Sunday, December 31, 2017

Year in review 2017: The shocking events that changed Bohol in 2017

As the New Year approaches, it seems like every year is dubbed “a year like no other.” But 2017 truly was more dramatic than many other years in recent memory.

In the last 12 months, we faced terrorism, discovered new attractions and talked about shocking feats and deaths.

From the murder of an environmentalist lawyer, to downfall of power couple, to Abu Sayyaf infiltration in the province and Miss Universe beauties, take a look back at the key moments of 2017, as they were reported by your trusted VRS.

The New Year started with the formal installation rites of Bishop Alberto Uy as the new bishop of the Diocese of Tagbilaran at the St. Joseph Cathedral. It was officiated by His Excellency Archbishop Bernadito Auza, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

There can be no doubt that 2017 will be remembered
as one of the most eventful years in Bohol’s history.
The month of January also saw young Boholano talent Julia Faith Joaquin into the road of stardom as she sang her way to the semi-finals on ABS-CBN’s Tawag ng Tanghalan (TNT).

So, while you and I were sleeping, Miss Universe 2016 Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach had a whirlwind visit to Bohol last Jan. 23 to shoot a video for the Department of Tourism to be used for the Miss Universe 2016 coronation night on Jan. 30. Since it was a surprise visit, many fans were dismayed they didn’t get to see her since there was no Miss Universe event staged in Bohol.

Speaking of Miss Universe 2016, your VRS was the only media personality from Visayas and Mindanao who was invited during the strictly by-invitation red carpet event. Your VRS had the chance to interview the candidates, former beauty queens, judges and performers of the 65th Miss Universe a few hours before the grand coronation event.

“There is no formula to is being at the right time and the right place and the right judges,” said Miss Universe 1973 Margie Moran.

The 66th Miss Universe held in Las Vegas was over but the Miss Universe fever in the Philippines has not subsided yet. Last December 8, Miss Universe 2017 candidates- Miss Philippines Rachel Peters, Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova and Miss Malaysia Samantha James, visited Bohol for at least six hours.

The vigilance of ordinary residents prevented the Abu Sayyaf Group (ASG) to establish a base in Bohol. Children reported the presence of armed men and the quick-thinking of a habal-habaldriver helped the government troops locate the remaining members and killed them.

We will missed environmental activist, health advocate and visionary-leader Zenaida Darunday who paved the way to countless earthkeeping advocacies in Bohol, strongly opposed the controversial "water and power deal” and prevented the entry of GMOs here.

We bid farewell to Bohol’s Queen of Tourism Rose Soy who paved the way for the now booming Bohol tourism in her capacity as a travel specialist; educator and businesswoman Dr. Cristeta Balili-Tirol who co-founded the Victoriano D. Tirol (VDT) Advanced Learning Center and Cristel-E; andVictoria Migriño Chatto, who once served as town mayor of Balilihan.

We bid adieu to two bishops- Rev.  Juan De Dios Pueblos, D.D., who served as bishop of the Diocese of Butuan for 22 years; and retired bishop Christian Vicente Fernandez Noel, the first bishop of the Diocese of Talibon for nearly 28 years.

We dearly missed our media colleague broadcast journalist Nestor B. Daarol, the man behind the popular radio program “Silab sa Udtong Tutok.”

Residents of Bohol province were plunged into shock and disbelief when environmental and human rights lawyer Mia Manuelita Mascarinas-Green was ambushed on Feb. 15 inside her car in front of her three children- aged 10 and two-year old twins and a nanny.  Her death hit the province hard.  The alleged suspect, Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, was arrested after hiding for months.

"I'm happy they made an arrest, it is a welcomed news to all of us who are seeking justice for her death," said Pat Ruiz, one of the convenors of the “Justice for Atty. Mia Kalinaw sa Bohol Movement.

The Boniel case left Bohol residents in shock and grief with the news that the body of Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Bendong-Boniel was thrown into the sea after she was allegedly killed by her husband Niño Rey.  The Boniel couple had a promising political career especially that they looked good together and had good credentials.  When they got married in 2015, their constituents thought it was a union made in heaven.  Although Niño Rey and Gisela were seen together in public functions, their marriage started to rock in December last year. 

A look back at some of the most people we've said goodbye to.
 Many residents vented their frustration on social media when a power outage happened in Bohol after an earthquake hit Leyte province which damaged power sources.

“Almost four years since the Yolanda blackouts and yet it seems that we didn't learn something from it at all,” said Daisy Jane Sajulga-Galve on Facebook. “Having our own source of electricity should have been the number 1 priority of this province.”

Residents affected by the power outage also lost flowing potable water. Many residents in Tagbilaran City were carrying their containers as they lined-up to wait for their turn to get water from the water tankers sent by the city government to ration water to the affected areas.

Resort owners and operators in Panglao Island, the province’s tourism jewel, said the tourism industry was also affected by the power outage.  “Now that Leyte is affected, Bohol is also affected. They have to not only listen now, they have to learn not only to learn but to work now because this happened thrice already,” said Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan.

Unlike in Tagbilaran City which holds barangay level search for Miss Tagbilaran in advance to find the finest girl, Tubigon and other towns have discovered beauty queens effortlessly and learned how serendipitous things can be. Miss Tubigon Pauline Amelinckx was crowned Miss Bohol 2017, the third beauty queen from this town to conquer the crown. 

Boholana beauty shone in the national pageant as Miss Bohol 2016 Glyssa Perez was crowned first princess in the Miss World-Philippines 2017.

Carlo Roy Roslinda was chosen as Mister Earth Philippines 2017. He will represent the Philippines in the inaugural Mister Earth International.

Environmental lawyer and triathlete Ingemar Macarine, also known as the “Pinoy Aquaman,” failed to conquer the English Channel, the “Mt. Everest” for open swimming. He was about 3.8 km (2.3 miles) from Dover, United Kingdom when his swim was stopped because of bad weather. Macarine said he would come back in 2018 to fulfil the ultimate swim of his life.

ALA Gym’s undefeated Jessel Mark Araula Magsayo defended his WBO International Featherweight title against Japanese challenger Shota Hayashi during the main event of Pinoy Pride 43: The Battle in Bohol. Magsayo, also called Magnifico, has remained undefeated, improving his record to 18-0 with 13 knockouts.

The local government unit of Ubay transformed the old dumpsite in Barangay Imelda into something “touristic.” Celosia and coxcomb flowers are grown at Ubay Green Park and Techno Center. Here, plastic bottles and car ties were turned into pots and decorations reminding residents and visitors to “reuse, recycle and reduce.”

The Jardin Necitas in a hilltop in Barangay Bagumbayan, Pilar town is adorned with 15,000 multi-colored tulips and 5,000 red and white roses made of plastic.

In Getafe town, at least 1,200 umbrellas were hoisted high above the town plaza of Getafe providing shade and an amazing sight similar to the hundreds floating parasols in a street in Agueda, Portugal.

The “Lovely Place,” at the peak of Barangay Sua in Inabanga town has 30,000 leatherette red, heart-shaped anthurium flowers. Here, one can view the “Sea of Clouds,” the Chocolate hills and Cebu City.

Corporal John Romulo Caresosa Garcia of San Miguel town was one of the 13 Marines who were killed on June 9 in a 16-hour firefight against Maute group members in Marawi City.  He was given a posthumous military merit award for his gallantry in action. “The only thing I could say was my grandson was a good man who was gone too soon,” said Conrada Caresosa, Garcia’s grandmother.

Tales of heroism have emerged in the aftermath of the Las Vegas mass shooting.  Winifredo Balbido Maquindang, 66, a taxi driver in Las Vegas was hailed as a hero during the Las Vegas mass shooting, which left 58 people dead and more than 500 injured. Maquindang loaded six wounded victims in his taxi and took them to the hospital, speeding through red lights to make sure they got treated as soon as possible.


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

Monday, December 25, 2017

My Christmas wishes (again)

O’ Holy Night! The stars are brightly shining,
It is the night of the dear Savior’s birth.
Long lay the world in sin and error pining.
Till He appeared and the Spirit felt its worth.
A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! Oh, hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was born;
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!
O night, O Holy Night , O night divine!

One of my favorite Christmas carols is O’ Holy Night. I like Dionne Warwick’s version in her Christmas concert in Italy in 1993. Her rendition was breathtakingly beautiful. She respected every single original note and managed respiration impeccably.

One line that really stands out for me is “His law is love and His Gospel is peace.”  This reminds us to love one another and make peace.

Remember, Jesus is the Star of Christmas.

Since it’s Christmas, here’s my own list of Christmas wishes to my favorite Boholanos.

Environmental lawyer and triathlete
 Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine  Leo Udtohan
For Ingemar “Pinoy Aquaman” Macarine— A successful swim across the English Channel in 2018.  Hopefully, he will be the first Filipino to swim the English Channel, considered the Mount Everest for open swimming.

For Vanessa Cubrado—More-risking taking and challenging ventures that will redound to progress for the municipality of Pilar.

For Benjie Oliva and Atty. Joan Jagonos-Oliva —More energy to liase between provincial and national leaders.  But Benjie’s ultimate Christmas for Bohol? “My Christmas wish is for lower prices of fish, fuel and electricity in Bohol,” he said.  

For  Anthony Aniscal and DarL— A “joint venture.”  The night is getting colder!  Ha!Ha Ha!

For Dr. Mutia Tirol-Macuno — More noble initiatives for the promotion and improvement of public health. So Gallares, so kind!

For Anna Maris Igpit —A healthy baby in 2018.

For Mila Lim — Grace under pressure in keeping with the demands of business pursuits.  More, more Santa Clauses to make her home the “Most Christmassy House” in Bohol. Same for Blair Panong, Greenie Aumentado, Karla Magno Tessie Labunog-Sumampong and Sarah Dejaresco.

For Fiel Angeli E. Araoarao-Gabin — Renewed combined grace under pressure and strength of character to share talents and hurdle future challenges and good health of family.

Former youth leader and a high-ranking Boholano
 official of the Cooperative Development Authority
 (CDA) Benjie Oliva and family.  Contributed Photo
For Marianito Luspo and Gardy Labad—More zeal to promote and preserve the historical and cultural assets of the province.

For Sam Penaso and Joey Labrador— Physical strength to embark on more creative pursuits in visual arts and sculpture.

For Bohol Gov. Edgar Chatto— More high-impact projects for Bohol that are worthy of accolades from national/international award-giving bodies. How about he gets no.1 in Galing Pook 2018? Because no one else in the entire country is doing what Bohol and Gov. Chatto is doing.

For Vera Villocido Gesite aka Pinay — A round-trip ticket back to California, USA! Her greatest wish? “Being reunited with my children.”  Beautiful heart, beautiful life.

For  Gian Luigi Ale— More enriching experiences and opportunities to harness God-given talents to inspire young people. How about performing in The Voice USA/UK and other television shows in the US! His version of Thinking Out Loud has gathered 17 million viewers on Youtube. Amazing!!!

For Dr. April Lumuthang-Froilan (of Touch of April) and Arch. Junibe Froilan— A long-delayed stork’s visit.  Same for  Dr.  Aleksander  and Jessa Ylanan and Eden Descallar and Mikel Ceballos.

For Totsie Escobia—Good health and strength. His wish? “No more stray dogs in the streets and noisy motorcycles.”

Beauty queen Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin
 and cultural worker Alexis A. Cadeliña 
Contributed Photo
For EJ Relampagos— A European tour!

For Elvie Bongosia and Erol Macalandag—  Wedding bells! Wedding bells! Same for Atty. Jammy Aumentado-Villamor and beau, and Alfeo Jabinez and Amy Fiel Booc

For Butch Bernas— More opportunities for professional growth. And, a  new car! Bongga!  Same for Jeycelle Espejo.

For Baby Tagoctoc—Willingness to support budding make-up artists and designers. After all, Bohol’s most powerful and influential bading is the “Queen Mother.”

For Dalareich Polot — Chocolate overload! Unwavering commitment to advocate for the furtherance of the entrepreneurial spirit among the young Boholanos. Her chocolate factory - Dalareich Chocolate House, the first of its kind in Bohol that no one in the province has done before. She is a living testimony that great things start with small beginnings.

For Peddy Bolanio and Glee Orcullo — More current, trending and credible news reports and headlines on the biggest controversies, issues and events in the Philippine and Hollywood entertainment industry in Showbiz Rampa.

For Leah Tirol-Magno —Continued balance in professional and artistic endeavors. Baking Mama!

For  Fred Araneta, Chito Visarra and Gerry Pabe (of dyrd’s Inyong Alagad) and Allen Doydora and Anthony Anisca (of dyRD’s Tagbilaran By Nite) — Hot issues, biggest issues and events, more  explosive topics and more interesting and “controversial” personalities in their radio programs.  Same for Ted Ayeng and Edgar Tumanda of dyTR’s Cuentas Claras and Bohol’s Queen of All Media Ardy Ines Araneta.

For Atty. Julius Greg Delgado and Marie Nickie Bolos — A chain to bind them and lock their hearts forever and ever. Amen! 

Jagna councilor Anthony Aniscal and 
wife DarL l Contributed Photo
For Joseph Alexis A. Cadeliña—More creative concepts that will level up the entertainment landscape of Tagbilaran.  Same for Josephine Remolador- Cabarrus and Ma. Fe Dominise.

For Second District Rep. Aristotle C. Aumentado— Forging of more dynamic partnerships that will pave the way to more progress and development in the second district.

For Joseph Gara—Another album to showcase his artistic talent.

For Tagbilaran City Mayor John Geesnell “Baba” L. Yap II — Confidence that he has the continued support of his constituents and more successful efforts in local governance.

For Bishop Albert Uy -More eloquence that could inspire and draw more sheep to his flock. Same for Bishop Daniel Patrick Parcon,  Msgr. Jeff Malanog and Fr. Warli Salise Jr.

For Miss Bohol 2017 Pauline C. Amelincx - An opportunity to represent the Boholanos in a national pageant.

For Loboc Children’s Choir, Alicia Bamboo Ensemble, Dimiao Children’s Rondalla, Loboc Youth Ambassador, Katipunan Elem. School Rondalla, HNU Diwanag Dance Troupe and Bohol Master Singers — Enhance individual members' dedication and commitment to harmoniously sing as a group to capture varied audiences.

For Rosalinda Paredes, Emilia Roslinda, Pat Ruiz,  Atty. Kins Aparece, Salvio Makinano, Judge Raul Barbarona, Mightee Palo, Alvin Acuzar, Dorris Dinorog-Obena, Liza Macalandag, Jammy Ungab, Ludwig Quirog, Isidore Ancog, Ellen Gallares, Lester Ouano, Michael Canares and Regina Macalandag—More developmental work/projects/contracts for social change.

Vera Villocido Gesite  Contributed Photo
For Mizken Tirol Andan—Colorful lovelife. Seriously, the eventologist is wishing good health for his family. Same for Jholly Lim.

For TinTin Ng and  Lailette Boiser — More challenging roles in teleseryes and movies.

For Ryan Sines, Ramil Dolauta and Tamara — Colorful love life! More projects, more exposures.  Same for Donna Vitos, EP Relampagos, Jonathan Ocat, Rholly Ingking and Nina Jasmine Cadeliña.

For Kimpoy Mainit, Humfrey Nicasio, Hannah Precillas and Alexis Calipusan — A one night concert in Bohol... and more opportunities to inspire many people.

For Mikey Gatal— A partner to color his world.

For Inday Rufing, Inday Balbacua, et al — Another program to tickle funny bones.

For Rich Asuncion and beau— A marriage contract!

For  Shanon Pamaong, Maximiel Tallo, Omie Auza, Jong Magallano, Omie Auza, Henry Baron, Rhigel Dulfo, Charlow Arbasto and Tracy Remolador Torres—Reignited passion for their craft. A huge runway project to display their artistic collections!

For Clement Paulinel L. Ingking— More fervor in advocating for the Global Ecobricks Alliance towards environmental protection.

For Mister Earth Philippines 2017 Carlo Roy G. Roslinda —Positivity and drive to bring home the honor and pride to Bohol in the coming international competition.

Miss World Philippines First Princess Glyssa B. Perez Contributed Photo
For  Rebecca Lusterio and Thomas Mejiso —Another “joint venture.”  He!He!He! Same, David Maulas and Jenissa Laguda Peteros, Abdul Wallace and Chandrina Elluiska Schreurs-Wallace, and Doxson Asoy and Karen Digal.

For Mister Supranational Philippines 2016 AR dela Serna — A big break in the industry.

For Miss World Philippines First Princess Glyssa B. Perez —An opportunity to be cast in a movie with important Filipino showbiz celebs as a Regal baby.

For Dr. Rhine T. Pamaong— Motivation in the preparations for the Miss Bohol International 2018 during the Tigum Bol-non sa Tibuok Kalibutan in July 2018.


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

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Lovely Place is home of 30k anthuriums

Scene: Isabel Iris Garsuta wins first place in an on-the-spot Jingle Making contest during the Regional Festival of Talents in Dumaguete City. Isabel, 18, is the reigning Miss UB Personality 2017.

Some of the country’s most beautiful blooms
 can be found in Barangay Sua, Inabanga town, 
Bohol province. Leo Udtohan
Scene: Following a sold-out tour of the UK, Collabro will make their live debut in the Philippines when they perform at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila on February 26, 2018. The show will be produced and promoted by Spicy Lemon. Comprising singers Jamie Lambert, Michael Auger, Matt Pagan and Tom Redgrave, the British act won TV’s ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ in 2014 before releasing their debut album 'Stars', which went to No.1 in the UK and registered double gold in sales. After a hugely successful sold-out UK Tour in 2017, the foursome will come together again with dates in the New Year, including that first ever show in the Philippines at the Newport Performing Arts Theater, Resorts World Manila. Tickets are on sale now through

Scene:  The 155 star-shaped lanterns hanging beside the Maribojoc town hall.  The giant “parol” is an added attraction at the town plaza. There are stalls selling foods and snacks for those who want to satisfy their gastronomic adventure.

Lovely Anzano on “Lovely Place”: ‘The garden shares 
to deepen visitors’ understanding and appreciation
 of the natural world.’ Leo Udtohan
Scene:  Residents in Catigbian town showed creativity and ingenuity by making parols (Christmas lanterns) from garbage. The CD parol is among the attractions displayed at Catigbian town hall, whose town also features 47other parols made of indigenous and recycled materials. Another parol is made of tansans (bottle caps) while another is made of recycled straw, plastic bottles and wrappers.

Scene:  The Tubigon town retains its title as the province’s “Most Christmassy Place,” thanks to the thousands of festive lights and decorations at the town plaza.

What was known as a lovers’ dating place in a remote area in Bohol province is now a new tourist destination.

The “Lovely Place,” which is found at the peak of Barangay (Village) Sua in Inabanga town, at least 84 km from the capital city of Tagbilaran, offers unique landscapes and vistas.

The little-known garden which was launched this month was decked with flowers on the ground. The garden contains up to 30,000 leatherette red, heart-shaped anthurium flowers as far as the eye can see inside the 2.5 hectares.

Visitors prefer to see the 30,000 red anthurium 
flowers glow at night time.  Leo Udtohan
“This place is created by humans to feel the blessings of nature,” said Lovely Anzano. Her business partner, Maximo Garcia, said that the place would help the tourism industry in the province.

The Sua Peak was known only for lovers until they decided to transform the place into something magical.

But visiting the place is not only for the artificial flowers that would glow in the midday sun and still stand out at twilight, but including the appreciation of nature’s beauty.

At Lovely Place, one can view the “Sea of Clouds,” the famous Chocolate hills and Cebu City.

The “Sea of Clouds,” an overcast layer of clouds with a breathtaking view comparable to Mt. Pulag (that can be viewed well in Danao and from the nearby town of Dagohoy) can be observed at Lovely Place.

Visitors can also view the Chocolate hills from a different perspective.

“The hills are alive here,” said Anzano.
The 155 floating parols beside the Maribojoc town hall.   
Leo Udtohan

The tall buildings of Cebu City are visible from here.   

Anzano, 38, said visitors can come any time of the day to fully appreciate the anthuriums.  

“The garden shares to deepen visitors’ understanding and appreciation of the natural world,” she said.

Visitors are overwhelmed by the beauty of the garden.

Maria Torres, 58, from Tagbilaran City, said she was in awe of what she saw.

“Why aren’t they telling people about this? I’ve never seen such a beautiful sight as this,” she said.

Torres said she never imagined “Lovely Place” could be possible.
The holiday ambiance that Tubigon offers
 to visitors this Christmas.  Leo Udtohan

Another tourist, Yul Park, 37, said the place was magical.

“I have never seen anything like this, a three-in one package experience in Bohol,” he said.”So lovely!”

GETTING THERE: Lovely Place is a mere two-hour drive from Tagbilaran City via the Sagbayan-Danao Road.  If you are from Tubigon town, it is at least 8 km from Sagbayan Public Market. Be sure to have your own vehicle if you wish to spend the night here.


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

Sunday, December 10, 2017

3 Miss Universe 2017 beauties enjoy ‘brief’ stay in Bohol

Scene:  Sikatuna town is among Bohol’s most charming tourist attractions. It turned 100 last Dec. 5. “We’ve celebrated well as a community, our 100th year celebration was a great success,” said Mayor Jose Ellorimo. A strong working relationship with his fellow public servants, an effective strategic plan for the municipality and the close connections made with residents highlighted the three terms of Mayor Ellorimo.  He said he felt one of the most rewarding parts of being mayor was being able to look back at what’s been accomplished.

The girls get a warm welcome at Bohol Beach Club.
Photo by Helen Castaño
Scene:  The “Lovely Place” is Bohol's newest tourist attraction!  Found in Barangay Sua, Inabanga town, it offers a breathtaking view of the world famous Chocolate Hills, Sea of Clouds and Cebu! And there’s more... the “30,000 magical and lighted anthurium” are “planted” here.  More about “Lovely Place” next week.

Is tarsier a monkey?

Miss Universe 2017 candidates- Miss Philippines Rachel Peters, Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova and Miss Malaysia Samantha James- were asked by tour guide Cristopher Boncales of the Bohol Tourism Office (BTO) when they visited a tarsier and wildlife sanctuary in Bohol province last Friday, Dec. 8.

Bohol is perhaps most famous for the tiny tarsiers, one of the smallest primates in the world.

The tarsier (Tarsius syrichtais already a tourist symbol. The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) lists the Philippine tarsier as a near threatened species
The crystal clear water and white sand on 
Panglao Beach leave Miss Universe 2017 candidates--- 
Miss Philippines Rachel Peters, Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova
 and Miss Malaysia Samantha James--- spell-bound 
as they visited Bohol province on Friday, Dec. 8. Leo Udtohan

Although tarsier is mistaken as a monkey because of its features, Boncales said tarsier is not a monkey but actually a primate.

“Wow, it’s so cute,” they said when they saw the timid tarsier hiding in one of the trees inside the 8.4 hectare of the Philippine Tarsier and Wildlife Sanctuary in Barangay (village) Canapnapan in Corella town.

James shared they had a tarsier in Malaysia.

The Philippine tarsier is commonly found on Samar, Leyte, Bohol, and Mindanao.

“What happened if I will touch a tarsier?” asked Peters.

Boncales said the Miss Universe beauties were so “inquisitive” that they wanted to more about Bohol.

Peters, Alexandrova and James arrived in Bohol at 10:40 a.m. on Friday.  They were met my local officials, BTO and Department of Tourism (DOT)- Central Visayas and fans at the Tagbilaran Airport. They proceeded to People’s Mansion where they met acting Bohol vice-governor Benjie Arcamo, Bohol first lady and Balilihan Mayor Pureza Chatto, provincial administrator Ae Damalerio and provincial legal officer lawyer Mitchell John Boiser.
Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova and 
Miss Malaysia Samantha James hit the beach! 
Photo by Helen Castaño

They were given a raffia, a native product of Bohol and a copy of the book “The Bohol We Love”.

After brunch, the Miss U beauties did not waste any time taking in the beauty of the place.

They went to the tarsier sanctuary in Corella town. They just stayed there for half an hour and proceeded to Bohol Beach Club on Panglao Island, known for its pristine and white-sandy beaches.

Alexandrova and James were spell-bound as they swam in the crystal waters of Panglao. They also took a banana boat ride, another fun and popular activity in the island.

Although they stayed only for five hours before their 3:30 p.m. private flight to Manila, they said they enjoyed their stay.

“I love it. Really. It’s my first time in Asia and I am so happy that I started in Philippines,” said Alexandrova.

She said she fell in love with the beauty of the Philippines.

“It’s so beautiful, it’s so different in my country. I really enjoyed, I really loved it. It’s so beautiful. People here (are) too kind,” she added.

“It’s pretty amazing,” Samantha told the girls while having her mango shake on the beach.
Miss Russia Kseniya Alexandrova  (with your VRS) 
on Bohol: ‘I’m falling in love with this fabulous paradise. ‘ 
Photo courtesy: Mike Ligalig 

Peters, who visited Bohol twice, agreed, “The best part after Vegas.”

Boncales said the beauties wanted to see more of Bohol.

“Unfortunately because of the time element kinapus ng oras. Kaya naghihinayang kasi they wanted to see more of the island especially the beaches and of course the Chocolate Hills,” said Boncales.

But for Alexandrova, she said she had a good reason to come back.

“I will definitely come back,” she said.

“And I will bring my friends,” she quipped.


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

Sunday, December 3, 2017


Christmas lights up Bohol

By the time you are reading this corner, the holiday season must already be in full swing-- Christmas decorations are up, get-togethers and reunions planned and carols are played.

As joyous sights and sounds are everywhere, colorful series lights, lanterns made of indigenous materials, a house with Santa Claus collections and a giant Christmas tree are some of the main attractions for the Christmas season in the province.

Hermila “Mila” Lim collects Santa Claus 
images of different shades and shapes 
and other quirky Christmas items for the past 17 years. 
Leo Udtohan  
For businesswoman Hermila “Mila” Lim, she started decorating her home on M. Torralba Street in Tagbilaran City with Christmas decorations as early as September.

Fascinated by St. Nicolas since childhood, Mila has adorned her house with a vast collection of Santa Claus memorabilia, ranging from life-sized, singing and dancing Santas to Santa theme plates and mugs, candles, toys, dolls and figurines.

Upon entering, a visitor immediately hears the song, “Deck the Halls,” and sees a garden decorated with small and life-size snowman figures.

Inside her house, more Santa Claus images of different shades and shapes and other quirky Christmas items collected for the past 17 years are displayed. 

There are drunk Santa, a photographer Santa, a dancing Santa, a Santa Claus band, Santa in a parachute, singing and dancing Santas with reindeer and even a Tarzan Santa.

There are Santas at the doorsteps and all over inside the place. Her dining table is complete with Christmas inspired drinking glasses, place, placemats and utensils.

The Santa Clauses and other Christmas decorations were acquired during Mila’s travels with her husband Teofilo to Cebu, Manila, Israel, Australia, Hong Kong and China.

Mila and Teofilo own one of the biggest liquified petroleum gas (LPG) dealership firms in Tagbilaran City.

In 2008, Mila began her Christmas Village project. Her collection of miniature Christmas houses and objects has grown since that it captured the attention of GMA News to feature her collection.

The Barangay Hall of Poblacion 3 has been
 wrapped with holiday decorations to welcome Christmas. 
Leo Udtohan
However, some of her miniature collections were broken during the Oct. 15, 2013 earthquake that brought Bohol to its knees. For personal reasons, she stopped putting up her Christmas Village since 2016.

Instead, Mila has filled the house with Santa Claus.

“I love Santa Claus,” she says. “It gives me joy,” she adds.

To date, her collection has 350 Santa Clauses.

The spirit of the season is ever so felt by residents of Poblacion 3 in Tagbilaran City as parols (lanterns) of different colors are hanging along the busy street.

The traditional parol is a five point star-shaped Christmas lantern which has been a time-honoured Christmas symbol in the Philippines.

Follow the parols and it would lead you to the Barangay Hall of Poblacion 3.

“The Christmas parol is a reminder of the star of Bethlehem. It symbolizes the guiding light of the Three Wise Men to the manger of the Child Jesus,” says the workaholic Pob. 3 councilor Leo Cinco.

The Barangay Hall of Poblacion 3 has been wrapped with holiday decors.

Last Friday, village chief Ody Glovasa led barangay officials in the ceremonial lighting of Christmas decorations at Poblacion 3 Barangay Hall to formally welcome Christmas 2017. This year’s decorations include a giant Christmas tree, Santa Claus and his sleigh and a giant belen (manger) featuring the nativity scene.

"We are doing this every year, but we want it more colorful this year," says Cinco. 

The 30-feet Christmas tree at St. Joseph 
the Worker Cathedral becomes an attraction this Christmas 
season. Leo Udtohan
A few meters from Poblacion 3, as beams of lights illuminate the St. Joseph the Worker Parish Cathedral, which attracts attention, parishioners can see the 30-feet high Christmas tree beside the church.

The giant tree, which is adorned with parols and small baskets, uses light-emitting diodes (LEDs).

At the top of the Christmas tree is a cross which reminds the parishioners the true meaning of Christmas.

Lilian Foronda, 12, likes to stroll around the church’s “rotonda” to see the Christmas tree.

“Ganahan ko sa Christmas tree diri sa simbahan kay nindot (I like the Christmas tree here because it’s nice),” says Lilian.

In Baclayon town, parols with different colors literally lit the highway.  Just follow the parols and it would guide you to a biggest star at the top of a belen (manger) in Barangay Santa Cruz.

The belen is made of indigenous materials. The figures representing Joseph and Mary, the child Jesus and the three kings measuring about four feet in height, and the sheep are made from coconut husks, fibers, beads and shells.  

Villagers said they utilized materials out of coconut in keeping with up the government’s environmental campaign and the use of recyclable materials.

The “Belen” as this year’s theme is to remind everyone about the real meaning of the yuletide celebration.

The Yuletide season is definitely bright and twinkling in the Philippines,

Christmas is the most exciting time of the year. VRS wants to hear and see your best, most spectacular story and images of Christmas where you live.

What is Christmas like for you? What do your decorations or lights look like this year? What holiday traditions do you celebrate? Will you be attending particular Christmas events such as Simbang Gabi? If you do not celebrate Christmas, how will you spend the holidays?

Send your story and favorite images of your Christmas celebrations to for a chance to be featured in VRS.


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