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!


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

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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