sad. It is one of the saddest music in the world, next to old Christmas songs bringing back my elementary, high school and college days-- that was ages ago, in nineteen-forgotten.

Anyway, I say "Good luck and God bless!" to the graduates and honor students in our family and all the graduates out there! Aim high!

Summer Gimik 2014: Bet and Choy Farms

Looking for an alternative to beaches and swimming pools for your next vacation? Try going to Bet and Choy in Catigbian town.

Revive, renew and replenish at Bet and Choy.
Last week, my summer gimik destination was Bet and Choy Farms. As I saw the place, it was a relaxing breeze of the countryside.

The entrance has smell of perfect aroma of luffa (sikwa) and squash (kalabasa) hanging around with ornamental plants to complement the place.

“Bohol tourism is booming but those tourism developments are designed for foreigners, ngayon ang tanong saan pupunta ang local tourists? We want to give them the facilities which are affordable and presentable,” said former Catigbian Mayor and owner Roberto “Bertsal” Salinas. “You see, na-hit namin ang vacuum na while Bohol tourism is booming ma-entertain natin mga foreign tourists, on the other hand, Bet and Choy will entertain local tourists.”

Built on a two-hectare property, Bet and Choy (named after Bertsal’s grandchildren) is a destination appropriate for family gatherings, reunions and field trips. The slides, rides and attractions were designed to provide visitors with a day filled with aqua thrills and adventure.

Entrance at Bet and Choy
The Brent Pool Side is for adults and it gives thrills with splash where visitors can experience swimming and relax in this large pool while soaking up rays of the sun.

The Cocoy Water Park is ideal for kids. It has large water slides and rides for everybody's fun and amusement. It is actually a playground for kids submerged in knee-high water but many adults can also be found enjoying this playground.

Unlike other resorts, visitors can bring their food and drinks, even snacks, inside Bet and Choy for free!

“They can bring all they want. Bet and Choy does not collect corkage,” added Bertsal.

There are picnic huts for rent at Php 100-Php 400. Unlimited use of facilities such as the basketball court, karaoke sing-a-long, pool table, dart boards may be arranged.

Bet and Choy personnel are friendly and they are trained to assist visitors.

“At Bet and Choy, the facilities are maintained in accordance with the highest standards of safety and cleanliness,” said Bet and Choy staff Jackie Tolop.

Bet and Choy owner Bertsal (2nd from left)
“The place is very beautiful. We can relax and enjoy here,” said Ma. Catherine Cutang of Bohol Island State University. “The facilities are very good. Of course, the good thing is we can bring our own food without corkage. That is amazing and great.”

Other exciting activities that Bet and Choy has to offer are fishing and wildlife adventure. Fishing is one of the leisure activities that all guests of this farm can fully enjoy even if this is their first time at the rods. The wildlife park houses Philippine eagle, Philippine king cobra, pythons, birds, chickens, pigs and cows.

Entrance Fee: Php 20 (for adults), Php 10 (senior citizens and students), free (kids below 85 centimeters)
Brent Pool and Slide- Php 100, kids below 85 centimeters are free.
Cocoy Water Park- Php 100, kids below 85 centimeters are free.
How to get there: For those who want to commute, you can ride a bus bound for Catigbian at Dao Bus Terminal for Php 45. At Poblacion, ride a habal-habal for Php 10 or walk, it’s just 400 meters from Poblacion Highway.
Reservation: 0915-813-9823/0912-518-0937.

Thanks for your letters, all will be answered. Comments welcome at leoudtohan@yahoo.com, follow leoudtohan at Twitter /Facebook.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Bohol’s tourism is back, says Lourdes Sultan

Scene: The art classes (De Juan School for Music and the Arts Recreational Training or The One SMART School) will start on April 6. Enrollment will be on March 30. The Tambahayan Cafe and the school are located at the basement of Garcia-Sarmiento Building along Ma. Clara Street, Tagbilaran City. It's between Cristal E-College and the UB gym.

Scene: Dr. Freddie Bernal, director IV of the Commission on Higher Education, is the guest speaker of University of Bohol’s 146th Commencement Exercises on March 31.

Scene: Atty. Julius Gregory Batausa Delgado posted on Facebook: Announcing the Bohol Football Summer Camp brought to you by Football and Futsal Association of Bohol, Inc. (FFABI), ClassAct Philippines (formerly Oplan Bangon Bohol), Kaya F.C. and Stallions F.C. on April 14-16, 2014 in HNU Football Field and CPG Grandtstand. Featuring the following: 1) Free Football Clinic for Boys and Girls with UFL Players; 2) Coaching Seminar with Australian Kaya F.C. Coach David Perkovic and National Women's Football Team Coach Ernest Nieras; 3) Football Festival; and 4) Exhibition Match: Kaya-Bohol East Team vs. Stallions-Bohol West Team. For more details please contact FFABI Officials: Coach John Torregosa (President), Coach Erwin Angalot (EVP), Coach Clarence Rosco (Auditor) or Coach Bruce Zabala (PRO) or Bb. Pilipinas World 2006 Anna Maris Igpit or Atty. Greg Delgado. See you Boholano Footboleros!


Perfect beaches. Interesting places. Friendly locals. Fascinating history.

Lourdes Sultan Photo by: Ric Obedencio
That is how tour operator and businesswoman Lourdes Sultan of Travel Village Tours and Travel (inside Bohol Tropics Resort Club, Graham Avenue, Tagbilaran City, Bohol, Philippines; Tel. No: (+63 38) 411.4023 / 411-5928/501-8078; Mobile: +639228996107; Email:  tvillage@yahoo.com.ph) wants to sell Bohol to boost the province’s tourism using her expertise in marketing, advertising and promotions.

Last week, Lourdes was very busy entertaining her guests onboard the luxury ship Happag Lloyd’s Ms Europa 2. With her was Bohol tourism officer Josephine Remolador-Cabarrus (“Bohol is a place and is back to normal and back to 
business again.”) who welcomed MS Europa’s second visit to Bohol this year.
But despite her busy schedule, she still had time to answer our queries.

“Thank God! Improving ang atong figures although we are not expecting to hit the same figure last summer but we are going there,” shared the hopeful Lourdes.  

Our tourism industry was affected after the killer quake last year. There were renovations, twists, and a facelift of our attractions to invite tourists to come back to Bohol.

 “We never lose hope,” said Lourdes. “We just have to work hard for promotions, telling our friends and everyone we are up on our faith.”

Lourdes Sultan (2nd from left) with Ric Obedencio, Leo Udtohan, Bohol Tourism Officer Jo Remolador-Cabarrus and Edward Guyano. Courtesy: Ric Obedencio
As a tourist destination, the island-province of Bohol in the Philippines is loaded with the attractions travelers dream of: clean and white-sandy beaches, interesting places, friendly locals and fascinating history.

Antequera’s majestic Mag-aso Falls...so cool this summer. –LPU
Yet for all its advantages, the province has a big problem attracting travelers after the quake.

“We need expertise in hospitality management for us to be competitive,” said Lourdes who also owns the Travel Village floating resto in Loboc.  

The biggest challenge, according to Lourdes, is the need of a bigger airport to accommodate the expected tourism influx with updated airport facilities. Five star resorts and hotels in the province can magnetically attract visitors.   

Lourdes also shared that rebranding and selling Bohol should begin with Boholano themselves.

“Believe in the beauty of our province of Bohol. We are a beautiful place to sell at every turn. Sell it to all your friends on Facebook and Twitter,” encouraged Lourdes. “We should also help each other especially the tourism stakeholders. At the end of the day, it will not be Loboc River, it will not be Travel Village but Bohol. It’s still Bohol.”

One of Bohol’s enchanted rivers, Makapiko remains beautiful.- LPU
While we are at it, Inday Charity and I visited some tourist attractions in Bohol for our Summer Gimik 2014.

The Mag-aso Falls in barangay Can-umay in Antequera town is back to normal. Belyn Omila, the caretaker of Mag-aso Falls, shared that their guests have tripled this year. Most of them are European visitors. Entrance fee is Php 20 pesos for adults and Php 10 pesos for kids (and there is a toll fee of 10 pesos per vehicle), you will enjoy the falls to sawa.

Last Friday, we went to Chocolate Hills Adventure Park in barangay Buenos Aires,Carmen town. I’d found the place so relaxing. If you like nature trek, you will love this place. It has a well-manicured garden with different species of plants, trees and flowers.  The entrance fee is Php60 pesos.

Check “serpentarium” which houses pythons and oriental whip snakes. They are extremely slender snakes.

If you have Php 400, you can try Bike Zip to experience the excitement and thrill riding a mountain bike on a zip line. 

Ang Pinaka host and model Rovilson Fernandez at the Chocolate Hills Adventure Park. ‘Zip-line? Nope. Zip-BIKE! Cycling above the Chocolate Hills cause' that's how I roll.’ Courtesy: Rovilson Fernandez
While I had my muni-muni at the top of the hill, Inday Charity convinced me to visit Makapiko Nature Park in barangay Rizal in Batuan town. Inday visited the place in 2005 where adventure trip using tubes, paddles and life vests were necessary to float down the Makapiko River. But when we checked the place, it’s already abandoned. However, the river remains beautiful.

...What’s up?

Last week’s VRS about a former queen who is battling the Big C drew a lot of reactions from our readers. An email from Erma Sarigumba: A diagnosis of cancer, or even being told of a suspicion of cancer, can make you extremely fearful. You reflect on friends or family who died of cancer or of celebrities with cancer that died. Cancer is one most feared disease in the world. I advised women to have a regular check-up. Lumps are usually visible on a mammogram long before they can be seen or felt. Although lumps are usually painless, pain or tenderness in the breast can be a sign of breast cancer. Another reaction from beauty watcher James Obedencio who shared that 1977 Most Beautiful Bohalana Ellen Campbell has succumbed to cancer, too. “She would always be remembered as one of the loveliest Miss Bohol winners,” said Raul Gatal on Campbell in his blog.

Thanks for your letters, all will be answered. Comments welcome at leoudtohan@yahoo.com, follow leoudtohan at Twitter /Facebook.