Sunday, December 27, 2015

Bohol's big moments of 2015

As we near the end of the year, it’s time to take a look back.

VRS is bringing you the big moments that defined 2015 and the people that inspired us the most.

Mercy and Compassion
Five Boholano survivors— Veneranda Gentallan of San Roque, Maribojoc; Shirley Bongay of Lintuan, Loon; Niza Flores of Poblacion, Sagbayan; Saturnino Barace, Jr. of Tagubaas-Obujan, Antequera;  and Salome Israel of Tubigon— met Pope Francis on Jan. 17.

Flores lost her youngest son, Geevie, 12, who was covered by rubbles of the collapsed internet cafe. She said that she can hardly overcome what happened to her youngest son.

Look back on the biggest news stories and best moments from the year on VRS
Contributed Photos/ABS-CBN/BC/Ric Obedencio/Panglao PS/Vatican 

Israel lost her right arm and broke her pelvic bone when earthquake struck. However, the cheerful Salome said that “everything happened has a purpose.”

Bongay of Loon town lost her right hand after being trapped in wreckage for nine hours.

Gentallan almost died when her house collapsed. She suffered a head injury and was brought to Cebu province to undergo an operation. She stayed at the hospital for one month. Her recovery was said to be a “miracle.”

Half of Jr's body was buried underground after the quake. He, too, was injured, but he managed to survive. Unfortunately, Barace lost four of his family members who died during the earthquake.  After the tragedy, Barace entered the seminary.

All of them were excited — and nervous — during their meeting with Pope Francis. They said they found comfort with the Pope.

In Manila, some Boholanos were lucky to see the Pope in person.

“Surreal. Unexplainable. Magical,” said Engr. Aprimel Lupot when she saw the Pope along Finance Road, going to Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. “I cannot describe the feeling of being so close to Pope Francis even for just a few seconds. Such an unforgettable moment. It's like I'm closer to God or something. I love you, Pope Francis!”

JP Maslog also shared his experience, “So this is how it feels to see the Pope... I cried and I cannot explain why!”

The Pope had been a few feet away from couple Benjie Oliva and his wife lawyer Joan.

“Honored to have joined the crowd of Catholic faithful today at SM MOA and Roxas Boulevard to experience a personal encounter with Pope Francis, the vicar of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth,” said Oliva. “Father in Heaven bless the Pope and the Filipino people.”

Hundreds of thousands showed up for the Pope including Engr. Dionisio Neil Balite who was at MOA Arena to join the “Encounter with Families” with the Pope.

May Pope Francis continue to smile and spread his message of mercy and compassion.

Viral celebrity
Jenali Alexis Mandin Calipusan sounds like Justin’s. Her voice is a replication of Justin’s and Alexis can dance as well. She does a lot of things that are very appealing.

A Belieber since 2009, her YouTube video gone viral, the world knows it too.

Apparently, Alexis is not new in singing. She was a member of the world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir. She had toured Europe, the USA and China together with the other members of the Loboc Children’s Choir.

For Alexis, her rise to Internet stardom was a mix of the right song at the right time.

Dream and Believe
Gian Luigi Ale, 9, of Cogon District, this city, had spiced up the stage with his undeniably amazing blind auditions performance in The Voice Kids Philippines Season 2.

Ale made all the three coaches turned for him when he sang the hit song Thinking Out Loud while playing guitar. Just when I thought I'd seen every cover of Thinking Out Loud in the known universe, Ale’s might be the best (and the cutest) version.

Also joining The Voice Kids were brothers Emmanuel and Sandy Tanio who sang the (unofficial) Visayan version of Pink’s Give Me A Reason.  Their performance made a huge impression on Bamboo who turned his chair as he watched them singing with their diwdiw (an invented musical instrument with two strings) and ukelele.

From Amakan Village in Dampas, Tagbilaran City, Emman, 12, and Sandy,9,  are singing for various people in the beach in Panglao, terminals and restaurants, to help their parents-- Sanny, an occasional construction worker and Elizabeth, a housewife.  Until The Voice producers saw Emman and Sandy were caroling in Acacia de Bubu on Burgos Street.  The Voice producers sent them straight through to the judges in Manila.

Unfortunately, Ale and the Tanio brothers didn’t win. However, Ale’s version of Thinking Out Loud has gathered 10 million viewers on Youtube.

‘Feelings’ over Miss Bohol results
Miss Tagbilaran Mary Eda Cimafranca won the most coveted crown and the “hakut queen” award ---with at least 12 corporate and major awards during the Miss Bohol 2015.

Cimafranca’s win met with boos and criticisms as the audience reacted intensely that she was booed repeatedly during the pageant night.  However, beauty watchers said Cimafranca kept her poise despite the boos. 

Boholanos turned to social media to express their opinions with bitter and hilarious posts to express their dismay with the results of the Miss Bohol. Much has been said about this year’s pageant; not only about the organizer’s unpreparedness but it was pre-arranged (lutong Macau), and a “cooking show.” 

Some netizens were also entertained by how some people can post humorous feedback like “luto na ang lechon (the lechon is ready) and some rejoinders said, “kalami ba anang lechon, (the lechon is yummy)” and “paghukad na kay excited nako mo hiwa sa panit sa lechon. (Get it ready because I am excited to get the skin of the lechon).”

A popular website posted their review on the pageant saying “Miss Bohol 2015 is the best cooking show at its finest.” The website said that “a clear gesture that everybody disagreed to the final decision as it was very different based on what we’ve seen and heard during the entire ‘cooking show.’ I pity Miss Tagbilaran as she’s now on the hot seat and the target of all bashes.”  The post was deleted.

Miss Bohol 2014 Queenie Melody Fullante said, “That was a well-deserved win. I salute Eda for being able to handle pressure with such grace.”

‘Twilight’ actor visits Bohol
Hollywood actor Kellan Lutz, known for playing Emmett Cullen in “The Twilight” Saga film series; as Poseidon in the 2011 film “Immortals”; as Hercules in the 2014 film “The Legend of Hercules” and as ex-US Marine John Smilee in the action-thriller “The Expendables 3”, visited Bohol last July.

He was in Panglao town to attend the wedding of his friend Jeremiah who married Miss Bohol International 2003 Maya Calope Galvan in a beach wedding.  During the reception, Lutz joined the CenterStage Band performing on stage.

Lutz was mobbed by fans who said, “He’s so mabait at sobrang guapo.”

Bohol’s Mister
AR dela Serna (real name: Alberto Rodolfu), the son of Alberto and former Poblacion 2 barangay captain Glorivic, was a runner-up in the Mister of Pilipinas (MP) 2015.  MP is responsible for selecting the country’s representative for four international male beauty contests--Mister International, Mr. Tourism International, Mister Model International and Mister Globe.

He said his modeling and acting workshops helped him become more conscious, confident and disciplined-traits he believes can help him in the competition.

He already joined other male beauty pageant in previous years. He won the title Mr Generation East 2013  of  Sta. Lucia Generation East Model Search. He was also declared first runner-up in Mr Philippine Youth in 2002 but he replaced the dethroned Mr. Philippine Youth 2012 Leo Angeles Flores of Parañaque in Nov. 2012.

Prayers and hardwork paved the way for three Boholano nursing graduates to land in the 10 topnotchers of the May 2015 nursing licensure examination. Thus, a good year for Bohol's nursing schools.

Euben Hope Olaso Gamutan, Krissa Mae Duco Lapiz and Christine Joy Camilotes Roferos went to different schools, prayed in different churches and reviewed in different styles but there’s one common denominator---topnotchers! Gamutan finished fifth place with a rating of 85 percent, Lapiz was ranked sixth place with a rating of 84.8 percent and Roferos landed on the eighth spot with a rating of 84.4 percent.

They shared only one secret in preparing for the board exam.  Prayer.

“Prayer. That is my best secret. I prayed for wisdom and for strength that I can endure all the sleepless nights,” Gamutan told VRS. “Of course, I also had to do my part in studying. I usually isolate myself when studying because that is where I can concentrate the most.”

“Prayer. I prayed a lot. When I had time I went to the Sto. Niño and I prayed not just to top but to pass including my classmates as well,” Roferos said.

Gamutan, Lapiz and Roferos were among the 9,707 aspirants who passed the May examination out of a total of 17,896 examinees, according to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Heroes of the Year
This year there were no shortages of heroes.

Poet and community organizer Nestor Pestelos was Rappler’s The Enterprise Mover awardee.

As president of the Bohol Local Development Foundation, he launched the Bohol Quake Assistance Fund Drive to help families who were homeless by the strong earthquake. "This award will inspire our young volunteers and fieldworkers to work harder to expand our current work," he told Rappler after accepting the award on Sept 26 at the World Resorts Manila. The Move Awards is Rappler’s first effort to celebrate those who actively campaign and move for social change.

Friends Michael Horcasitas, Alejandro Bonita and Fulgencio Esterado turned-over to police officers P138,000 cash they found inside a belt bag that fell from a car in Panglao town.

The three chased after the car to warn the driver but the vehicle sped off. Instead of splitting the money among themselves, the three went to the police to track down the owner and return the money.

Not one of them was tempted to keep the money even if only Esterado had a regular job which barely paid him P10,000 a month.

Esterado works as a merchandiser at the City Hardware in Tagbilaran. His wife, Isabel, 39, is a housewife. They have two children- Issagene, 11 and Ian Jay, 4.

Horcasitas and Bonita don't have regular jobs.

Esterado said, “Returning the money is the right thing to do because we didn’t earn that money.”

The honesty shown by the three came a month after a tricycle driver returned an envelope containing P88,135 left by a female passenger in Tagbilaran City.

Reynaldo Ingking, 45, turned over the envelope to radio station dyRD which started looking for the owner.
A tearful woman went to the station and profusely thanked Ingking who was later cited by the city government for his honesty.

They taught us a lesson, didn’t they? That money didn’t matter.

In a year with so much darkness comes a beautiful lesson from all of these heroes on how to view the world.

Pia ‘confidently beautiful amid chaos’, say Boholano fans

Boholano supporters who travelled miles away from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to support Philippines’ Miss Universe bet Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who was crowned Miss Universe 2015 held on Dec. 20 (Monday, Manila Time), was worth watching.

“42 years is a very long time waiting for the crown. This is our time to win the Miss Universe again,” said US-based Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal, who along with his friends , including Boholano Andy Doria, watched the pageant at The Axis in Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Boholano fans who were watching the Miss Universe 2015 at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, say Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (shown in Bohol for a glorious summer shoot and a much-needed break in April 2015) deserves to win the title. 
Contributed Photos/Mikey Gatal & Philippine Daily Inquirer  
Gatal and Doria were in the same group when they watched the Miss Universe in 2006.

“Her presence is strong. We are captivated by Pia,” he said.

Wurtzbach, according to Gatal, said she felt she never left home and she felt the love of her kababayans.

For Digal, “Wurtzbach is a complete package: Beauty, grace and brains.”

However, before Wurtzbach was announced winner, the crown went to Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo by mistake when host Steve Harvey read the wrong card.

“My first reaction was so mad. I even cried, and everybody was shocked,” he said.

He said Miss Colombia was not deserving since Wurtzbach aced her Question and Answer.

“I said some words that Miss Colombia is not deserving of the title and the crowd agreed to me then all of a sudden Steve Harvey calmed down the people after two minutes because he realized he made a mistake then the thought I had that he would day that came true and everyone was stunned,” he said.

“Gubot (Chaotic)” was how Gatal described this year’s pageant. He said previous Miss Universe pageants he had watched were “smooth” and “organized.”

He said that it was the moment when both countries were victims of a pageant blunder.

“What happened to Miss Colombia was very painful. To have the crown on your head and to have taken away from you for seconds,” said Gatal. “The moment of ecstasy turned to sour and because they one of the biggest supporters during the entire pageant, it can’t be denied that literally they hate each other now,” he added.

At the lobby and inside the stage area, Gatal said there was “so much drama” as  Colombia and Philippine supporters had chanting bout before and after the pageant.

 “Even the crowd and all the candidates were focusing now to Colombia not to Pia. It’s so sad, the moment of happiness for Colombia and Pia were taken away from them,” he said.

Earlier, Gatal had predicted that Wurtzbach would win the crown for “I believe this is Pia’s time. She is very fierce, very lovable and most of all, she is very intelligent as well.”

For Andy Doria, he admired Wurtzbach’s humility. He said that Wurtzbach had no hint of arrogance when she was crowned by Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega from Colombia.

“She looked happy yet sad for Miss Colombia,” he said.

Wurtzbach was the third Filipina beauty queen to win the crown after Gloria Diaz won it in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.

During the Question and Answer portion, the top three contestants were asked, "Why should you be the next Miss Universe?”

Wurtzbach answered, "To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I will raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country, Philippines. I want to show the world-the Universe, rather-that I am confident and beautiful from the heart."

Miss Universe Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo was named first runner-up and Miss Universe USA Olivia Jordon was named second runner-up.

Wurtzbach visited Bohol during the pictorial of the Bb. Pilipinas. She was seen at the Punta Cruz, Baclayon Church and the Chocolate Hills in Carmen.

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

Sunday, December 20, 2015

My 'recycled' Christmas list; Why Mikey and friends in America won’t be home for Christmas

Seen: Spotted in Bohol was Dawson's Creek star Joshua Jackson. He was in Bohol on Thursday  as part of his 21-day adventure to travel the world for “Years of Living Dangerously,”  a National Geographic documentary series on climate change which will start airing its second season in 2016. The actor seemed to have a good time during his stay on one of his social media posts while in Bohol.  Jackson is best known to his fans for his roles as Pacey Witter of Dawson's Creek and Charlie Conway of The Mighty Ducks.

OMG Outreach in Pilar, Bohol
Scene:  Former city councilor Anne Mariquit Derikito-Oppus was the guest of honor during the launching of "We connect and your voice counts" project at Bohol Police Provincial Office. She said, "It's not late to change our society. Our duty is to serve and protect the people no matter what."

Scene: At least 145 pupils of Bagacay Elem. School in Pilar town were recipients of early Christmas gifts (school supplies and apples) from Mikey Gatal and OMG Friends in America--Atty. Sandy Roxas and Blaine and Malou Points of Seattle, Washington.

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Let your heart be light
From now on,
our troubles will be out of sight

Have yourself a merry little Christmas,
Make the Yule-tide gay,
From now on,
our troubles will be miles away.

Here we are as in olden days,
Happy golden days of yore.
Faithful friends who are dear to us
Gather near to us once more.

Through the years
We all will be together,
If the fates allow
Hang a shining star upon the highest bough..
And have yourself A merry little Christmas now. 
Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
A big break for Gian Ale. Contributed Photo

It’s five days before Christmas. Have yourself a “Merry Little Christmas”! This heart warming Christmas song, one of my favorites because of its ever-timely message, was immortalised by Judy Garland when she sang this song to Margaret O'Brien and brought tears to the eyes of the audience. The lyricist was Ralph Blane and the haunting music was composed by Hugh Martin. (FYI: Sam Smith has an amazing cover of this song).

Here’s my own list of "recycled" gifts to my favorite Boholanos.

For  Gian Luigi Ale— To perform on  The Ellen Degeneres Show. Why not? After all, Gian’s version of Thinking Out Loud has gathered 10 million viewers on Youtube. Paging, Ellen!

For Imaculada Cleofe Leopardas —Another beauty pageants to join to prove that Bohol is a land of charm and beauty.  Same for Candy Cumayas.

For Benjie Oliva and Atty. Joan Jagonos-Oliva —Another “joint venture.” The night is getting colder! He He He Same for  Rebecca Lusterio and Thomas Mejiso, David Maulas and Jenissa Laguda Peteros, Abdul Wallace and Chandrina Elluiska Schreurs-Wallace, and Doxson Asoy and Karen Digal.

For Dame Rose Soy —Good health for Bohol's Queen of Tourism.

For Elvie Bongosia and Erol Macalandag—  Wedding bells! Wedding bells!

For Rep. Aris Aumentado— He can maintain his level of good governance amidst rampant corruption. And that he will continue his high standard of ethics. Same for our leaders as I look forward to seeing their enthusiasm, creativity and critical thinking skills translated into endeavours that will help the people and the entire Bohol.

For Tessie Labunog-Sumampong — Laurels! (Figure that out.)

For EJ Relampagos— Another European trip to broaden his travel experience!

For Van Delima— A hot girlfriend!

For Dr. April Lumuthang-Froiland and Arch. Junibe Froilan- A long-delayed stork’s visit.  Same for  Eden Descallar–Ceballos and Mikel Ceballos.

Beauty and brawn Neil Namuag can flaunt.
 Contributed Photo
For Zenaida Darunday, Pat Ruiz,  Marianito Luspo, Atty. Kins Aparece, Salvio Makinano, Judge Raul Barbarona, Rosalinda Paredes, Mightee Palo, Alvin Acuzar, Dorris Dinorog-Obena, Liza Macalandag,  Isidore Ancog, Ellen Gallares, Lester Ouano and Vera Gesite —  Strength and guidance to  continue their advocacies!

For Rep. Art Yap — His good-old fashioned desire to serve the people will triple.  

For  Kimpoy Mainit, Humfrey Nicasio and Hannah Precillas— A concert and a big break to showcase their singing prowess!

For Baby Tagoctoc—Good things in life for Bohol’s most influential and powerful bading. She has been working hard to beautify Bohol with her magic touch!

For Alexis Calipusan — A duet with her favorite singer Justin Bieber.

For Queenie Melody Fullante- A hot boyfriend! It’s about time to love someone.

For Loboc Children’s Choir, Alicia Bamboo Ensemble, Dimiao Children’s Rondalla, Loboc Youth Ambassador, Katipunan Elem. School Rondalla, HNU Diwanag Dance Troupe and Bohol Master Singers — Performances abroad to show to the world what hidden talents we have.

For Dalareich Polot —A boyfriend. Hopefully, she will meet her ideal man in the land of milk and honey.

For Peddy Bolanio and Glee Orcullo — An hour of Showbiz Rampa with more “daring,” “talkative," and “controversial” guests.  Same for  Inday Charity of dyTR’s Showbiz Chikka.

For Atty. Victor dela Serna, Nestor Daarol, Felix Cempron and Allan Mangmang —A silencer that will prevent them from flaunting on radio to throw “feisty” words. They can do it after Christmas. Peace! Love!  He He He

For Inday Rufing — Another program to tickle funny bones.

For Rich Asuncion and beau— Marriage contract (indefinite)!

For  Fred Araneta, Chito Visarra and Gerry Pabe (dyrd’s Inyong Alagad) — More  interesting, more explosive news and more  “controversial” guests in 2016.  Same for Atty. Salva Diputado, Lito Responte and Edgar Tumanda of dyTR’s Cuentas Claras and Bohol’s Queen of All Media Ardy Ines Araneta.

For  Shanon Pamaong , Maximiel Tallo, Omie Auza, Jong Magallano, Omie Auza, Henry Baron, Rhigel Dulfo and Tracy Remolador Torres— Another fashion shows to display their artistic collections!

For AR dela Serna— More male pageants to showcase what Boholano men can flaunt! Same for  Neil Namuag and Danilo Torcende

For Ryan Sines, Ramil Dolauta, Donna Vitos, EP Relampagos, Jonathan Ocat, Rholly Ingking, et al — Colorful love life!  And dreams of our moments together, color my world with hope of loving you!

For Alfeo Jabinez and Amy Fiel Booc — A chain to bind them and lock their hearts forever and ever. Amen! 

For Mila Lim — Good health to continue making her home the “Most Christmassy House” in Bohol.

For RC— A chastity belt! Cuidao! He He He  Same for “Ms T” who said she many lonely nights. He! He! He!

For those who are running in 2016 elections (you know who you are), a big goodluck!

VRS is wishing you a bountiful Christmas. May all your hopes and wishes be fulfilled to the utmost.

Why Mikey and friends in America won’t be home for Christmas

My whirlwind visit in L.A. last month for a 10-day vacation was a reunion. It was seeing and visiting old friends.

It was US-based Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal who fetched me at the Los Angeles International Airport.

So many reasons to love L.A., the weather, Hollywood, foods and good friends.

“English please,” I told Mikey. “And no Filipino food.” And he laughed.  

From the airport, Mikey brought me to a cozy Chinese restaurant to have lunch with the Galaura family- Lorenzo, Richel and Loraine-who were so thoughtful and kind. Over wontons and dumplings, my cousin Alot Bagotchay with another friend celebrity make-up artist Roy Tambong arrived to greet me.

After lunch, we went to visit Hollywood and Highland Center for coffee.  I told myself, “It‘s nice to see you again, Hollywood!” I enjoyed walking down the iconic Hollywood Walk of Fame looking at the different names of celebrities.

For millions of visitors, Hollywood is an essential part of the Los Angeles experience. Things to do in Hollywood include must-see shows and attractions, celebrity-frequented restaurants and world class hotels.

One can experience Tinseltown glamour at TCL Chinese Theatre or the Hollywood Walk of Fame, which has honored celebrities for over 50 years.  There is the state-of-the-art Dolby Theatre (formerly the Kodak Theater) is home to the Academy Awards.  The Universal Studios- Hollywood is a world famous theme park that includes the mind-blowing “Transformers: The Ride 3-D.

Mikey’s slim physique is getting lots of attention when he is attending fiestas and events in the Filipino community. He insisted that he follows a grain-free diet (only apples and little cereals). And he has a glowing pinky face. His secret? He admitted he is using “Beauche” beauty soap by former Carmen Mayor Che Toribio-delos Reyes.  “Only Beauche touches my skin,” said Mikey, “You can see the results in just few days- whiter and younger beautiful skin!”

In the States, it’s bonding with friends over food.  Babat Bagotchay brought me to Pink’s Hot Dogs, a land mark hot dog restaurant in Los Angeles, while Andy Digal Doria brought me to BCD Tofu House.  A fashionista, Andy is famous for his sexy facial hair.  

Alaska is a breathtaking state to visit. Your VRS had
 a “selfie” at Chugach State Park to feel the cold!
After four days in California, I went to Alaska to see Aunt Flor and Uncle Ray Weaver. It was Aunt Flor who convinced me to “come to Alaska in the winter.”

No question: winter in Alaska is colder and darker than summer. But that doesn’t mean the state shuts down—at all.  Uncle Ray told me that what sets Alaska apart from the rest of the world is the length of the winter. If they would use the first snow as the benchmark, winter arrives in September and stays around until April.

In Alaska, there’s no time to hibernate. I took advantage of what makes Alaska special: the northern lights, plenty of snow (Snowflakes! Snowflakes!), wildlife (eagles and moose), salmon and cozy urban amenities. 

It was in Alaska when we celebrated Thanksgiving Day in advance (two days ahead before the last Thursday in November).  Thanksgiving is a very important holiday, especially in the busy lives of Americans. Theygather to thank and bond over food and family.

I asked Mikey and friends if they were going home for Christmas but they said they were busy. Incidentally, Mikey and Andy will be watching the 64th Miss U pageant on Dec. 20 (Dec. 21 in Manila) at The AXIS in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Alot and Babat will come home in Jan. 2016.

Mikey and Babat wanted me to stay longer for Christmas. I begged off.

Again, so much to see, so little time!  


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

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Christmas Village illuminates Mila Lim’s home

Scene: The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG)distributed  47 brand new patrol jeeps to 47 police stations here last Monday. local government units (LGUs) were grateful for the new patrol jeeps which will improve the crime fighting and disaster response capability of their police forces. For Police Inspector Sam Dacullo, chief of Inabanga Police station, the new patrol jeep is necessary for their operations.

Chief of Loboc police station Inspector
 Joseph Lopena (right) with Loboc Mayor Helen Alaba 
(center) during the turned-over of the 47 n
ew patrol jeeps from the DILG. 
Photo by Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
Scene: Police Inspector Joseph Lopena, chief of Loboc police station, will urge authorities to put warning signages and designated photo-stops at the famous man-made forest in this province after a tourist met an accident while taking a “selfie” along the highway. Lopena said that he will suggest the idea to the   municipal peace and order council meeting by the end of this month.

Scene: A paper bag left unattended at Carmen Public Market caused a scare on Friday night. The bomb scare turned out to be a false alarm. The EOD said the bag did not contain an explosive device but two broken cellphones wrapped with electrical tape and tiny wires.  Police said they will review the closed circuit television footage to determine if the case was intentionally or accidentally left at the area.

Wishes will come true for fans of Christmas upon visiting the “Most Christmassy House” of Hermila “Mila” Lim on M. Torralba Street, Tagbilaran City. Her house features a miniature Christmas village and adorns with many Christmas decorations.

Mila started her Christmas Village in 2008. Her creation was so highly appreciated by her family and friends who would come to enjoy the wonderful Christmas display.
Hermila “Mila” Lim has the “Most Christmassy House” in Bohol. 
Photo by Leo Udtohan/ Chronicle

 “This is my hobby and this gives me enjoyment during Christmas time,” says Mila.

Upon entering, a visitor immediately hears the song, “Deck the Halls,” and sees a garden decorated with small snowman figures.

The Christmas village at the main entrance has at least 60 houses and colorful mini-shops. It is filled with trees of green and gold,  miniature skiers up and down the slopes, carnival rides, dancers twirling to a waltz inside a gazebo, skaters in the park, Santa Claus dancing and flying on sleighs, and a Christmas train running in circles.

Christmas Village illuminates the house of Hermila “Mila” Lim 
with magnificent displays and holiday lights every 
year from September  through January.  
Photos by Leo Udtohan/ Chronicle
She has also collected at least 120 Santa-themed items in different sizes and configurations.   Fascinated by St. Nicolas since childhood, Mila  has adorned her house with Santa Claus images of different shades and shapes collected for the past 15 years—at the doorsteps and all over inside the place. These include a drunk Santa, a photographer Santa, a Santa Claus band, Santa in a parachute, playing the violin, singing and dancing Santas with reindeer and even a Tarzan Santa.

Mila has extends her Christmas decorations throughout the house and ornaments her kitchen and dining room for Christmas as well.

The sala is turned into a dazzling winter wonderland set aglow with Christmas lights and decorations.  The fireplace area is a unique setting of a cottage modeled after Santa’s village at the North Pole. The Lim’s grandfather’s clock also reminds visitors that Christmas is only few days.

Even the kitchen is very Christmassy,  too.  Spatulas, muffin tins, dishtowels, and more – Mila incorporates them for a unique look this season. Drinking glasses and place mats bear the Christmas motif, acquired during Mila’s travels with her husband Teofilo to Israel, Australia, Hong Kong and China.

This year, four items were added to the Christmas village. She has introduced many renovations but the family tradition and holiday celebration remains unchanged.

Tubigon lights up, ignites for Christmas

More than 2,000 people turned out to see the big switch-on on Friday night at Tubigon’s Christmas lights at the town plaza, one of the brightest in Bohol as the enormous Christmas lights display attracts visitors from neighboring towns.

Every December, the Tubigon Plaza becomes 
one of the brightest in Bohol province as an enormous 
Christmas lights display attracts visitors from neighboring towns. 
 Photo by Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
It will be illuminated for at least 8 hours a night until January , according to James  “Jingle” Tripoli of the office of Mayor Marlon Amila.

The display has 30,000 light bulbs, twinkling icicles, life-size stables with nativity figures which were made from indigenous and recycled materials.

James Lofranco said: “We started decorating the plaza during the administration of Mayor Marlon Amila, and each year it's got bigger and bigger.”

“The switch-on is a lot of work but it's also really exciting. All our friends and family come along to help and the whole community turns out to see the lights go on,” he said.

Meanwhile, the town plaza of Calape is also truly a visual in the eyes as it is decked with numerous Christmas lights and symbols.  


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

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Absolutely adorable Christmas decors

Seen: Oliver Glovasa, election officer of Dauis, was chosen as “The Significant Ten” of the Commission on Elections (Comelec) “for demonstrating excellent and dedicated services to the Commission while exhibiting positive and supportive attitude towards peers and co-workers, thereby serving as a role model for every one.”

Police officer Melinda Mendez-Basalo 
with actress Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan 
at the Tagbilaran Airport.
Seen: Spotted in Bohol last week was actress Maricel Laxa-Pangilinan. According to VRS, Maricel was with her family. They were staying at the Be Grand Resorts in Panglao.

19 days before Christmas, some places in Bohol were transformed into unique centerpieces for the holidays.

Don’t waste those plastic bottles just yet. Hundreds of 1.5 liter plastic bottles have been transformed into a Christmas tree at Birhen sa Barangay Parish Shrine or Cogon Shrine in Tagbilaran City. It's hoped the spectacle will encourage the public to think about how to reuse and recycle at an often wasteful time of year.

The bottoms of the bottles were turned into snowflakes, while the remaining parts were hanged as leaves. The top of the tree was comprised of caps which turned into a giant star.

It’s beautiful at night when it’s lit from the inside and the green color of the bottles sparkles.

“Their Christmas tree is a creative and innovative ways of recycling,” said Glendon Villagonzalo of Cogon High School.

Not only it will bring the holiday spirit into the community, it also helps the environment.

At the Tagbilaran City Hall Compound, 2,000 LED bulbs brought life to 11-meter (36-feet) Christmas tree at the compound, keeping a tradition of spreading holiday cheer to thousands of Tagbilaranons.

The city hall added a new attraction this year- the “Disney in the City” theme.  

Residents in Tagbilaran City have reasons to celebrate 
Christmas with the Christmas decor  at the City Hall Compound.
 –Leo Udtohan/BC
Kids and adults alike are free to interact with the display, which featured the Disney characters and popular film icons like Peter Pan, Tinkerbell, Sofia the First, Maleficent, Kung Fu Panda, Monster Inc, Big Hero, Cars, Toy Story, Frozen, Aladdin and The Minions.

“I like the place because of the Disney characters,” said Jerwin Jala, 9. He came with his friends Winzel  Olorvida, 8; Lawrence Castillon; 9 and Glendon Villagonzalo, 14.

In Sierra-Bullones town, the 25-feet Santa Claus is an attraction for the town fiesta on Dec. 8. Touted as the tallest in the province or probably in the country, their Santa Claus is a white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots.   

“You’re (a) dwarf at our giant Santa Claus,” said Gerry Cagas.

Another giant Santa Claus, which is moving ‘ya round’, also attracts mall goers at the Island City Mall.

In Carmen town, a giant Christmas tree accentuated with small parols is also an attraction at the town plaza. Red parols also attract people in baragay Mawid in Duero town.

Christmas tree made from recycled plastic 
bottles at the Cogon Shrine in Tagbilaran City, 
the tallest Santa Claus in Sierra-Bullones 
and another giant Santa Claus at Island City Mall
 spread Holiday cheers.
 –Leo UdtohanBC
Meanwhile, Tubigon has a special Christmas program and the lights-on ceremony of their Plaza Lights on Dec. 11. It will feature nativity scenes and parols.

Images of Korea

Korea never fails to fascinate me. Whether you are for a long or short visit or even for a transit tour (there is a free Korean transit tour for those with long layover at the Incheon Airport), you have the time to explore the sights, sounds and smells of Korea.

I was able to re-visit the place last week. My first visit in Korea was in 2006 for a youth exchange program sponsored by the Korean government. My second visit was in 2013 although it was a very short one.

Here are the “must-see’s” while in Seoul, South Korea:

Gyeongbokgung is a royal palace built in the Joseon Dynasty.  It is the largest of the five grand palaces and served as the main palace of the Joseon Dynasty.

Insa-dong is famous as the most traditional street, lined with a large number of antique shops and folk art galleries.

Cheonggyecheon is an 11 km long modern stream that runs through downtown Seoul. The stream starts from Cheonggye Plaza, a popular cultural arts venue with many attractions along its length.

Dohuobu was a government office building in the Joseon Dynasty, and you can see Korean traditional and architecture and lifestyle in the past.

Korea is a land of history and tradition, a land of brilliant and splendid culture of 5,000 years.
Yonggungsa temple is located near the Incheon airport It is a place to experience Korean Buddhist vulture and beautiful nature. It is founded in 670 during the reign of King Munmu of the Silla dynasty. The temple is famous for its 1,300 years old zelkova tree, tablet in Yosachae written by Heungseon Daewongun.

Visitors can see the co-existence of the past and present. For me, Korea is a place where the present cherishes its past while it looks to the future.

Of course, I didn’t leave Korea without bibimbap, bulgogi and kimchi! I also took home some roasted seaweeds (laver). I missed the visit to the famous MBC’s Dramia where explosively popular MBC K-dramas- The Moon Embracing the Sun, Jumong, Queen Seon Deok and Dong Yi were filmed here. Maybe next time.

Hahay....So much to see, so little time!

From the window of the plane going to Los Angeles, I took a fleeting glimpse of the Palace. It seemed to bid me goodbye, inviting me to visit again — you know, Kimchi and An nyeong ha sae yo!


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