Sunday, December 25, 2016

Christmas, the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

He who has not Christmas in his heart will never find it under a tree. ~Roy L. Smith

Christmas is undoubtedly the most wonderful time of the year. Personally, Christmas season is always my favorite time because of the festive Christmas decorations and songs, the nippy weather and the happy smiles of the people.

I asked some personalities to share their most memorable Christmas and how they intend to celebrate the holidays this year. Some of our Boholano friends asked simply ignored the questions. Here are those who shared their seasonal thoughts:

The Christmassy house of the Paredes
 family in Dauis town in memory 
of Roochie.  Contributed Photo/Rosalinda Paredes
Rosalinda Paredes— Christmas of 1981 was most memorable to me though a bit sad. It was the last Christmas of my three-year old daughter, Roochie, who was then fighting for her life due to cancer of the brain. For the first time, Rene and I pooled meager resources and invested in Christmas lights so we can give Roochie a colorful and starry Christmas every kid desires. Roochie died June the following year. But, we still keep her memory by making sure we enliven our house during Christmas time with multi-colored lights and glittering lanterns so every child and those adults who remain kids-at-heart will enjoy the happy spirit of season. Merry Christmas!

Queenie Melody Fullante— For me, every year is memorable because though our family celebrate it in the same ways every year, the joy that I feel always increases knowing that we get another year to celebrate it together.

Vera Villocido-Gesite— When my two children were in the elementary grades and I was a high school teacher, we had the same Christmas break. I loved that we were able to do things together and go to places together during the holidays. My favorite was taking long drives with them to Southern California and singing along the way or watch cartoons. And then go to the happiest place on earth - Disneyland. It simply was joy to enjoy the rides and see the sights in the eyes of my children. And, especially because at that time, they also enjoyed and loved my company.

ChitoVisarra— As you start to feel the aches of age, holidays are more of reminiscing and the joy of seeing the young ones revel in the things you enjoyed years back.

Idy Caseñas Cagas —Every Christmas spent at home is always memorable for me. This time of the year, I always look forward to being able to celebrate with them. After my first Christmas away from home few years ago, I had a whole new appreciation of being able to spend Christmas with them. It made me cherish every memory. Treasuring every moment with them and spending time with them are the most precious ones. This year, I will have to miss Christmas with my family because of work, but it will still be a memorable one, it will still be a merry Christmas as my partner and I will get to spend our first Christnas together.

For Vera Villocido-Gesite, her most 
memorable Christmas was bringing 
her children to Disneyland. 
Contributed Photo/Pinay Adiong
Anna Maris Igpit-Taylor—My most memorable Christmas would be 2013 after the earthquake and typhoon Yolanda that affected thousands of Filipinos. It was the most humbling event in my life and I saw right before my eyes the true meaning of Christmas. It's not about the presence of gifts and food but it's about being giving joy and love to other people in whatever forms. I believe it will always be my most memorable Christmas, an event I can't wait to share with my kids and grandchildren in the future.

Adelyn  Joy Esclamado—Christmas season is the season of giving, I intend to give  simple gifts to children at our place and spread love and happiness. I want to be an advocate of positivity for the year to come. Christmas will be merrier with the persons I love, and in connection to that, I will spend my Christmas day with my family who are always there with me through the years.  I want to give back to them the happiness they gave me.

Eden Descallar- Ceballos— Nothing beats the feeling of spending it with your loved ones, our family. And sharing our blessings to the people who are with us this year.

Mikey Gatal—Though many sad things happened in my life this year, I will still celebrate Christmas for it's the of the year to be forgiving, sharing, happy and thankful to God for all the blessings He has given me. Nothing special but all I can say is, love is still in the air.

Butch Bernas— I will clean my room; attend 9 novena and misa de gallo. Oops, I will attend parties, reunions with family.

Leah Tirol-Magno—Baking and decorating more cakes!

Benjie Oliva—We will celebrate the holidays this year with the family in prayer and thanksgiving to the Father Almighty for the bountiful blessings that He has given us for 2016. My family and in-laws are all in Bohol for the celebration. We will take this opportunity also to spend the holidays with relatives and friends in Catigbian, Tagbilaran City and Panglao.

Benjie Oliva and his family will spend Christmas in Bohol. 
Contributed Photo/Oliva Family
Fiel Angeli  Araoarao-Gabin—Christmas this year is simpler than the past years, but most  importantly, it will be spent with family, with prayers for thanksgiving.

Clement Ingking—Christmas season is always my favorite time. It’s the time of the year when every one seems to be more giving, happier and more forgiving in remembering and celebrating the birth of our dear saviour, Lord Jesus Christ. Personally, I believe the best Christmas for me is now because I know I am able to breeze through the stormy phase in my life and found the peace and true happiness that I have long been praying for.

Glorivic Yap-de la Serna—I will spend my Christmas with my family. I am thankful for all the blessings and the tests which strengthen our bonds.

Van Delima— I intend to celebrate Christmas with my family. I want to make most of the time as we gather entirely in this joyous occasion

Imaculada Cleofe Leopardas—Well this year, my holiday would be the start of something new, something I cannot live without. I would celebrate this year's holidays by spreading the seeds of love everyday. I'll surely have a time with my family and I'd connect with my loved ones and remind them about how thankful I am to have them in my life. I'll send personal messages to the people I'll treasure forever and I'll be a lot jollier this Christmas. I'd probably make my heart happy by doing good deeds and sharing my blessings to those who are in need. I'd continue to be true to myself and live the real spirit of Christmas.

AR de la Serna- I will spend Christmas with my family. This year, I have received a lot of blessings. Dreams do really come true.


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Sunday, December 18, 2016

My own 'recycled' Christmas list

O holy night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of our dear Saviour's birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining,
Till He appear'd and the soul felt its worth.
A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, O night when Christ was born;
O night divine, O night, O night Divine.

O Holy Night is one of my few favorite Christmas songs because of its ever-timely message. It is one of the oldest Christmas carols, originally penned by French songwriter Adolphe Adam in 1847, based on a French poem. The song has since been altered, and today's best known version was written by Minister John Sullivan Dwight.

Many singers in the world have full of huge vocal swells and big musical moments and every rendition of the song is special. Josh Groban, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, The Lettermen, Donna Summer and Andy Williams have truly iconic performances of O Holy Night. However, Mariah Carey’s rendition of the song is quintessential and non-debatable, according to me. No one can deny that her rafters-high range and incredible momentum of her version is impressive and entirely infectious.  I also like Mahalia Jackson’s version. The Queen of Gospel is not just singing, she is also preaching.

Since it we are celebrating Christmas, here’s my own list of "recycled" gifts to my favorite Boholanos.

Boholano Catholics attend the first Misa de Gallo
to show their devotion and faith to the Holy Child. 
\Tagbilaran Bishop Leonardo Medroso officiates 
the first Holy Mass at 4:30 a.m. last Friday at the
 St. Joseph the Worker Cathedral.- Leo Udtohan
For Niña Vivoree Matutes Esclito—  A showbiz break. Same for Fenech Aimee Veloso.

For PO3 Janew Villame— An album to showcase his singing prowess. The grandson of Yoyoy Villame, has composed the “Oplan Tokhang” theme song.

For Bebei Tagoctoc — The "Mother of All Hair and Make-up Artists in Bohol," deserves a vacation.  He can visit Thailand, Cambodia and Europe.

For Ingemar Macarine — More swims here and abroad to promote clean marine environment. I hope the Pinoy Aquaman can conquer (finally!) the English Channel.

For Dame Rose Soy —Eternal youth for Bohol's Queen of Tourism.

For Zenaida Darunday— A clean bill of health for Bohol's environmental advocate. Same for Pat Ruiz.

For Peddy Bolanio and Glee Orcullo — An explosive Showbiz Rampa in 2017. They can invite “interesting,” “daring,” “talkative," and “controversial” local guests to spice up the program.  Speaking of Glee, I hope she will continue to write love songs to describe her aching heart... and the release of her new album with Feby Ingking will showcase her singing prowess.

For Glorivic Yap-De La Serna— Another European trip to broaden her travel experience! Same for JP Maslog, Vanessa Cubrado Unajan and Alfeo Jabinez.

For Gov. Edgar Chatto — His “Heat-Bohol” will continue to serve the purpose for the people of Bohol.  Same for Mayor Baba Yap.

For Inday Rufing— A busy, busy career.  Same for Loboc councilor and businesswoman Tessie Labunog-Sumampong, Edik Dolotina, Clement Ingking, Emerson Pinos, Alexis Cadelina, Linda Paredes and Vera Gesite. 

For Mila Lim — More Christmas stuffs to fill her “Most Christmassy House” in Bohol.

For Miss Bohol 2016 and Miss JCI-Philippines 2016 Glyssa Perez—Another beauty pageants to prove that a probisyana charm and beauty can capture the country! Same for Petche Ann Vale, Miss UB Personality 2016 Adelyn Joy Sajol Esclamado and Imaculada Cleofe Leopardas.

For AR De La Serna— A promising career in the field of modeling. After all, the country’s first Mister Supranational did prove to the world that Boholano men can flaunt!  Same for Carlo Roy Roslinda.

For Aster Caberte — The empowered woman of DTI-Central Visayas deserves a long vacation in Europe! Same for Jerome and Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin (topping her bucketlist).

For Ferome Almine— A busy, busy year of hosting.

For Mikey Gatal — A holiday with his special someone.

For Butch Bernas —Unwavering dedication for preservation of cultural heritage. Same for Edison Gumapac and Jeycelle Espejo-Inting.

For Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado — He will continue to pursue vigorously his support for the marginalized. Boy Pernia adds, “He has spent so much time and personal resources to help his constituents. He is the odd man out in traditional politics. A man with a good heart.”

For Anna Maris Igpit and Thomas Taylor — A long-delayed stork’s visit.  Same for Dr. April Lumuthang-Froilan and Arch. Junibe Froilan, Eden Descallar–Ceballos and Mikel Ceballos, Rebecca Lusterio and Thomas Mejiso and Analyn and Mark Arbilo.

For Rex Alba- Another challenging role in movies after his cameo role in the action-thriller I Am Wrath with John Travolta.

For  Fred Araneta, Chito Visarra— More  interesting, more explosive segments of Inyong Alagad with interesting and “controversial” guests. Same for Atty. Salva Diputado, Lito Responte, Ted Ayeng, Edgar Tumanda, Allan Mangmang, Nestor Daarol, Doc Louie, Anthony Aniscal, Allen Doydora, Rey Tutas, Willy Maestrado, Dave Responte, Ern Pahayahay, Gerry Pabe and Jun Gutierrez.

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

For Leah Tirol-Magno — More baking sessions and long vacation!

For Apple Liao— A healthy, beautiful baby!

For Nathalim Nalupa— Enjoying the joys of motherhood for the first time. 

For Ryan Sines, Donna Vitos, EP Relampagos, Ramil Dolauta, Rholly Ingking, Jonathan Ocat,  et al — A “hairy” year to beautify Bohol!  Oops, para sa ekonomiya!

For Van Delima— A hot, seductive girlfriend! Same for Atty. Julius Gregory Delgado and Dominic Aparicio.

For Queenie Melody Fullante— A boyfriend! It’s about time to love someone after a busy career.

For Center Stage Band—  More music and a new album. Paging, Ariel Fullido!

For  Shanon Pamaong , Maximiel Tallo, EJ Relampagos, Mikee Andrei, Omie Auza, Jong Magallano, Omie Auza, Henry Baron, Rhigel Dulfo, Bebei Tagoctoc and Tracy Remolador Torres— They can establish a school of fashion to train young designers. And they can start the New Year with fashion shows to display their artistic collections and hopefully, the first-ever Saulog Tagbilaran fashion week.

For Gian Luigi Ale— A concert and a big break to showcase his singing prowess! Same for Kimpoy Mainit, Humfrey Nicasio and Hannah Precillas!

For Ardy Batoy — A round-trip ticket to Maldives where the Bohol’s Queen of All Media can enjoy the world.  Same for Bohol’s seasoned host and Roving Eye Raul Gatal.

For Dalareich Polot— A boyfriend who is worth more than a “ginto.” She’s been working soooo hard that she forgets her lovelife. It’s time to find someone special.

For Elvie Bongosia and Erol Macalandag—  Wedding bells! Wedding bells! We are tired of waiting naHe!He!He! Same for Rich Asuncion.

For Mizken Tirol-Andan— Another endorsement and a hot partner to color the new year.

For Lailette Boiser and TinTin Ng — More challenging roles in teleseryes and movies to showcase their natural acting.

For Nestor Pestelos, Direk Maryo delos Reyes, Lutgardo Labad and Marianito Luspo— A busy, busy good year to share their talents. Same for John Torralba, Joey Labrador, Glenn Lumantao, Sam Penaso and Ralph Maligro. 

For RC, AD and RO— A chastity belt! Same for “T”  “J” and “F” who have lonely nights. Behave, Behave! He! He! He!


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Sunday, December 11, 2016

Bohol’s bursting with twinkling displays; PH’s tallest Santa Claus found in Bohol

Bohol’s bursting with twinkling displays
(PH’s tallest Santa Claus found in Bohol)


Scene: The Philippine bet to the first Mister Supranational AR de la Serna became one of the Top 20 finalists.  Diego Garcy of Mexico was named Mister Supranational. AR’s mom, Glorivic, was in Poland to support his journey. “You did your best AR.. .So proud of you tonight...Better things to come..Other doors will open for what's best for you.. Keep your head up..Love you lots,” she posted on Facebook. After the pageant, Glorivic and AR went to Vienna, Austria.

Scene:  A personal note: Thank you to the Association of Writers and Radio Announcers Foundation, Inc. (Awra), Bohol Literacy Arts and Cultural Circle (Blacc) and Lubas Sa Dagang  Bisaya, Inc. (Ludabi) for the “Feature Writer of the Year” Award to VRS  for the nth time during the 16th Awarding Rites on Dec 10 at JJ’s Seafood Village, K of C.  Gracias por todo!

It took seven days for Carlito Tacgos and his team to finish the 28-foot-tall Santa Claus, the town’s holiday display.

The town plaza of Tubigon in Bohol undergoes
 a transformation, as they festoon the plaza with
 ten thousands of twinkling lights and elaborate 
holiday decorations.- Leo Udtohan
Tacgos, the municipal electrician, said that his six men were involved in its construction that began last Nov.  22.  The job was completed in seven days, nine days before the town’s fiesta last Dec. 8.

He cut and sewed the dress for the Santa. He said, however, it was challenging to clothe the Santa Claus since it was huge.

"We have new clothes for the Santa Claus for this year. Normally, we change the clothes every two or three years because it fade," said Carlito.

Sierra Bullones is a third class municipality situated in the interior parts of the province of Bohol. It is composed of 22 barangays whose major source of income is derived from agriculture.

The Santa Claus project started in 2001 during the first term of Sierra-Bullones Mayor Simplicio Maestrado Jr, according to Tacgos. He said the town skipped the parol (lantern), belen (nativity scene) and Christmas trees and went instead for Santa Claus this holiday season.

“Those were common in other towns. So, we chose Santa Claus,” Tacgos said.  “We thought it would be special for the people in our community and for others to celebrate Christmas,” he added.

The 28-feet Santa Claus in Sierra-Bullones town 
in Bohol province is getting much attention that 
people come to view and get pictures 
with the giant Santa Claus.- Leo Udtohan
Santa Claus is one of the icons of Christmas. For some, the idea of Christmas is intimately connected to the image of a chubby old man dressed in red and wearing black boots and belt and a white beard. This man, people called Santa Claus, Saint Nick, or just Santa, is the personification of Christmas.

Tacgos said the Santa is getting much attention that residents and tourists have come to view and get pictures with the giant Santa Claus.

The giant Santa Claus in Sierra-Bullones is a white-bearded man wearing a red coat with white collar and cuffs, white-cuffed red trousers, and black leather belt and boots.  He has eyeglasses, too. His other hand is carrying a bag and the other hand is making a high-five sign.

Tacgos maintained their Santa Claus is the tallest and largest in Bohol province and probably in the Philippines, though there were no official records. No other provinces in the Philippines have claimed either.

“Other towns have Santa Claus, but here our Santa Claus is gigantic,” said Tacgos.

It would be hard to miss the town’s holiday display because it is along the national highway, facing the town’s hall building.

Tacgos said the Santa Claus is facing the town hall which signifies the role of the local government unit of Sierra-Bullones.

“Santa Claus has displayed his love through the giving of gifts. Just like Santa, the local leaders are here for the people,” he said.

When Jocelyn Vitos, 29, from Tagbilaran City, chanced to visit the town during fiesta, she didn’t miss to have a photo with the Santa Claus.

“I am absolutely loving it,” said Vitos. “So, far the tallest I have seen. You’re really a dwarf at the giant Santa Claus,” she added.

But Vitos said she hopes the town can add another features for next year. She suggested a mailbox by the display for next year.

Glorivic Yap-De La Serna enjoys her trip in Europe
 to support her son AR in the first Mister Supranational. 
AR was included in the Top 20 of the said competition.  
Contributed Photos
“Perhaps putting letters in the mailbox for Santa can help. Can they add a reindeer please?” she said.

At night time, spotlights beam towards the Santa Claus so people can enjoy the view on a cold night.

The Santa Claus is on display until Feb. 2 next year.

In Tubigon town, thousands of bulbs and holiday decorations come to life once again at Tubigon Plaza making the town as the “Most Christmassy Place” in Bohol province. 

And we’re not talking about a Christmas tree or a simple nativity scene: Among the kitschy pieces you see are life-size snowmen, stockings, sleigh and reindeers, a giant bell and Christmas carols blaring from loudspeakers and tens of thousands of sparkling lights.


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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Anda’s creative Christmas trees

Some towns are just more creative than others.  In Anda town, Christmas trees were created with discarded trash and indigenous materials.

An array of skillfully crafted Christmas trees made from waste materials are now beautifully displayed at the town plaza and continue to surprise a lot of viewers.
The giant Christmas tree in front of the town hall. 
-Leo Udtohan

The Christmas trees are entries to this year’s contest where Mayor Angelina Simacio once more enjoined every village of the town to conceptualize a recyclable material-inspired Christmas tree.

Christmas trees have been a part of the Christmas tradition for centuries.

With the theme “Pasko sa Anda”, the contest aims to enhance Solid Waste Management awareness, creativity and teamwork among barangay folk and to strengthen the 3 R’s (recycle, reduce and reuse) while advocating for 100 percent segregation of solid waste.

Arvin Rubillos, private secretary to the mayor, said the recyclable waste material-inspired Christmas trees would resemble the Filipino value of frugality and the ability of the people to generate ideas.

The Christmas trees are also great symbol of peace and harmony among  the people of Anda, said Barangay Katipunan kagawad  Rouvien De Guzman.

“Anda is now a popular Christmas destination here in our province because we have different kinds of Christmas trees made from recycled and indigenous materials,” said De Guzman. “I’m inviting everyone to visit our town, mag-Anda, it’s a beautiful Anda.”

The creative and clever Christmas trees made from 
recycled and indigenous materials in Anda town, Bohol. –
  Leo Udtohan/Bohol Chronicle
A giant Christmas tree in front of the town hall was made entirely of recycled materials- including the coconut stalks.  Atop the Christmas tree is a star that looks like a Philippine flag. Christmas lights and other glitters were added to make the tree more eye-catching. This Christmas tree is both environmentally friendly and clever. In fact, it looks pretty cool.

At the town plaza, Christmas trees were made from bamboo, fans, dry sticks, packaging boxes and plastic bottles.

In Guindulman town, the green Christmas tree was made from recycled plastic bottles.  The tree is proudly on display in front of the municipal building.

The Tagbilaran City Hall is making for a blue festive Christmas. Residents can enjoy the different tourist attractions in the world. The giant Christmas tree comes wrapped up in shades blue and sparkles.

Some Christmas trees have angels.  They seem to sing a little louder at this time of the year, glinting gently from atop Christmas trees and celebrated in song.

AR De La Serna during the final rehearsal of the
 first Mister Supranational in Poland.  
Courtesy: Mister Supranational Photo
The angels have a lot to say about Christmas, and, Biblically speaking, we learn the significance of Jesus’ birth.

The term angel literally means “messenger,” and it is in this prominent role that angels take part in the Christmas story.  Understandably, images of angels have become a familiar symbol of Christmas.  Their role in the Christmas drama has been practically immortalized by hymnists. Think of the hymns we’ll be singing at this time of year:  Hark! The Herald Angels SingWhile Shepherds Watched their FlocksThe First Noel, et al.

“Angels” often take human form. Case in point: Glorivic Yap-De la Serna’s experience in Europe.

It is, indeed, a mother's ultimate joy to see her child succeed in all endeavors, so when her son AR, won the much-coveted title of Mr. Supranational Philippines 2016, it was a family blessing beyond compare, a testament of how she raised him. Not only that he has given much pride and joy to the family, but to the people of  Bohol,  a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him to represent the province, as well as the Philippines in a prestigious international competition.

And so, after all the twists and turns and other ingredients (action, drama, suspense, etc), she made it to Poland.

Glorivic Yap-De La Serna with her son, AR, 
who is the first Filipino to compete
 in the Mister Supranational.  Contributed Photo
Glorivic, the head of the Bayanihan Coordinating Unit of the provincial government of Bohol, arrived in Poland on Friday after an exhausting 23-hour trip to support her son, AR, who is competing for the first Mister Supranational.

Traveling alone, she met strangers who helped her to reach Krynica Zdrój, Nowy Sącz, where the pageant was held.

“When I thought that I was at a loss and no help is coming.. A good Samaritan came my way,” she said.

There were little girls who offered coffee (it’s freezing cold in Poland) and hugged her.

“Lots of people to thank for,” she said. “I believe in angels.”

Remember do not forget  to show hospitality to strangers, because some who have done this have welcomed angels without knowing it .-Hebrews 13:2


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Sunday, November 27, 2016

AR de la Serna gears up for 1st Mister Supra ● ‘Pinoy Aquaman’ conquers Canigao Channel

The Philippines's bet AR dela Serna is now currently in Nowy Sacz in Poland for the 1st Mister Supranational pageant, to be held on December 3 (December 4, Philippine time) at the Miejski Ośrodek Sportu i Rekreacji (Hall of Sports).

AR, 23, hopes to become the country's first Mister Supranational titleholder.

AR has arrived in the city of Krynica-Zdrój in Poland last Wednesday night (Nov. 23, Thursday morning, Philippine time) for the pageant's preliminary events and activities, such as top model runway, photo and video challenges.

Mister Supranational-Philippines 2016 AR dela Serna, 
our bet in the Mister Supranational pageant, 
is now in Poland deadest on bringing home the country’s f
irst Mister Supranational title. Courtesy: AR dela Serna  
"It is very cold here," AR told VRS on Facebook chat.

And it gets even busier. In the coming days, AR will participate in a number of much-anticipated events such as the talent show, preview and contestant interviews.  Preliminary competitions will be held also in Slovakia on Nov. 27-29.

AR said he is ready for the pageant. In the weeks after he won Mister of Filipinas’ Mister Supranational, AR underwent courses on personality development and public speaking, attended Polish language classes, did rigid gym workouts, fielded incisive questions during interviews, took up good-grooming lessons  and took (pieces of) advice from colleagues and mentors on how to keep that “winning/fighting” spirit up.

“I've been training for quite some time. I'm only gonna be showcasing who I am. As I represent the country. I assure everyone that I am prepared to represent the country,” AR said.

AR, the first Mister Supranational Philippines, is among pageant enthusiasts' favorites to enter the Mister Supranational.

“I've set my life towards the goal.  I've kept a very healthy lifestyle,” he said.

The live televised event will be held at the Miejski Ośrodek Sportu i Rekreacji (MOSIR), Krynica’s main events venue with capacity for 3,000 people.  The production promises to be a total success.

(Note: To help AR to win the premier edition of Mister Supranational, you need to download the MobStar app. If he gets the MobStar People’s Choice Award, he would easily advance in the semifinal round during the finals night!)

‘Pinoy Aquaman’ swims Bohol to Leyte

Harold Bernales didn’t miss the chance to witness the historic swim of environmental- triathlete lawyer Ingemar Macarine, also known as the “Pinoy Aquaman,” on Sunday morning (Nov. 20), on his attempt to cross the Canigao Channel.

Bernales, 14, said he heard about Macarine’s feat on open sea swimming here and abroad.

“It was my chance to see him,” he said.

Lawyer Ingemar Macarine has attempted the first ever crossing of the Canigao Channel on Sunday. His non-stop and unassisted swim started from Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Island to Maasin City, Southern Leyte. The Canigao Channel swim has a total of 17 kilometer distance.  -Leo Udtohan

He accompanied his father, Paquito, who was the boatman of the escort boat.

Macarine’s attempt to cross the Canigao Channel was organized by Ubay Mayor Constantino Reyes.

He aimed at raising awareness of the need to promote clean seas and Ubay tourism.

“I am promoting tourism in Ubay Bohol, and for clean seas and beaches,” Macarine said.

After applying sunblock lotion, he took time to pray Psalm 23.

Pinoy Aquaman with  Leyte residents at Guadalupe Port. /Leo Udtohan
At 6:06 a.m. on Sunday, Macarine started his swim from Barangay Tugas in the island municipality of Pres. Carlos P. Garcia (CPG) to Maasin City, Southern Leyte, which is part of the Canigao Channel. The swim would cover a total of 17 kilometer distance.

He said strong waves and currents kept pulling him off course so he had to change direction.

“The first 10 kilometer was a very rough swim while the last seven kilometer was swim against strong current,” said Macarine.

At 12:30 p.m., Macarine reached the Guadalupe Port in Maasin City, a total of six hours and 37 minutes swim of the 17 kilometer distance between CPG and Maasin City.

“I hope this swim will inspire our kababayan from Maasin City and from Bohol, and of course, all over the Philippines to take care more of our marine environment,” Macarine said.

At Guadalupe Port, he was met by residents to have photo ops with him.

Resident Elizabeth Ibale, 66, said it was his first time to know that someone could actually swim from Bohol to Leyte.
Lawyer Ingemar Macarine is the first person to swim from Bohol to Leyte. /Leo Udtohan

“Bilib ko sa iyang abilidad nga first ko nakakita og tawo  nga grabe ang langoy  tiaw bang harang layua..grabeh oi,” she said.

Macarine said he plans to return to the United Kingdom to swim the English Channel which was aborted last August due to bad weather.

“I will be back to do the English Channel this coming September 2017. Last August 2016, this year, I was in UK for two months but I was not able to swim the English Channel because of the bad weather.  I hope next year, to try again. So, this is actually part of my training,” he said.

He said he will swim Camiguin to Balingoan, Misamis Oriental on January 17.

Macarine has conquered seas in the United States of America and Philippines. He was selected as one of the three Heroes of the Environment for 2015 by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF).

Macarine, 40, who hails from Surigao, is currently the election officer of Tubigon, in Bohol province.


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Sunday, November 20, 2016

Vivoree’s grand homecoming

Scene: The open-forum and actual ocular inspection of the unfinished and abandoned school building by the provincial lawmakers in Hingotanan Island in Bien Unido. Bohol Vice-Gov. Dionisio Dajalos Balite, Ph.D. led the fact-finding delegation with board members Niño Rey Boniel, Dionisio Victor Balite, Tommy Abapo Jr., Agapito Cañas Avenido and Benjie Arcamo. 

The first Mister Supranational 
Philippines 2016 AR dela Serna
 is off to Poland this week deadset 
on bringing home the first Mister 
Supranational title.  
Courtesy: Eric Esperal/Misters of Filipinas 
Scene:  The first Mister Supranational Philippines 2016 AR dela Serna is ready to capture the first Mister Supranational title.  This week, AR will leave for Poland.  His physical transformation vividly shows his sheer discipline and strong-willed determination in achieving his ultimate goal in the highly anticipated male beauty-battle in the world. “I've been training for quite some time. I'm only gonna be showcasing who I am. As I represent the country. I assure everyone that I am prepared to represent the country,” AR told VRS.

Scene: Pinoy Aquaman lawyer Ingemar Macarine will cross the 17 km. Canigao Channel today by swimming solo and unassisted from Brgy. Tugas, in Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Island to Maasin City, Southern Leyte. The swim is organized by the Municipality of Ubay courtesy of Mayor Constantino Reyes to promote tourism in Ubay and for cleaner seas.

The "Go Getter Girl ng Bohol" Maria Niña Vivoree Matutes Esclito was finally home in Bohol last Friday.

It's been two months since Vivoree was a housemate of the Pinoy Big Brother (PBB) Lucky Season 7 on ABS-CBN, and her busy schedule has kept her from leaving Manila.

Vivoree, who was wearing “I love Bohol” shirt, was all smiles as fans gave her a very warm welcome. She was excited to see Bohol once again and thank all of her kababayans who supported her all the way.

At the airport, fans were plenty and support was overwhelming.

Greater happiness, however, exuded from her face when she got home in Loon town.  Reuniting with her family, whom she has not seen for two months, was the highlight of Vivoree’s trip to her hometown.

Former PBB Lucky Seven housemate Vivoree Esclito
with her high school teacher Butch Bernas, Ph.D. 
at the Tagbilaran City Science High School during 
her homecoming to Bohol. Contributed Photo
Another teen housemate, Fenech Veloso, also comes from Loon.

Bohol cultural icon Reigh Monreal posted on Facebook that  Vivoree is a cousin of FEU Tamaraws' Francis Matutes Tamsi, son of Bohol's Kundiman Diva Ammie Matutes Tamsi.

In Loon town, she visited Loon South Sentral Elem. School where she met by her former teachers, classmates and fans.  Special Education students of Loon Central Elementary School were eagerly waiting in front of their dormitory for Vivoree.

In Tagbilaran City, she also met her classmates and teachers at Tagbilaran City Science High School.

Vivoree’s high school teacher Butch Bernas, Ph.D., said he was surprised of Vivoree’s transformation-- from being shy to confident.

“Yet she remains very humble,” said Butch. “She was one of my talented students,” he added.

An aspiring singer, Vivoree said last August that she joined the reality show to help overcome her insecurities about her looks.  She said she was often teased as "balbon" by her peers. She said that by being more confident in herself, she can freely pursue her dream to perform in front of an audience.

Lawyer Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine 
with Ubay Mayor Constantino Reyes. Macarine 
will swim solo the Canigao Channel from Pres. Carlos P. Garcia
 Island to Southern Leyte today.  Contributed Photo
During her stint at the reality show, she was romantically linked with Filipino-Italian Marco Gallo. 

Vivoree was evicted from the PBB during the live 6th elimination night on Oct. 22. She got the lowest votes among those who were nominated for eviction.

However, she continues her TV guestings on ABS-CBN with Marco.

Continue to be brave and beautiful, said Big Brother.


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Sunday, November 13, 2016

Scene: Donald John Trump was elected the 45th president of the United States last Tuesday in a stunning culmination of an explosive, populist and polarizing campaign. On Election Night, however, Trump’s star became the site of a victory party. Supporters gathered at his star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, chanting “U-S-A!” and wearing “Make America Great Again” hats. The star had been defaced several times over the course of the election.

The story of hair and beauty guru Bebei Tagoctoc is a ‘hairy’ kind of success story at all.

Bebei Tagoctoc is known as the "Mother of All Hair 
and Make-up Artists in Bohol" who
 started as utility boy at a small beauty parlor 
and working his way to the top. Contributed Photo
Bebei, the "Mother of All Hair and Make-up Artists in Bohol," started as utility boy at a small beauty parlor (called Blue Petals) inside the old BQ Mall, working his way to the top.

"At 15, I dropped out at school," recalled Bebei.  “I am a firm believer of education, but I had to stop from my studies because of poverty.”

It was at the Blue Petals’ beauty parlor where Bebei’s talents was enhanced and developed.  He decided to apprentice in that Blue Petals where he started as a mere parlor sweeper, then eventually became a manicurista, a neophyte hairdresser and a make-up artist.

In 1987, Bebei opened his salon on CPG Avenue, consisting of a wall mirror, a shampoo chair, a bowl, and a dryer. It wasn’t much, but to Bebei it meant everything, as it was something he could call his own. It was Jun Quimpan, Bebei’s partner, who encouraged and helped him to establish his own salon.

Due to unavoidable circumstances, Bebei’s salon transferred to Lambert’s Building along Ma. Clara Street, then finally settled at K of C Drive.  However, his loyal clients continue to hire his services.

Twenty-nine years later, Bebei has become an institution in his own right, sought-after by the clients, mostly the who’s who in Tagbilaran, who submit themselves wholeheartedly to his "magic touch" which sometimes transforms them into completely new and different personalities, beautiful inside and out.

Name a who’s who and a star and Bebei has touched her:  Christine Hermosa, Piolo Pascual, Ruffa Mae Quinto, Jericho Rosales, Philippine top models, when they came to Bohol.  Bebei was tasked to touch their delicate faces.  In 2005, when Miss Earth candidates came to Bohol, Bebei was hired as the official make-up artist.

Bebei said he has never snubbed a client since he knew how to deal clients with tantrums.

“As possible, I please them,” he said.

Coming out
Bebei starts his day very early by praying. Then, he does prepare for the salon at K of C Drive.

Bebei Tagoctoc has become an institution in 
his own right that clients like couple Harold and 
Agnes Jesuro trust Couple Harold and Agnes Jesuro 
seeks Bebei’s Hair and Make-up and Rental Packages
 for their wedding last June. Contributed Photo
Everyday is a busy day. If he’s not at his salon, he’s somewhere else doing home service for a bride and her entourage. He also designs gowns.

Bebei was one of a handful few “bayots” in the city who came out in early ‘60s.  He said “coming out” in those years was a suicide.

Even as a kid, Bebei knew he was gay. He would draw faces, figures and fashion designs on his notebooks.  He liked dolls.

“It was something a near to death experience when you were coming out. It was a moment to see if society accepts my true identity or not,” he shared.

Bebei has experienced different layers of discrimination throughout his life- for his sexuality. Each time, he shrugs it off.

“I let them go,” he said, “I am not the one who is kawawa. I know myself.”

He said being a Marian devotee has helped him to conquer obstacles in life. He owns a Mater Dolorosa (Our Lady of Sorrow) statue after he was inspired during his many visits at the St. Joseph Cathedral. The statue of the Mater Dolorosa at the Cathedral was donated by the late Charing Dejaresco.

“I like the Dolorosa’s teary-eyed and I felt her love for me,” he said.

Bebei’s life story was featured on GMA’s Jessica Soho Reports. It was no less than multi-awarded journalist Jessica Soho called Bebei as “Ricky Reyes of Bohol.”

Bebei spends much of his time “mothering” to other “bayots” who asked his help. Even Lamok, who once dubbed the “Beautiful Boxer”, could testify Bebei’s good heart. It was Bebei who adopted him when he was down.

As of this year, Bebei has two adopted “badings”. He may not have completed his education but he is sending them to college.

President-elect Donald Trump’s star, which 
had been defaced several times over 
the course of the election, becomes
 the site of a victory party. 
Supporters gathered at his star on
 the Hollywood Walk of Fame, chanting 
“U-S-A!” and wearing “Make America Great Again”
 hats. Your VRS’s 2015 photo at the star 
of the 45th president of USA. 
“I told them to finish school for a bright future,” he said.

Bebei said he has no plan to stop working, not yet.

“I don’t have any plans to stop working, or to stop helping,” he said.  “I love what I am doing with the love of the people.”

Come to think of it, if he were not a hair and make-up artist, what would he have been?

"A teacher," said Bebei. "I love to teach."

But with what he’s doing, Bebei has more than achieved that dream.


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Sunday, November 6, 2016

Boholana beauty queen dies after cancer battle

Seen: The homecoming of Mr. Supranational-Philippines 2016 AR dela Serna during the 120th birthday commemoration of Pres. Carlos P. Garcia last Friday (Nov. 4). AR received a special citation from the provincial government of Bohol headed by Gov. Edgar Chatto.  It was AR’s first visit to Bohol after winning  the Misters of Filipinas-Supranational 2016 held last Sept. 18.  AR will represent the Philippines in the inaugural edition of Mister Supranational in Poland on Dec. 3, 2016. 

Regil Gucor is rubbing elbows with 
Mr. Supranational-Philippines 2016 
AR dela Serna during the 
120th birthday commemoration of Pres. 
Carlos P. Garcia.  Contributed Photo
Scene:  The 1st National Earthkeepers (Ek) Summit on Nov. 10 to 13 in Bohol. Frence Boiser of the Student Catholic Action of the Philippines (SCA) said more than 150 youth leaders from all over the Philippines and invited international delegates will gather for the 1st EK Summit in Bohol ahead of the talks for the annual Conference of Parties (COP22) in Morocco.

Scene:  Ariel Fullido, manager of CenterStage Band, announced on Facebook that the band has new singer. He said CenterStage band has welcomed back its former vocalist Charisse Mae, who is still fresh from a singing stint in South Korea. He posted on Facebook, “She will rejoin the band replacing Jussica Villaflores who will take a hiatus for a while after her doctor advices her to take a long rest to fully recover from laryngitis. Beauty titlist/model Frances Montejo will temporarily be kept as reserved singer as she will focus on her studies in the second semester at HNU. But with mainstay veteran singers Yeyet and Riza, Charisse will complement the powerhouse vocals of CenterStage band.” Charisse Mae had her comeback performance last Friday during the 33rd Annual Visayas Area Convention of Geodetic Engineers on Alona Kew White Beach in Panglao town.

Scene:  Rotarian Andreimarie Thurman posted on Facebook:  "There are special people in our lives who never leave us …. even after they are gone. Rest in peace our beloved founder, Dr. Luther Z. Ramiro. He peacefully passed away, early this Sunday morning, Oct. 30, 2016. Thank you for touching many lives Dr. Lu, you will live forever in the hearts of grateful Rotarians and all people dedicated to service above self.”

Boholana beauty queen Marcelina Marcel Gatal-Diego, who was named Miss Young Bohol 1983, died Wednesday afternoon after a long bout with breast cancer.  She was 53.  

“At around three o'clock today, All Souls’ Day, our eldest Ate Marcel Gatal- Diego lost her three year battle with breast cancer,” her younger brother Raul wrote on Facebook.

Former beauty queen and entrepreneur 
Marcelina Marcel Gatal-Diego 
did her ‘farewell walk’ after 
battling with breast cancer. 
Contributed Photo
Her death was also confirmed by fellow beauty queen Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin who expressed her shock and sadness at her death on social media.

“Another beautiful angel has gone to the Great Beyond,” said Fiel, who was Miss Tagbilaran 1987.

In 1982, Marcel represented the province of Bohol to the Hiyas ng Silangan-Philippines. She was adjudged Miss Talent and eventually chosen to be in the Top 10 finalists from among 30 candidates from all over the country. In 1983, she was crowned Miss Young Bohol, the precedent of Miss Bohol. 

Her good command of the English language ushered her way to various opportunities, including having been a radio newscaster and a disk jockey of KISS 102.3 FM during her college days at the Divine Word College of Tagbilaran (DWC-T) now Holy Name University.

She was also actively involved in the JCI-Chocolate Hills and in the Brotherhood of Christian Businessmen and Professionals (BCBP).

Marcel was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2013. In her battle, she had demonstrated extraordinary calm, faith and courage in her fight against cancer as she underwent chemotherapy. However, she opted to choose an alternative medication after chemotherapy killed her other organs.

“Chemo was not meant for her body,” VRS said.

And after a brief remission this year, Marcel did not lose weight, hair, voice and vision. However, she had difficulties in speaking because she developed another cancer--lung cancer.

Her death has left her families, friends and supporters in mourning.  Many of them have lost a part of their hearts.

Marcel’s younger brother Mikey who was about to blow his candle as he celebrated his birthday (Nov. 1 in the US) got a phone call from his sister Nikki.

“I  thought she (Nikki) would say a birthday greetings, but it gave me the sad news that our eldest sister joined our Papa Roger in heaven already and I put on a brave face and held on my tears not to cry on my birthday,” said Mikey.

Charisse Mae is the new vocalist of 
CenterStage band. Contributed Photo
“It's been difficult for all of us during this time of the year. I cried a river, knowing that three of my loved ones died of cancer, Hector, Kevin's mother and now my sister,” he added.

As news of Marcel’s death spread, so did the tributes.

“Rest in the Kingdom of the Lord Marcel: My student and queen,” said Bohol’s Queen of All Media Ardy Ines Batoy-Araneta on Facebook. It was Ardy who discovered and plucked Marcel from anonymity during her student days.

High school classmate Jocelyn Oppus, who is based in Los Angeles, called the news of Marcel’s death “desperately sad.”

“Rest in peace my classmate and volleyball of the ‘Carnation’ babies,” she said.

Note: Her remains will arrive from Manila for one final viewing on Wednesday, November 9 at the Funeraria Gomez-Udtohan on CPG Avenue, Tagbilaran City. Requiem mass and interment has been scheduled on Thursday, November 10.


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