Monday, December 9, 2013

46664= forgivess and selflesnesss

Scene: From Philippine Information Agency (PIA)-Bohol: PHIVOLCS Dir. Renato Solidum Jr. clarified that there is no truth to allegations that Bohol will sink if the aftershocks will reach more than 6,000 as circulated thru text messages.
Scene: Mexican pop star Thalia received her star on Hollywood Walk of Fame on Dec. 5. Thalía's five-pointed terrazzo and brass star would be number 2,514 and be located at 6262 Hollywood Boulevard in front of the W Hollywood Hotel, near Shakira's star.
Scene: All roads lead to Sevilla and Booy District, Tagbilaran City on Dec. 12 for the fiesta, in honor of its patron saint Our Lady of Guadalupe. Different activities are held in barangay lead by re-elected barangay captain Jun Telmo. Dec 12 is also a nationwide celebration in Mexico in honor of Virgin of Guadalupe.

2013: Your best moment

What was your Best Moment of 2013?  As 2013 draws to a close, many of us will be looking back to our most memorable, extraordinary moments of the year.

VRS want to hear from you: What’s the one picture that truly captures your 2013 highlight? What will you remember most? 

Share it with VRS, alongside a short description why it was so special for you. E-mail  The most compelling stories will be featured in VRS.
I have to say, a lot of people (especially girls) were very upset at his death. While I wasn't a die-hard fan, I was a fan of his. He was incredibly a great actor.

Paul Walker/Getty Images
Tragically, Paul Walker will no longer be part of Fast & Furious films. The 40-year-old US actor was killed in a car crash, while leaving a charity event in Los Angeles, California.

As soon as news of his death broke, Facebook and Twitter lit up with remembrances of the actor.

“My world stopped when I learned of his death,” said Jocelyn Pilayre. “I really admired him. Nabiyuda nako ani.”

Paul Walker had a deep impact on the cast, crew and fans during his 14 years as part of the 'Fast & Furious' franchise.

The world is mourning the loss of Nelson Mandela, who died at the age of 95.

Even netizens are expressing sadness over this bit of news.

Thank You for teaching us humility and compassion,” said Vassil Romanillos of Loon, Bohol.

“Nelson Mandela was the real deal. The world will never be the same without him,” Meljun Daniel of Tagbilaran City Science High School posted on Facebook.   “If you don't know Nelson Mandela, make an effort to get to know him... And you'll know why the world is saddened by his passing..”

“Rest in peace Nelson Mandela. Thank you for teaching the world equality, acceptance and compassion,” said another fan.

Miko Cañares who is currently in Cape Town, South Africa also witnessed the deep, piercing sadness of the people. He posted on Facebook: “We joined the South Africans in hoisting and lowering the flag today. Mourning for the man I have only read about. The sadness and grief here is overwhelming.”

I once attended a general info competition and was thrilled when the quizmaster asked: What was Nelson Mandela’s prison number? Only one person got the correct answer: 46664.

The quizmaster further explained that Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island in 1964, and was the 466th prisoner to arrive that year. The prison administration's scheme of numbering prisoners was to follow the sequence number of the prisoner (466 in his case), with the last two digits of the year (64).

That was in 1993. But that number “46664” stuck with me because reading his life story, Mandela was one of history's last great statesmen, and a moral paragon comparable with Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King.

I learned more of Mandela when I was majoring history in college.  When he was elected president, he said: "Never, never, and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another ... the sun shall never set on so glorious a human achievement. Let freedom reign. God bless Africa!"

Mandela visited the Philippines in 1997.

He was last seen in public at the final of the 2010 World Cup in Johannesburg.  Early in 2011, he was taken to hospital and was visited by Michelle Obama.

I didn’t meet Mandela personally but his impact to the world was amazing.

Nelson Mandela set an example for all to follow and was an inspiration of the world. The horrors he endured while in one of the worst prisons on earth would harden the heart of an average man.  Many people ruin their health and their lives by taking the poison of bitterness, resentment and unforgiveness, but Mandela was able to forgive the people who hurt him and lead his country as president for two terms.

Let us remember Mandela’s personal example with regard to the value of forgiveness and selflessness.

That’s 46664.

Hamba Kahle Madiba!

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Scene: ABS-CBN’s Sagip Kapamilya Giveaways/Relief Goods was held last Friday in Booy District, Tagbilaran City.  Kapamilya Stars who were there were Julia Barretto, Jovit Baldivino (who sang Pagsubok and Pusong Bato), Ryan Bang, Sam Milby, Kian Cepriano, Empress, John Prats, John Lapus and Direk Loren Dyogi. Re-elected Booy barangay Captain Jun Telmo was also busy manning the event.

Scene: Panglao Mayor Leonila Paredes-Montero was giving raffles for the affected families in the Bohol Airport project in Panglao for their homes in the resettlement area allocated by the provincial government and the preparations for the sustainable livelihood projects.
Kapamilya stars Ryan Bang, John Prats, John Lapus, et al during the Sagip Kapamilya Giveaways/Relief Goods held in Booy, Tagbilaran City. Courtesy: Marcel Quibol-Arabejo

Scene: It’s goodbye for this teacher who was terminated by the school admin. “Students filed complaints against this teacher for act of lasciviousness and corruption,” says the unimpeachable VRS codenamed EP (Welcome back!- LPU). “The teacher was caught in the act giving “job” with the students inside the classroom,” adds VRS. “Nagkagubot jud ang tibuok school! The students accused the teacher that they were advised to buy aircon and other stuffs in order to pass the subject.” Leaving school, the teacher can see the world free!

Scene: From PIA-Bohol: Bohol Light Company Inc. says it is still impossible to have a definite schedule of power rationing as of this time while power transmission pattern from NGCP is still unstable.

Scene: Youth leader John Maraguinot posted on Facebook: Help! Next week, Bangon Bohol Relief Drive and the rest of the member organizations of ONE BOHOL will be in the Eastern Visayas to spearhead the Balik Bohol Reintegration Program and Leyte Relief Operation. The program will bring medical, debriefing, mass feeding, and evacuation services to the survivors (evacuation service will be limited to Boholanos only). Right now, we are still short of the needed supplies like rice, biscuits, candies, bottled water, sackoline, coffee, milo, and sugar. For this I appeal for support and assistance to all of my family members, relatives, and friends. Please PM me for inquiries or text at 09179985410.

Believe it or not, the holiday season is almost here.

Last week, many of us gathered with family and friends sharing a Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving Day is usually celebrated in the US. We, Filipinos, don’t have a specific date for a Thanksgiving celebration because we always like to celebrate if we want to.

In New York, fashion icon EJ Relampagos had witnessed for the first time the 87th Annual Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade last Thursday (Friday in Phl).
Fashion icon EJ Relampagos has experienced his first Thanksgiving Day in the US. Courtesy: EJ Relampagos

Macy's Famed Giant Helium balloons took flight despite a windy day in New York City.

“The sun does not after all guarantee a warm ambience... still the show must go on! Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade was a huge success,” said EJ. “It lasted for 3 hours and I have to say it made me feel like watching my first Cinderella movie! Everything looked magical. I never thought a parade could be that grand and fabulous!!! Oh New York...”

At Macy’s, making their debut this year were Adventure Time with Finn and Jake, Snoopy with his pal Woodstock, Toothless from "How to Train Your Dragon", The Wizard of Oz and Happy Hippo. With Hanukkah falling on Thanksgiving this year a special spinning Dreidel balloon made its way down the parade route.

Eye-catching were the regular balloons like Spider Man, Buzz Lightyear, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Hello Kitty, Sonic along with clowns, bands and floats.

After the parade, EJ had a dinner in NYC streetfood Halal and he slept early to gain energy for the Black Friday Sale at the 5th Avenue. (How about EJ’s date in NYC? Globetrotting VRS in New York is asking.)

In Los Angeles, California, Mikey Gatal celebrated Thanksgiving Day by watching a movie with Kevin.

Last week, Mikey had a successful “slippers and apple drive” outreach program in Booy Kindergarten schools. More than 100 kids were given slippers and 100 apples.
US-based Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal bringing his “pink box” with Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon during the Haiyan charity event.  Courtesy: Mikey Gatal

“ So glad to see happy faces all over the place,” said Mikey. “The ‘Apple Drive’ in Bohol Philippines was a success, big thanks to Anciro Romana, Atty Sandy Roxas and to the OMG Hunks and Babes for this effort Pham Marzon, Nikki Gatal Quintia, Marjo Gatal-Duma, Mayen Gatal, Filipina Castillon-Rio, Wardiflex Eduardo and Rj Garcia (the ‘apple boy’ in the Philippines) for the inspiration to do more.”

Mikey who was bringing his “pink box” to spread awareness that Bohol earthquake victims also need help also joined the Haiyan Relief Project Free Benefit Concert which was attended by Miss Universe 2012 1st runner-up Janine Tugonon. Vincent Kinne, a Thai actor (in Dragonwolf movie) also attended the event.

After Thanksgiving Day, we will celebrate our Savior’s birth and then ring in the New Year.

I encourage everyone to thank God for all that He’s done-both big and small. There is so much for us to be thankful for, and Thanksgiving Day should be every day. 

As the great psalmist says in Psalm 100:4-5, “Be thankful and say to him, bless and affectionately praise His name! For the Lord is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations.”
2013: Your best moment

What was your Best Moment of 2013?  As 2013 draws to a close, many of us will be looking back to our most memorable, extraordinary moments of the year.

VRS want to hear from you: What’s the one picture that truly captures your 2013 highlight? What will you remember most?  

Share it with VRS, alongside a short description why it was so special for you. E-mail  The most compelling stories will be featured in VRS.

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

Back to basic

It’s another day, and for hundreds of thousands, no power.

36-year-old Eva Aquino of Tagbilaran City remembers the days when everyone would struggle to prepare food and clean the house with a sporadic power supply.  

“Electricity was a luxury then,” says Eva, a pensioner.

There were times when her family had to use “lamparilya,” a small night lamp, because of frequent brownouts.

More than 15 years later, she faces the same tribulations. “It’s the same thing. Naanad nami. It’s going back to basic.”
 Residents fetch water in artesian well...

Preparing meals for her high school daughter is a tough job without electricity. Cleaning the house is another ordeal.

“Foods should be consumed because there’s no refrigerator,” says Aquino.

As result of the massive brownouts, water supplies were affected because water is distributed through electric pumps.

Residents in Booy district, Tagbilaran City have to go to deep and artesian wells to fetch water.  32-year-old Domar Quibol would wake up at 4 a.m. to go to the communal artesian well for their family’s share of water. Cues were long and access to clean and safe water was low. Others go to Caingget Beach’s “tubod” to wash their clothes, bath and fetch water for home use.
...and some go to Caingget Beach to bath and fetch water.

Resorts in Panglao have diesel-powered generators for use during scheduled outages or brownouts, but it’s becoming expensive to run now that we are experiencing power and water shortages in the province after Yolanda hit the country.

Because other residents could not afford to buy generators, they make use of used oil and salt to make a lamp.  

We have been in the dark since Yolanda hit our place. When will power begin to flicker?

More than18,000 customers have had no power in Tagbilaran City, according to the Bohol Light Company, Inc (BLCI).

“Hopefully, we are doing our efforts to restore the power maybe earlier for that matter. We are hoping for the best before December 24 or earlier,” says May Hope “Dice” Arcenal, public relations officer of BLCI.

May Hope Arcenal is living up to her name --- she is giving accurate and up-to-date information about our electricity (most of the time glad tidings of great joy not only to the thousands, yes, count’em!, BLCI valued consumers but also to the whole community listening to her on radio.)

BLCI (like Boheco 1 and 2) is only a power distributor so the company is at the mercy of the supplier.

Hospitals and water suppliers are given priority in the power rationing.

“All we can do is to bear with these crises we are facing now. We have plenty to be thankful for what we have because only the power is out. We are still fortunate enough we don’t experience what the Leyte people have experienced,” says the unassuming, low-key and down-to-earth Arcenal. “Just be patient as of this moment. We need all your understanding.”
May Hope "Dice" Arcenal

Bb. Pilipinas World-2006 and Bangon Visayas crusader Anna Maris Igpit posted on Facebook: “Boholanos, I know we have been experiencing power and water shortage in our province. It's becoming a big hassle for us because we are not used to it. But I think we have to be reminded that our problem is nothing compared to the sufferings of those in Leyte, Samar, Capiz, Iloilo, Cebu, Palawan and other places. They have nothing to eat, no roof, no houses, no water, no livelihood, basically NOTHING. So let us stop complaining and ranting because we are still blessed. I would also like to appeal that our government declare Bohol a SPUG (Small Power Utilities Group) area so that NPC can provide electricity or gen sets at affordable rates. We can't afford to allow this power shortage to affect our economy.”

While we are at it, UB’s Registrar Leah Tirol-Magno shares these very smart and practical tips:

We have been in an "American living" mode for so long now, and with the recent development that Tagbilaran City and the whole province of Bohol will be on blackout mode for an undetermined period, let me share some practical tips, as we go along with our daily lives:

1. In "ironing" clothes, use a damp face towel, rub it on crumpled or creased clothes. Hang the clothes to dry. Now it's ready to wear like it's freshly ironed.

2. We use paper plates, plastic spoons, forks and cups so we don't need to wash dishes. Save on water and same on time. Sorry for the additional garbage amount.

3. Guys, you may pee in the garden, so you need not use water to flush the toilet.

Note: In the old Booy neighborhood, we walked kilometers to fetch water bringing our containers and galloons. Life was very simple then; there was no electricity. Electricity and water came in 1980s...but we survived.

 Lobocanon Ana Liza Abao, a Masscom student at Southwestern University, shares her story on Christmas, Pinoy style, in her “Let’s Bring It On”:

On one rainy morning when Zoraida tried to have her name be remembered, I was riding in one of Cebu City’s passenger jeepney when out of nowhere, three youngsters hopped in with alarming looks. In a minute or two, they started their showdown that had awakened my senses to comprehend what they really want. Placing his right hand above his chest that seems like a ‘Panatang Makabayan’ gesture, one of them made an introduction in Cebuano dialect and said, “Ma’am, Sir ayaw kamo kabalaka. Dili kami daotang taw niining buntaga. Buot lamang kami mopaambit sa among musika tungod kay lagi Pasko na. Wagtanga ang problema kay mipalayo na si Yolanda. Break it down, oh yeah!”

Mighty goodness, it wasn’t a hold-up and that was a relief. To continue, the three of them entertained us with their originally composed Christmas carols in humorous lyrics. The elderly woman seated next to me responded with a grin and might have been delighted by the beat box and sound effects like Showtime’s Jam Bunganga contestants as she handed to them a fifty-peso bill instead of the reminder ‘Barya lang po sa umaga.’

Oh yeah, it’s almost Christmas. In the aftermath of catastrophic disasters which reminded us that we have not been good stewards of nature and now we reap the harvest of our indifference and wrongdoing, I wonder how many of us are still eager towards Christmas countdown.

With the way things are, how are we going to celebrate our Christmases like the way we used to- our Boholano homes adorned with colorful decorations along with Christmas delights. And to complete, those house-to-house caroling ended with the words ‘Ang babait ninjo, tingkyu!’

Christmas may never be the same from the previous years but the Lord- the Emmanuelle is still the same God-who-is-with-us and His presence in our lives light the way for all whose lives we’ve touched.

 Yes it is. For all whose lives we’ve touched. Needless to say, our ‘bayanihan’ spirit in the midst of the threat of calamities has inspired others to share what they have. Those nameless millions who have donated cash and goods from the different parts of the globe and the untiring time, effort and willingness of others to repack those relief goods have kept our resilience even in turbulent times.

Just as it is more fun in the Philippines, truly we can easily find ways to laugh or smile after the unimaginable quake that hit our beloved Bohol and Yolanda’s hellish wrath in the region.

I remembered how my calm and refine 87 year old aunt laughed upon reading the quake-licious menu with a twist offered by one of Loboc’s floating resto (that is  Loboc Riverwatch owned by Tessie and Libby Sumampong- LPU) such as linog-gaw and manganitude with 7.2 bagoong. In addition, they also have seafood kurog-kurog with suman dagan-dagan and bingkang naliki. What an earth shocking offering.

When Yolanda struck unmercifully after Napoles exposed her favorite piece of “I invoke my right” matched with “I don’t know”, I knew of someone who devoted her time, effort and confidence to take ‘selfie’ pics having the caimito tree with its leaves swinging in the strong wind and rain as her background. People of this age.

Oh yes, Napoles. Remembering the pork barrel queen makes me create a wild  imagination that it would be better for her to be thrown into the sea as a sacrificial offering to prevent Yolanda from coming. Like the reluctant prophet Jonah in the days of old, Napoles can be swallowed by a big whale and be vomited into an island where she can think things right.

Since electricity had been cut off for two days in the vicinity where my Bol-anon co-boarders and I are staying, I made use of my time by reading Bob Ong’s book entitled ‘Stainless Longganisa’ which was bought by my sister right after we visited our barrio cemetery in Loboc. There is no connection with the book and the cemetery but at least I had an early Christmas present during All Souls’ Day. And Bob Ong must be a lover of gags when he wrote “Iniaalay sa mga punong ginawang papel para maging libro” instead of dedicating his book to his family and loved ones.

As to when will be electricity be ever restored to normalcy is still uncertain. A text message from a friend expressed her dismay as she missed to watch the fairytale wedding of the year. She was referring to Ser Chief and Maya’s matrimonial vows. And that wedding was trending on twitter #BCWMHthefairytaleweddingoftheyear. Someone added, “kilig much.”

Heck, that wedding day was on the same date when that 7.2 trembling quake hit Bohol.

On the other hand, as there is always the negative side, it is disgusting how Satan and all his minions tried to disunite us even in social media portals wherein some individuals belonging to a sect have raged war against Catholics claiming that they are the only ones who will be saved and that Catholics must be doomed and perished from the earth.  

Instead of claiming for salvation exclusively or condemning others because of religion, it would be better for us to be reminded the story of the woman caught in adultery where Jesus said to them, “Whichever of you has committed no sin may throw the first stone at her.”

Each of us is a mixture of good and evil but there is always God’s spark in us. Let us then use this spark even in our own little way and become bearers of charity and goodness to others.

To all of us who are experiencing these dark moments much more than Anderson Cooper had seen in reality, now is the time for us to assert each other that we are one as a grateful nation- a Christian country who knows how to smile even if the world doesn’t smiles back.

In unison, let’s bring it on!

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