Sunday, April 30, 2017

Bohol Clashes/A War in Napo

● Jingle writes ‘Gubat sa Napo’ (A War in Napo)
● We will miss you Maam Zen, so long Nestor

We are caught up in the ongoing crackdown of Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) in the province and the unraveling of Supt. Maria Cristina Nobleza’s ties to the extremist group.

The failure of the bandits to establish a base in Bohol should serve a lesson to the bandit group: They are not safe in Bohol. 

As of yesterday, three ASG stragglers are still in Bohol. However, the lack of community support and vigilance of the residents would make it difficult for the bandit group to sow terror here.

The vigilance of ordinary residents prevented the bandits from implementing their plans when they sailed to Bohol from their base in Jolo.

Children reported the presence of armed men with ammunition as “big as corn ears” in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town on April 10 and alerted the government troops who chased them down, killing three members including their leader Abu Rami.

The quick-thinking of a habal-habal driver helped the government troops locate the remaining members in nearby Clarin town and killed four others, including sub-leader and Napo native Joselito Melloria who guided the group to his hometown.

The poem, “Gubat sa Napo” (War in Napo) written by James “Jingle” Lofranco Tripoli, who hails from Tubigon town, resonated with netizens, too, many of whom shared it on their Facebook pages.

Jingle writes poem once a week for station dyLA in Cebu City, also managed by Jhunnex Napallacan, also a Boholano from Maribojoc town.

“I was inspired to make another poem that summarizes the unexpected terror event in a peaceful and calm province of Bohol to remember those people who were directly affected of the war most especially to our brothers who sacrifices their lives just to protect the Bol-anons from the bandits,” said Jingle.

He said he didn’t expect that his poem “Gubat sa Napo” has caught the attention of the netizens especially those living abroad who keep on worrying about the safety of their loved ones.

“I feel happy everytime people appreciate my poem that makes them relax rather than on worrying. In my own little way of writing the poem, I was able to help to ease the pain, worries and sadness they feel, “ said Jingle.

GUBAT SA NAPO (A War in Napo)
By James “Jingle” L. Tripoli

Balita nga nikuyanap sa kapupud-an
Katawhan nakurat og nakalitan
Wa damha nga kami ang hidangatan
Kakuyaw nga perti og hilabihan.

Bandido niabot sa barangay Napo
Nga bisan kinsa wala makatuo
Mga tawong armado mahisalaag didto
Nga gikahadlokan sa tanang tawo.
Gadala og ngilngig nga mga armas
Gamiton kuno sa ilang tahas
Nga magmugna og dakong kakuyaw
Sa among probinsya nga anaa sa kalinaw.
Gikatingad-an sa mga silingan
Bag-ong dagway napadpad sa ilang tugkaran
Matod pa bisita sa ilang kababayan
Apan kadudahan ang ilang sakayan.
Matod sa uban kumpit ang ngalan
Sa sakayan nga ilang nakit-an
Apan napalgan sa kagamhanan
Baruto diay ang ilang gisakyan.
Nakaplagan sa kabataan
Mga bala sa bandido gipainitan
Kay nabasa sa ilang pagpadagan
Paingon sa barangay nga ilang giabtan.

Gisumbong sa mga bata
Ang ilang talagsaon nga nakita
Didto sa ilang pinanggang barangay
Nga unta malinawon man sa kanunay.
Gitiktikan sa kasundalohan
Terorista nga ilang kalaban
Nagpang-abot sila sa kabukiran
Ug didto nagsugod ang ilang bakbakan.
Nikalas sa mga bililhong kinabuhi
Army, pulis og sibilyan way pili
Sa giyera ikaw molikay
Ug sa bala maglihay-lihay.

Terorista nakaikyas og nitago
Didto nagpahipi sa mga buho
Gilibutan sila sa kasundalohan
Ug gibantayan ang ilang lutsanan.

Nideklara si Presidente
Nga mohatag og ganti
Sa makatoltol og makasulti
Sa impormasyon nga importante.
Habal-habal driver ang unang nitug-an
Sa lugar nga iyang nahibaw-an
Terorista didto nasigpatan
Nagpangayog tabang sa kabalayan.

Pulis og army maoy niresponde
Nagkaengkwentro sa Brgy. Bacani
Ginukdanay hangtod sa Brgy. Nahawan
Terorista niresulta sa ilang pagtaliwan.
Panid-an ang nahabilin
Nga anaa sa lungsod sa Clarin
Aron kalinaw atong mapupo
Ang gubat nga nagsugod sa Brgy. Napo.

We will miss you Maam Zen, Nestor

Our media colleague, Nestor B. Daarol was laid to rest in Dauis town yesterday.  Family, friends and fans gathered to say their final goodbyes to one of Bohol’s prominent broadcasters, after a short but brave fight with cancer.

We have more recollections of happy days with Nestor by friends who will forever miss him and cherish him deep in their hearts. As I’ve been saying, Nestor was a good man, loved by everybody who has said everything that could be said about him.

He was very straightforward, very sure of himself and once you’ve asked for a help—he’s there. When I asked Nestor if he could share his video and photos of news I’d missed, he sent the files right away with no “if’s and but’s.”

He told me once that word of honor was more important to him.

“Dili ta mag-unay og away sa media kay kita raman magtinabangay,” he told me.

And that was how it has been with him all these years.

So long, bai Nestor.

On a sad note, environmental activist, health advocate and visionary-leader Zenaida Darunday passed away on April 9.

Maam Zen paved the way to countless earthkeeping advocacies in Bohol.

Her friends celebrated perhaps less with tears but more with recollection of beautiful memories and anecdotes about this woman about whom nobody could say anything negative.

“You have done your share to advance the cause for a better world in your lifetime,” said community developer Nestor Maniebo Pestelos. “In your passing, we lost a close friend and a committed development worker.”

Another environmental activist Pat Ruiz, “She is an inspiration and a role model. Her legacy is now ours to continue”

Maam Zen was all that — and more.

Several years ago, I told her that I need to interview her about ubi (purple yam) for my story in Inquirer. She told me all about ubi, a healthy energy source with important nutritional benefits- that to my surprise I didn’t have enough space left in my notebook.

When I told her I need to go home to write my story, she told me to use her computer.

“Use it,” she said, while preparing a healthy lunch for me to stay for an hour. Before I went home, she shared to me about homeopathy, an alternative medicine, which I suggested to my friends of Magandang Gabi, Bayan (MGB) on ABS-CBN to feature it. 

She also lent me her camera and taught me the basics of photography. Well, it was an honor since Maam Zen was a photojournalist to several magazines in the United States of America. She spent 20 years of her life in New York where she earned her position as a senior environmental technologist of Shel Oil Company in New York and associate editor of Research Institute of America in New York City.

Maam Zen strongly opposed the controversial "water and power deal.” She also prevented the entry of GMOs here in Bohol, and Bohol is now GMO-free because of her heroic efforts. She played a key role in drafting “The Bohol Environment Code of 1998,” the first of its kind in the Philippines and now being adapted by other provinces; also authored The Bohol Climate Change Primer.

There was a time when I went to see her at Cedar’s to ask why our watery rose apple tree (tambis) was not growing healthy. She told me, “Talk to the tree” for which I did. Miraculously, the tree grew forth and bore fruit.

That was Maam Zen. With her, it was always fresh knowledge and never, never hesitated to share her expertise.  She was that generous, very giving in every way, whether with her time, materials things and friendship.

Two years ago, Maam Zen lent me her book, Alex Loyd’s The Healing Code, a good source of information on how to heal the source of any health and success or relationship issue.

“If you’re done reading it, you can return the book,” she told me. Until now, I still have the book.

Last December, I met Gabby (his driver before). He told me about her failing condition and he asked me to visit her. It didn’t happen.

You will be sorely missed, Maam Zen.


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Sunday, April 23, 2017

Blazing Bohol!

Bohol's charm lies on its culture, heritage and rich natural resources.

Miles of white sand beaches and pristine waters can be found on Panglao Island composed of Panglao ang Dauis towns.

The hills are alive...
There are several beach resorts there that can provide accommodation and water sports activities such as jetskis, parasailing, among others depending on the budget.

One attraction that is a must is the recently discovered school of sardines in Panglao.

The sardines, locally known as “malangsi,” arrived in the waters off Barangay Tangnan in Panglao and stayed there for good. They are also attracting bigger species of fish like thresher sharks and mackerel.

“Sardines are always migrating but they’ve been in Panglao for some time. Biologists couldn’t explain why but our member marine biologist said it’s probably because of climate change,” Ian Uy, a member of the Dive Ta Bai group, who discovered the shoals of sardines two summers ago.
City of Friendship

The sardine have formed a shoal that could easily number to tens of thousands, even up to a hundred thousand, a delight to those who love to dive and snorkel.

There are some islands to visit in case the tourists are up for some island hopping.
The favorite sites are the Balicasag, Virgin and Pamilacan islands because they are close to Panglao Island.

Balicasag Island, which retains its laid-back charm, is a known dive and snorkel destination because of its marvelous coral reefs formation and spectacular drop-off (underwater wall) up to a depth of 60 meters.

Virgin island is an uninhabited islet where you can enjoy a long string of white beach. Kilometers of white beach emerge during low tide but disappears on high tide.

Pods of dolphins can be seen in the waters off Pamilacan Island which also hosts a Spanish watchtower and fish sanctuary.

Man-made forest
Other places where one can enjoy the underwater world are Cabilao Island in Loon, Bien Unido, Anda and President Carlos P. Garcia Island (Pitogo Island).

In the afternoon, one place to try out is the Extreme Adventure Tour (E.A.T) at the Danao Adventure Park in Danao town.

It hosts a variety of activists that get the adrenalin pumping.

These include a zipline, ATV, rock climbing and caving. For water adventures, the park also offers river kayaking and river trekking near the Danao Adventure Park is the “Sea of Clouds.”

For an entrance fee of P15, visitors can go up to Laguna Mountain in Barangay Concepcion and savor the jaw-dropping vista –fogs that look like clouds hovering the mountains.

“It was one of the most beautiful natural sceneries that we can enjoy,” said Ken Reignald Rara, a resident of Tagbilaran City.

Sevilla's hanging bridge
One of the better vantage points from which to enjoy the spectacle is at the nearby Dagohoy town. An entrance fee of P10 will give you the best view of the sea of clouds located in Sitio Puntaas, Barangay La Esperanza.

“Seeing fog amid the backdrop of nature makes the scenery seem like a work of art,” said Rex Simbajon Pizaña, 38, a resident of Dagohoy town.

A habal-habal (motorcycle for rent)can take the tourist to the area from the town proper.

There are still several areas to visit in Bohol like the watch tower located in Maribojoc town, the Inang-angan stairway in Loon town which is made of five flights with 212 steps, the lying foxes on Cagban Island in Tubigon; and the St. Nicholas Tolentino Church and the Ermita Ruins (a wall of tombs in a honeycomb-like arrangement) in Dimaiao.

But to go to these places would require another day in Bohol.


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Sunday, April 16, 2017

Alleluia! Jesus Is Risen!

Christ is risen from the dead. We are one with Him again.

Easter is about victory, and there are songs that celebrate the power of Christ’s resurrection.

I serve a risen Savior,
He's in the world today;
I know that He is living,
Whatever men may say;
I see His hand of mercy,
I hear His voice of cheer,
And just the time I need Him
He's always near.

He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today!
He walks with me and He talks with me
Along life's narrow way.
He lives, He live, salvation to impart!
You ask me how I know He lives:
He lives within my heart.
—  I Serve a Risen Savior (Ackley)

The miraculous lesson of Easter is 
that through Jesus' death on the Cross, 
we have been granted a second chance—permission
 to leave our old lives behind and stand before
 the pristine, unmarred canvas of a new day, with 
all its potential for joy and choices that honor God. 
Leo Udtohan
I know that my Redeemer lives!
What joy this blest assurance gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
he lives, my everliving head!

He lives triumphant from the grave;
he lives eternally to save;
he lives exalted, throned above;
he lives to rule his church in love.

He lives to silence all my fears;
he lives to wipe away my tears;
he lives to calm my troubled heart;
he lives all blessing to impart.
—  I Know that My Redeemer Lives (Nicole Mullen)

God sent His son, they called Him, Jesus;
He came to love, heal and forgive;
He lived and died to buy my pardon,
An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives!
Because He lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because He lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know He holds the future,
And life is worth the living,
Just because He lives!
— Because He Lives (Bill and Gloria Gaither)

The Curls’ ‘Sa Isip Lamang’ is now available
on iTunes, Spotify, Amazon

The Curls’ Sa Isip Lamang is finally available on Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon and other music streaming services. The Curls is a Philippine music duo composed of Glee Orcullo and Feby Ingking.

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

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Clueless on where to go this Holy Week?

It's Holy Week, a fitting time for reflection and recollection, of taking stock of one's life and coming to terms with one's self, what one has done and gone through and what one is doing and is headed for.

This week, dust off your Bible and discover the words of the Lord.  There are Bible verses detailing promises and examples of God’s love and protection.

What are some Bible verses that can encourage you?  What are your favorites? 

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.- Deuteronomy 31:6

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.- First Peter 5:7

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.- Isaiah 41:10

For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.- Jeremiah 29:11

And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.- Philippians 4:19

The Village of the Compassionate God the Father in Inabanga town offers a place for quiet, restful, meditative prayer this Holy Week. Leo Udtohan
The Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting … -Psalm 100:5

The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him. -Nahum 1:7

For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy. - Psalms 61:3

It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.- Lamentations 3:22-23

Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.- Proverbs 3:5-6

Heal me, O Lord, and I shall be healed; save me, and I shall be saved: for thou art my praise.- Jeremiah 17:14

Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.-  Psalm 55:17

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. - John 3:16

If you plan to go to somewhere else this coming Holy Week, be sure it is for prayer and meditation and not for a summer escapade.

The Church said Holy Week was supposed to be a time “to be with God” in silent prayer and reflection.

For those wishing to adhere to tradition, VRS has picked some places to make your activities meaningful.

Old churches- There’s no place better than Bohol to make your Visita Iglesia pilgrimage, a good try for spiritual journey. Although some churches in Bohol were destroyed by the strong earthquake in 2013, they still provide space for meditation and prayer during Holy Week.

Fatima Rosary Hill-   The shrine of the Madonna of the Miraculous Blessed Virgin Mary in barangay Buenavista in Carmen town was built sometime in the early 1940s. There is a concrete chapel, a spring and a souvenir shop. Spiritual recollection becomes more enhancing on top of this hill where one can look at the wide plains of Carmen and Sierra-Bullones. Don’t forget that it is holy and quiet. Burn a candle and pray.

Village of the Compassionate God the Father- The shrine located in barangay Fatima in Inabanga town provides a unique place for quiet, restful, meditative prayer during the remembrance of the final days before Jesus’ death and resurrection. There are life-size structures of the 14 Stations of the Cross with a big figure of the God the Father of All Mankind at the top of the hill.

Virgen sa Kaluoy in Calape- The image of the Virgin is believed to be growing from an empty giant shell. From a mere obscure figure, the image now is very visible, showing the beautiful virgin with the giant shell in the background.

Shrine of San Pedro Calungsod-  A five-foot tall statue of Blessed Pedro Calungsod found in barangay Malbog, Jagna town, is a popular pilgrimage site. The only statue dedicated to Pedro Calungsod in Bohol, tourists and pilgrims pray before the statue and leave written prayers at the foot of the statue.

San Antonio de Padua Shrine- Located in barangay Tinibgan in Calape town, it houses the miraculous image of St. Anthony of Padua, one of the Catholic Church’s most popular saints. Saint Anthony of Padua is the patron saint of lost and stolen articles.

Krus Daku and the Statue of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Loboc – It is one of the favorite destinations of the pilgrims during the Holy Week. A huge white cross 80 feet in height is on top of the highest hill. In the next hill, one can visit the giant image of the Our Lady of Guadalupe. Here, one can view the towns of Loay and Loboc.

Lenten Procession in Baclayon- During Holy Wednesday and Good Friday, the streets of this town are filled with life-size religious statues depicting key events of the Passion and Death of Christ on decorated carrozas which are solemnly paraded along the streets followed either by devotees reciting the rosary.

Hugos in Loboc- The ritual that dramatizes the first meeting of Christ and Mary after His resurrection, and takes place at dawn on Easter Sunday.  It begins with two processions, where statues of Christ and Mary are carried from opposite ends of the community. The statue of Mary is covered in a black veil of mourning. Eventually, they will meet at midpoint, during which an angel (typically played by a young girl from the community) will lift the veil, ending Mary’s mourning and Holy Week celebrations.  Well, what makes it special is the world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir sings during the mass and the ritual.

Amulet hunting-It is a folk belief that anting-anting (amulets) are especially potent if collected, made, or charged on Good Friday. In Lamanok Point in Anda town and in Kalagan in Garcia-Hernandez, some albularyo search for anting-anting in caves and forests.


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Sunday, April 2, 2017

Flowers at Ubay Green Park magnet for selfies, groupies

Last week, I visited the Temple of Leah and the much raved about flower farms in the mountain village of Cebu City.

So up in the mountains of Busay, about 7 km. from  JY Square in Barangay Lahug, Cebu City, businessman Teodorico Adarna wanted to immortalize his love for his wife, Leah, who was snatched away from him by cancer.

The celosia flower farms in the mountain village
 of Sirao in Cebu City. Leo Udtohan 
Now, tourists and locals flock to the Temple of Leah which has been dubbed as Cebu’s Taj Mahal, a popular tourist attraction in India, built in the 1600s by Mughal emperor Shah Jahan in honor of his favorite wife, Mumtaz Mahal.

For an entrance fee of P50, tourists and locals can marvel at the edifice inspired by Roman architecture and Greek mythology with its huge columns at the entrance and gigantic lions that seem to be looking at the city’s panoramic view.

The Temple of Leah is accessible by habal-habal (P140 round-trip per person inclusive of waiting time) and by ordinary car.  From the temple, you can ask your driver to take you to the nearby flower farms at Sitio Tawagan in the mountain village of Sirao, about 10 kms from Temple of Leah or about 17 kms from JY Square in Lahug. 

The red and yellow blooms of the Sinulog flowers or generally known as celosia, flower farms in Sirao are building hype over social media as a new tourist destination in the city.

We were in awe when we saw such scenery with vibrant hues of flowers. The place seems like a “little Baguio.”

“I love it,” gushed Tagbilaran resident Jennifer Sarabia-Pagsiat, a firs timer in the farm. “I was blown away when I saw the flowers,” said another fellow Tagbilaranon Jessica Olorvida.

Cebu’s Taj Mahal, the Temple of Leah in Upper Busay in Cebu City, now
 stands  witness to a husband’s undying love for his departed wife. Leo Udtohan
At the Sirao Garden-Mini Amsterdam, the windmill inspired by those seen in Amsterdam, Germany is the attention-grabbing spot inside the farm.  There are props stationed in different corners of the flower farm, as an added attraction aside from the already Instagram-worthy flowers in the garden so that people can have “selfies” or “groupies” or “ussies” with their loved ones.

The celosia yield red, pink, purple, orange, gold or bicolor blossoms. Blooming in rows, they resemble fire. Celosia is Greek for “burning.”

The Ubay Green Park and Techno Center in Barangay Imelda
 in Ubay town, Bohol, has suddenly become popular 
because of its sun-loving celosia and coxcomb flowers. Leo Udtohan
The owner charge (P50 for adults, P25 for senior citizens, while admission for children below 12 years old is free) visitors to compensate for the inadvertent damage done on the flowers when they take pictures.  One has to pay for beauty; only FB and IG likes are free.

In Bohol, celosia and coxcomb flowers are also found at the Ubay Green Park and Techno Center in the village of Imelda. The park, an old dumpsite, is building hype over social media as a new tourist destination in the province.

The local government unit of Ubay headed by Mayor Constatino Reyes has transformed the place into something “touristic” while reminding residents and visitors to “reuse, recycle and reduce.”  Here, plastic bottles and car ties were turned into pots and decorations.

I’d visited the Ubay Green Park last month but still the celosia and coxcomb flowers are there, and the influx of tourists since last month has doubled for the demand of more selfies and groupies.

Helen Castaño, 40, an OFW, was surprised there were already many tourists when they visited the park with her friends early yesterday morning.

She said they had planned the trip after seeing the news on GMA-7 last Friday which featured the Ubay Green Park.

Castaño wants to visit again, hoping to see more flowers growing in the area.

Melvin Garcia, 27, a motorcycle-for-hire driver for over seven years, said they were happy with the growing popularity of the Ubay Green Park since it means additional income for them.

He said their earnings grew from P500 in a normal day to more than double when they started serving more tourists going to the park since last month.

Garcia said a tourist can ride the habal-habal going to the Ubay Green Park for P140-P200 a round-trip per person inclusive of waiting time.

There is no entrance fee at the park, hence visitors are reminded not to touch or step on the flowers to preserve their bloom.


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