Sunday, January 24, 2016

Sinulog Festival in Bilar, Bohol; Pinoy Aquaman conquers Surigao Strait

• Bilar celebrates Sinulog Festival, too
• Pinoy Aquaman conquers Surigao Strait

Members of Batch ’77 of Cogon Elem. School
 in Tagbilaran City repaired and rehabilitated
 the corridor and canal lining of their alma mater
 last Friday to improve sanitation at the school 
and make sure that the environment is
 conducive for teaching and learning. 
Contributed Photo/Lorna B. Suello
Scene: Former students (Batch ’77) of Cogon Elem. School in Tagbilaran City repaired and rehabilitated the corridor and canal lining of their alma mater last Friday.  According to Lorna Bagotchay-Suello, the event aimed to improve sanitation at the school and make sure that the environment is conducive for teaching and learning. “We want to help the school in improving the pathway. We feel that the school did a lot to us and that it is our turn to do something for the school,” said Suello. She also added that the school has produced many students who are successful in life. “And we feel we need to mobilise ourselves to make sure that the school continues to deliver its core function,” she added. Eleonor Balatero is the Batch ‘77 president.

Scene: A talent handler-manager (THM) is surely among the richie-rich in town these days. THM has been deluged with all sorts of projects of late, said a socialite VRS. In spite of newfound affluence, THM can be quite stingy, added VRS. “THM is not the type who would shower friends with gifts or treat friends,” said VRS. “Now you know why THM is wealthy!”

Scene:  Delegates have arrived in Cebu City for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) on January 24 to 31, 2016. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI chose Cebu as the venue of the, announcing his pick during the Mass at the closing of the 50th IEC in Dublin, Ireland, in 2012. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines had expressed intent to host the 51st IEC in the Philippines, which would be a fitting prelude to preparations for the celebration in 2021 of 500 years of Christianity in the country.

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Aileen Sendrijas Pasagad, 44, was ready for Sunday’s street dancing in her hometown, as the city of Cebu held its Sinulog festival on the same day.

Pasagad, the led dancer of barangay (village) Zamora, one of the 24 contingents which joined the 34th Sinulog Festival in Bilar town, had checked her costume since Saturday.

Aileen Sendrijas Pasagad (with Butch Bernas) 
holds the image of the Sto. Niño during the 
Sinulog Festival in Bilar, Bohol province, 
an evident that the devotion for Sto. Niño is
 not just evident in Cebu but in other 
provinces as well. Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
“I just want to make it sure everything’s okay for our performance,” said Pasagad, a barangay kagawad of Zamora.

She also said she was a devotee of the Sto. Niño since 2008. 

“Even if we were not in Cebu where the original Sinulog Festival, here in Bilar, we celebrated the Sinulog Festival every third Sunday of January as paying homage to the Holy Child, our second patron saint,” she said.

It’s Pasagad’s second year to offer her dance.

“While I was dancing, I also had my wishes to the Señor Sto. Niño,” she said.

She prayed for blessings and good health for her family.

This year, however, church officials of the Saint Isidore the Farmer Parish Church decided to cancel the contest and make the event simple. It was to give priority to the on-going church restoration. The church was damaged by the strong earthquake in 2013. The Sto. Niño should be the main focus of the celebration and should not the contest, church officials said.

But for Pasagad and other dancers, it didn’t matter.

“It’s not a problem to us if we have a simple celebration as long we could dance as our way of thanksgiving,” she said.

Teofila Sarabia, 90, from barangay Villa Suerte, at least 18 kms from the town, was among the crowd who witnessed the festival. She said she was happy that her town had the festivity since she had no time anymore to visit Cebu’s Sinulog as she used to when she was young.

“I am already old and weak for that. And the fare is expensive, she said.  She said she was contented to witness the Sinulog in Bilar though not as grand like in Cebu. 

“I just hope this tradition would continue," said Sarabia who was asking for the Sto. Niño to grant her good health and guidance.

Twenty four contingents from different barangays joined this year’s festivity.

“The performance was impressive. Nice dance steps and colorful props,” said Butch Bernas, 33, a choreographer based in Tagbilaran City. 

Three towns in Bohol celebrated last Saturday its annual fiesta honoring its patron saint, Sto. Niño. These were Cortes, President Carlos P. Garcia (CPG) and Valencia. A street-dancing competition was  held in Anda town last  Monday.

The Sinulog in Bilar was a proof that the devotion for Sto. Niño is not just evident in Cebu but in other provinces as well.

*   *   *
Pinoy Aquaman conquers Surigao Street

Ingemar Macarine aka Pinoy Aquaman, swam across the Surigao Strait non-stop last Sunday.

Macarine, an environmental lawyer by profession, spent 10 hours and 37 minutes to swim the 10.99-kilometer distance between Sumilom Island to Punta Bilar, Surigao City.

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

He said strong currents kept pulling him off course so he had to change direction at  five times.

“It was not that difficult because the weather was fine,” he said. “Though the current was strong and it changed direction five times. And also thousands of nasty jellyfishes.”

"Pinoy Aquaman" lawyer Ingemar Macarine 
swims across the Surigao Strait nonstop 
last Sunday to promote clean seas
 and Surigao tourism. Contributed Photo
He said prior to his swim, he  took time to read the Bible and pray.

"I read the Bible for guidance. And my favorite is Psalm 23,” he said.

Macarine, the founding president of Surigao Runners Club, was escorted by two boats -- a small one carrying his navigator and a bigger boat loaded with rescue team and friends. 

He said he constantly used freestyle and had no difficulty with his swimming techniques.

“I’m so happy when I reached Punta Pilar because I was able to reach my target,” he said.

He also said that he exerted effort against the strong currents as the same in real life.

“In real life, we need to fight strong currents-problems, challenges and situations- to make us stronger,” he said.

Macarine had done similar feats in the past. He was acknowledged as the first Filipino to swim the 2.7-kilometer from Alcatraz Island Penitentiary to San Francisco City in April 2014.

He was also the first man to swim  the 4.2-kilometer stretch in two hours from Basul Island to Surigao City in Dec. 2013,  the first man  to conquer the Babuyan Channel by swimming from Palaui Island to Mainland Sta. Ana, Province of Cagayan with a distance of 7.2km in 2hours on June 15,  2014.

He was also the first man to swim from Santa Fe in Bantayan Island to San Remigio in mainland Cebu, covering the distance of 19.99 km. He spent seven hours and 45 minutes to reach mainland Cebu.

He was also the first man who attempted to swim from Visayas to  Mindanao by swimming from San Ricardo, Southern Leyte to Surigao City, Northern Mindanao. Although the swim was unsuccessful,  he made a personal record of swimming 23 kilometers in five and half hours in may 2014.

In November 2015, he was named by the World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) as one of its Filipino environmental heroes for pioneering solo channel swimming in the Philippines to promote marine conservation.

He is planning to swim Pamilacan Island,in Baclayon, Bohol on Jan. 31, and in Europe, this year.

Macarine, who hails from Surigao, is currently the election officer of Tubigon town.

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Monday, January 18, 2016



I’d like to acknowledge the wonderful work of this year’s nominees.  While we celebrate their extraordinary achievements, I am both heartbroken and frustrated about the lack of inclusion. This is a difficult but important conversation, and it’s time for big changes. The Academy is taking dramatic steps to alter the makeup of our membership.  In the coming days and weeks we will conduct a review of our membership recruitment in order to bring about much-needed diversity in our 2016 class and beyond.

As many of you know, we have implemented changes to diversify our membership in the last four years. But the change is not coming as fast as we would like.  We need to do more, and better and more quickly. 

This isn’t unprecedented for the Academy. In the ‘60s and ‘70s it was about recruiting younger members to stay vital and relevant. In 2016, the mandate is inclusion in all of its facets: gender, race, ethnicity and sexual orientation. We recognize the very real concerns of our community, and I so appreciate all of you who have reached out to me in our effort to move forward together.

The statement was issued after Spike Lee has decided to skip the Academy Awards on February 28 due to the overwhelmingly white nominations.

The 58-year-old filmmaker explained his decision in a lengthy Facebook post hashtagged ‪#‎OscarsSoWhite‬, which was fittingly shared on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

'Dr. King said, "There comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular but he must take it because conscience tells him it's right,"' the controversial director wrote.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Tagna-Tagna 2016


Scene: Spotted in Bohol last week was comedienne Giselle Sanchez.

Scene:  The singing policeman PO3 Janew Villame has become a sensation after bus passengers listened to him with admiration while belting out Yoyoy Villame’s songs at the Integrated Bus Terminal. It’s his way of educating people about the dangers of illegal drugs while trying to keep police-community relations closer. Fact: He is the grandson of Yoyoy Villame, the king of novelty songs.

*   *   *

Astrologers, feng shui experts and die-hard believers of horoscope said that great unexpected fortune will find its way in the Year of the Red Monkey (which will officially start on Feb. 8).

Giselle Sanchez visits Bohol. 
Courtesy: Melinda Mendez-Basalo
2016 is a period of renewed fighting spirit, they added.

White, blue and gold are lucky colors of 2016.

And as tradition is hard to break, VRS is up with its annual “Tagna-tagna” for the 2016. Modesty aside, last year’s “tagna-tagna” was 98 percent credible! Clap! Clap! Clap!

Now, let’s take a quick look at what the notorious and the famous Boholanos have in store for them for the Year of the Monkey.

• Finally, former beauty queen Anna Maris Igpit and her Aussie football player Thomas Taylor will march down the aisle this year.

• The stork will pay former child actress Rebecca Lusterio/Thomas Mejiso, Karen Digal/Doxson Asoy, Chandrina Elluiska Schreurs/Abdul Wallace and Jenissa Laguda Peteros/Dave Maulas a surprise visit .

• A fashion show which is very “bongga”  will feature Boholano fashion artists and couturiers—Shanon Pamaong , Maximiel Tallo, Omie Auza, EJ Relampagos, Jong Magallano, Omie Auza, Henry Baron, Rhigel Dulfo and Tracy Remolador Torres— to display their artistic collections! And another art exhibit for our Boholano artists, too!

Tableya Princess Dalareich Polot will remain loveless even she’s worth ginto!

•dyRD’s Glee Orcullo will release a new album. It’s a sequel of “Unang Gugma” that will re-open love wounds.

• Poet and community organizer Nestor Pestelos, Direk Maryo delos Reyes and cultural icon Lutgardo Labad will have a busy, busy good year.

•Pinoy Aquaman Ingemar Macarine will make a world-breaking record.

• The Touch of April of Dr. April Lumuthang-Froilan will have a new clinic to beautify the province.

• Something big for Gian Ale will happen this year.

• Something “big” is in store for AR dela Serna....and another student cum model will shine in the modelling world.

• Beauty queen Imaculada Cleofe Leopardas will be the face of a new beauty soap in the market and a popular website.

*   *   *

And now, the blind items:

• A former high-ranking official whose influence is highly visible will make an “important announcement” in the early months of the year.

• The wedding of a couple who announced their engagement in 2015 will either not be pushed through or will be postponed indefinitely. The bride-to-be will cry a river of the shocking news!

• Another big scandal will shake the political scene!

• For the first radio program for kids and about kids will air this year. 

• Great news: Despite financial constraints, an international film festival will be held in Bohol. Perhaps, it will win accolades in international film festivals.

• The crystal ball said that a new talent from Bohol will make name this year. He/she will give honor the province.

•Bohol will produce more topnotchers in the field of education, nursing and engineering.

• A young and flamboyant high-ranking official will “out” himself. You see your true colors. True colors are beautiful. Like a rainbow.

• A young politician will find himself in a headline-hogging controversy.

• A popular radio program will undergo a major revamp. Note: There will a new additional host.

• A popular couple will break up but won’t say why while another couple might reconcile after letting bygones be bygones.

• A beauty pageant will draw controversies. Take it! Take it!

• A beauty queen will make a “controversial” announcement! Dios mio!

• Women who are running in the May elections will have a reason to celebrate.

• The winner for Bohol governor has letters “O” and “E,” while for the Vice-Governor, the winner has letters “O”, “I”, “L”, “E” and “N”.

Note:  I don’t claim to be 100 per cent accurate. As I said, these are all “tagna-tagna” and I could be wrong, you know. He! He! He!

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

Sunday, January 10, 2016

No mountain too high for Nazarene’s devotees in Bohol

No mountain too high for Nazarene’s devotees in Bohol

No mountain was high for hundreds of devotees who visited Mt. Calvary in barangay Malinao, Garcia-Hernandez town, for the feast of the Black Nazarene Saturday. 

Luzonia Bajao, 46, along with her 11-year-old daughter, Myra, walked at least 3 kms from barangay (village) proper and climbed the mountain to pay homage to the Black Nazarene. 

She said the Nazarene granted her wish to heal her daughter who was previously suffering from rheumatic heart disease. 

The night before the operation, Bajao said she prayed to the Black Nazarene for a miracle. 

“She had a rheumatic heart disease and tuberculosis as well.  The heart surgery didn’t push through because the surgeon found no more inflammation of the heart lining muscles and valves. It was indeed a miracle,” said Bajao. 

The doctor was surprised why her daughter was healed without any medication, she said.

“The Nazarene was always so good in proving himself as the greatest physician,” said Bajao. 

Concordia Galon, 80, said that she has been attending the annual feast for straight two years.

Bragging she is still strong, Galon, who came from Jagna town, said she walked for several kilometers just to see the Nazarene.

“Abtik pa ta mutungas sa bungtod para makita ang Mahal nga Nazareno, (I am still strong to climb the mountain just to see the Nazarene),” she said.

She said that she was wishing that the Nazarene would grant her a longer and healthy life.

Devotees try to touch the statue of the Black Nazarene in Mt. Calvary
 in Garcia-Hernandez town Saturday during the feast 
of the Black Nazarene.  Contributed Photo/Genevieve Virador 
Asked how long she will still attend the annual feast, Galon said: “Hangtud naa pa koy kinabuhi nga ihatag ni Nazareno (Until the Nazarene will give me life).”

The Mt. Calvary (originally named Mt. Kalagan) is a “holy” mountain for the devotees of the Black Nazarene.

In May 2011, Marina Reblinca, a purported visionary and healer, brought the image of the Black Nazarene from Palawan to Mt. Calvary and established a small chapel funded by devotees. 

 “We were from Palawan. The Nazarene told me he wanted to be here in this place. I followed his order.  Then people flocked here,” said Reblinca. She also said that the Nazarene protected the place during the strong earthquake in 2013. 

She said the Black Nazarene heals the sickness, gives hope and comforts people.

“The Black Nazarene would never abandon you if you have strong faith in him,” she said. 

Saturday’s feast had holy mass officiated by Rev. Fr. Cleofas  Silagan. After the mass, people were treated to a free lunch. 

People would fall in line to kiss the image of the Black Nazarene. Reblinca carried the image of the Nazarene for the patunob. She touched the heads and shoulders of the devotees for healing and miracle. 

Mt. Calvary continues to lure pilgrims and devotees proving that indeed, there ain't no mountain high enough to keep God from them.

In Talibon town, Nekolo Gonzales, 30, left his office in Ubay town to pay homage to the image of the White Nazarene, the “white” version of the Black Nazarene, which is believed to have miraculous powers. 

Gonzales, who is from Trinidad town, said that he has been a devotee of the White Nazarene when he was a teenager. 

Marina Reblinca, mystic and visionary doing the "patunob" .
Gonzales’ visit was for thanksgiving that he was able to get a job at the Philippine Coast Guard last year. 

“He helped me when I was looking for a job.  I have to admit that I am not religious but I believe in miracles,” said Gonzales, “And for me the Nazarene is miraculous.” 

He also said that the color of the face of the Nazarene doesn’t matter.

“It doesn’t matter if the face is white or black, he is still the same. As long as you know in your heart that he is the Santo Cristo Jesus Nazareno,” he said. 

Gonzales is one of the many devotees of the White Nazarene located in barangay San Agustin, Talibon town. 

Gregoria Cresencio-Fuentes, 63, narrated that the White Nazarene appeared to her aunt, Eutiquia Cresencio, in her dream.  She said Cresencio, a purported visionary, had received private revelation from the White Nazarene but she had remained silent on the claimed apparition until her death. Instead, she asked someone to carve a White Nazarene for her devotion. 
The “White” Nazarene in barangay San Agustin,
 Talibon towne, has attracted devotees and pilgrims.
Leo Udtohan/Chronicle

The image of the White Nazarene was originally made of wood and has been around for at least 80 years, she said. The first image was displayed in sitio Sudlon, about 7 kms in barangay San Agustin, but it was transferred to its present location in Purok 7 in the same barangay when the Nazarene told Eutiquia to have him transferred.

With the passing of the years, the wooden image decayed because it was exposed to heat, humidity and rain. Cresencio had the image replaced with cement in 1970s.  Fuentes said the cemented image of the White Nazarene was donated by the late President Carlos P. Garcia, a relative. 

She also said that there was a time when the White Nazarene requested Eutiquia to have the image placed in the center of the road but the plan didn’t materialize. 

The image is facing east. 

“The Nazarene said he will protect those who have faith in him,” said Fuentes. 

A Philippine flag is placed in front of the image.

“That’s what the Nazarene wants to have a Philippine flag. It means that he is Jesus of Nazareth in the Philippines,” she said. 

What noticeable is the image is not housed inside a chapel or church nor covered for protection. 

“Our Aunt (Eutiquia) told us that the White Nazarene wants to be outside the chapel. He wants the sun to beat down on him and the rain fell on him as his suffering for the sake of his children,” said Fuentes. 

Simplicio Polestico, 61, said he has been a devotee since he was 10 years old when his parents exposed him to the White Nazarene. 

“I believe in him because I am a Catholic,” he said. He said that he was wishing that the Nazarene would grant him a longer and healthy life.

The White Nazarene in Talibon, Bohol. -LPU
Annalyn Juarez, 35, said that the White Nazarene helped his husband, Crisben, 38, found a work in Saudi Arabia.  She said her wish is for a better life for her family. 

“The White Nazarene is our father. He is our refuge and our strength,” she said. 

Pilgrims and devotees also visited the White Nazarene on Saturday, the feast of the Black Nazarene where devotees flocked to the Quirino Grandstand for the yearly “Pahalik”. The image was brought back to Quiapo Church via the traditional Traslacion. She said, however, the feast of the White Nazarene is on March 21. A mass and procession will be held with devotees from Bohol and Mindanao, she added.

For the devotees, the White Nazarene has become an emblem of passion, struggle and faith for Filipino Catholics.


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Sunday, January 3, 2016

Revving up 2016

No doubt you’re still recovering from the New Year’s Eve revelry, and the only thing you want to do right now is to get a chance for a fresh start.

And what better way to start 2016 than by making a list of New Year’s resolutions.

I asked my fave Boholanos how they plan on revving up their lives in 2016 whether it’s by pursuing their dreams or cultivating their passions. In short, how they will own 2016!

Fireworks light up the sky over Tagbilaran City during the New Year 
as Bohol greeted 2016 with champagne and cheers. Leo Udtohan/BC
Some of our Boholano “who’s who” asked simply ignored the question. Here are those who did not:

Leah Tirol-Magno— I look forward to 2016 spending more time with the Lord God, to myself and to my family. I also look forward to further enhance my baking skills and create more beautiful cakes.

Anna Maris Igpit —  2016 will be a new chapter for me as I build myself to become a wife and start my own family. I have finally found my bestfriend and soulmate who I will share this dream with and I am looking forward to what our future will bring us.

Fiel Angeli E. Araoarao-Gabin —  Embracing 2016 means not making promises you can't keep. It means living life in moderation, getting rid of or dealing with "vexations" creatively by pursuing passion like dancing... More than ever, spending quality time with my family.

Charina Aumentado-Jones —  I will make 2016 cultivate my dreams to pursue my passion...and for  world peace.

Tessie,Labunog-Sumampong — My “Cuisina ni Tisay,” as the best Boholano restaurant, was a dream come true. This year, we’ll continue to serve the Boholano cuisine and hospitality. It’s really my passion to serve people while pursuing my dreams. Entering politics is one way of serving other people because I believe that a heart with a true service is a heart that truly cares.

Vilma “Ate V” Yorong —  My officemates and I will give importance on the JobStart Philippines project implementation. Good health and more blessings!

TinTin Bueno Ng —  How will I own 2016? I'm planning to take a focus on the enhancement in my acting skills so that I can pursue my one of my dreams in life which is to be a great actress someday. It may be impossible, but all I have to do is to pray and do my best and God will do the rest. We all know that, "For with Him, God, nothing shall be impossible."

Chandrina Elluiska Schreurs-Wallace—  A little hence of both.

A good beginning makes a good end... or so for our Boholano friends who want to rev up 2016. 
Contributed Photos
Ferome Almine — Taking care of my health specially my voice and giving time to the people of Mansasa (in Tagbilaran City) as public servant. As a host, I want to take care of my health by not exhausting myself to work. That’s taking ease of everything.

EJ Relampagos —  More healthy lifestyle. Good food and good exercise! Less travel and more time with family!

Bon Ryan Bongato—  2016 is a new opportunity for a more compassionate year. Since 2015 was a wake-up call to us Filipino, a gear towards this new year of spreading humanity through advocacy and setting the right example, no matter the status we have, not the beauty outside but the inside and fulfillment of making the new generation secured knowing someone cares for them. It will be, for me, the year to extend to others in making them aware that the past heroic deeds did not die with them, but has transcended to a more pure form and bravery is facing the consequences and criticism that attacks us emotionally and the fuel of our being, it is what I desired and is my true calling.

Sam Pingkian —  Wanna make a lot of changes this year. More time with my family specially my daughter. Be better in terms of work. Good health, will exercise more and eat less. And to be financially stable... And hopefully magka- lovelife! Cheers to awesome 2016!

Jammy Ungab —  This 2016, I just really want to travel more and try to live a plastic free life as much as possible. My strong environmental concern has made me decide to do beach clean up more this year and hopefully able to spread awareness about plastics and why we should not throw them anywhere. I'm also going to expand my small business (crossing fingers) so I can help more organizations that protect our ocean and the marine wildlife.

Engr. April Lupot —  I stopped doing so long before. But my 2016 will be a year for a more prosperous year for my career. Perhaps making myself better in my field and taking bigger risks to see how far I can go.

Ryan Sines — I have a simple New Year’s resolution that is do my best as a stylist. I also wish for a good health for me and for my family. More clients. Brides and beauty queens to work with soon. I wish to become an inspiration to other gay stylists to be their best.

 2016 is a year of new opportunities. A leap year, too. Let's make it a good one. Happy New Year!


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