Sunday, May 29, 2016

Maris Igpit, Tommy Taylor exchange I do’s

Scene: The world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir in Bangladesh.

Scene: The CenterStage band will have a new vocalist. This was announced by Ariel Fullido, the band’s manager. He posted on Facebook: “Quite pretty, sexy and a singer in her own right, Mutya sa Tagbilaran 2016 3rd Runner-Up, Natalie Belle Mcgaw, is a new prospect vocalist for CenterStage band. She will perform tonight with the band, together with Yeyet and Jussica in a wedding reception at the beachfront of Henann Resort.”

The former beauty queen and the Aussie football player are now officially husband and wife.

Anna Maris Igpit and Thomas Luke Taylor finally tied the knot in a church wedding last Friday at the St. Augustine Church in Panglao town.

The newly-wed Anna Maris Igpit and Tommy Taylor with Fr. Val Pinlac.
Photo taken from Anna Maris Igpit’s Facebook account
The church wedding was private and intimate, said VRS.

“Only immediate families and close friends witnessed the exchanged of "I Do's",” said VRS.

VRS added that it was a very meaningful and solemn mass celebration.

“No decors, no videos, no photographers, just with the people who matters to the couple,” added VRS.

The wedding was officiated by Fr. Val Pinlac who also gave a beautiful homily.

Among the celebrities who attended the wedding include Miss Hong Kong China 2006  Janet Ka Wai Chow and Miss World Singapore 2006 and Mrs. World 2008 Colleen Francisca Pereira (who were Maris’ friends during the Miss World 2006 in Warsaw, Poland), Jonathan Chiongbian Aldeguer of Island Souvenirs, Miss Grand International 2015 2nd runner-up Parul Shah, et al.

According to VRS, Maris and Tommy will spend their honeymoon in Thailand.

A beach wedding followed at South Palms Beach Resort last Saturday attended by many politicians, friends and well-wishers.

Anna Maris Igpit with her Miss World 2006 friends -  Mrs. World 2008 Colleen Francisca Pereira (l) and Miss Hong Kong China 2006  Janet Ka Wai Chow during the Despedida de Soltera in Panglao town. Photo taken from Anna Maris Igpit’s Facebook account
Maris and Tommy have been a couple for over two years before tying the knot.  They were engaged in August 2014.

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,”  Maris told VRS last January.

Taylor was the midfielder of the Kaya Futbol Club, a Filipino association football club based in Makati City. They were currently playing in the first division of the United Football League.

Maris was crowned Miss Bohol Sandugo 2005 and Bb. Pilipinas-World 2006. She was behind the Oplan Bangon Bohol campaign to help the victims of the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Bohol in 2013.  


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

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Olalala...Bohol's 'coco bra' for summer keepsake

Scene: The docu-drama of the Regional   Huwarang   Pantawid   Pamilya   Search   2016 by the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Field Office VII  was aired last Friday and Saturday on Cebu Catholic Media Network (CCTN) channel 47. It featured the Torrentira  Family  of  Barangay  Dagnawan, Sagbayan town, in Bohol.  The Torrentira family won last year’s Huwarang Pantawid Pamilya Regional Search and also placed 2nd  runner up at the national level.

Seen: Spotted in Bohol last week was actress Valerie Concepcion for a vacation. The tour was arranged by Wow Bohol Travel and Tours (09081724641/09176838051)
Scene: At least 2,800 incoming kindergarten and elementary pupils from San Isidro, Carmen, Inabanga and Sagbayan towns have received school supplies from GMA Kapuso Foundation for its annual Unang Hakbang sa Kinabukasan project.

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For many travelers to this Bohol’s anomalous town, which is at least 99 km from the capital city of Tagbilaran, the town fulfils the province's promise of easy breezes, slow days and perfect beaches.

What may come as a surprise are the twists recently added to the town.

New resorts are constructed along the famed beaches of Anda, while some resorts undergo major refurbishments.

The exquisite coconut bra or “coco bra” is an added 
twist to Anda town, in Bohol province, where members 
of Talisay Fishermen Association (Tafias) are crafting the
 unique brassiere for souvenir item.  Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
New cafes. New spas. New pools. 

And the latest?

The coconut bra!

It may sounds Hawaiian, but coconut bra, a woman’s brassiere, is now crafted here by the members of the Talisay Fishermen Association (Tafias).

The coconut bra, “coco bra” for short, is made of real coconut shells with braided raffia or hemp strings to tie around the neck and the back.

It is one size coconut bra which fits most adults who dare to wear it.

“The coco bra is probably better described a coconut bikini top,” said Robin Gurney, founder of AndaKidz, a non-profit, non-sectarian organization which focuses on the hungry kids of Anda town, which is supporting and helping Tafias projects.

“Coco bra just sounds snappier and cooler,” he added.

When coco bra was introduced to the market last March, it caused a stir among foreign men and expats.

“Philippines is a tropical destination for tourists (domestic and international). Many when they are in holiday mode make instinctive, impulsive purchases of tourist souvenir items,” Gurney said.

Coco Bra
Coconut bra sells well in Hawaii, he said.

The coco bra and hula skirt are iconic images of hula dancing and party wear at Hawaiian luaus. The 1961 movie “Blue Hawaii” starring Elvis Presley, featured Hawaiian women wearing coconut bras.

“We had seen that in Hawaii the coconut bra sells well so we tried to do a Filipino version because they are many coconuts in the area which could in theory be up-cycled to higher value products,” he said.

At least 50 Tafias members, mostly fishermen and out of school youth, were trained to produce wide range of coconut and bamboo jewelry, said Gurney.  The materials and tools were donated and provided by AndaKidz as part of project co-funded by Estoninan Development Cooperation.

Through Tafias, its members get paid to make the coco bra and other native jewelry, added Gurney.

They can make at least 50 coconut bras for a day.

“I estimate 100 per day is possible, more if we have supplies and labor. It’s very scalable,” he said.

Gurney hopes Tafias can find resellers and stockist in all tourist beach destinations.

"The coco bra is new but we have had orders from Estonia and Boracay so far,” Gurney said.

In Bohol, coco bra is available at Coco Loco Cafe in Poblacion, Anda town, for P300.

The Coco Loco Cafe also sells other Tafias products ranging from fashion items -earrings, necklaces, bracelets, bangles and even a bow tie made of coconut shell, to homemade organic ice-creams and the tilapia chips.

However, the most selling item is the coco bra.

“Isa sa mabenta dito ay ang coco bra. Maraming mga dayuhan na pumupunta dito para bumili sa amin ng mga souvenirs,” said Rizza Amoguis, staff of Coco Loco Cafe.

In Barangay Talisay in Anda town where the Tafias center can be found, AndaKidz also helped Tafias put up an eco-friendly community center which uses plastic soda bottles and liquor bottles as walls.

The community center also boasts of a children’s library, children’s play dens, musical instruments and study tables and spacious halls where community volunteers also put up trainings and discussions.

Bohol farmers plant melons

The drought affects rice farmers very significantly. It is expected to last until last week of May or early weeks of June this year, said Hermes Hinlayagan, weather forecaster of the local Pagasa.

The current dry spell has pushed water tables deeper underground and is drying up some creeks and springs.   Although rainshowers have experienced in some towns, there is a need for water.

With drought jeopardizing Bohol agriculture, some farmers in some towns are fighting to survive. They have  shifted to  other crops that are drought-resilient, such as watermelons, bitter gourd (ampalaya) and string beans..

Some farmers in Lila and Dimiao towns are planting watermelons and string beans to beat the dry season. Donald Quim grows watermelons for  extra income for the family while the drought is drying up the land in the province.  Watermelons and beans thrive well during dry season.   Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
In Lila town, at least 100 farmers are in the fields in the morning and afternoon in coastal barangays of Taug, Tiguis and Lomanoy.

Donald Quim, 46, of Barangay Taug, started planting watermelons in the 300-quare-meter farm last year after he was convinced  by his wife Luzviminda, 53, that these melons are profitable. Last year, he earned P7,500 from 375 watermelons, which he sold for P16 to P20 a kilo.

This year, Quim said he spent at least P 1, 750 in farm inputs, including watermelon seeds for P750 and fertilizers for P1,000.

He said watermelons could survive  hot weather akthough the still needed to be watered twice a day.

“Maka-survive ang watermelon basta lamang naay source nga makuhaan og tubig. Basta mabubuan sila maka-survive yamu ang melon. Buntag ug hapun  ang bubo. Mao na nakalami namo diri dapita sa Lila kay naa mi tubig. Magamit namo ang basak after harvest sa panahon sa tag-init,” he said.

Quim said his pocket should not dry up this dry season.

“Kakugi rana. Twice a day . kada semana mag-abuno. Check-up the farm tingali naay magbinuang,” he said.

Generally, the fruits are ready for harvest after 65 to 90 days. One vine can produce four to five fruits. Smaller fruits usually weigh 3-4 kilos, but bigger melons weigh 5-7 kilos.  He sells it for P15-20 per kilo which is lower compared to malls and markets in Tagbilaran.

If Quim has to compare planting rice and melon, he would prefer the former since it is profitable.

His last rice harvest was in the middle of March this year in his 1,000 sq meter. He was able to  to harvest 20 sacks of rice. 

“Dili pa na net. Gamay ra og abot ang basakan,” he said.

In the neighboring town of Dimiao, at least 50 farmers in Barangay Balbalan, known as the “watermelon country” in Bohol, were a bit late than Lila farmers. They just started planting watermelons last March.

Ricado Cagas, 50, planted watermelons last first week of April in his 300 square meter farm. He said he is expecting to harvest them this June. His wife Rosita, 34; and three children-RR, 24; Lemuel, 22; and Gladys, 21 are helping him managing the farm.

He said he spent at least P4,000 for farm inputs for seeds, fertilizer and chemical spray.  Last year, he was able to sell melons for P20,000.

Farmers grow a Sweet 16 variety of watermelon, cantaloupe and honey dew.

Cagas said he liked panting watermelons because the waiting time to make a profit was shorter.

“Lami ang watermelon kay makakuwarta dali. Ang humay kay dugay anihun kay 120 days. Ang watermelon mga 1 month and tunga,” he said.

Another farmer, Eduardo Lagrada, took advantage of planting water melons this dry season.

 “Sayang ang panahon kung dili mutanum og melon nga maoy tiempo nga tigtanum. Usik bah. Mentras iyang panahon tamnan para dili masayang. Makatabang sab,” Lagrada said.

He grows watermelons to prepare for the coming classes in June.

“Gipangandaman sab ni ika-pangabri sa klase bah. Dako sab ikabatang sa panahon og tigklase. Makapamalit og kinahanglanun,” he said.
GMA Kapuso Foundation In Bohol. 
Both farmers in Lila and Dimiao have claimed they have the sweetest and delicious watermelons. Farmers are selling watermelons in makeshift sheds along the national highway.

However, not all farmers grow water melons this dry season.  Some grow ampalaya (bitter gourd) and string beans like Eleuterio Patana, 57, of  Barangay Datag, in the same town, who started planting ampalaya last month.  Another farmer Sergio Bakilid, 56, also planted string beans. He said string beans could thrive in the heat.

“Batong ang permanente itanum ingaron basta tag-init kay mulahutay og way tubig,” said Bakilid.

Farmers in Barangay Quinoguitan in Loboc town have also planted watermelons. Those in Carmen and Sierra-Bullones also grow pineapples, aside from watermelons.

Boholano farmers are still watching the skies and staring at their parched lands they have no option to fight drought than wait for rain.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016

It’s Duterte-Robredo in Bohol

Liberal Party (LP) standard-bearer Mar Roxas may have lost in the presidential race, but his party and its allies remain entrenched in Bohol province.

Gov. Edgar Chatto of LP was re-elected governor with 330,751 votes, while Loay Mayor Rosermarie Lim-Imboy with 222,222 votes. Chatto is in his last term as governor.

Senior Board Member lawyer Dionisio Balite of Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban) won a fresh mandate as vice governor of Bohol with 277,199 votes. He defeated incumbent Vice Governor Concepcion Lim (LP), who got 256,124 votes.

Senior Board Member lawyer Dionisio Balite (with presumptive
President Rodrigo Duterte) is the newly-elected vice governor
of Bohol province. Contributed Photo
Balite was among the last five candidates in the provincial level that the BOC were proclaimed on Wednesday at the Capitol Session Hall after a much delayed count caused by transmission problems from the municipalities and glitches from secured digital (SD) cards from Sierra-Bullones and Lila towns.

Balite said he will bring back the dignity at the Sangguniang Panlalawigan (SP).

“To everything there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven. This is the time; this is the season. You all gave me the purpose. All of these fruits of hope, faith, hardwork and prayers, akong ihalad kaninyo,” said Balite.

LP will have majority in the composition of the SP. LP’s Venzencio Arcamo, Abeleon Damalerio and newcomer Ricky Masamayor for the first district.  In the second district, only Agapito Avenido  is from LP, while Rey Niño Boniel is from UNA and Thomas Abapo (NPC). In the third district, LP’s Jade Bautista, Alexi Tutor, Elpidio Jala won, while PDP-Laban’s Victor Balite won.

Only one of the three congressmen who received a fresh mandate is an LP candidate. He was Rene Relampagos of the first district. The two others- Erico Aristotle Aumentado (second district) and Arthur Yap (third district)—belong to the NPC. 

Still LP
Of the 47 towns and one city in Bohol, 31 elected mayors are with LP while nine belong to PDP-Laban, the party of presumptive president Duterte. The UNA and the NPC have four mayors each.

For the Boholanos, the choice was a Duterte-Robredo leadership.

The official results from 47 towns and 1 city also showed that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte got 310,114 votes, while Mar Roxas came second with 200,544 votes. Vice President Jejomar Binay got 42,245 votes, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago got 6,108 votes, Sen. Grace Poe got 68,097 votes and Roy Señeres got 437 votes, according to the election returns canvassed by the Bohol Provincial Board of Canvassers (BOC) on Wednesday.

In the vice presidential race, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo enjoyed a wide margin in Bohol with 272,649 votes. Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano followed with 167, 085 votes; Sen. Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. with 79, 514 votes; Sen. Francis Escudero with 54, 139 votes; Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV with 10, 747 votes; and Sen. Gringo Honasan with 9,879 votes.

But even though Duterte won in Bohol due to his campaign manager, the outgoing Maribojoc mayor Leoncio Evasco Jr., Duterte’s popularity in the province didn’t help for the local PDP-Laban leaders to win.

In Maribojoc town, considered the bailiwick of Evasco, their candidate incumbent vice-mayor Fructuoso Redulla Jr. failed to win the mayoralty bid. Also  PDP-Laban’s provincial chair Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan didn’t  win for mayor in Panglao town.

Political grip
Prominent political families have maintained their political dominance. 

The Jumamoy family maintained its dominance in Inabanga town.  Josephine Socorro Jumamoy was re-elected mayor, while son Jose Jono Jumamoy was re-elected councilor.

The Cajes family maintained their hold in Trinidad town. Judith Cajes was reelected mayor, while daughter won a fresh mandate as councilor.

In Panglao, the Montero strengthened its position after Nila Montero was re-elected in the mayoral race and her daughter, Aya Montero was elected councilor.

The Imboy family continued its dominance in Loay town. Outgoing mayor Rosemarie who lost to Chatto will be replaced by her daughter, incumbent councilor Rochelle Brigitte Imboy, 25, who received a fresh mandate as the new mayor of Loay town. Rosemarie’s husband, board member Brigido Imboy, was elected as Loay vice mayor.

Capt. Gisela Boniel was elected mayor of Bien Unido, replacing her husband Mayor Boniel who won a seat in the provincial board.

Bohol is known as an LP bailiwick.  With the winning of Duterte, a tide of change is expected in the local politics.

Traditionally, most officials transfer to the ruling party after elections. Those elected have not announced plans to switch parties though, but they said they would support the Duterte administration.

“Traditionally, Bohol is pro-administration. Kung kinsa in government in power, ana sila,” said Prof. Marianito Luspo, historian and trend watcher.

Most of the time, dili magkuyog ang president ug vice-president,” he said.

Why Cayetano didn’t win in Bohol, according to Luspo, the Duterte camp was focused on Duterte.

“They were focus on Digong nga wala niya ma-raise iyang vice,” he said.

Luspo said that it will be possible that the LP local leaders will transfer to PDP-Laban.

“My analysis is, for survivor’s sake they will.  They will align with PDP, now the ruling party,” he said.

Chatto said that he will work very closely with the Duterte administration in relation to how local government can contribute  to national development.

“It is a matter of getting all the programs from national government in place also in the local.  We will assure the national leadership that Bohol will be cooperating in national programs and make sure that our local programs will also  in tandem of national development thrusts,” Chatto said.

Chatto, the province’s  LP chair, said there are existing local programs that he wants to continue.

“We would  see also what are the priorities of the incoming Duterte administration. We always align also programs of developments in accordance how national administration approaches the national and local and international issues that will have far reaching effects on local levels,” he said.

Election in Bohol generally peaceful

Besides several reports of massive vote-buying, a group of foreign observers on conclude that the election in Bohol was “generally orderly and peaceful.”

The Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections-International Observers Mission (Compact-IOM) deployed five foreign delegates---- Cindy Domingo, Marcelo Trautmann, Celi Tamayo-Lee, Dominik Hammann and Lilli Breininger--- to monitor and observe the election process in Bohol.

The election coverage and monitoring brought two members ----Marcelo Trautmann and Celi Tamayo-Lee-- of the Compact for Peaceful and Democratic Elections-International Observers Mission (Compact-IOM) including yours truly, Liza Macalandag and Regina Estorba-Macalandag together with our guide Dexter Ancla to monitor and observe the election process in Cuaming Island in Inabanga town, Bohol. Contributed Photo

The election coverage and monitoring brought Tamayo-Lee and Trautmann (including yours truly, Liza Macalandag and Regina Estorba-Macalandag) to Cuaming Island of Inabanga after we received reports on harassment, vote-buying, tension between supporters and failure of voting counting machines (VCMs).

“As an international election observer, we had been told that there were reports on irregularity o the machines. When we arrived we visited the three precints there and found the machines were downed for two hours,” said Tamayo-Lee. 

At around 1 p.m. on Monday, voting stopped in two clustered precincts in Cuaming in Inabanga town in Bohol province after the Vote Counting Machines (VCMs) malfunctioned.

The cluster precincts comprised six precincts or at least 1,000 voters.

The Board of Election Inspectors (BEI) stopped the voting after the VCMs failed to read the votes cast after 10 tries.

“We tried to wait for a technician but no one came because it’s far,” said BEI Genabel Bayot.

She added the machine would still not read the results, prompting them to off the machine. AT around 5 p.m, it functioned but another there was another signal- no signal at the island.

What added to the problem was tension rose between supporters of incumbent Mayor Josephine Socorro Jumamoy and her opponent Engr. Concepcion Muñeses.

Cuaming Island had 1, 614 registered voters. It had had 3 clusters with three precints each cluster.

Both parties claimed of harassment and vote-buying.

Inabanga is 71 km from Tagbilaran City. It has 50 barangays of which  Cuaming and Hambongan are the two island-barangays.

At least 6 police officers were assigned in the area during election time.

But according to the police who were assigned at the island. They managed to curb the tension.

“Nakontrol nato ang area. Dili malikayan both sides magkantyaway. Walay pasakitan sa usag-usa gawas lang sa estorya ana. Under control nato ang area, Naay estorya nga gubot pero naa mi pirmi nag-monitor sa area," said PO3 Reynaldo Galorio”

He also added they safeguarded the overall electoral process without endangering its credibility.

A watcher Raymond Balorio accused the BEI for some violations of the conduct of the election.

“Naa man gud ko nakit-an dili maayo. Sa among seminar, if naa nakit-ansa sud  nga dili maayo ..kanag magdala og smaple bloot, kanang magdrive sab nga dili illiterate, ta-aw nako mabuking na, dili kuwan  gani ipadayun. It means naay anomaly nga dili maayo,” he said.

However, BEI denied his accusations.

“He annoyed us. He disturbed us during the voting. He always ask not valid questions. He annoyed us a BEI. So it means. He didn’t trust us as BEI,” said Bayot.

She added that BEI had held the ballot that could not submitted to the VCM.

She added that some residents reported harassment and felt upset during the election process.

In Antequera town,  reading glasses were on stand-by for senior citizens who are more susceptible to age-related eye problems.

Since the ballot had smaller letter, Obujan village chair Marcelina Descallar provided at least 10 reading glasses at the precints at Obujan-Tagubaas Elem. School for senior citizens including Ceferina Refogio, 72, who forgot to bring her eyeglass.  

Another international election observer, Cindy Domingo, said that election in Bohol was generally peaceful and smooth sailing.

“This is my second time as international observer to the Filipino election. The first time was in Cebu  and this is my first time to Bohol. It’s very different. It looks like a little more organized in Bohol ,” she said.

She said that vote-buying was visible and people were opened on vote buying.

“I think overall, I have not seen any large problem and so other than vote-buying... over-all election is doing well. There were intimidation reported but hard for us to see us,” said Domingo.

She said she was inspired how the Philippines conducted Monday’s election.

She wanted to highlight the “faceless, nameless heroes” who made the election possible.

“The teachers, the unsung heroes of the election... Very inspirational,” she said. 

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

Sunday, May 8, 2016

Election Day 2016: Your vote is your dignity

Everybody’s happy, to say the least.  Most of you, er, them know we have our own “share” as money is the talk of the town in Bohol province days before Monday’s elections.

Last night, Vidal (not his real name), a registered voter in Booy, was visiting houses to give “gifts.” He was not Santa but he had presents for all.

He said vote-buying still exists in Bohol and that aside from cash, candidates are also giving away assorted goods.

Vote buying is observed in the hotly contested mayoral contests in Tagbilaran City and the towns of Panglao, Trinidad, Loay, Albur, Loboc, Guindulman and Candijay.

While visiting a mall in Tagbilaran City yesterday, by coincidence, I bumped into Madame Susie Castaño, one of the outrageously flamboyant barangay officials in the city. I asked her some political updates for tomorrow’s Election Day.

“If kinsay mudaog, mao na ang gihatag sa Ginoo (Whoever will win, s/he is given by God),” she said.
Bu she said our vote can make a difference.

Susie Castaño: ‘By voting, you are making your voice heard 
and registering your opinion on how you think the 
government should operate...’ Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
“Voting is a fundamental process that keeps our system of government working,” said Madame Susie.

She added, “Fulfill your action tomorrow. By voting, you are making your voice heard and registering your opinion on how you think the government should operate.”

Tomorrow, we are set to decide who will get the chance to lead the country for the next six years.

Tomorrow, we will decide who will run our province for the next three years.  

Your vote is your dignity.

Meanwhile, here are the Parish Pastoral Council for Responsible Voting (PPCRV)’s 10 commandments for Responsible Voting (and reminders that vote buying is an evil act from Jagna Movement for Good Governance or JaMGGo):

1. Vote according to the dictates of your conscience.

2. Respect the decision of others in choosing their candidates.
Qualified leaders are hard to find. Vote wisely. Contributed Photos: Comelec

3. Seek to know the moral integrity, capabilities, and other personal qualities of the candidates you will vote for.

4. Strive to understand the issues, platform, and programs of candidates and parties campaigning for your vote.

5. Do not sell your vote.
6. Do not vote for candidates using guns, goons, gold, and glitter.

7. Do not vote for candidates tainted with graft and corruption.

8. Do not vote for candidates simply because of “utang na loob” (debt of gratitude), popularity, good looks, or “pakikisama” (peer pressure).

9. Do not vote for candidates living an immoral life.

10. Always put the welfare of the country as top priority in choosing the candidate you will vote for.

VRS wants to hear from you. Tell me what you thought about the election! You can e-mail me at

So long, Mayor Tom

For me, former Danao mayor Louis Thomas “Mayor Tom” Gonzaga was one of the coolest and unassuming public servants in the province.

I’d interviewed him several times even at his farm in Barangay Magtangtang in Danao town; he was very welcoming. He was one of those people with whom you could share just about anything. He was very unassuming; not intimidating at all.

The last time I met him was during the visit of Sen. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. last month.

Mayor Louis Thomas Gonzaga
There were times that the visits of the United Nationalist Alliance (UNA) standard-bearer Vice President Jejomar Binay to Bohol were off limits to media. However, I bombarded Mayor Tom with endless text messages and calls asking the whereabouts of Binay. I knew he gave up due to my unlimited “kakulitan” that I was able to do some exclusive stories for GMA News and Inquirer.

That was Mayor Tom. He never lost his temper, at least not in public.

Shock waves rippled through the political arena last Friday as news surfaced that Mayor Tom passed away last Thursday night, two days after he was found unconscious inside his house on Peñaflor street in Tagbilaran City on Tuesday, He was 46.

The family has yet to release a statement on the cause of his death but I learned from his close friends that the stress of the campaign and the heat may have taken a toll on his death.

According to Boy Pernia, a family friend of the Gonzagas, the former mayor may have given into stress and the extreme heat.

Although he was running unopposed for mayor under the UNA, Gonzaga, who is the party’s regional deputy coordinator in Bohol, was actively campaigning for Binay.

In 2010, Gonzaga helped Binay score a resounding victory in Danao with 4,618 votes against his then vice presidential rival, Mar Roxas, who got 1,742.

Pernia said Gonzaga attended meetings on Monday.

When he reached home late that night, he told his housemaid to wake him up at around 8 a.m. because he had to attend a political rally in Danao town, at least 92 kilometers from Tagbilaran.

But on Tuesday morning, the housemaid found him unconscious, prompting them to bring him to Ramiro Community Hospital (RCH) in Tagbilaran City.

Gonzaga was supposed attend UNA’s grand rally on Tuesday, said Danao Councilor Lirio Vitor, Gonzaga’s running mate.

He was admitted to the RCH’s intensive care unit where doctors were able to stabilize his condition. He, however, died at 11:51 p.m. on Thursday, four days before the May 9 elections.

“We lost a great leader who had a big vision for Danao,” said Vitor in a phone interview.

Bohol Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado, Gonzaga’s friend and ally, was also saddened by his death.

“I deeply mourn the passing of a friend and brother. Mayor Tom was the epitome of transparent and selfless service not receiving even a cent from his salary and instead gave this amount to the needy. The second district leadership assures the people of Danao of my unwavering support to make your lives a little better,” said Aumentado.

Several supporters and friends of the former mayor have expressed their sympathies on social media.

Edik Dolotina posted on Facebook, “Rest in peace Mayor Tom Gonzaga of Danao, Bohol. You were one of the people who brought ecotourism in Bohol into the limelight with your E.A.T. Danao...”

 “U are not gone, ur just ahead of us... (Roomate, boss tom,mayor tom, tompax, masto, idol) sa sunod natong panagtagbo... Salamat sa tanan... Ur d man..,” said Dominic “Dobap” Aparicio on Instagram.

Gonzaga, UNA’s vice chairman in Central Visayas, was Danao mayor from June 2004 to June 2013. He also served as vice mayor to his mother, Natividad Gonzaga, in 2013. He was also  an active member of APO-Zeta Omega 1987A .

Gonzaga, one of the most accomplished and experienced public servants, created the Danao Extreme Adventure Park which put the town on the tourism map.

Danao, a fourth class municipality with 17 barangays (villages), was the headquarters of Francisco Dagohoy’s rebellion.

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Sunday, May 1, 2016

Happy fiesta, Bohol!

Seen: Singer-actress Manilyn Reynes was spotted in Bohol for a vacation. At the Tagbilaran Airport, she was mobbed by fans. Police officer Melinda Mendez-Basalo said “Manilyn is our family's favorite singer and actress.” For baby boomers, Manilyn Reynes started out in showbiz at the tender age of ten. Thirty years later, she is still a regular face on television.

Seen: Also spotted in Bohol last week were Nonito “The Flash” Donaire Jr., former beauty queen Precious Lara Guigaman and husband Marco Alcaraz.

Scene: The 2nd Calamay Festival in Jagna town, the home of the original calamay.  The 29-feet replica of the famous calamay added fanfare to the celebration. Amiela Balaba, Jagna information officer, said that “Jagna’s calamay is delicious, tasty and world-class ang quality.”

One of the “white lies” we were told as children-and many believed until adulthood- is that Bohol province sinks about an inch during May, the merry month of fiestas here in Bohol province.

May 1, the mother of all fiestas, starts the month-long fiesta 
celebrations in Bohol province. Faithful can visit the 
St. Joseph Cathedral to see the sleeping image of St. Joseph.  
Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
Our folks told us that it is due to the thousands of Bol-anons who come home to attend the many town and barrio fiestas celebrated during the month.  In case you are in doubt,  you can check the Tagbilaran airport and piers to see the throngs of passengers and balikbayan arriving in Bohol.

It took several years for me to realize that my elders were right after all. All the "lies" that they told me are true. You know, true lies.

Well, today, in every sitio, barangay (village), town, somewhere, we are celebrating.

The fiesta celebration is not complete without the famous lechon (roasted pig), humba (stewed pork) and plenty of beer and tuba to match.

If you are adventurous enough, you can practically go round the whole province without any money and eat for free and experience the famous Boholano hospitality.

Everyone is welcome, no invitations required!

May 1 - Tagbilaran City (Saint Joseph the Worker)
May 4 – Alburquerque (Santa Monica)
May 4 – Mabini (Santa Monica)
May 4 – Sagbayan (San Agustin)
May 8 - San Miguel (Saint Michael)
May 10 - Calape (Saint Vincent Ferrer)
May 15 - Bilar  (Saint Isidore the Farmer)
May 15 - Trinidad (Saint Isidore)
May 15 - Tubigon (San Isidro Labrador)
May 19 - Candijay (Saint Joseph)
May 29 – Talibon (Blessed Trinity)
Last Saturday of May (Holy Trinity)- Talibon

P.S. Pakapin lang ning June He! He! He!

June 13- Sikatuna- (Saint Anthony de Padua)
June 15- Loay  (Holy Trinity)
June 24- Garcia-Hernandez (Saint John the Baptist)
June 29- Loboc (Saint Peter the Apostle)
June 30 –Inabanga (Saint Paul the Apostle)

Inday Sara Duterte arrives in Bohol

Despite storm of attacks, presidential candidate Rodrigo Duterte's supporters here are unstoppable.

On Friday afternoon, hundreds of thousands of supporters and fans showed up during Duterte’s daughter’s sortie in Bohol.

Former Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte was here for the Bohol-leg of the nationwide caravan Biyaheng DU30.

Sara arrived in Tubigon town at around 4 p.m. where she was mobbed by fans and supporters.  Inday Sara’s team gave candies, fans, bawlers, stickers and t-shirts. They had quick stops at Calape and Loon towns.

Bohol welcomes Inday Sara Duterte. 
Contributed Photos. Winston Rabe/JP Maslog
At around 8 p.m., Sara met provincial senior board member Dionisio Balite, who is running for vice governor in the province, for a dinner.

She said all her visits were smooth sailing.

“Okay raman. So, far kaluoy sa Ginoo, okay tanan areas naadtuan (In God’s mercies, everything went smoothly),” she said.

But the Central Visayas, according to her, the supporters are warmth.

“Mas enthusiastic ang mga tawo. Mainiton ang pagdawat (People are enthusiastic. They welcomed us warmly),” she said.

Last week, Sara was a banner headline on TV and newspapers when Sen.  Antonio Trillanes IV, who himself a vice presidential candidate, accused Rodrigo Duterte of having P211 million in an account in a bank branch in Metro Manila in 2014.

Trillanes said Duterte did not declare the P211 million in his statement of assets and liabilities and net worth (SALN). Trillanes said from 2006 to 2015, Duterte held seven join accounts with his daughter Sara at the BPI branch on Julia Vargas Avenue in Pasig City, nine joint accounts at BPI-Edsa Greenhills branch and one joint account at Banco de Oro Unibank-1 in Davao City. 

Failure to declare an asset is a ground for an employee’s dismissal from government service

But Sara dared her father’s accuser, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, to file a case against them.

Police Officer Melinda Mendez-Balo 
with Manilyn Reynes. Contributed Photo
Kung tinuod gyud nga naa siyay legitimate nga complaint sa gina-accuse niya, i-file niya sa court para makatubag ko og tarung (If it is true that what he is accusing us is a legitimate complaint, file it in court so I can answer properly),” she said.

 “It is clearly a black propaganda given the fact that Duterte is leading the survey with only a few days away from May 9,” said Duterte supporter JP Maslog.

The younger Duterte served as Davao City mayor from 2010 to 2013 when her father was vice mayor.
She also denied that she and her siblings had properties that they did not declare.
According to the Land Registration Authority, the Duterte children have 35 properties, 11 of which are under the mayor’s daughter’s name and four under her husband’s.

She said she had declared all of her properties in her statement of assets, liabilities and net worth (SALN), adding most of her assets came from her parents after they separated.

Pagbulag nila in 1998 gibalhin tanang properties sa among manag-igsuon kay maoy gi-require sa korte (When they separated in 1998, their properties were divided among us siblings because that was required by the court),” she said.

“Even sa balay sa akong mama supposedly iyaha, gusto sa kong mama ibutang sa akong pangalan para walay makailog nga lain (Even the house of my mother which was supposedly hers, my mama wanted to place it under my name so it would not be taken by others),” she added.

She said she did not have any idea of the properties owned by her brothers Paolo, now vice mayor, and Sebastian.

The accusations, she said, were just black propaganda orchestrated by her father’s detractors.

Silang tanan. Kalaban. Of course, nag-dako ko sa pulitika and kana tanan part na siya sa isa ka election (They are all enemies. Of course, I grew up in politics and all of these were part of one election),” she said.

Welcome to the 2nd Calamay Festival in Jagna town, Bohol. 
Leo Udtohan/Chronicle
Mao nay gitawag nato nga black propaganda. In fact, naghinay-hinay siya gawas una pagbabae, mamatay tao. Karun, kana na jud (That is what we call black propaganda. These are slowly coming out. First was him being a womanizer and then a killer. And now this).”

She said her family was prepared for mudslinging and accusations because every election even in Davao, such issues would usually come out.

The younger Duterte thanked their supporters that despite the accusations, they remained loyal.

Pasalamat ko sa ilaha, through thick and thin, naa sila. Sa kalisud naa sila (I am thankful to them. Through thick and thin, they are there with us. In difficulties, they are with us).

The Visayas, considered as a stronghold of administration presidential candidate Mar Roxas, may be slowly slipping away from Roxas’ grasp, according to his allies and party mates who are now supporting Sen. Grace Poe and Duterte. 

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