Showing posts with label Boniel case. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Boniel case. Show all posts

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.

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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