Sunday, June 25, 2017

Students fleeing Marawi seek help to study in Bohol

Seen:  A quick look at the Miss Bohol 2017 official candidates line-up shows some of the early favorites already catching the attention of pageant fans from here and abroad.  The early favorites (not reflective of the final outcome) are Miss Loon, Miss Tubigon, Miss Jagna, Miss Trinidad and Miss Talibon.
Miss Bohol 2017 early favorite: Miss Loon  
Courtesy: Gerald James Cabal

Scene:  Friends of the female student (who is a daughter of a prominent family) who is at the center of a sex video scandal appealed not to share the video to spare the students from further trauma. “We all make mistakes but stop sharing the video,” said a friend who asked not to be named. A city official (who asked for anonymity) urged the public to stop circulating the sex video to put an end to the issue. However, the scandal is widely discussed in schools and social media channels and went viral. Remember, the parties who uploaded the video without permission as well as anyone who “shares, reproduce, or sells” the sex video without the consent of female student and her boyfriend can be held liable of violating Republic Act 9995 or the Anti-Photo and Video Voyeurism Act of 2009.

Scene: Board Member Niño Rey Boniel is back in Bohol province on Saturdayalbeit in jail.  Niño, the primary suspect in the slay of his wife, Mayor Gisela Boniel of Bien Unido town, was ordered by a judge to stay at the Talibon District Jail while the charges of kidnapping and serious illegal detention filed against him were resolved by the court.

Aslimah Matua, 19, dreams of becoming a teacher.

But the incoming junior student of Mindanao State University (MSU) in Marawi City may have to pursue her dreams in Tagbilaran City, after she and her family fled the gunbattle between government troops and terrorists holed out in a section of her home city of Marawi in Lanao del Sur province.

Aslimah spent weeks with her parents and 13 siblings in an evacuation site in Iligan City before they joined 12 other families in evacuating to this Bohol provincial capital.

When the latest batch of evacuees arrived here on Monday, six families sought refuge inside a mosque in Barangay Poblacion 1 while six others stayed with their relatives in Barangay Taloto.

Arlene Karaan, Poblacion 1 village chief, said among the problems raised by the evacuees was their children’s education.

The Marawi students with Tagbilaran City
 village official Arlene Karaan (right) who helps
 them find a new school in Bohol province.  Leo Udtohan
“So far, only elementary pupils were able to enrol,” Karaan said. “We are trying to facilitate the enrolment of college students who wished to continue their studies.”

Aslimah and three other cousins were hopeful they would be given a chance to study in Bohol.

“I want to go to school. I want to finish college to fulfill my dreams,” Aslimah said, echoing a similar wish expressed by her cousins Nor-fatima Matua, 21, an education student; Aslimah Amer Lomala, 17, a Grade 11 student; and Samia Musa, 17, who is in Grade 7.

Karaan accompanied them to Bohol International College (formerly Bohol Institute of Technology) last Wednesday to inquire about school requirements.

“Gusto ko talaga matuto (I want to learn),” said Matua. “Gusto ko talaga makapagtapos ng pag-aaral dahil may motivation ako sa buhay (I really want to study, and I’m a motivated person).”

Lomala said, “ Siyempre  para naman sa kinabukas namin ,  para sa kinabukusan namin at mga kapatid namin.  Ako kasi ang  ate kaya nasa akin ang susi na makapag-aral sila kasi mahirap din kami. Sana matuloy ang pag-aaral dito sa Bohol (I want to study for our future, for the future of my siblings. As the eldest, I am the key that my siblings can study because we are poor. I hope we can study here in Bohol).”

“ Sana mabigyan kami ng chance na makapag-aral dito sa probinsyang Bohol para kahit papaano na matulungan ang pamilya namin na nangangailangn ng tulong (We hope we will be given  the chance to study here in Bohol so that we can help our family),” said Nor-fatima.

Lomala said her parents and eight siblings left Marawi because of the horror brought about by the conflict.

“Masyadong magulo dun. Kinakailangan naming tumakas kasi baka madamay kami sa gulo. Hindi kasi kumikilala ang mga bomba tsaka yung mga baril baka mamatay kami dun. (It’s chaotic. We had to escape. Bullets and bombs do not distinguish civilians from soldiers and rebels. We might die there),” she said.

The family of her cousin, Nor-fatima, also came here, scared of being caught in the crossfire.

Since, they have nothing left, Matua, Nor-fatima, Lomala and Musa will visit Bohol Vice Governor Dionisio Balite to ask for possible financial assistance or scholarship grant. 

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Sunday, June 18, 2017

RIP John Romulo Caresosa Garcia & 108th Rotary International Convention

Corporal John Romulo Caresosa Garcia had long wanted to go home but new assignments kept cropping up that eventually brought him to Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.

The 28-year-old member of the Philippine Marine Corps was finally home last Tuesday in his native San Miguel town, Bohol.

But it was a sad homecoming for the family who first learned about his death on Facebook.

John Romulo Caresosa Garcia of Bohol was 
among the 13 soldiers killed in Marawi on June 9, 2017. 
Contributed Photo
John had wanted to come home in March but he was ordered to provide security to the president of Vietnam who was attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, said his grandmother, Conrada Relampagos-Caresosa, 76.

He was not also able to come home after the summit meeting because he was told to go to Marawi City to augment the troops fighting against the Maute group.

His family’s worst fears came true.

John was one of the 13 Marines who were killed on June 9 in a 16-hour firefight against an undetermined number of Maute group members in Barangay Lilod Madaya that started around 3:30 a.m. on Friday.

His 19-year-old sister, Princess, said they were browsing Facebook when they noticed that John’s page was filled with condolences from his friends.

They were shocked.

“Many had posted on Facebook that he had died. But we, his family, didn’t know about it. When we learned about it, we were very shocked,” she added.

Princess said they could not believe that he was really gone until John’s commanding officer called their parents to inform them about what happened.

Their parents, Sylvia and Romulo, flew to Metro Manila on Saturday to retrieve their son’s body.

And on Tuesday, June 13, John was finally home.

His remains arrived on board a C-130 cargo plane of the Philippine Air Force at the Tagbilaran airport at 4:20 p.m.

Soldiers carried the casket bearing his remains as John was given full military honors by his comrades from the 47th Infantry Battalion led by 1st Lt. Michael Bumatay.

No local official was in the airport to condole with Sylvia and Romulo.

Bumatay told the family that it was a fitting tribute for a brave Boholano who gave his life for peace in Mindanao.

After the arrival honors, his remains were later brought to his house in Barangay Kagawasan, San Miguel, where his four siblings, relatives and friends waited for him.

John, the eldest among five siblings, had been in the Philippine Marines for four years and had graduated from Central Visayas State College of Agriculture Forestry and Technology, now called the Bohol Island State University.

His family was against his plan to join the Philippine Marines but his love for the country prevailed.
Romulo and Sylvia said they could not accept the death of their eldest child, saying he was too young to die.

Romulo said it hurt to lose a son who was kind and generous.

He said they had received financial assistance from the government but no amount could compensate for the life of his son.

“Until now, I still cannot believe what happened to him. We don’t know how to recover from the pain,” he said.

John was given a posthumous military merit award for his gallantry in action.

The medal with a bronze spearhead was traditionally pinned on the left chest of the awardee.

In the case of John, his medal was placed on the left side of the glass covering of his casket.

Caresosa said it was painful and difficult to accept the death of her eldest grandchild.

“The only thing I could say was my grandson was a good man who was gone too soon,” she said.

Benjie and Joan Oliva attend
Rotary’s confab in Georgia, USA

Boholano couple Benjie and Joan Oliva had attended the 108th Rotary International Convention, organized by Rotary International, was held at Georgia  World Congress Center in Atlanta, Georgia, USA on June 10-14, 2017.

For Benjie, erstwhile National Youth Commission (NYC) Visayas Commissioner and now Cooperative Development Authority Central Visayas administrator, said the confab was “one of the amazing international events” he attended.

Benjie and Joan Oliva attend the 108th 
Rotary International Convention in Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Contributed Photo
Here is Benjie:

 There are at least 40,000 participating Rotarians from 160 countries all over the world who attended the 108th Rotary International Convention.

  In this event, I tagged along with me my wife Joan to experience herself the very purpose of the founders of Rotary Club organization.

I became involved in the Rotary way back in 2010 when I was chosen as one of the members of the Group Study Exchange (GSE) Program sent to North Carolina, USA for two months on a goodwill exchange by Rotary International District 3810 and the Rotary Foundation.

In said convention, the Philippine delegation composed of ten Rotary districts has registered as the 4th largest contingent. It only shows that the Filipinos has been in the forefront of Rotary Club movement in the world. Not to mention being the first to organized a Rotary Club in Asia way back in 1919, the Rotary Club of Manila. At present Rotary Club Manila is under District 3810 composed of Manila, Pasay, Cavite and Occidental Mindoro. 

The Rotary International Convention is an annual gathering of civic and and business community leaders across the globe to exchange ideas on how to improve lives and bring positive, lasting change to communities around the world.

The convention aims to renew friendship, find inspirations, promote camaraderie and goodwill, build linkages among rotary clubs and Rotarians in pursuit of service to humanity and doing good in the world.

The highlight of this year's convention is the centennial anniversary of Rotary Foundation. The Foundation's 100 years of existence has been instrumental in delivering programs and projects in many rural communities worldwide with specific area of focus such as Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution, Disease Prevention and Treatment, Water and Sanitation, Maternal and Child Health, Basic Education and Literacy and Economic and Community Development.

The notable speakers for this year's convention includes billionaire businessman and philanthropist Bill Gates, actor Ashton Kutcher, Georgia Governor Nathan Deal, Indian philanthropist Rajashree Birla, golf icon Jack Nicklaus, WWE Superstar, actor, and Rotary polio ambassador John Cena, among others.

This year's convention has reached a total pledges of 1.2 Billion US Dollars in the cause to End Polio in the next three years with Bill Gates as the leading donor with a contribution of 450Million US Dollars under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.

The Atlanta convention brings good memories and experiences that Joan and I can't forget for the rest of lives. Our dedication to be of service to our fellowmen and communities has been raised to a higher degree of commitment to make a difference even in our own little ways.

In July of this year, Joan and I will join the Rotary Club of Pasay Cyber City as a manifestation of our commitment to continue in doing good in the world. Rotary indeed is true to its motto of 'Service Above Self'.

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Sunday, June 11, 2017

When love falls apart

Captain Gisela Bendong-Boniel was making waves as the first female pilot of a budget airline.

Mayor Niño Rey Boniel of Bien Unido was making a mark, not just as one of the youngest chief executives in Bohol but for improving his town's classification from 5th class to 4th class.

When they got married in 2015, their constituents thought it was a union made in heaven. They elected Gisela as mayor in 2016 to replace her husband who also won as 2nd district board member.

On the outside, everything looked well between the couple. But on Thursday, the residents were shocked with the news that the body of their mayor was thrown into the sea after she was killed by her husband.

Danilo Salabe, 40, said he didn’t expect that tragedy would fall on their favorite couple.

“We were sad when we heard the news,” said Danilo, who is managing the Dive Camp.
Happier times. Board member Niño Rey Boniel with his
 wife Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel. File Photo/Nestor Daarol
Another resident, Eisen Avenido, 51, described the couple as “good people.”

“Mayor Giselle is very close to the people, especially the senior citizens. She is a pilot, young, pretty and on top of it, a mayor,” he added.

Gay Mabanag-Delima, 36, councilor of Barangay Poblacion in Bien Unido said the news about the Boniel couple left them in a state of shock.

“How I wish they will not be able to find her body so there is still a chance that she is alive,” she said.

Gisela, 40 and a native of Iligan City, had made history in the male-dominated aviation industry as the first female pilot of AirAsia Philippines with a rank of captain.

Her high school friends said that she had always been fascinated by planes since she was a little girl. In turning her dream into a reality, she inspired other women to take courage in pursuing their aspirations.

On Feb. 28, 2016, she received a commendation for outstanding airmanship after she steered an AirAsia plane to safety at Mactan Cebu International Airport in Lapu-Lapu City even if the plane only had one working engine.

Niño also made his own mark in his town in Bien Unido, about 108 km from the capital Tagbilaran City.

Although he is from Bohol, he studied in Cebu and a product of the University of San Carlos where he studied from elementary to college. He finished Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and later took up Law while running his businesses. But he dropped out in his second year in law school because of his work.

Aside from an insurance firm, Niño owned Diamond Trading that imports vehicles from Japan and a restaurant in SM City. He was a also a Director of ABN Dreamworks Corporation. Niño returned to Bien Unido to  follow the footsteps of his father  Cosme who became a town mayor in 1980s.

Bohol Board member Niño Rey Boniel  
At 29, he was elected mayor in 2007 election and was the second youngest chief executive in Bohol's history.

During his term, he elevated Bien Unido’s economic status from 5th to 4th class town. He also tried to put the town in the tourism map by joining the Sinulog Grand Parade in Cebu and the Sandugo Festival in Bohol.

He also put up the Dive Camp, an accommodation to bring in tourists and divers who wanted to experience the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef.

The Danajon Reef is the only documented double barrier reef in the Philippines and reportedly, one of only six in the entire world. Niño also improved the water system and infrastructure, while addressing the other concerns such as health and sanitation, livelihood and peace and order.

Niño was also instrumental in curbing illegal fishing in the coastal municipality. He put up underwater grotto near the coral reefs of the Danajon Double Barrier Reef consisting of 14-foot tall statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Sto. Niño (the Child Jesus).

 “Illegal fishers will be scared when they see these images,” he told the reporters during the launching several years ago.

Since the mayor was a bachelor, his constituents were curious if he would settle down and with whom since he was seen with several women. Most of his ex-girlfriends were older than him.

In 2010, Niño introduced Gisela to his friends. Five years later, the two got married. They have a three-year-old son.

 The Boniel couple had a promising political career especially that they looked good together and had good credentials, said a local official who asked not be named.

Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel
Indeed, Gisela won over the hearts of the residents of Bien Unido when she ran for mayor in 2016. She had grand plans for the town that remained underdeveloped and unfrequented by tourists unlike other towns in Bohol.

When she was sworn into office last year, Gisela said her priorities would be to bring in tourists as well as provide health services, education and livelihood to her constituents.

Since she was criticized by her lack of experience in public service, Gisela took a crash course in local governance at the National College of Public Administration and Governance in Quezon City.

Although Niño and Gisela were seen together in public functions, their marriage started to rock in December last year when Gisela was attacked on Facebook by her husband's political opponents and was dragged into controversies involving her husband.

Financial problems also took a toll on her marriage after Gisela took out a big loan to finance a watch business and to buy a watch worth P2.5 million. Niño reportedly got angry because Gisela could not pay off her debts. But some close friends of the couple told the Inquirer that what infuriated Niño was Gisela's move to file a petition for annulment.

“She discovered that her husband used her for his political advancement,” said another friend.

Friends of Gisela have taken to social media to express their sadness over her reported death.

Loraine Anne Marie Baguio, a flight attendant at AirAsia Philippines, posted on Facebook: “I still can’t believe this news. Really?? A very reputable woman pilot was killed by her husband?? Rest in peace Capt Gisel. I am deeply hurt right now and I know the Air Asia family is also sad by this sudden news. May justice prevail in your death. My condolences to the Biel family.”

One of her friends, Grace, posted her photos with Gisela on her Facebook account. The caption read: “Giselle I am going to miss you more than words can say.”

“I can’t believe such a beautiful soul is gone so soon,” she said.

Rep. Erico Aristotle Aumentado of Bohol’s second district said that he was saddened by the tragic events involving the couple who was close to him.

“We all have our own marital problems which we try to solve in a discreet and private manner. I understand that lives of politicians take so much of one’s time from the family. This sometimes breaks down the closeness of siblings,” Aumentado said.

“While I wish to understand their situation, we also have laws to obey. Let justice move,” he added.

Bohol Gov. Edgar M. Chatto said they did not know that the couple had problems.

“Board Member Boniel deserves due process as he is brought to the bar of justice,” he said in a statement.


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Sunday, June 4, 2017

Fr. Parilla’s ‘Hashtags for Seekers’ illustrates the endless love of God

I was at my lowest point in my life last week. My self-confidence was at zero for entertaining negative people and things in life.

I told myself, life is gritty, and above all, life is full of ups and downs. Sigh!

When I went to visit dyRD office on Thursday, I got my copy of the book Hashtags for Seekers written by Fr. Harold Arnold Parilla courtesy of Michael Cañares, the book’s publisher.

While I read the book deep into the night while the whole household was in sweet slumber, it helped me to get my life back. I learned how to heal and rebuild my confidence.

Fr. Harold Anthony Parilla writes Hashtags for Seekers
to illustrate the love of God. Courtesy: Ric Obedencio
I’d read lots of books about inspirational stories on life, love, and happiness.  However, reading Hashtags for Seekers is young and refreshing yet full of insights to inspire, guide, comfort and draw you closer to the Lord’s endless, boundless love.

Published by Creannovate Publishing House in Tagbilaran City, Hashtags for Seekers is a welcome breather from the homilies and Sunday gospel reflections of Fr. Parilla which first appeared on Facebook in 2011. The homilies were posted at the request of some of his friends from Italy and the US.

Fr. Parilla makes the Word of God easier to digest for the young ones.  It is a powerhouse filled with stories and practical practical suggestions for learning to make good decisions and becoming happier in ways that are meaningful and lasting.

“Hashtags for Seekers- the title speaks of what is contemporary yet old-age. In concise but nuanced and penetrating reflections on the Sunday liturgical readings, Harold unpacks the vitality of the Word of God in dialogue with some of our most real yet unrecognized questions and longings,” says Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle in the book’s Foreword. “He makes the Gospel message attractive rather than intrusive and condemning. Words proclaimed and written centuries ago sound like a hashtag meant for  me now.”

From About The Author:  Fr. Parilla, who was ordained priest in 2003,  is a paring Bol-anon from Clarin town who is currently a formator and lecturer at St. John Vianney Theological Seminar in Cagayan de Oro City. After some years of work at the local seminary and in the chancery of the Diocese of Tagbilaran, he left for Rome to obtain a licentiate degree in canon law at the Pontifical Gregorian University. His academic resume includes masteral degrees in pastoral ministry ad educational management from two Jesuit universities in the Philippines. His ministry in the Church involves teaching and formation work.

Buy a copy of Hashtags for Seekers before it goes out of stock.

Remember, God loves you!

Grandpa beaten by Abu needs help

An 82-year-old survivor of Abu Sayyaf torture in Bohol has appealed for help from government as he struggles to recover from injuries he sustained from the beatings by the bandits.

Octogenarian Porferio Cosenas now has difficulty speaking and walking.  His whole body aches and he has to buy a lot of medication to recover but he does not have the money to buy them.

As he recalled the torture he suffered in the hands of the bandits, Cosenas spoke as if he was being strangled. He walked slowly since his groin was still aching.

An 82-year-old survivor of Abu Sayyaf torture in Bohol has appealed for help from government as he struggles to recover from injuries he sustained from the beatings by the bandits.

Cosenas, also known as Lolo Peryong, was being beaten by two Abu Sayyaf bandits, minutes before they were killed by soldiers on Pangangan Island, Calape town, last May 15.

His back, chest and groin remain painful even if it has been two weeks since he was beaten up.

Porferio Cosenas is asking for financial assistance
 from the government so that he can buy his medicines 
needed to heal his body from the beatings he endured
 in the hands of two Abu Sayyaf bandits. The two gunmen
 were later killed by government troops on Pangangan
 Island, Calape town, last May 15. Leo Udtohan
On Tuesday (May 30), Lolo Peryong was accompanied by his daughter, Rodelita Granaderos, to Tagbilaran City for his check-up.

They also dropped by radio station dyRD to air an appeal for financial assistance from the government to buy the medicines needed to treat his wounds.

Granaderos, 49, said she could not afford to buy the medicines her father needed.

“Our situation is very difficult. That is why we are asking for help,” she said.

Police reports said the elderly chanced upon Abu Ubayda, who was armed with an M-16 rifle, while he was trying to escape from government troopers who had been hunting the bandit group down.
He tried to fight Ubayda off using his bolo but was overpowered and beaten up.

Ubayda was later killed by government troops, along with his companion, Abu Asis, in Barangay Lawis, on Pangangan Island, Calape town.

The two were the last men standing out of several Abu Sayyaf members who tried to set up a base in Barangay Napo, Inabanga town on April 10.

All were killed in separate operations in different towns that lasted for more than a month.
But according to Lolo Peryong, the two Abu Sayyaf members, and not just one, attacked him and even threatened to kill him.

One of the armed men hit the elderly with the rifle butt while the other jumped on top of him and choked him.

He said one Abu Sayyaf member then spoke in Bisaya: “Ato lang ni patyon ning tiguwaa (Let us just kill this old man).”

Lolo Peryong said he had to plead for his life.

“Unsay sala nako ninyo nga patyon man ko ninyo? (What have I done wrong that you want to kill me?), he told the bandit group.

Abu Ubayda repeatedly punched and kicked him in the body and groin area that he lost consciousness.

“Abi nako patay nako adto higayuna (I thought that was my last)” he said.

The men fled and government troops found the unconscious Lolo Peryong who was then brought to a hospital in Calape town.

He had a wound in the head that required stitches. The police said it could be that his head hit a rock when he fell unconscious or was bashed by one of the Abu Sayyaf members.

The physicians also had to stitch his genitals because it was damaged due to severe beating.

Although he was released from the hospital, his back and chest continued to ache while his groin remained painful due to swollen testicles.

To help Lolo Peryong, you may contact Rodelita Granaderos at 0936-115-2615.


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