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Sunday, October 8, 2017

20,000 LED roses and tulips ‘grow’ in Bohol town

Jardin Necitas has been deliberately designed and “planted” to engage the emotions in a powerful way that evokes feelings of passion, love and intimacy.- Leo Udtohan

PILAR, Bohol-  Soon-to-be-married couple are on their way to forever on Oct. 28.

But for Leomando Diño, 32, and Rosemary Buaya, 27, they decided to have a pre-nuptial pictorial in landmarks in Bohol that have their own beautiful charms that will illuminate their pre-wedding photo album.

The Jardin Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden is now the 
choice of many couples for their pre-nuptial 
weddings since Jardin Necitas has been deliberately 
designed and “planted” to engage the emotions in a 
powerful way that evokes feelings of passion, love 
and intimacy.  Courtesy: Budz and Bags
They chose Jardin Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden in Pilar town as one of the iconic places as backdrops that can bring more life and different kinds of feelings to their pre-wedding pictures.

“It is very colorful, blooming, inspiring and romantic,” said Rosemary.

 “The view and the flowers took my breath away. It’s more romantic if you’re holding hands with the love of your life,” said Leomando.

Police officers Leomando Diño and 
Rosemary Buaya have their prenuptial
 pictorial at Bohol’s newest attraction- 
the Jardin Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden, 
a garden filled with thousands of faux flowers
 that light up at nightfall to bring life 
to their pre-wedding photo album.  
 Courtesy: Budz and Bags
The couple who are police officers were dating for five years before getting hitched.  They were the first couple to have their pre-nup pictorial taken at the glowing garden since its opening last Sept. 27 which the social media was abuzz over the weekend.
Located in a hilltop in Barangay Bagumbayan, Jardin Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden offers a scenic view of the mountain ranges of Ubay and Mabini towns and has a front yard that has thousands of plastic roses and tulips that light up at nightfall.

This place is adorned with 15,000 multi-colored tulips and 5,000 red and white roses made of plastic, with a steel bar to serve as a stem for the flowers to stand on.

At the entrance, visitors will enjoy taking “selfies” and “groupies” with 55 LED-light cherry blossoms and animals such as swans and flamingos.

The center has flowers arranged to shape like an “I”, heart and “U” to spell “I Love You.”

Another visitor, Helen Alagadmo, was enjoying clicking her camera at the glowing garden.  She said she would like to visit Dongdaenum Design Plaza in South Korea and the 10,000 White Roses & More in Cordova in Cebu.

But Helen said she changed her mind not to go to Korea and Cebu since roses have “grown” in the little island of Bohol.

Genellie Inting- Calipes, 34, brought her family and friends to see the glowing garden even it was 76 kms from the capital city of Tagbilaran.

Genellie like other visitors went to the garden at day time and waited until night time to see the flowers  burst into a sea of brilliance against the dark night.

“The garden is beautiful. I was amazed to see the glowing flowers and it relieved my stress,” said Genellie, a Filipino teacher at Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School in the city.

Many visitors find the garden intrinsically romantic and offer pretty pictures in all directions. After all, Jardin Necitas has been deliberately designed and “planted” to engage the emotions in a powerful way that evokes feelings of passion, love and intimacy.

But who is Necitas? 

Necitas, of course, is incumbent Pilar Mayor Necitas Cubrado.

Her daughter Vanessa brought the artificial roses and tulips to her hometown.

Vanessa, 32, said the artificial flowers are LED-lighted and are spread across a 2,000 square meter area at a hilltop lot in Purok 5, Barangay Bagumbayan.

Vanessa Cubrado ‘plants’ 20,000 LED-lighted 
flowers in Bohol, the first and only in the province.
Courtesy: Jardin Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden 
The Jardin Necitas is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. Entrance fee is at P30 for adults and kids to help maintain and clean the surroundings.

Would-be couples who intend to have their pre-nuptial photos taken in the garden can do so for a fee of P1,000.

The entire project was completed within two months and an estimated P10 million was spent for its construction, Vanessa said.

Vanessa said it was not really planned.  She just grabbed the proposal of her friend at MyLedOpto which is responsible for glowing gardens in the country. 

She said most of their visitors are locals and tourists coming from Manila although there are various nationals in the garden.

“I didn’t expect it will be a huge hit in Bohol as the first and only glowing garden. I think I was really into tourism and boasting the tourism of Pilar especially the 3rd district (of Bohol).  I was thinking it would be of big help,” Vanessa said.

At night, the beauty of the 20,000 roses and 
tulips sparkles when these are lighted at Jardin
 Necitas Pilar Glowing Garden in Bohol province.
 Leo Udtohan



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The establishment which opened last Sept. 27 drew 5,000 visitors. From that day, many visitors frequent the place to have their pictures taken.

There is a small cafe which is offers food and refreshments to visitors who just want to relax while taking the scenic views.

Vanessa said her family plans to open a resort to accommodate visitors.

Visitors can take a bus or van (GT Express) at Dao Terminal in Tagbilaran City but make it sure to arrange a pick-up for your way back to the city.  If you own a private vehicle, you can drive your way to the glowing garden for at least 2 hours. 


***

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

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tourist driver to file case against Bohol cops

PANGLAO, Bohol—Police here said that the allegation of the tourist driver Jeffrey Galon Sarabia that he was beaten by a police using a baseball bat inside the police station was just a drama.

“Drama lang na niya para makakuha siya og simpatiya (It is his drama to get sympathy),” said PO1 Mark Yana, desk officer of the Panglao Police Station.

“During that time nakadungog man siya sa biktima kadtong taga DepEd staff nga eager mo-file og kaso against niya. Siguro naghimo-himo lang siya ana diversion or rason para para makuha ng simpatiya sa biktima (During that time, Sarabia heard that the victim who was a DepEd staff was eager to file a case against him. That’s why he made it, a diversion or reason to get sympathy from the victim),” Yana added.

Yana said Sarabia was a suspect in a case of theft based on their witnesses—the DepEd employees.

Sarabia, 36, a tourist driver, was with three employees of the Department of Education (DepEd) who went to Panglao Central School to conduct validation last Sept. 20 at past 4 p.m.

The victim (who asked for anonymity) said she left her bag at the vehicle parked near the town plaza. While waiting, Sarabia amused himself watching basketball at the town plaza that he forgot to lock the van.

After 30 minutes, when employees returned to the vehicle, they discovered that the things inside the van were scattered. One of the employees lost her P2,500 cash.

Sarabia admitted that it was his fault and told the employee that he will pay the P2,500 when they returned to Tagbilaran City. However, they decided to blotter the incident at the Panglao Police Station.

In a statement by the Panglao Police Station on Monday, it said the victim and her two other colleagues conducted inquiry in the area but a reliable source told them that Sarabia did not come down from the vehicle.

“At that time the victim confronted the driver suspecting that he was the one responsible in stealing her money. The commotion happened in the area and both were advised by the responding officers to settle their problem at (the) Panglao PNP station,” the statement said.

But the two DepEd employees said there was no commotion ever happened.

The statement added “at the station the victim narrated the incident and the same was recorded in the police blotter. Jeffrey’s name and the personal circumstances were taken for recording purposes. After the victim manifested that she was still undecided to pursue her complaint, the victim and the suspect left our office. That is why our office wonders on how it could happen that Jeffrey alleges that he was mauled while at Panglao Police station.”

Jeffrey Sarabia said he was beaten by a policeman using a baseball bat. 
However, the DepEd employees said they left for Tagbilaran and left Jeffrey at the police station since they were told by police that Sarabia had to stay for some interrogation.

“Ming-una mi og lakaw unya nagpabilin si Jeffrey sa police station. Wala nako kahibaw unsay nahitabo (We didn’t know what happened since we left him at the police station),” she said.

She also clarified she was not willing to file a complaint since she didn’t know who took her money.

Sarabia said he was brought by PO1 Heracleo Padillo Jr. to the second floor of the station. He was told to undress and he was beaten using a baseball bat in his left thigh that caused bruises.

According to Sarabia, another police who was not wearing his uniform, told him to admit that he stole the money.

“Ug dili nimo iuli ang kuwarta madugangan ang imong kaso, planteran ka nako og duha ka putos karun (If you will not return the money there will be another case against you since we can plant two pieces of (shabu) now,” said Sarabia who quoted the police.

Sarabia was diagnosed with hematoma or soft tissue contusion based on a medical certificate.

Yana insisted that there was no mauling happened. And for Sarabia’s bruise, he said Sarabia invented stories.

“Walay nahitabo nga pangbun-og ug pamunal kay diri raman sila sa lobby (No mauling happened because they were only at the lobby [of the police station]),” he said.

Sarabia said the incident was still rankling in his mind it had been six days since he was beaten.

“Wala ko namakak ug maggama-gama og estorya. Manghinaot ko mugawas ra ang kamatuoran para matagaan ang hustisya sa nahitabo nako (I didn’t lie or invent stories. I hope the truth will come out so that I can attain justice),” he said.

Sarabia said he will be filing charges against Padillo and three policemen this week.

***

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

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Round Bohol





Bohol is our native land. Capital city is Tagbilaran. My hometown is Calape, four towns before Getafe. Tubigon, Clarin, Inabanga, Loay, Lila, Anda, Valencia, Loboc, Bilar, Sikatuna, Duero, Jagna, Antequera.  Carmen, Sierra-Bullones, Albur, Garcia Hernandez,  Talibon, Trinidad, Loon, Cortes, Baclayon, Panglao,  and Dauis. Maribojoc , Candijay, Ubay, Batuan, Mabini, Corella, Dimiao, Sagbayan,  Balilihan, Sevilla, Dagohoy, Catigbian. Danao, Pilar, San Isidro, San Miguel ug Buenavista, nadugang ang Bien Unido ug President Garcia. 48 ka mga lungsod ning lalawigan sa Bol-anon muhimo ka mulibot kung ikaw mo-excursion...

 “Round Bohol Rock,” by  Yoyoy Villame


A new (funny) version of “Round Bohol” is circulating in the social media.  I chanced upon it last night, and well, it's kind of a delayed reaction, but still, I find it amusing.

ROUND BOHOL Tahh

Hindi dito, hindi diyan, LOON!

Hindi superman,hindi batman,  GUINDULMAN!

Not three,Not two, BATUAN.

Ug matulog ka, ayaw pag-LOAY.

Land of KPOP, South CORELLA.

It's always nice TUBIGON the day with a smile.

Sunod sa Pangako sa'yo, ANDA wings of love.

Para sa pamilya, Para sa ekonomiya, Para SAGBAYAN.

Nakaligo ka na ba sa dagat ng basura? Nagpasko ka na ba sa gitna ng kalsada? Manny BILAR.

Tongue Twister.  I wish to wish DAUIS you wish to wish, but if you wish to wish DAUIS the witch wishes, I won't wish DAUIS you wish to wish.

Kaon ug tarong para sa maayong PANGLAO-was!

Grizzly bear, Snow bear, PILAR bear

Move on na ko, ALBUR-ry all the bad memories.

Ug manglaba ka,ayaw butangig CLARIN ang dekolor kay magputi-puti

UBAY myself......don't wanna live....UBAY myself anymore

You and I.........CARMEN to be.

MABINI-bini sa aking pagtulog...

Dili sakyon kay among BACLAYON.

Son,is it true? Answer me!!  SAN, ISIDRO? Is it true?

Ang basketball, sa basketbolan, Ang tennis, sa tennisan, Ang billiards, SEVILLAran

Dili na kaya ang engineering, Mao tong mi-VALENCIA ug kurso.

Dili na kiss, JAGNA.

Lingaw diri. Naay CORTES ug kaon. Naay CORTES ug dagan. Singing CORTES, dance CORTES

Sa wala pay rice cooker, Naa nay kal-DUERO

What's chikchik mama? BIEN UNIDO fortified.

Tagay diri, inom didto, SAN MIGUEL.

TALIBON kung lumipad,sumabay sa hangin,ako'y napatingin....

Under my umbrella, ella..LILA eh eh.

Unsay tingog sa iring? Eh DIMIAO.

Do you know how? I DANAO.

Libro sa nag-take up ug Law, LOBOC.

Aalis din ako dahil aALICIA.

Napyansahan na ka. You are PITOGO.

SIERRA BULLONES nang tayoy nagkakilala. Martes nang tayoy muling nagkita

Abi kog ""I can't"" ,"" i CAN""DIJAY.

Habulin ng babae,araw man o gabi...DAGOHOY hoy hoy hoy, hoy hoy hoy hoy,

Sige ug dagan, TAGBILA-RUN.

Dili na Christmas tree ni Mom, Kay Christmas TRI NI DAD na.

Bakit CALAPE-t nang lapit sa akin?

Naunsa to? INABANGA ang bus sa kahoy.

Ang araw ay siSIKATUNA sa silangan at lulubog pagkatapos sa kanluran.

Sige man kag tabi ug storya sa tapad ,grabiha CATIGBIAN-na gyud nmo.

We will have an exam. GETAFE-ce of paper!

Abi kog ang tuko, AN TEQUE RA man diay.

I want to ""MARIBOJOC"".Di masabtan? I want her to be my wife.I want to ""Mary hair"".

Lumipas na ang isang taon at isang BUENA VISTA-basta ka na lang nagbago at naglaho.

suGARCIA.....HERNANDEZ,  Won't you come and put it down on me.

Mutya ka BALILIHAN katahom. Tinggas pa sa puti nga baybayon. Gugma ko BALILI HANdumon. Puro kaw Baliling sa katahom"

***
Speaking of Bohol, Juan Lumacang III shares his article for us to ponder. Here it is:

Bohol’s Danger Ahead
(An Open Letter to DENR and Bohol Media Practitioners)

Bohol is a home to many natural wonders, a truly God-given gift to the province and its people. We are known to be protectors and stewards of the environment, espoused thereafter the passage of the Environmental code, a first of its kind in the entire country.

How soon can we realize that the present conditions of the province are not pleasing and favorable to the inhabitants- the brave and hospitable Boholanos?

I am appalled and shocked upon seeing the photos below. These photos are recent pictures of Bohol Limestone Corporation in Garcia Hernandez, Bohol. I am no expert of this, but as a concerned Boholano who has great admiration of the God-given gifts in the province, it made me question the legality of this mining.

I am aware that the present administration under President Rodrigo Roa Duterte has a crusade against mining firms and corporations that had brought devastation to the environment. It was started during the tenure of the former DENR Sec. Gina Lopez. They called a halt on the operations on those firms that violated the mining law. Technically, they cancelled the Environmental Compliance Certificate (ECC) which compels the mining firms to suspend their operations. On this premise, I thought the Bohol Limestone Corporation in Garcia Hernandez, Bohol was made to suspend theirs too.

 The once beautiful mountains of the Garcia Hernandez, source of water and life in the locality, are now flattened into an almost airport-size mining field. What benefits have it brought to the municipality and its people? I sure do know these benefits if there is any, are just a day-long benefits, not a long-term and sustainable one. We must not be blinded.

These past months, I browsed over the internet about recent developments in the province. I read the news and some blogs pertaining to Bohol’s progress. I must say, we are in the right track towards development. But never in a glance I saw these issues to surmise. Media Practitioners are mum about it. I don’t know if it is intentional, I hope not. Thus, I took to the leverage to air this out through social media. Let us see where this leads us.

A portion of the Provincial Government’s Vision states “Bohol is a prime eco-cultural tourist destination with sound environmental condition…”. These words should reverberate in every Boholano including gov’t agencies to forward our goals in keeping a sound environmental condition in the Province. Clearly, the mining in Garcia Hernandez deviates from our common vision for Bohol. Do we need to witness a tremendous devastation before we act? I think not. This is not the time for a wait-and-see system. We all want a safe and sound environment to live in.

 I call upon the DENR through Sec. Roy Cimatu and other concern agencies to look into the situation. It is incumbent upon you to call a halt on the operation of this firm. While this may bring a little good to the people, the destruction will haunt us down in the future. If this firm does not conform to the enabling laws and other regulations, their operation should be stop. We can’t afford a mud flood to come to our province. We are still recuperating from the great havoc brought by the 7.2 earthquake four years ago.

We can’t afford to be derailed once again towards our goals for a better future. Hand in hand we determine the future of our beloved province of Bohol. Together let us not allow that our children be robbed of their future, their wonderful environment, the place we call home. This is ours, we must protect it.

***

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

Sunday, September 17, 2017

24 hours in Ireland: History and beer

Wake-uppers:
Scene: Isabel Iris Garsuta on winning Miss University of Bohol Personality 2017: “It is a dream come true. To God be all the glory!   I am so grateful to all the people who have helped me on my journey throughout this pageant.” Her proud mother, Mariz Garsuta, posted on Facebook, “I wish you all the best, your journey as Miss UB personality 2017 has just began. Continue to instill the Christian values, the University of Bohol trinity of virtues and inspire the youth.” Erick Karcher is Mr. UB Personality 2017.

Isabel Iris Garsuta and Erick Karcher  Courtesy: UB 
Scene:  Police Regional Office (PRO)-7 director Chief Supt. Mario Espino was the guest of honor in the blessing and inauguration of the new P14 million police station in this city last week.  “A very comfortable and welcoming facility for the residents of Tagbilaran City. Maganda and presentable,” said Supt. Patricio Degay Jr., city chief of police, in a phone interview.   However, police had been left red-faced after the marker of the building was revealed - along with prominent spelling mistakes.  A close-up photo of the marker posted on the social media received “negative” reactions. Some residents have found at least eight “errors”- like “Police Regional Police" instead of Regional Police Office and “governemnt” instead of government.  The names of councilors were also spelt incorrect: Dulce Philipp S. Besas instead of Dulce Amelia C. Glovasa, Albert C. Torralba instead of Alberta C. Torralba, Agalon N. Polinar instead of Vicente N. Polinar, Agustinus Gonzaga instead of Augustinus Gonzaga and Nicanor S. Besas instead of Philipp S. Besas. It had “Sanguniang Bayan” instead of Sangguniang Panlungsod. Some residents shared that it must be double-checked since it was a marker. Degay said he didn’t know of the spelling errors since the marker was from the regional office. “I don’t have control with it since it was the regional engineering office which was in-charged,” he said.   Seemingly seeing the funny side, Degay said the marker would be remove and correct.  “We will have it correct as quickly as possible,” said Degay.

***
DUBLIN, Republic of Ireland-  After London, I decided to visit Ireland.  The reason Ireland is so popular with tourists is the overall experience. It is full of beauty and punctuated by charming coastal villages.  Yes, U2 and Westlife.

I hate travelling alone.  Solo travel depression is very real thing.  Solo travel is boring, eating alone is depressing and I hate an album full of selfies.

But all of these were gone when I arrived in Dublin, Ireland’s largest city and capital.

Dublin's charm lies on scenery, people and the craic. The good news is these can be explored even in 24 hours. For one day, tourists can visit the Trinity College, Temple Bar, Guinness Storehouse, Dublin Castle and more.

Ireland’s capital needs no introduction. It has history, charm, sights, museums, galleries, theatres, shops, pubs, restaurants and an abundance of character. Photo by Leo Udtohan
There are two ways to explore Dublin faster – rent a bike at bike stations, a hop-on-hop-off bus but a little pricey or do a walking tour. For me, Dublin is one of the most walkable cities in Europe that I found to be best enjoyed by foot.

Tip: Start in the north at Phoenix Park and head south to the River Liffey, cross the famous Ha'Penny Bridge and find your way to the medieval streets of Temple Bar. Pause for a pint before heading to the Trinity College campus. Shop along nearby Grafton Street before jaunting on to the peaceful St. Stephen's Green. From there, literary fiends can drop by the Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre while visitors that enjoy a drop of the good stuff can tour the Guinness Storehouse or the Old Jameson Distillery.

And no matter what you decide to do on your Ireland adventure, every destination you head to will captivate, surprise, and inspire the curious traveler.

Here are the “must-see’s” and the “must-do’s” in Dublin:

Pubs. That's what you likely know about Dublin. There are at least  2,000 liquor licenses in the Irish capital.

James Joyce, one of Ireland's most influential and celebrated writers, once said it would make a great puzzle trying to cross the city without passing a pub.

Your VRS at O'Neills Bar and Restaurant
in the historic heart of Dublin.
The city has at least 2,000 pubs to relax
and drink Guinness beer. 
The pub is the social hub of any Irish town, and here you’ll find friendly chatter while observing the finer points of pulling the perfect pint.

Some rudimentary Dublin rules to follow:

1)If someone buys you a drink, buy them one back.

2)Don't expect to drink all night.  Most pubs close at 11:30 p.m. on weeknights and 1a.m. on weekends. Something about curbing alcoholism.

3)If you are drunk and have awful lots of feelings, don't call an Irishwo/man British. You are starting a fistfight. The Republic of Ireland is independent of the crown. It has been a Free State since 1922. Northern Ireland is part of the UK.

If you are in Dublin, it is a must to visit the Guinness Storehouse where the beer was born to travel.  The dark, tangy porter beer first brewed by Arthur Guinness in Dublin in 1759 wins the hearts and minds of beer lovers in United Kingdom and Africa.  The Guinness Storehouse is very touristy. Here you will learn the history of Guinness, how Guinness is produced, how it is marketed, and even learn how to pour the perfect pint. The tour ends with a pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar. From here, you have 360° views of Dublin.

Trinity College. Founded in 1592, Trinity College is Ireland's oldest university. The historic buildings, gardens and monuments are worth a visit. Famous students here were Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. 

The statue of Molly Malone, an attractive 
young woman making her way in the world, selling 
seafood by the barrow, through the streets of Dublin.  
The city is so enamored with the legend of Molly Malone
 that a statue to her memory was erected near Trinity College, 
to celebrate the millennium anniversary of the city’s founding. 
Photo by Leo Udtohan
The school library houses the Book of Kells. It may seem like a crumbling old bible, but look closer at the amazing designs and colors on these manuscripts (a different page is carefully turned every day).  The Book of Kells was written in 800 AD by a group of monks and was buried in the ground for safe keeping against the Vikings. In the 1600s it was rediscovered and sent to Trinity College where it has been ever since.

Other displays include a rare copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, read out by Pádraig Pearse at the beginning of the Easter Rising in 1916, as well as the so-called harp of Brian Ború, one of the oldest harps in Ireland.

There are at least 200,000 of the library's oldest volumes at the 65- meter Long Room, the library's main chamber. If your eyes are tired from all the reading, take some time to walk down the enormous hallway and admire the marble busts that pepper the unending rows of bookshelves.  There are 51 busts that scattered across the library including Socrates.

Museums and castles.   Dublin has many museums, galleries, castles and churches. And they are really good. But best of all they are free. These are the Chester Beatty Library, Natural History Museum, Museum of Modern Art and National Art Gallery which are highly entertaining.

Dublin Castle is the heart of historic Dublin and is where the city gets its name from the Black Pool - 'Dubh Linn' which was on the site of the present Castle garden. Founded in 1204, Dublin Castle spans 44,000 square meters and has two museums, cafes, gardens and a conference center. The government buildings and the State Apartments are the most important state rooms in Ireland. The grounds are free to explore.

Cathedrals.  Ireland used to be the most Catholic country in the world. The church's connection to the island nation dates to St. Patrick's conversion in the 5th century. There are many ancient but empty churches here. According to a local newspaper here, in 1984, nearly 90 percent of Irish Catholics went to Mass every week. But by 2011, only 18 percent did. It's a massive cultural shift.

Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university.  Photo by Leo Udtohan
I, however, still love to visit old churches when I travel. I visited Saint Patrick's Cathedral even the walk was long-ish and  a bit uninspiring. Saint Patrick's is the National Cathedral of Ireland which was built between 1220 and 1260. But for friends of world literature this is a pilgrimage, and a must - Jonathan Swift of "Gulliver" fame was dean of and is buried in the cathedral.

Horse drawn carriage to see Dublin City in comfort and style.
Photo by Leo Udtohan
Another lovely church to visit is the Saint Augustine and Saint John The Baptist Church. I passed the famous The Beer Market near Dublinia on my way to the church. Outside the establishment, I saw a Filipino who was very familiar. He smiled at me. I just smiled back since I was in a hurry to catch the Holy Mass. While inside the church, I realized that the man I saw was a Boholano priest! After the Mass, I went back to The Beer Market to see him. Unfortunately, he was no longer there. That night, I had a chat with Wilma Diez-Balag, a resident of Cogon District, who asked me if I met Fr. Julian Lupot who is in Ireland. I suddenly remembered the man I saw in Dublin.  Wilma confirmed it was Fr. Julian. I still can't stop feeling the regret not being able to talk and shake hands with him.  Sigh!

With 24 hours, you can get a good taste of Dublin. 48 hours would be ideal. But even with just 24 hours in Dublin, I manage to get a good taste of the city and find a lot of reasons to return.  When I return to Dublin (someday) I wish to visit the sheer cliffs of Moher on the emerald Isle to see how it feels to be one small step from infinity. The cliffs have appeared in several films, including The Princess Bride (1987) (as the filming location for "The Cliffs of Insanity"), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009), and Leap Year (2010).  In music, the cliffs have appeared in music videos, including Maroon 5's Runaway video, Westlife's My Love, and Rich Mullins' The Color Green. Most of singer Dusty Springfield's ashes were scattered at the cliffs. 

***

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

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

48 HOURS IN LONDON: Heritage or adventure

Wake-uppers:
Scene: Glyssa Perez on winning 1st princess in Miss World-Philippines 2017: I am where GOD wants me to be, at this very moment, every experience is part of His divine plan.  I was awarded Miss World Philippines 1st Princess. I may have not won the Miss World Philippines crown, but I still feel like a winner. All the Glory belongs to my Heavenly Father, thank you for my victory. I came to the competition with a heart of service, and I will continue to do so. The experience and friendship that I have gained through this journey was more than I could of imagined. I am a firm believer that "Everything Happens for a reason" and I know that God has greater things for me. I am so thankful for this opportunity, and I am more than thankful for the people behind every success of my journey. 

Scene:  The opening and blessing of Dalareich Chocolate House in Booy District, Tagbilaran City last Friday. It is Bohol's first and only Chocolate Factory.

Scene: "Jardin Necitas," Pilar’s glowing garden will turn on its light on Sept. 27, 6 p.m. There will be a live acoustic band "Jam403" with special participation of Jerome Sala Ucab.

Scene: Our dear Ruth “Neneng” Udtohan was dearly missed on her 16th death anniversary, Sept. 9.  At 17, she died from leukemia. She was a staff of The Lampbearer’s Night publication of the University of Bohol High School Evening Session. She wrote poems and short stories.


***
LONDON—My Facebook messenger was busy. There were calls and messages.

Jocelyn Pilayre (of Gecko Tours and Travel, 2nd floor at Alturas Mall) calling from Tagbilaran.  She was asking/ tracking my whereabouts.

Big Ben is an iconic London landmark and
a must on your list to see while you’re in London.
“Where have you been,” she asked.

When she learned where I was, Jocelyn joked, “Are you there to visit The Queen?” Maybe she thought I was the pussycat in the nursery rhyme.

“If I would be given the chance to see Her Highness,” I told Jocelyn in my trying hard British accent. 

London has many iconic buildings, landmarks, parks, West End musicals and shows, and sights to be seen, whether they be old or new, London is constantly evolving and is rich in historic culture.

In London, we met Katherine Embradura-Shaw who hails from Tubigon town. She told us that many sights in London – most of them can be discovered by walking and free.

She said London is packed with destinations that can make one’s a day or two-day break worthwhile.

Katherine was right.  Most of London’s top attractions are all within walking distance of each other. And by using the city’s regular bus or boat routes, you can tick off even more sights in a short space of time.

Awesome scenes and sights are Big Ben, Buckingham Palace, Tower of London, Royal Courts of Justice, Trafalgar Square, Piccadilly Circus, London Eye, St. Paul’s Cathedral, Westminster Abbey and --- yes, yes, yes! --- Tower Bridge!

Buckingham Palace has served as the official London residence of the UK's sovereigns since 1837.
Photo by Leo Udtohan
Start your day down in South Kensington. From here, you can drop into some museums or wander up the road to Knightsbridge. Iconic London shops like Harrods and Hamleys will be a bit quieter in the morning.

The sights of London at night are astounding. Visitors can see London come alive as the lights of the city flicker on during your walk. In fact, I was humming Petula Clark’s Downtown when I saw Harrods and Hamleys at night. Just listen to the music of the traffic in the city. Linger on the sidewalk where the neon signs are pretty, How can you lose? The lights are much brighter there, You can forget all your troubles, forget all your cares...

The St James’ Park and Buckingham Palace are just around the corner. The Buckingham Palace is the Queen’s official London residence. It has a total of 775 rooms. It is one of the few working royal palaces remaining in the world today. Unfortunately, we didn’t see the famous Changing The Guard.

The Coca-Cola London Eye is a giant Ferris wheel
on the South Bank of River Thames in London. Photo by Leo Udtohan
Next, walk down the Mall towards Westminster. You might have more chance at spotting some politicians at the Houses of Parliament and of course, the world’s famous clock, Big Ben. I was excited to see Big Ben and to hear the iconic chimes thrice!

The Houses of Parliament is a neo-Gothic wonder built in the mid-19th century. It is made up of two houses – the Commons and the Lords – and if you reserve ahead or just try your luck you can go inside to watch British democracy in action.

The Coca-Cola London Eye is a major feature of London’s skyline. It was opened to the public in 2000, when it was first built it was the largest Ferris Wheel in the world. Visitors can buy tickets to go up in the London Eye in one of the little pods (actually, 32 capsules, holding up to 25 people), it’s definitely something to consider on your first trip to London so you can see out over London. The London Eye gives you a breathtaking experience with a unforgettable perspective of more than 55 of London’s most famous landmarks.

Westminster Abbey is next door so you can see two of London’s most iconic buildings in one place. It is a must-see 700 year old living pageant of British history, the coronation church of England.

Either jump on a boat down the River Thames to Tower Bridge or walk across Westminster Bridge to the South Bank, and meander down the river on foot.

Then either head into Borough Market, see The Shard (the tallest building in Europe) or visit the Tower Of London. The Tower of London is a 900-year history as a royal palace, prison and place of execution, arsenal, jewel house and zoo.

Inside the National Gallery Museum. Leo Udtohan
Afterwards, jump on the number 11 bus heading west. You’ll travel through the oldest part of London, The City, past St Paul’s Cathedral (where Prince Charles and Lady Di were married in 1981), down Fleet Street  and The Strand and arrive at Trafalgar Square for that photo opportunity with the stone lions.

If you love to museums, there are many museums in London for free, without eating into your budget.  There are at least eight free museums in London- Natural History Museum for the roaring T-Rex and earthquake simulator, Sir John Soane’s Museum for the candlelit tour, Museum of London for the fascinating history of England’s capital, Bank of England Museum to hold a genuine bar of gold, Victoria and Albert Museum for the beautiful objects, Museum of London Docklands to learn about the history of river Thames, William Morris Gallery for the life and works of one of Britain’s most inspiring designers, and Queen’s House and  National Maritime Museum.

In South Kensington, you’ll find the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and the V&A are all within a short walking distance of each other.

For art, the National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery and Tate Modern are home to some of the greatest paintings in the world.  Whatever time you go, the permanent collections are always free.

The London's red telephone booth, an iconic part of the city.
Photo by Leo Udtohan
The National Gallery holds one of the world’s most important collections, and sees over six million visitors every year.  For the first time, I was very close to marvel at the masterpieces of van Gough, Renoir, da Vinci and Michael Angelo! 

There are also London’s lesser known art galleries, Georgian estates, crypts, old police stations and even old telephone booths. For many, London's red telephone booths are an iconic part of the city. As cheesy as it may sound, a picture of the traditional red telephone box should be on everyone’s must-have photo list whether you are visiting or residing in London.

I was at The Square Mile when my celfone rang. My cousin Helen Castaño-Alagadmo, on the line, asking how my day was.

“I really love London,” I told her. “It’s 8 p.m. here and I am enjoying my afternoon tea.”

“Did you cross London Bridge?” she asked.

“Yes, twice,” I told her. “The bridge is spectacular at night time.”

She kept on asking about the bridge and I assured her that London Bridge is still there.

I told her, “London Bridge is not falling down!” And I heard her laughing out loud!

There are other quirky, weird, cool and interesting places in London. However, visiting them would require another day.

I woke up early for my flight to Dublin, Ireland, while Pinoy Aquaman and Roel Catoto returned to the Philippines last August 19 because of work and family.

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

Sunday, September 3, 2017

The enigmatic Stonehenge

The sight of Stonehenge with its broken circle of stones and mighty central trilithons standing in apparent isolation on Salisbury Plain has been mesmerising travellers for centuries. Photo by Leo Udtohan
Wake-uppers:
Scene:  The 'ber' months are here, ushering in what many call the longest Christmas celebration. Merry Christmas to all! US-based psychologist Elaine Joy Auza-Meyers has won for the first time in our high school game “Who will greet first Merry Christmas on September 1.”

Scene: A community organizer (CO) posted on Facebook that a beauty queen cum cultural worker  (BQCW) claimed that she founded a five-year-old local festival.  CO said that it was a misrepresentation.  “Hello, please do not claim that. Yes, you were one of the staff working but please do not claim such a role,” CO said. BQCW had a long reply posted on her Facebook account saying she conceived, created and planned the project. “Things I will never do in my lifetime: Eat balut, smoke, illegal drugs, and reap what I did not sow,” BQCW posted on Facebook.

Seen: Actor Richard Gutierrez and family spotted on a vacation in Bohol last week.

Scene: Will Miss Bohol 2016 Glyssa Bingas Perez be the next Miss World Philippines?  Watch the pageant tonight, Sept. 3, on GMA Network at 9:30 p.m.

Scene:  Miss Bohol 2017 Pauline Amelinckx was crowned Miss JCI Visayas 2017 held  in Bacolod City. She was also adjudged Best in Festival Costume designed by Malayka Yamas and Best in Gown designed by Bohol fashion icon EJ Relampagos.

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LONDON- After staying for a week at Kent county (province) in South East England,   it was time to explore other places.

I was very much delighted for I could finally see for myself the places where it all happened, the tales of Camelot, King Arthur and the wizard Merlin.

England has numerous marvels to offer, from the famous Buckingham Palace to the simple sight of a red fox in London and the British countryside.

 (L) Roel Catoto, Atty. Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine, 
your VRS and Alex Guinid at the Stonehenge, a masterpiece 
of engineering with the stones carefully arranged to 
line up with the movements of the sun.  
But the one marvel that stood out was the Neolithic monument called Stonehenge.

Our amazing host Alex Sison Guinid brought us to Stonehenge which stands alone in the vast empty tract of Salisbury plain.  Its origins date back nearly 5,000 years and it has been home to pagan religion and spiritual worship, not to be mention public debate ever since.

The entrance or admission fee for Stonehenge is £16.30 for adults (advance purchase) or £18.20 if purchased on the day. (Tip: Buying tickets in advance is essential to guarantee entrance. There is a timed ticket system in operation and advance booking is advised to avoid queues.)

Alex, who is living in London for 17 years, told us that the best time to visit the Stonehenge is during winter. The entrance is free during winter and summer solstices, but you have to contend with crowds.

Cared for by English Heritage, visitors will have a chance to understand more about the history of Stonehenge at the Visitor Center. The Neolithic houses, furnished with replica artefacts, can be found near the center. It reveal the homes in which the builders of the ancient monument might have lived. The Stonehenge Exhibition tells the story of the stones, the land and its people, with audio-visual displays and more than 250 archaeological objects and treasures from the surrounding countryside.

Your VRS discovers the gateway to mystery 
as he feels the 5,000-year-old Stonehenge 
as enigmatic, romantic and mystic.
From the Visitor Center, you will take the short bus journey to the Stones. You can walk to the Stones but it is a two- mile or 1.6 km journey and the bus runs every few minutes. For those visitors where time is short the bus offers an express two-minute journey direct to the famous Stonehenge.

There is an outer perimeter fence, but once you are through the turnstiles there is a piece of thin rope about 60cm/2feet high which keeps you back from the stones. The nearest you get is around 15m/yds away, but the view is still good.  Due to the fragile below-ground archaeology, preserved stone surfaces and prehistoric carvings, access inside the circle is possible only at certain times outside normal opening hours.

When I was closest to the Stones, I took time to appreciate and feel the history behind these huge stones.

What was this vast collection of stones intended for? Was it observatory of the moon? Cremation ground? Sun worship site? Alien landing pad? Who were the people who carried and carved these 40 ton rocks? 

Stonehenge, a mysterious circle of stones under the clear blue sky has stood like doorways to the next world on a hillside in southern England for 5,000 years.

Numerous legends have grown around the origin if Stonehenge-itself a form of almanac. Present day archaeology asserts that it was built gradually, beginning before 3000 B.C.E.

Numerous theories assert that Stonehenge was not only a temple and ancient burial ground, but also, an astronomical observatory and almanac, keyed to the summer solstice, much like the Temple of Denderah in Egypt.

Intricate astronomical computations for determining solstices, equinoxes, sunsets, sunrises, moonrises and eclipses can be derived from the relative position of the stones and their proportions.

At the center of Stonehenge lies a horseshoe-shaped group of trilithons, stone pillars standing parallel to each other with another pillar capping both to form a doorway-like structure.

Windsor Castle is one of the official residences 
of the British Royal Family. Photo by Leo Udtohan

Once numbering five sets, only three remain intact. Surrounding them is the now incomplete circle of evenly spaced monoliths, the Sarsen circle, which was once capped by a continuous ring of stones called Lintels. Like the trilithons, many have fallen into disrepute.

But the most intriguing aspect of the Stonegenge are the bluestones. The bluestones are situated between the Sarsen circle and the inner monument and much smaller than the other formations. Once numbering as many as 10 only very few remain. Each of the stones were made to increase in size towards the center. Within the blue stone horseshoe is a massive rock of a blue-gray hue and is generally known as the Altar Stone.

What makes the stones so fascinating was that the stones could not possibly come from anywhere near Stonehenge. The most likely source was from the Preseli Mountains, 320 km away in the South Wales and transporting them was a big question.  How they traveled hundreds of miles with thousands of men helping move them across England to their current resting place?

Twice a year, on Midsummers Day or the Winter Solstice (the coldest day of the year), the rising sun perfectly aligns with the Heel Stone. From within the monument, it is as if there is a great shining ball perched right on the tip of the Heel Stone. 

Its spiritual importance should not be neglected either. It is believed that only Merlin was able to move the Stones from their original home in Ireland to Britain and that it was to become a grave. So this has led it to become a frequent place for pagans to come and worship. There are also frequent pilgrimages for followers of the Ancient Order of Druids (Earth religion) since then.

I spent more than three hours at Stonehenge trying to feel the energy and reconnect my past life. I was confident that I’ve found the gateway to mystery.

From Stonehenge, Alex brought us to Windsor, a historic market town in the English county of Berkshire.

The town is widely known as the site of Windsor Castle, one of the official residences of the British Royal Family.

Many swans and ducks live on the river at Windsor 
and it is an offence to kill one- although the crime is no
 longer treason, as it once was.  Photo by Leo Udtohan
Windsor Castle is one of the finest medieval castles in England and is the largest and oldest occupied castle in the world. It has been a royal residence for over 1,000 years and today is one of the homes of Queen Elizabeth ll.

“No trip to Windsor could possibly be complete without a visit to amazing Windsor Castle,” Alex told us while I was studying every detail of the castle.

The royal standard flies from the round tower of the Castle when the Queen is in residence.

The size of the Castle (5 hectares/13 acres) is breath taking, in fact it is the largest and oldest occupied Castle in the world and it’s where Her Majesty The Queen chooses to spend most of her private weekends.

Alex shared that to know if Queen Elizabeth II is in her residence, we just need to look at the round tower.

“Look at the flag flying from the Castle’s Round Tower; if it’s the Royal flag, the Queen is inside,” he said.

Windsor Castle offers something for everyone, and with so many areas to explore  like the magnificent State Apartments, the St. George’s Chapel, the Queeen Mary’s Doll’s House and the changing of the guard, it would take at least two to three hours to see it all.

Many swans and ducks live on the river at Windsor. Each summer there is a process known as
Swan Upping which checks the identity and health of each of the swans, and adds tags to new cygnets (baby swans).

Your VRS with the swans. 
Queen Elizabeth II attended the ceremony in 2009 in her role as “Seigneur of the Swans” and is a passionate fan of the hundreds of swans that swim and nest on the River Thames beneath the Castle walls.

All wild mute swans in Britain are considered to be property of the Crown.  It is considered an offence to kill a wild mute swan though centuries ago their meat was considered a delicacy.

“The Queen owns them,” warned Alex when he saw me feeding the swans.  

“I am sure Her Majesty will be glad to hear that someone is feeding her swans,” I said.

The birds are now protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and killing or injuring a swan used to be classed as treason under a law dating back to the 12th century.

After Windsor, we returned to London to enjoy London at night. Whether you're jetlagged, insomniac or wired, London at night is a vibrant place.


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