Sunday, January 1, 2017


What an amazing year 2016 has been!

2016 was a busy year, with big breaking news stories seemingly every week.

The presidential election was clearly a dominant topic of interest, but stories on drug war, loveteams,  and sometimes beauty pageants also drew avid readership.

As is our tradition, here's a look back at some of our favorite moments from the year gone by.

The Duterte-Cayetano political rally last April 3 in Bohol was “phenomenal.” Supporters called the visit “redemption,” “Duterte festival,” and “Duterte phenomenon.”

In Ubay town, a crowd of 10,000 greeted Mayor Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Allan Peter Cayetano at the town’s gymnasium. In Tagbilaran City, the crowd swelled to 60,000, an event really unexpected since Bohol is touted as bailiwick of the Liberal Party (LP).

After Tagbilaran, Duterte and Cayetano proceeded to Panglao where at least 20,000 supporters, wearing blue and red shirts with Duterte’s face and name on it, have gathered at the Panglao gymnasium.

It’s been an amazing year for VRS. So we’d like to stop and remember some 
of the most compelling stories of 2016. 
Courtesy: Ralph Paulo Libradilla/Chris Ramasola/PEPPS/ABS-CBN/et al

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

For the Boholanos, the choice was a Duterte-Robredo leadership. But even though Duterte won in Bohol due to his campaign manager, former 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.

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, Joan Robie, 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.

Lawyer Ingemar Patiño Macarine, popularly known as “Pinoy Aquaman,” added feathers on his colorful cap by successfully crossing the 17.1-kilometer long Canigao Channel between President Carlos P. Garcia (Pres. CPG) island-town of Bohol and Maasin City, capital of Southern Leyte.

The swim was organized by the Municipality of Ubay courtesy of Mayor Constantino Reyes to promote tourism in Ubay and for cleaner seas.

Macarine, also the election officer of Tubigon town in Bohol, started the swim early morning of November 20 at Barangay Tugas of Pres. CPG town and tackled the channel in six grueling hours and 37 minutes to reach Barangay Guadalupe in Maasin City.

Macarine, one of this year’s nominees for the World Open Water Swimming Man of the Year, has conquered the seas in the United States and Philippines.  He plans to return to the United Kingdom to swim the English Channel sometime in September next year. The event was cancelled in August last year due to bad weather.

Bohol is their favorite destination. Those who visited Bohol in 2016 were singer-actress Manilyn Reynes,
Nonito “The Flash” Donaire Jr., former beauty queen Precious Lara Guigaman and husband Marco Alcaraz,  Sara Duterte, Vice President Leni Robredo and her kids, Valerie Concepcion, appl de Ap and K-Pop Star Sandara Park.

During the Earth Day celebration, members and supporters of the Bohol Nature Conservation Society (Bonaconso) gathered to celebrate Earth Day with multiawarded singer-songwriter Joey Ayala.  As a musician and artist, Ayala believes in the healing power of song, as well as the connection to the earth that it provides.

The former beauty queen Anna Maris Igpit and Aussie football player  homas Luke Taylor finally tied the knot in a church wedding at the St. Augustine Church in Panglao town.

By any standard—quantity, quality, variety—2016 was an amazing year for Bohol’s arts and culture.

Baskets of different sizes and shapes highlighted the 3rd basket festival in Antequera town.

The 2nd Calamay Festival was held 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.” Its Sinoog Estokada festival last Sept. 29 portrayed angelic war through rhythmic marching and movements following the beat of the drums.

This year’s Sandugo street-dancing competition had a new twist.  It had infused kuradang, a native Visayan dance practiced in Bohol, Cebu, Leyte and Panay, that might had a culture shock for the Boholano millenials.

Loon’s SidlaKasilak (Festival of Lights) revolved solely on the lights, choreography of lights such as movement, synchronization, formation and dynamics and quality of lights such as design, color harmony and brightness.

Amid  a downpour, the participants of the 3rd Panubig Festival in Pilar town last Oct. 11 drew cheers as they danced in honor  to Nuestra Señora del Pilar or Our Lady of the Pillar, the town’s patroness.

 The rain did not appear to affect the enthusiasm of the dancers (seven from elementary and three from high school) who wore colorful costumes and props as they showcased the tradition and culture of the Pilarnons.

History came to life as the show, “Dagohon sa Hoyohoy, Dagohoy the Musical 2016” by the Bohol Theater Network headed by Kasing Sining, exceptionally told the story and struggle of Bohol’s Dagohoy. The scenes were so intense that it impressed the audience.

“When I was watching the original show way back in 1990 I was already amazed. This time, I was totally captivated and hooked up to the show. I was even teary eyed along the way because it was really well performed, the music was well-arranged, all the actors portrayed the roles excellently. In general, the show was excellent,” said Jeycelle Espejo-Inting, a former history teacher at University of Bohol now teaching at Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School.

Glyssa Perez of Danao town was proclaimed Miss Bohol 2016. Perez was a former Miss Philippines- Australia.

Petche Ann “Che Anne” Vale of Bohol also tried her luck in Mutya ng Pilipinas 2016. Che Ann, 20, a Radiologic Technology graduate from Bohol International College, hails from Barangay Agape, Loboc, the music town of the province. She was the second Lobocanon to join the Mutya ng Pilipinas and the third Boholana to do so.

Carlo Roy Gorospe Roslinda  joined the Gentlemen of the Philippines 2016. Caloi, 27, underwent rigorous physical trainings as well as Q&A training under the supervision of his manager James Obedencio and some friends.

Mister Bohol AR dela Serna (real name: Alberto Rodolfu de la Serna),  23, won the first Misters of Filipinas-Supranational 2016.

AR, the son Alberto and former Poblacion 2 barangay captain Glorivic of Tagbilaran City, said winning in a national male pageant was a dream come true.

He represented the Philippines in the Mister Supranational 2016 in Poland and he was one of the Top 20 finalists. 

The housemates of the latest season of "Pinoy Big Brother" (PBB): Lucky 7 had two lucky teens from Bohol. They were: Ma. Niña Vivoree Matutes Esclito, the “Go Better Girl ng Bohol”  and  Fenech Aimee Veloso, “Ang Ballroom Baby ng Bohol.” 

Vivoree, 16, who hails from Loon town, is a grade 10 student of Tagbilaran City Science High School.

“She can sing and play the guitar,” said teacher and cultural worker Butch Bernas, who was Vivoree’s grade 7 adviser.

Vivoree, who dreams of becoming a performer, said that the reason she auditioned to for PBB was to, “At first po, try lang po talaga. Minsan lang po yun nangyayari, yung mga auditions po sa lugar namin, so sinubukan ko po. But then nung nagtagal po, narealize ko na I’m doing this for something not just for nothing. And that dream isyung pumasok sa bahay ni Kuya.”

Enrique Gil and Liza Soberano, collectively known as LizQuen, were in Bohol for ABS-CBN’s hit television series “Dolce Amore (Sweet Love).” The show explored the province’s scenic spots like the white sandy beaches on Panglao Island, Sevilla Hanging Bridge, Loboc River, man-made forest and the Chocolate Hills.

The Bohol episode showed Tenten (Enrique Gil) finally agreed to join Serena (Liza Soberano) in her trip to Bohol.

Many Boholano followers could not get over to the kilig serye’s episode on Bohol, trending on social media and unwittingly disrupting the diurnal of Boholanos.

Fans of real-life sweethearts Alden Richards and Maine Mendoza got excited upon knowing that the phenomenal love team were in Bohol to shoot for a movie they will be part of.  Alden and Maine, collectively known as Aldub, were in Bohol for the taping of "Enteng Kabisote 10, The Abangers.”

In Bohol, at least 30,000 drug dependents voluntarily surrendered and pledged not to use shabu again. At least 61 drug suspects had been killed in the province of Bohol but not a single case for extrajudicial killing has been filed at the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) here.

As the war against illegal drugs took a brutal, and often left a bloody trail across the country, police in Cebu City (soon in Bohol?) had found a novel way of softening suspects up: serenading and asking them to surrender through singing the novelty song “Oplan Tokhang.”  The (un)official theme song of the “Oplan Tokhang,” was composed by the grandson of Yoyoy Villame PO3 Janew Villame of Clarin Police Station.

Pope Francis had appointed Monsignor Alberto Uy as the new bishop of the Diocese of Tagbilaran.  He will replace Bishop Leonardo Medroso, 77, whose resignation has been accepted by the pope.  A priest for 23 years, Msgr. Uy is currently the Episcopal Vicar of the Diocese of Talibon and at the same time the pastor of St. Michael the Archangel Parish in Jagna town.

Dr. Mutya Kismet Tirol-Macuno, MDM, was appointed as the new Medical Center Chief II of Gov. Celestino Gallares Memorial Hospital (GCGMH). She took her oath before Health Secretary Paulyn Jean Rosell-Ubial.  Leah Tirol-Magno (of Bohol’s Baking Mama), Macuno’s youngest sister shared on Facebook, “We are very proud of you Anang. Carry on the torch of righteousness and continue to share God's love to His people with this new responsibility He entrusted you.”

Boholanos took to social media to vent their ire against a 21-hour power outage that hit the province last Dec. 3.

The outage started at 4 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 3, to give way for the annual preventive maintenance of the NGCP’s 138-kilovolt Maasin-Ubay Line 2.

But in its advisory, NGCP had said the outage would last only until 5 p.m. on Saturday. Time passed, however, and power has not returned by 6 p.m. By 7 p.m., NGCP issued another advisory to say that the outage would last until 8 p.m. The time came but still, there was no power.

The delay in the power restoration irked Boholanos who turned to social media to vent their anger.

There were power interruptions on Dec. 4, Dec. 17 and Dec. 27.--all unscheduled.

Some towns were just more creative than others.  The town of Tubigon had retained its title as the “Most Christmassy Place” in Bohol province.

The 28-foot tall Santa Claus in Sierra-Bullones had become the town’s center of attention, drawing people who take pictures with the Santa in the background.

 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.

Hundreds of devotees in Jagna town flocked to St. Michael the Archangel at 9:30 a.m. on Dec. 24, not just to hear Mass but to witness the “Padagan sa Kometa (Gliding of the Comet).”  It was an reenactment of how the Christmas Star shown brightly above the manger to guide the shepherds and the three kings to where Christ was born.

Msgr. Ignacio Reyes, parish priest of Jagna, said that based on their records, the reenactment dated back to 1867 when parishioners were no longer contented of decorating their church with small stars.
Church records showed that the tradition was never interrupted even during the Japanese occupation in World War II.

Before the start of the first day of the Simbang Gabi (Dawn Mass), the parishioners already hang their kometa (star) near the mezzanine floor above the door of the church.

The kometa's tail was folded as it remained at the end of the pulley until Christmas Eve when it would be released and glide toward the belen near the altar, about 62 meters away.

Reyes and the choir --Pastorela Chorale-- led the congregation in singing the “Gloria in Excelsis Deo,” the church lights dimmed and the bright comet slowly glided across the church, passing the 12 stars that were evenly hanging from the ceiling.  It took at least 10 men to control the ropes that held the comet to the pulley, making the comet move up and down as it continued its glide toward the manger.

Once the comet is directly above the manger, it is made to move down thrice as a sign of respect to the infant Jesus. It would stay there until Jan. 3, the Feast of Three Kings.

Resident Aurelio Acebes, 52, said attending the “Padagan sa Kometa” made him feel proud and happy because this could only be witnessed in Jagna. “I feel that my Christmas is complete every time I attend the Padagan sa Kometa,” he added.

While some parishes have their own “Padagan sa Kometa,” it is only in Jagna where “Dagit sa mga Bitoon” (Snatching of the Stars) is being held every the first Sunday of January.

 “That makes it unique in Jagna because the celebration doesn’t end in "Pagdagan sa Komet’ but we have the ‘balik-dagit’,” said Reyes.

In “Dagit sa mga Bitoon,” the “kometa” begins its journey back home to coro. As it glides back, the 12 smaller stars that are also connected to the pulley followed the “kometa.” The journey will be accompanied by marching song. By the end of the song, the ceiling will be empty.

Jagna Councilor Anthony Aniscal said the tradition should be preserved since it gives identity to the town.

“It is already an identity of our town because we are one of the few, if not alone, practicing such tradition every Christmas for more than a century,” said Aniscal. “It must be preserved but must not defeat the real center of Christmas who is Jesus Christ,” added Aniscal.

From the tragic deaths of former Danao Mayor Thomas Gonzaga and Bohol Gov. Rolando Butalid and to the loss accomplished greats Dr. Luther Ramiro and Nemi Monton, we've done a lot of collective mourning in 2016.

Shock waves rippled through the political arena as news surfaced that former Danao Mayor Louis Thomas “Tom” Gonzaga passed away, two days after he was found unconscious inside his house in Tagbilaran City. He was 46. Mayor Tom was described as one of the coolest and unassuming public servants in the province.

Lawyer Rolando Gatal Butalid, former governor of Bohol and city mayor of Tagbilaran passed away at the age of 85. He served as provincial governor for eight years (1978-1986). He left a good legacy of an honest and friendly leadership.

Sports enthusiasts were devastated by the passing of sportsman and civic leader Nemi Monton last Oct. 4.  As president of Amateur Boxing Association of the Philippines (Abap) in Central Visayas, Nemi opened doors wider for Boholano athletes (he discovered Rey “Boom Boom” Bautista, et al).  He would be sadly missed for his energy, great sense of humor and timeless example as discoverer of athletes.

The founder of Ramiro Hospital Dr. Luther Ramiro passed away on Oct. 30.  He was 91.  As a civic leader, the late Ramiro was a pillar of the Rotary Club being a charter member and a former outstanding president.

News of his death spread on social media, and fellow Rotarians expressed their condolences. "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,” Rotarian Andreimarie Thurman posted on Facebook.

Boholana beauty queen Marcelina Marcel Gatal-Diego, who was named Miss Young Bohol 1983, died after a long bout with breast cancer.  She was 53.
Her friends also took to social media with their condolences.

 “Another beautiful angel has gone to the Great Beyond,” said Miss Tagbilaran 1987 Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin. 

Also former chairman of Miss Tagbilaran Mary Anne Michelle Porticos left us.  Her friends at City Hall expressed their shock and grief of her passing.
Radio personality Joseph “Jojo” Ligan died on May 23. He was 56. Also known as George Gray, he was fondly remembered in radio with his deep booming voice, he brought back the music of yester years in “Good Morning, Yesterday” and the half-hour “Beatles Special.”

Writer Joe Espiritu wrote “30” on Oct. 15. He wrote a column “View from The Top” in the defunct Bohol Sunday Post. His friends said, “You can view us now from the top...thanks for sharing your talent...continue writing in heaven.”

And while most of us didn't know them personally, the loss of them, somehow, feels personal -- we cheered their victories, enjoyed their works and services and listened to their voices.

We remember them.

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

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