Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Christ is risen! Alleluia!

For three days, Satan must have believed that he had won the battle. He believed that Jesus would be forever in the grave and he conquered the world.

After all, Jesus had cried out in the cross "It is finished" and Satan thought it was a cry of surrender or defeat.

Then, the tomb is empty!  There is Light in the midst of our darkness.  Alleluia, Alleluia!

Easter is a significant day in the history of Christianity. It is with Easter that we remember and rejoice at the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

To make this day more profound and meaningful, let us sing together the hymn Christ the Lord Is Risen Today, composed by Charles Wesley. You can read alongside the Psalms and the Gospels "to feel" the spirit of the Easter.

Christ the Lord is risen today, Alleluia!
Earth and heaven in chorus say, Alleluia!
Raise your joys and triumphs high, Alleluia!
Sing, ye heavens, and earth reply, Alleluia!

Love's redeeming work is done, Alleluia!
Fought the fight, the battle won, Alleluia!
Death in vain forbids him rise, Alleluia!
Christ has opened paradise, Alleluia!

Lives again our glorious King, Alleluia!
Where, O death, is now thy sting? Alleluia!
Once he died our souls to save, Alleluia!
Where's thy victory, boasting grave? Alleluia!

Soar we now where Christ has led, Alleluia!
Following our exalted Head, Alleluia!
Made like him, like him we rise, Alleluia!
Ours the cross, the grave, the skies, Alleluia!

Hail the Lord of earth and heaven, Alleluia!
Praise to thee by both be given, Alleluia!
Thee we greet triumphant now, Alleluia!
Hail the Resurrection, thou, Alleluia!

King of glory, soul of bliss, Alleluia!
Everlasting life is this, Alleluia!
Thee to know, thy power to prove, Alleluia!
Thus to sing, and thus to love, Alleluia!

And Bill Gaither’s Because He Lives:

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone;
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!

How sweet to hold a newborn baby,
And feel the pride and joy he gives;
But greater still the calm assurance:
This child can face uncertain days because He Lives!

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

The burning of Judas in Baclayon, PHL, an Easter-time ritual, where an effigy of  Judas Iscariot is burned.
Egg hunt during Easter Sunday in Tagbilaran
Hugos or Easter Sunday ritual in Baclayon, Bohol, Philippines

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Films to watch this Holy Week

It’s Holy Week! It’s time to reflect on the life, death and message of Jesus.

The most sacred of the year, each blessed day of the Holy Week is special and has something unique to offer. It begins with the Passion Sunday or Palm Sunday. The Triduum (Holy or Maundy Thursday, Good Friday and Holy Saturday) is a day of sober reflection. And on Holy Saturday, that is the Easter Vigil, Jesus rose triumphantly from the dead.

Years ago, the week used to be marked in the color red on a calendar. The neighborhood was so quiet. Business establishments were closed for one week. The elders bought rice and viands good for one week. My lola and aunties warned us not to take a bath at 3 pm. on Good Friday,  monsters and demons are most powerful during Good Friday, wounds heal longer when acquired during Holy Week and traveling during Holy Week will bring accidents. (It was an effective stay at home parenting.)

People could only go to church. Lola told us to celebrate the Holy Week by fasting (menu: porridge or lugaw, binignit and puspas) and attending church services. Families prayed at the Stations of the Cross, listened to the Siete Palabras and meditated on the Word and suffering of our Lord Jesus Christ. It was a must to attend the procession or libud during Good Friday to see the images of saints and Jesus on decorated carrozas.  Those who stayed at home could watch movies on TV. Since our options for Holy Week cinema were rather limited, we were gravitated toward an annual viewing of Cecil B. DeMille’s The Ten Commandments, Marcelino Pan Y Vino and Himala.  

Time has a way of changing things. However, as we journey through Holy Week, let us draw closer to Christ in many meaningful ways.

If you decide to have Holy Week movie marathons, here are some flicks to watch in order to allow this significant season to touch your life more deeply:

Son of God-  Son of God came out in theaters this past weekend. Portuguese actor Diogo Morgado portrays the role of Jesus as the film spans from his humble birth through his teachings, crucifixion and ultimate resurrection. (Jesus Christ: We are going to change the world.)

The Ten Commandments- One of cinema’s greatest movies of all time. The Ten Commandments is iconic filmmaking. (Moses: There is a beauty beyond the senses, Nefretiri. Beauty like the quiet of green valleys and still waters. Beauty of the spirit that you cannot understand.)

The Passion of the Christ- This movie is a revealing, personal look into Jesus’ final hours on Earth. Amid much controversy involving Mel Gibson and various religious organizations, the intense nature of the film’s depiction of Christ’s sufferings is worth watching. (Jesus Christ: My heart is ready.)

Joseph King of Dreams- The Bible provides the subject matter for this story about Joseph and his brothers. From being a servant, Joseph became second in command to the pharaoh of Egypt. (Joseph: I'm your brother!)

Jesus of Nazareth- This movie by Franco Zeffirelli is a classic!

The Prince of Egypt- This epic animated feature covers all the classic story points of the story of Moses, including the ten plagues and the parting of the Red Sea. When Moses encounters the burning bush and confronts a God who calls Himself “I Am That I Am,” it is almost as if the scene compels the audience to remove their shoes for holy ground is underfoot. (God: Who made man’s mouth? Who made the deaf, the mute, the seeing or the blind? Did not I? Now go!)

End of Days- It’s about Satan's love life. Satan has returned to Earth and is walking the streets of New York City to find a woman will bear his child (The Man: For a thousand years you've waited for my return. Behold, you have failed. And with your dying breath, you will bear witness to the End of Days.)

The Da Vinci Code- Dan Brown's controversial best-selling novel about the Church’s powerful secret that's been kept under wraps for thousands of years comes to the screen. (Silas: Lord give me strength.)

The Greatest Story Ever Told – Like The Ten Commandments, it highlights the events of Jesus’ life from birth to his death and resurrection. It also portrays the warmth and connection between Jesus and ordinary people. 

Himala-This CNN Viewers Choice Award as Asia Pacific Best Film of All Time tells the story of Elsa, a barrio lass whose visions of the Virgin Mary change her life and cause a sensation hysteria in a poor, isolated village in the midst of drought. (Elsa: Walang himala! Ang himala ay nasa puso ng tao, nasa puso nating lahat! Tayo ang gumagaw√Ę ng mga himala! Tayo ang gumagawa ng mga sumpa at ng mga diyos..)

Tanging Yaman- This heartrending drama opens our eyes to what truly makes a family.  It tells the story of family’s matriarch and her struggles to unite the family. (Loleng: Cake ko yan!)

Magnifico- It is impossible to resist watching this movie about a young boy Magnifico who wants to give
his ailing grandmother a decent funeral. The movie is a definition of sentimental overload.

GMA News reporter John Consulta reported that workers and volunteers are busy for the reconstruction of the Our Lady of Assumption Church in Dauis town. Likewise, parishioners are so excited that the church will be opened this Easter Sunday. Most of Bohol churches were destroyed by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake but not the faith of the people. “This Holy Week would be a showcase of their faith, they are going to get involved actively in this celebration of this paschal mystery of Jesus Christ,” Msgr. Jeffrey Malanog, vicar general of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, told GMA News.

Lovingly Yours, Helen (The Movie)-  Due to immense popularity of the program, Lovingly Yours, Helen was turned into an anthology movie. The first movie episode, Akin ang Walang Diyos, is our own version of the Exorcist and the Exorcism of Emily Rose.  Julie Vega starred as a girl possessed by an evil entity. (Demonyo: Akin kayo na walang Diyos!)

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

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Graduation & Summer at Bet and Choy Farms

Graduation noisily celebrates the future and farewell to student life. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summer Gimik 2014: Bet and Choy Farms

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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