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Sunday, July 15, 2018

Jesseth Nez Pasagad: Putting substance to beauty

The opening question was: Do you have a boyfriend?

Jesseth Nez Sendrijas Pasagad gave an honest answer: “All I can say is that I have someone special inspiring me right now. I’m trying to focus more on building my career as an engineer and as a servant to the community.”

Crowned Miss Teen Bohol 2012 first runner-up and  Miss Talent at 16,  Jesseth has been practically on the spotlight ever since. So much that when she graduated Magna Cum Laude for Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering at Palawan State University, she was the first Boholana beauty queen turned petroleum engineer.

Now 22, she juggles her time to reading, studying, playing the guitar, singing, and at times, joining beauty pageants. She is a good daughter in that she wants to fulfill her mother's frustration of being a beauty queen.

As one of the early favorites of Miss Bohol 2018, to be a beauty queen with a purpose is something that Jesseth knows too well. Her advocacy is about "Pasiga Gikan sa Basura” which intents to convert solid waste to sustainable energy that will hopefully give electricity to communities in Bilar town.

Let’s see how she fares in this tête-à-tête with your VRS, conducted a week before the pageant.

As one of the early favorites of Miss Bohol 2018, Jesseth Nez Pasagad has the most unique background as she graduated Magna Cum Laude with the degree of Bachelor of Science in Petroleum Engineering,  a male dominated course which she managed to finish with flying colors. Photo courtesy: Miss Bohol

What’s your type of a man?
“I’m a very simple and quirky person so I’d love to be with a man who can jive with my antics without judging me. I also involve myself in a lot of activities and organizations so I’d appreciate a man who is supportive and understanding, someone who’s not possessive nor insecure of my personal endeavors towards self-growth.”

What sort of preparations are you doing for Miss Bohol 2018? Are you also going to be trained (on good grooming, poise, etc.) by a beauty queen?
“I’m currently giving huge importance on understanding my advocacy so I’m working a lot on my feasibility study. Also, I’ve been practicing my walk and poses, and I watch a lot of YouTube videos on how to be more graceful and composed even off-stage. I actually don’t have a formal trainer but I do have a handful of people helping and giving me constructive criticisms.”

 Jesseth Nez Pasagad on coal-fired power
 plant in Bohol: ‘I don’t want to have a coal plant
 in Bohol because I know Bohol has a
 vision to become a prime eco-cultural
destination and that means sustainability.
Having a coal plant in the province
defeats that vision for sustainability
because coal is not sustainable,
 let alone its inevitable negative
environmental impacts.’
Photo courtesy: Miss Bohol
Do you have secrets sustaining your poise, your grace under pressure, especially during the crucial points in any contest?
“I could say that my capability of being comfortable and graceful while under pressure was really honed through a lot of involvement and experience. I did not become this confident with myself overnight. It look a lot of humiliating public speeches and cringe-worthy performances before I really learned how to carry myself with grace and assertiveness. So I guess the secret is to just put yourself out there and step out of your comfort zone. Experience is the best teacher!”

Would you rather be smart but not too beautiful, or beautiful but not too smart?
“ I’d choose to be smart but not too pretty (physically). The perception of beauty is very subjective because we have different standards for what is beautiful. Being smart gives me the opportunity to have an impact on my community by imparting my ideas and knowledge. But being smart alone is not enough. One has to be compassionate as well. Knowledge with compassion, this is the kind of beauty I want for myself.”

Have you always been smart since you were a kid?
“Hmmm. If the context of “smart” here pertains to academics, I could say that I’ve always valued my education ever since I was a kid. And those efforts resulted to honors and recognitions. At an early age I understood how important it is to be educated both in theory and practice. My parents keep me motivated to constantly do my best in everything and I guess it became deep-rooted into my system to always aim high and deep.”

Why did you choose to study Petroleum Engineering?
“I don’t actually have a super great reason why I chose to take up Petroleum Engineering. Just like any other high school graduate, I was also confused on what to study in college. My father influenced me to be in the oil and gas industry, something I never imagined myself to be in. Looking back, I didn’t have a solid reason why I took up the course but now I understand why I ended up here—to be a living example that women can excel even in male-dominated fields, and to give back to my community as a driven and compassionate engineer.”

Was the course difficult?
“Yes! Sleepless nights, hungry mornings, sweat and tears—you name it. The oil and gas industry is a very competitive and past-paced environment, so early on we are trained to be flexible and proficient engineers. This requires a lot of effort and sacrifice plus the struggle in learning the technicalities of the processes. I’m just so glad I was able to finish the course in one piece. Ha!Ha!Ha!”

Are you in favor or against a coal-fired power plant here?
“As an engineer, I am aware of the benefits that a coal plant could potentially give to the province: stable power supply, income and employment. I am not entirely against the whole concept of a coal plant, but I believe it boils down to what we prioritize more as a province. I don’t want to have a coal plant in Bohol because I know Bohol has a vision to become a prime eco-cultural destination and that means sustainability. Having a coal plant in the province defeats that vision for sustainability because coal is not sustainable, let alone its inevitable negative environmental impacts. I am hopeful that Bohol can continue to climb up the ladder of excellence without resorting to these projects. As a province, we should stick to our vision. It’s there to guide us in our future endeavors for Bohol. “

Maybe you have an important message to spread or a cause to advance and you want the Miss Bohol to be a venue or forum for it?
“Right now, I am very thankful that the Miss Bohol pageant has become a platform for me to promote my advocacy, “Pasiga Gikan sa Basura”. I want people to understand that sustainability starts from awareness. I plan to give more talks regarding my advocacy and how the people in my community can help me expand this project.”

Engr. Jesseth Nez Pasagad with her
parents Zosimo and Aileen and siblings
Jairus Zim and Josh Ron Zimon.  Contributed Photo
What qualities of the Boholano youth would you highlight?
“Two distinct Boholano characteristics that I truly appreciate are humility and resiliency. Despite the many challenges we face, we are still able to put a smile on our faces— a true reminder of how our adversities have kept us grounded. We are strong in faith and rich in values, qualities that every Boholano can be proud of.”

How do you deal with bashers on social media?
“Acceptance is the key. Before I joined Miss Bohol, I made sure that I was emotionally ready for all the negative comments. We can’t please everyone, that’s a fact so the best thing to do is just to learn to filter out comments that don’t help you grow. I also avoid being on social media all the time so I don’t get the chance to read those comments from bashers. Hahahaha”

Sexual harassment is very much in the news. What would you advise women so that they could avoid or stop being victimized?
“There are a lot of superficial and sexist things I could say like teach women self-defense or tell them not to wear provocative dresses but I don’t think this really addresses the issue on sexual harassment. Yes, it could avoid sexual assaults but the true solution really lies on proper guidance and understanding especially during the formative years of a child. We should teach our children to respect women and not see them as objects. We should educate both men and women, make them understand that nobody has the right to trespass another person’s body without consent; and if ever you see or know someone who’s violating another person, intervene! We have to help empower each other.”

Young people today are liberated and adventurous, willing to try everything. What's your stand on pre-marital sex?
“We are entitled to our own bodies, this means we decide for ourselves. But, just because we can, doesn’t mean we should. Personally, I don’t look down on people who do engage in pre-marital sex, but I would strongly discourage young people to practice this for a number of reasons, one of which is related to health. There is a growing number of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV cases in the country which are caused by both lack of proper education on safe sex and engaging in multiple sexual partners. Reserving sex after marriage lessens the probability of contracting these illnesses because there is monogamy. And this goes out to both men and women, it’s all fun and games until one gets sick.”

Her advocacy "Pasiga Gikan sa Basura" aims to provide sustainable electrical energy source for
 communities in Bilar using bio-wastes. Photo courtesy: Miss Bohol
What is your stand on divorce in the Philippines?
“For the most part, I do not support divorce because I believe every marriage should be preserved and nurtured despite challenges, so long as there is no abuse in the relationship. The conflict lies on whether there is abuse in the marriage because as an empowered woman, I believe every person deserves the right to free themselves from toxic people. Of course, divorce should not be seen as an easy way out. As much as possible we can try to mend broken relationships through counselling and help treat abusive partners through rehabilitation. Pain in a relationship should not be romanticized, reach out for help if there is something wrong. Perhaps the marriage could still be saved.

Do you think it is about time to have same-sex marriage in the Philippines?
“Being born and raised in a conservative Catholic family, I’ve always believed that everything in life is absolute, including marriage. I have several LGBT friends and over the years of knowing them, I have learned to value their principles in life. This marriage they are fighting for is not because they have no God but rather they believe in a God who is loving and forgiving. I support same-sex marriage because it is clear to me that every couple who wants to move forward with their relationship, no matter the gender, should have the same legal rights as any married couple.”

 What’s your take on the transgender issue. Should transgender be allowed to compete in beauty contests for women?
“The way I see it, people don’t support transgender women to compete in beauty contests (for natural born women) because of either being conservative or competitive. I’d like to address the topic on a competitive standpoint. Being a transgender woman means the person has made alterations in her body: size of the boobs, butt, etc. A certain “customization” has been made which could be unfair to natural-born women who don’t have the means to be at par with the enhancements of a trans woman. This is probably the only issue I have with transgenders entering beauty contests for women.”

You are a petroleum engineer, a brilliant one. Do you also like politics? Your mother Aileen is village councilor of Barangay Zamora in Bilar town.
“ I have been part of several organizations but I don’t think I see myself as a politician. I am still willing to serve the community but in other ways. I guess the “politician genes” passed right through me. HahaHa”

To end this conversation, what do you think is the essence of being a woman?  (Answered with wit and intelligence by India’s Sushmita Sen who won the Miss Universe 1994)
“Over the years, I’ve seen how people perceive the essence of womanhood from being a mother to being a housekeeper. But as an empowered millennial woman, I speak for those women who choose not to give birth and those who wish to pursue their careers than stay at home. Times have changed but one thing will remain the same, we women are instruments for development. Our essence lies in our strength in character to pursue our goals with pride and dignity.”

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

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Bohol movement launched to urge Bong Go to run for Senate seat

Scene:  Families were worried for the missing of the three village chiefs in Pilar town last week.  Police had deployed a large number of officers to investigate the disappearance. It turned out that these men attended a “party” in Tagbilaran City. Pilar Police Station chief Inspector Andie Corpuz said “they were not kidnapped.  They had drinking session with friends that they were not able to inform their families.” However, some people believed it was a “kidnapped me” scenario.

Panglao Mayor Pedro Fuertes vows
 to make Panglao a liveable place,
a better, cleaner and safer destination in the country.
Leo Udtohan
Scene: Panglao Mayor Pedro Fuertes on the news that erstwhile and dismissed Panglao Mayor Leonila Paredes-Montero will be reinstated as mayor was “fake news.”  However, the camp of Montero told reporters to watch for (big) surprises this week.  Fuertes instead focused on many things for the development of Panglao, the tourism jewel of the province. “Let us work together to make Panglao a liveable place, a better, cleaner and safer destination that we can all be proud of.”

Scene:   Asked what her birthday message was, Dauis Mayor Marietta (“Miriam” to all) Sumaylo said, “Prosperity. Peace! Love! Harmony! Good health to everybody.”  She celebrated her birthday last July 4.  When asked about her plan for the 2019 election, “I will continue to serve the people of Dauis.” She simply flashed a smile so sweet that it seemed to say everything. 

* * *
Supporters of Special Assistant to the President (SAP) Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go gathered at Holy Name University (HNU) on Saturday, July 7, to launch “Bayan for Bong Go” Bohol Movement which aims to encourage the loyal presidential assistant to run for a Senate seat in 2019.

It was attended by mayors, barangay and SK officials and volunteers from the different parts of the province.

The dashing Dauis Mayor Marietta
 Sumaylo is a pleasant surprise. Leo Udtohan
The mayors who attended the movement were Tagbilaran City Mayor Baba Yap, Clarin Mayor Allen Ray Piezas, Cortes Mayor Lynn Iven Lim, Dauis Mayor Marietta Sumaylo, Trinidad Mayor Judith Cajes,  Talibon Mayor Restituto B. Auxtero, Dagohoy Mayor Sofronio Apat, Panglao Mayor Pedro Fuertes, Garcia Hernandez Mayor Tita Gallentes,  Calape Mayor Nelson Yu, Lila Mayor Regina Salazar, Sagbayan Mayor Ricardo Suarez, Pilar Mayor Eugenio Buslon Datahan II, Tubigon Mayor William Jao, Candijay Mayor  Christopher Bernados Tutor, Antequera Mayor Jose Mario Pahang and Alicia Mayor Marnilou Ayuban.

Also present were former Loay Mayor Rosemarie Lim-Imboy and former Loboc Leon Calipusan.

Businessman Lucio Lim, Jr., the movement’s chairperson, said they have seen Go’s potential to run in the 2019 mid-term elections.

“We are calling SAP Bong Go to run for senator.  Here in Bohol, the members of business sector want him to run. He comes from a family of businessmen. He is very approachable, (and) humble,” he said.

Lim said that being the President’s direct link to the people, Go vows to continue the President’s campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, corruption and support his anti-poverty efforts.

“Bong Ro represents change. It gave us hope that the legacy of President Duterte may continue through SAP Bong Go in the Senate,” Lim said.

Go was not able to attend the launching as he was with the President. Nevertheless, Assistant Secretary Mon  Cualoping of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) and   DILG Assistant Secretary for Legislative and External Affairs Ricojudge "RJ" Echiverri, former two-term president of the National Liga ng mg Barangay, represented him and conveyed his message to his supporters.

Go earlier told reporters that he is still contemplating as to whether or not he would consider the offer to run in the senatorial race.  He said he was committed to serving the President “until kingdom come.”

Supporters of Special Assistant to the President Bong Go have launched the “Bayan for Bong Go” movement in Bohol aimed at convincing him to run for senator in the 2019 elections.   Leo Udtohan


A ‘brief’ visit by Villar

Public Works and Highways secretary Mark Villar arrived in Bohol last Thursday, July 5, seven days after President Rodrigo Duterte assured Boholanos that he would instruct Villar to check the on-going projects.

Villar visited Barangay Anislag in Maribojoc town where he was updated on the repair of certain roads and bridges which were damaged by the strong 2013 earthquake.

He stayed briefly at the site for about 30 minutes with provincial and local officials.

Villar was informed by Bohol reporters about the concerns of many residents in several towns in Bohol who clamored for an explanation from the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH)regarding some repair works done in roads that seem to be still in good condition.

DPWH regional director Ador Canlas answered that there were 12-on going road construction projects in the province which was affected by the 2013 strong earthquake.  He said the funds were just released this year for  reblocking, restoration and rehabilitation.

Villar said he would personally look into “questionable” projects in the province.

“Lahat po ng pangangailan po ng infrastructure ay mabibigyan ng pansin,”  assured Villar.

During the 25th national convention of the Vice-Mayors’ League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Panglao, Duterte was asked  during the presscon about the on-going road re-blocking project of the DPWH in Bohol that generated public outcry.

Duterte, who admitted that he is not a technical person to explain about the road project, said that he would ask Villar to come to Bohol.

“I will ask DPWH Secretary Villar to come over and explain to the people para ma... Anyway, it's the people's money. So they should... They deserve rather an explanation from the government.”

Provincial board member Thomas Abapo earlier said that on-going re-blocking projects on roads in the province that many even considered as not damaged at all, was a waste of funds.

Abapo expressed his disgust over the projects that apparently caused too much delay, inconvenience and accident to the riding public and motorists.

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

Sunday, July 1, 2018

My God is forgiving—Duterte

● My God is forgiving—Duterte
● Goodbye, SPO1 Adonis Dumpit!

God really works in mysterious ways. He made President Rodrigo Duterte talk about God, now everybody is concern about God.

However, if we are engaged in a religious debate, such topic will have no end. So, we better respect each other’s beliefs.

More about Duterte’s “God” when he was the keynote speaker during the 25th national convention of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Bellevue Resort in Panglao town last Thursday, June 28.

He said his favorite chapter in the Holy Bible is The Ecclesiastes.

President Rodrigo Duterte with the provincial and local leaders during the 25th national convention of the Vice Mayors League of the Philippines (VMLP) in Panglao town. Contributed Photo

“If there’s a page in the Bible which I read almost every day, it’s the Ecclesiastes 3,” he said at the start of his speech.

Ecclesiastes is found in the Old Testament after the book of Proverbs and before Song of Solomon.

“There’s a time to be calm, there’s a time to be silent, to be poignant, a time to be subdued, and a time to be vicious. Ganoon talaga ang buhay (That’s life),” he continued.

“There is always time…a time to be proper and a time to be a shit…all because this is planet earth, this is not heaven,” he said.

The President was expected to arrive at 3 p.m. but he arrived at 4:12 p.m.

At least 600 vice mayors attended the convention, according to Tagbilaran City Vice Mayor Jose Antonio Veloso.

It was his second visit to the island-province since he was elected in 2016.

Duterte drew flak after his “stupid God” remark. But he said his own God is forgiving.

“I have a God, it’s a God in my… my concept of God is according to my values. We have different gods, hindi tayo magkaintindihan (We do not understand each other). I have this deep and abiding faith in God.

 Duterte is not sorry. Ever.

 Bishop Alberto Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran
with Presidential Communications Operations
Office head Secretary Jose Ruperto Martin
Andanar during the town fiesta of Garcia
Hernandez, Bohol.
Photo from Bishop Alberto Uy Facebook Account
Despite the public outrage, the President remained unapologetic for his “stupid God” remarks.

“I will not do that. Definitely, not in a million years,” he told reporters.  

“You know God is personal, it is not formed by textbooks. You nurture God as your faith based on the values that you get from life early on from your parents. That is how you conceived God to be. So, if you used God as a transmission sa ano ninyo other sectors of society then you invite criticisms,” he said.

But the president said he “has a forgiving God.”

“For now, I will just keep my silence for I want to see how the nation reacts. Kumbaga, I’m shaking the tree. If you’d notice me every now and then, either national or local, ginugulo ko talaga ‘yung puno,” he continued.

He drew laughter when he added, “Talagang takot din ako. May mga anak ako, may mga apo, may duha asawa ako, may three girlfriends ako (I am also scared. I have children. I have grandchildren. I have two wives. I have three girlfriends).”

While others were conciliatory, more Church leaders have come out to denounce what some called “blasphemous” remarks.

“My God is not stupid. He is almighty, all-wise and all-loving. To him be the glory, now and forever,” Bishop Alberto Uy of Tagbilaran said on his Facebook page.

Bishop Uy said some stories in the Bible call for a deeper interpretation as they have religious truths in them that tells humanity of God’s plans and how people should live their lives.

“Not all (stories) in the Bible are to be interpreted literally. Some stories, though not historical, have religious truths, which can inform us about God and His plan for the world and humanity,” he said.

During Sunday Mass at St. John the Baptist Church in Garcia Hernandez town, happealed to parishioners “to pray for healing so that the President’s heart could be healed.”

“We need to be hopeful. We continue to respect our President. And we pray for him,” Uy said. “We pray for healing.”

Duterte also warned mayors who were inactive in the government’s campaign against crime and illegal drugs that they would be replaced by the police.

“I will file a case against you [for] serious neglect of duty or simple neglect or sheer ignorance of law or simply doing nothing,” he added.

He also warned narco-policemen that they would die if they continue their involvement in illegal drugs.

Goodye, Dumpit!

When SPO1 Adonis De Los Amantes Dumpit was transferred to Bohol in 2016, I had the opportunity to interview him for this little corner.  He was teary-eyed when he told your VRS (and The Freeman’s Jessa Agua-Ylanan) that he missed his 85-year-old mother Liwayway in Davao Oriental, and only son, Norman.

My last encounter with Dumpit was during the command visit of PNP- Chief Director General Oscar Albayalde at Bohol Provincial Police Office two weeks ago. I was surprised to see him because I thought he was transferred to Cebu after his short stint at BPPO. He greeted me with a warm smile and extended his hand while he shrugged off those who wanted to take a selfie with him.

In his 20 years in the police force, Dumpit received awards and commendations and was dreaded by Cebu City’s underworld characters in 2000 for hunting down petty criminals. So, everyone knew him as the “super cop.”

SPO1 Adonis Dumpit was a sharpshooter
and multi-awarded policeman. Leo Udtohan
But last week’s news shocked the entire region.  He was killed.

It was his last goodbye.

Ma. Ella Amores, 45, said when her live-in partner SPO1 Adonis Dumpit bid goodbye last Wednesday (June 27, 2018) morning, she felt strange that she wanted to hug him tightly.

Little did she know that it was to be the last time she would see him.

Dumpit, her live-in partner for a decade, was killed on June 27 in a joint operation by the Regional Intelligence Division of the Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI)-Bohol.

Amores said Dumpit, 54, left home early as he had been told that President Duterte would be in Bohol on Thursday. He said he was needed at the Camp Francisco Dagohoy for a briefing.

She said Dumpit had brought his uniform and the book that he was asked to photocopy.

She was later told that Dumpit, while driving his motorcycle, was killed at 8:20 a.m. in Purok 1, Dagohoy Road, San Isidro District, at least 200 meters from their house.

Dumpit was assigned at the Bohol Police Provincial Office. He was the former close-in aide of Cebu City Mayor Tomas “Tommy” Osmeña.

She said she heard gunshots but thought they were just fireworks.

But one of her adopted children told her Dumpit was killed.

Amores believed that the 15 sachets of shabu found from Dumpit’s pants were planted. Only his uniform and some clothes were found in the utility box of his motorcycle.

"Wala jud na ana... nag-awanta mi sa among kinabuhi nga nagpuyo nga malinawon. Putlan man gani mig kuryente (We were never into drugs. We endured life’s hardships in order to live in peace. There were even times when our electricity was cut off)," she explained.

She believed some people held a grudge against Dumpit since he was active working against drugs.

Dumpit once told her that he was reassigned for some reasons.

She said Dumpit explained to her why he was transferred from Cebu to Bohol.

"Mapagan ko permanente sa pagan sa higante (I always caught in the crossfire between giants)," Amores quoted Dumpit telling her.

She also questioned the manner of operation. She said it was an ambush.

"Dapat muari sila, ilang tuyo gikan sa taas, raid sila, willing mi magpasaka unsa man ilang tuyo. Kampanti jud, kampanti tong tawo nga wala gud anomaly,” she said.

“Ambush to, ambush to. asa gud dapit maintercept. Ambush to. Dapat muari sila, ilang tuyo gikan sa taas, raid sila, willing mi magpasaka unsa man ilang tuyo. kampanti jud, kampanti tong tawo nga wala gud anomalya," she said.

But NBI-Bohol head Rennan Augustus Oliva denied Amores’ claim that their operation was an ambush.

“Iya nang opinion pero klaro to nga mingsukol, understable na kay kalive in partner siya unya mabasa ninyo ang report unysa na iyang kalive in so naa ta mga nya naa tay follow-up operation. Pero klaro man atong operation, naa may witnesses. Naa jud firefight nahitabo. Dili ambush. Kay if ambush dili mupusil una ang subject. Napusil gud og una. Naa man tay witnesses (They have their  opinions. But it was very clear that the subject engaged our operatives in a shootout, and we have witnesses to prove it,” he said. 

He said it was a legitimate operation that they had monitored Dumpit’s illegal activities.

Oliva  also stressed that the information that Dumpit was a “narco police” first came from the police and not from NBI.

The PNP Crime Lab has not released its official results on the ballistic examination and parriffin results.

Neighbors said Dumpit was a quiet and a good person.

“He was serious but fun to be around. Nobody deserves a fate like that,” a neighbor who requested anonymity said.

Another neighbor said “he was kind and who focused almost completely on his work.”

PRO-7 confirmed that there was no reason to give any honors to Dumpit, despite his earlier reputation, who ended his police career with involvement in the illegal drug trade.

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