Sunday, March 26, 2017

Best things to do in summer in Bohol

Ah, sweet summer, you’ve arrived! With summer already breathing warmth and excitement throughout the country, VRS pooled together our most feel-good summer pastimes— it's time to do something new and possibly productive this summer the next time you are bored!

1.Do one touristy thing in your city/town that you’ve never done before.

2.Turn off your phone and go read in a park.

The Can-uba Marble Beach in Jagna town
 is a public beach and blessed with a long stretch 
of pebbles and cool blue waters. Leo Udtohan

3.Ice cream No. 1 after lunch at The Bohol Bee Farm/The Buzzz.

4.Ice cream No. 2 after dinner at Cresencia Cafe.

5.Take photographs in nature.

6.Stargaze after all there’s a whole universe out there.

7. Learn to cook new recipes for family and friends.

8.Go fishing. Go camping.

9. Take your dog for a walk.

10. Fly a kite.

11.Collect seashells.

12. Eat a slice of watermelon. Sweet melons can be found in Lila and Dimiao towns this summer.  Make sure you get of these tropical fruits sineguelas (Spanish plum), bayabas (guava), lomboy (black/java plum), avocado and kaimito (star apple)-abundant this season and find out that indulging in these fresh and delicious treats will bring you good health.

13.  Pack a picnic.

14. Visit the library. Read wonderful books and learn about the world around you. Library time is active, not passive.

15. Visit the museum. There is no doubt that a primary role of museums is to engage and educate the community. The Bohol Museum will make you smarter!

16. Learn how to drive. Obey traffic rules and drive safely.

The Malingin Falls in the village of Patrocinio in 
Cortes town is one place to explore as the province 
gains a boundless energy this summer. Leo Udtohan
17. Take a road trip to the nearest beaches, springs and waterfalls.  Enjoy the captivating beaches of Jagna, Loon, Calape and Anda. We have many cold springs and cascades in Antequera, Cortes, Dimiao, Lila, Bilar and Sierra-Bullones.

18. Look for old family and high school photos and share them on Facebook.

19. Plant a tree in your community. Do some charity works. Check the Gov. Celestino Gallares Regional Hospital  or visit the Philippine National Red Cross-Bohol chapter if you want to volunteer.

20. Sound trip! Listen to your parents favorite songs—Born Free, My WayDowntown and Tennessee Waltz. Nice to go down memory lane every now and then!

21. Clean your room!

22. Be healthy! Stop smoking, sleep on time, observe a no-fat diet, go for a walk or jog or a run, take vitamins and drink at least eight glasses of water per day.

23. Always remember two things in life: Don't take any decisions when you are angry and don't make any promises when you are happy.

24. Pay your debts!

25. Make it a Sunday habit to read VRS.


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Sunday, March 19, 2017

Busy in Bohol

Busy in Bohol
Love to travel? Share your best tips

My summer getaway started a bit earlier.

Last week, my friend Louie Guarin was here for the first time.  As a travel and tourism writer for the past 17 years for Manila Bulletin, Louie had seen and covered most of the places and festivals in the country, not only as journalist but as festival juror. For many years, however, his travel to Bohol hadn't materialized due to some unavoidable circumstances.  

Bohol is bursting with adventurous activities
 and stunning natural sites, with Panglao
 Island as travelers’ favorite for its miles 
of powder sand beaches. Leo Udtohan
Louie, who is now with Vanity Magazine, arrived on Monday morning. He stayed at the Dumaluan Beach Resort 2 (For inquiries and reservations at Dumaluan Beach Resort 2, call [+6338] 502 9092) in Panglao where he was enjoying authentic hospitality from the owners (Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan and his wife, Malou, and daughter, Reichyl) and staff.

Panglao is still the traveler’s favorite spot. Here, you'll find miles of white sand and pristine waters — hence it’s called the jewel of Bohol. 

“With summer just around the corner, travel buffs need look no further than the gem that is Dumaluan Beach Resort,” said Roldan Cuevas, operation manager of Dumaluan Beach Resort 2.

“We have the finest white-sandy beach! Parents can enjoy a "time-out" together while the kids play, too,”  said Anthony Ceniza, the resort’s supervisor who was Cebu’s choreographer extraordinaire who fell in love with Panglao.  

 Louie Guarin is enjoying his Bohol trip.  Leo Udtohan
With romantic beaches like Dumaluan Beach Resort, this is a destination where you can swim and sunbathe year-round. Its list of activities range from swimming to jetski, parasailing and sailing on glass-bottom boats.

Roldan said they are preparing for the influx of international travelers this summer. 

 “We are training our staff to help them understand more about the culture of different travelers,” he said “That is to develop cultural sensitivity and meet traveler’s expectations like foods and other comforts of home.”

On Tuesday, Louie had visited the “must see” destinations in Bohol. So much to see, so many places to visit in Bohol. How can you do that in 24 hours? Well, it was arranged by Wow Bohol Travel and Tours (+6338 510-6177; Email:; 639954533402/+639081724641/+639287582804).

Even though I’d accompanied Louie in his countryside, I’d love visiting the countryside even if I am doing it for the nth time.

He visited Sandugo Blood Compact monument in Bool district, one of the promoted historic spots in the island.  A few minutes from Bool, he visited the Baclayon town where the Immaculate Conception Parish Church.  Built in 1595, the Baclayon Church is one of the oldest churches in the Philippines.  Unfortunately the church is one of the historical monuments that was badly damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake in 2013.

Travel and tourism is one of the country’s
 largest industries. In Panglao,
 the Dumaluan Beach Resort 2 (l-r) Anthony Ceniza, 
Malou Dumaluan, Reichyl Dumaluan-Vallente 
and Roldan Cuevas) delivers an authentic
 hospitality experience to their guests. Leo Udtohan
He also visited the Bohol Wildlife Park where he saw some rescued wildlife, including pythons, monkeys and tropical birds. Marimar also showed her sterling performance.

In Loboc town, he enjoyed the buffet lunch at the Loboc floating restaurants for P450.   While eating Filipino foods,  the hour-long ride takes you along the wooded river, past a small waterfall, and to a station where folk singers  regaled the visitors with native songs and a Tinikling Dance. Anybody was welcome to dance. The tour ended watching the picturesque Busay falls.

After Loboc, he felt the cool temperature at the man-made forest. The two-kilometer man-made forest is between the towns of Loboc and Bilar is an amazing sight that offers tranquility.

He also defied gravity at the Sipatan Twin Hanging Bridge, most spectacular footbridge in Sevilla town.  The bridge which is about 40 meters long hangs 25 meters (82 feet) above the river made of woven bamboo slats and steel.  When you step onto the bridge, you will experience some side to side sway and up and down bounce. Entrance fee is P20.

He had a close encounter with tarsier, the smallest primate in the world. At the Tarsier Conservation Area in Bilar, a P60 (regular) and P50 (senior citizen and student) fees, visitors could get you a quick view of the tarsier. 

For the nth time, I looked at it eyeball-to-eyeball and that’s how I noticed lonely its eyes were, so huge that, for a while, I felt that those eyes would kill me with gentleness.

The tarsier (Carlito syrichta), locally known as “mawmag,” has all the basic qualities of cute: enormous eyes which can turn 360 degrees set in a tiny body no bigger than a human fist and tiny knobbly paws with which it grasps onto tree branches.

However, there are some rules when meeting them. Don’t touch them, don’t be noisy, and don’t use flash when taking photos.

Good life, good food and good company. 
Louie was breathless when he saw the postcard-famous Chocolate Hills.  The hills are alive with the whatever sound you can imagine, all those 1,268 mounds (count ‘em!). In summer, when the grasses with which they are covered in turn into a brown color, they look like mounds of Hershey’s Chocolate Kisses, hence the name "Chocolate Hills."

48 hours in Bohol is too short. I told Louie that Bohol has list of unexpected places that we never knew we wanted to visit–but now can't wait to explore.

“Definitely, I will come back,” Louie said.

 “I love Bohol, I love the Boholanos,” he added.

Speaking of summer, the favorite place is Bohol. Here at VRS, we'd like to celebrate by making a list of your favorite things about Bohol.

Tell us your favorite thing about Bohol. Is it a beautiful province? The best beaches? The highest waterfalls? A particularly delectable dish? A relatively unknown custom? Tell us what it is and why it's
important to you.

We love to travel.  Do you have best tips and tricks to smoother, smarter, stress-free journeys? How do you find affordable airfare and hotel rooms? What’s your secret to avoiding flight delays, navigating a crowded airport? How about a tip for getting better service at a hotel or resort?

Submit your best advice -- the more specific, the better -- along with a photo of you on vacation. E-mail to Then stay tuned to see if your top tip makes the cut on VRS.


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Sunday, March 12, 2017

Dead oarfish found in Panglao sparks fears among locals

The discovery of a dead oarfish floating in the waters off Barangay (Village) Doljo in Panglao town had sparked debates and discussions on social media whether oarfish can predict earthquakes.

According to Lampell Cloma, the dead oarfish was found floating in the sea on Wednesday afternoon in Barangay (Village) Doljo this town.

Cloma, 24, said that around 5 p.m. on Wednesday, a fisherman Gomer Milanes found the oarfish. With the help of another fisherman, they brought the oarfish to the shore.

It was not known how the fish died and how it ended up near the beach. However, according to Cloma, the gills were fresh.

Since their sightings are rare so not much is known about the behavior of the oarfish, residents were worried and afraid when they saw the oarfish.

Stories proliferated linking the earthquake to incidents of oarfish beaching that prefaced a disaster.

“Nakurat ug nahadlok mi pagkakita namo kay naa lagi daw meaning basta mogawas na isdaa (We were terrified because it has meaning when it can be seen on the surface),” said Cloma.

Another resident Marina Guibone knelt on the sand, prayed with fervour, and made the sign of cross when she the oarfish.

“Kuyaw nga tilimad-on (It’s a bad omen),” said Guibone.

Cloma said it was their first time to see an oarfish in the village. 

She said that around 6 p.m., a municipal employee measured the oarfish which was 15 feet.

Oarfish is sea creature living in a deep water and can be rarely spotted in shallow waters.

Some experts believe that the deep-sea creatures living more than 1,000 ft. under the sea are very sensitive when it comes to fault movements and nature activities. They were living in the deep waters so they can easily detect any ground movement.

In Japanese folklore, the oarfish is known as the “Messenger from the Sea God’s Palace” and appears on beaches to predict earthquakes.

An oarfish was found on Feb. 8, two days before the 6.7-magnitude earthquake that hit Surigao City.

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol province in 2013.

3 death penalty votes that surprised us

Our representatives- Rene Relampagos (1st District), Erico Aristotle Aumentado (2nd District), and Arthur Yap (3rd District)- went along with the majority, voting “Yes”.

Only 54 voted “No”, and one abstained for the reintroduction of death penalty up to the final voting on Tuesday.

Yap based his vote on the survey through social media and his district which showed majority of the respondents preferred death penalty.

In a statement, Yap said that it was not a decision lightly reached even as more than a great majority of those polled voted affirmatively for the body of crimes outlined in the original bill.

“It is not that the Third District of Bohol is populated by blood thirsty people. And surely, let it not be said that we love God less. It is just that my District believes that when one commits barbaric acts against our fellow man, such as rape, murder, kidnapping, treason, piracy and more, that perpetrator has also given up his right to live among civilized men and women,”  Yap said in a statement.

“The Government sees the death penalty as the natural consequence of justice paid by a convicted felon for having robbed the lives of others. But this should not mean that the Government must focus on sending as many people to meet this penalty. The Government must instead continue strengthening institutions and programs that deliver basic services that create opportunities for its citizens to live decently and honorably. When income rises and poverty decreases, the scourge of drugs will naturally abate,” Yap said.

Aumentado said he preferred that it would include murder, rape and plunder as originally proposed.

“I was at first inclined to abstain, finally decided to vote “Yes” on the second and the third reading, considering the watered-down version,” he said.

Aumentado said House Speaker Bebot Alvarez assured him that rape, murder and plunder would have their own death penalty bill that will be more specific.

“In totality, I want rape, murder and plunder  to have death as penalty. They are equally as heinous as selling drugs. However, since the measure was cut down to only one punishable act in focus, it helped me to come up with a stand,” he said.

 In a statement, Relampagos said that human rights does not only refer to the rights of the accused but to all citizens.

“I voted yes an affirmation of hope for the future and for a culture of peace. The fact that hundreds of thousand surrendered under the governments drive against drugs show the manifest vastness of our problem against drugs. It is high time that we strengthen our fight against it. If we do not do anything about it, we can just imagine where we will be a few years from now. Hundreds of thousand more?” he said.

He said he voted yes an affirmation of the country’s shared fight drugs.

“You name it, drugs destroys life, liberty and property. It destroys families and communities. It destroys good governance and integrity in the public service. It destroys trust in the Maker of life. I join it the fight against it,” he said.

Tagbilaran resident Bienna Ursula Bautista Cornacchia, 29, had expressed her support for death penalty for drug addicts who committed heinous crimes.

“I am in favor of death penalty for specific crimes such as murder, homicide and, rape, especially those done unto minors and children. And if not, perhaps castration without anesthesia would serve as a good punishment for sex offenders. They should have thought of that. However, for drug-related cases, as long as they have not committed heinous crimes such as rape and murder, they can go to jail for as long as the court decides or have one finger cut to teach them a lesson. Harsher punishment is necessary. Death penalty can be a good punishment for certain crimes but not for all crimes,” said Cornacchia.

Some Boholano Catholics maintain that the death penalty is a violation of the right to life and an unauthorized by human beings of God’s sole lordship over life and death.

“Our Philippine Constitution guarantees our right to life,” said Juanito Niluag, 43.

“The direct and voluntary killing of a human being is always gravely immoral,” he added.

He suggested that the justice system should be improved first before death penalty will be imposed again.

“I was not surprised because Boholano solons have almost always kowtowed to the ruling party. But it's still sad to be proven right this way,” said cultural worker architect Liza Macalandag who is in Netherlands. “Death penalty, which has been proven to stop criminality, is regressive, inhumane and just plain wrong. This Congress has made in humans of us all.”

Bishop Alberto Uy of the Diocese of Tagbilaran said on his Facebook account that imposing death penalty to the offenders could not guarantee that it gives justice and peace to the victims.

In Bohol, the devotion of the people to religion gave rise to numerous old stone churches before it was damaged due to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit the province in 2013. In Tagbilaran City, tricycles have biblical quotes.


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Sunday, March 5, 2017

Yehey! Summer is just a few days away

The signs are starting to show. 

Last week, Divulge Bohol 2017 Congress was organized by Bohol Island State University- Main Campus Bachelor of Science in Tourism, Convention, Exhibition, and Events Management Class of 2017.

The participants here said it was very informative, very interesting and, like travelling, very broadening.

Keynote speaker consul general of the Republic of Latvia 
to the Philippines Robert Lim Joseph Jr , (right) 
Juliet C. Saraum and Francis Delusa  during the 
Divulge Bohol Congress. Contributed Photo
“It is to promote the hidden jewels of the island and to introduce to the public the attractions that are partly discovered and has the potential to become one of the top destinations that our province has,” said Francis Delusa, the event class adviser.

Hon. Robert Lim Joseph Jr., Consul General of the Republic of Latvia to the Philippines, was the keynote speaker. He talked about meetings, incentives, conventions, events and exhibition (M.I.C.E) in Bohol perspective.

The other speaker, Jaypee Orcullo of the Department of Tourism (DOT) Bohol Satellite Office Operator, introduced the Ecotourism sites and surprise tours that Bohol offers.

As soon as you see the beauty spots of the province,  you get the urge to pack up and take off.
The congress was very intuitive to the attendees from the other institutions of Bohol that offers Hospitality and Tourism courses, Holy Name University, University of Bohol, STI College, and BISU-Main Campus.

The highlight of the event showcased a short film festival in a prenuptial concept and promotional video contest that was held at the Bohol Cultural Center. The attendees wore their best outfits and flaunt their walks in the red carpet. There was also a bridal fashion and special appearance Marielle Montellano, a grand finalist of Showtime’s Tawag ng Tanghalan from Cebu City serenaded the evening with her ever soothing and golden voice. Indeed the event embodied the glamour of the island.

The said event was headed Juliet  Saraum acting as the Chief Executive Officer with the supervision of Delusa.

VRS asked Francis what his 10 “Must” Destinations in Bohol are. Here they are:

1.Chocolate Hills- Bohol’s tourism signature.  It is made up of no less than 1,268 hills, uniform in shape and approximately 30 – 50 meters high. They are called as such because the green grass turn chocolate brown at the end of summer. However, there are times when the hills show a mixture of green and brown.
The Chocolate Hills is among the tourist spots listed in the Philippine Tourism Authority and has been declared as the third largest National Geological Monument and was recommended for inclusion in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

The participants of Divulge Bohol Congress
 in Tagbilaran City, Bohol province. Contributed Photo
2. Philippine Tarsier.  The Philippine Tarsier (Tarsius syrichta or Carlito syrichta) goes by the local name Maumag in Cebuano or Visayan and Mamag in Luzon. It is a protected species and although the practice of catching and selling them has already stopped, they remain threatened because their natural habitat is being destroyed. It is called as such because of its elongated “tarsus” or ankle bone just like the other members of the 45 million year old family Tarsiidae.

3.Beaches- Bohol beaches in Panglao Island have been the province’s deepest secrets.  Alona Beach lies on a one and a half kilometer stretch of soft white sand and is considered as the best Panglao beach resort. There is no problem satisfying your hunger with the various cuisines served in the different restaurants. For those who want to learn diving, there are some establishments that offer lessons as well as offer scuba/snorkeling equipment for rent.

4.Loboc River Cruise and Abatan Life Adventure.  The Loboc River boasts of its wide array of cruisers on board small bancas or floating restaurants. Tourists will be treated to a view of tropical vegetation such as nipa palms, coconut trees, banana groves, and bushes. Tourists will also appreciate nature and community oneness in Abatan Community Life Adventure.

5. Blood Compact.  The Blood Compact Site stands as a memorial to that historic sign of friendship between the Spaniards and the natives. On March 16, 1565, Miguel Lopez de Legazpi of Spain and Rajah Sikatuna of Bohol performed the Blood Compact (Spanish: Pacto de Sangre Filipino: Sandugo).

6. Loay Local Industry- Bolo or hatchet making have also given Loay residents a means of livelihood. They are used as implements in farming and wood cutting. Today, many Loayans have mastered the art of being blacksmiths (“panday”) using manual as well as improvised equipments. The town has emerged as a popular venue for finding fine crafted bolos in the island.

7.Balicasag Island-   Balicasag Island Resort is considered as among the world’s best diving destinations. Guests to enjoy the captivating view of the sun, sea, and surf.

8. EAT Danao-  Unique and exhilarating activities in a wide range of categories located in verdant valleys set in the picturesque mountain ranges. The program is divided into three to give visitors an opportunity to pick their activity of choice. E may involve activities falling under the Extreme, Economic, and Educational. A stands for Adventure and T for Tour.

9-10. Anda. Another town to explore. Old churches,  waterfalls and  man- made mahogany forest at Bilar,  hanging Bridge at Sevilla, and the Butterfly Garden at Bilar.

More, more!!!

“It’s all in Bohol,” added Francis.


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