Sunday, July 30, 2017

Serendipitous moment for Miss Bohol 2017

Scene: A male title holder (MTH) created a stir when he posted on Facebook that he was “raped.”  MTH went to a spa that when he was half-asleep the masseur took advantage of the situation. MTH woke up when he discovered the masseur already sucking his nipple and stroking his ting-a ling. The male masseur, who was brought to barangay hall for interrogation, admitted he was smitten by MTH’s manliness and beauty that he almost raped him. “Lesson? Huwag pagnasaan ang inyong client,” said MTH’s friends. The plot is thickening.

Miss Bohol 2017 Pauline Amelinckx 
Courtesy: Miss Bohol/Gerald James Cabal
Scene: Could it be true that a sexy model cum young businesswoman had a “nightcap” at a hotel with a popular  businessman from Manila who was here for a visit not too long ago? “What a sweet pair,” said VRS. “You see,  she’s perfect for him, but he is already taken. Ouch!”

Scene: Prof. Marianito Luspo on the 2nd Bangga sa Kuradang ug Subli sa Sandugo:  “Well, it’s unique and special because it really comes from our culture.  It is an attempt  to make the festival more relevant by basing the whole concept on the nature of the culture of the place. I am not saying kuradang is only done in Bohol, it’s a Visayan thing but our way and our way we infused in our important historic event in Bohol made into something special. It is to reflect something we have and which we can rightly we proud of.”

Pauline Amelinckx overwhelmed the competition during the recently-concluded Miss Bohol pageant.

Pauline, a graduate of Bachelor of Arts in International Studies major in European Studies at the Cebu Doctor’s University, impressed the judges and the audience.

She said joining the pageant was one of the “toughest decisions” of her life.

She was not totally expecting to be called winner of Miss Bohol 2017, however, it was her destiny to become Miss Bohol.

“It was an amazing night filled with emotions but also with friendship. The Miss Bohol journey was an amazing experience and I am glad to have experienced it with amazing co candidates who became my friends. I will surely miss all the time we spent together but I am looking forward to the next time we meet, the next time we eat, and the time that we look back on this day with a smile,” she posted on Facebook.
Miss Bohol 2016 Glyssa Perez was 
one of the ladies present at the final 
screening of Miss World Philippines. 
Courtesy: Glyssa Perez Facebook

“Thank you to all the people who have helped and supported me, thank you for the bonds of friendship we were able to strengthen together and thank you for sharing this amazing experience with me. It will become a memory dear to my heart because of you all,” she added.

Tubigon continues to dominate the provincial pageant scene, winning yet another crown. Miss Bohol winners from Tubigon were Amir Paraguya Sol (2010) and Farrah Faye Mian (2011).

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.

“I guess it's serendipity, it's not something you plan,” said a pageant watcher.

With so many Miss Bohol winners avidly angling for attention in public, some really have to bustle and hustle to stay in the public eye.

Kudos to these beauty queens who have managed to stand out by way of their successful and effective career moves and gambits:

Queenie Melody Fullante has made her fans ecstatic by finally doing something to serve the community as head of Dauis Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office.

Miss Bohol 2014 Queenie Melody Fullante
Courtesy: Queenie Fullante
After Miss Bohol, she got involved with advocacy efforts in the JCI Chocolate Hills after she was chosen as Miss JCI Philippines.

For her part, Miss Bohol 2016 Glyssa Perez was already attracting a lot of attention — especially from motorists and commuters — with her beautiful face from huge billboards in the city and selected towns, endorsing RC Lucky Graphics.

In addition, Glyssa  is working at Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) under Sec. Martin Andanar assigned at the ASEAN affairs.

She is currently training for the Miss World Philippines on Sept. 3. Glyssa, Miss Philippines-Australia 2014, will step out of the shadow of her famous cousin Miss Universe -Philippines 2016 Maxine Medina. She will carve her own name in the national pageant. Her cup runneth over!


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Sunday, July 16, 2017

Balikbayans arrive for Sandugo festivities

Mikey Gatal with his high school 
classmates-Father Alberic Bonje, Jorge Besa 
and Roel Rosco. Courtesy: Mikey Gatal
Scene: The 163rd Bohol Day Governor's Awardees:  Ambassador Fernando "Ding" Borja (Diplomacy/International), Relations, Fr. Arnold Zamora (Music), Atty. Ingemar Macarine  (Advocate for Environment/Long Distance Swimmer),  Carmen Gatal (Community Service) and Mr. and Mrs. John and Geesnell Yap (Business). Special Citations: Dr. Jeong Taek Lee, Country Director, Korea Project for International Agriculture (KOPIA) and  Engr. Tadashi Aoi , Project Manager, Japan Airport Consultant.

Scene: The first “ToFarm Film Festival” in Bohol on July 26-28, 8:30 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. The festival features farmers, agriculture and bounties of nature. Contact BITGAP and KABOG for direct purchase of tickets. Text 09172034705/09102450515/09277932406/09128109145/09332253163.

They’re back again for the Sandugo.

The Sandugo beat, hugs and smiles greeted our balikbayans from abroad as early as last week.

Pushing a cart filled with baggage that includes “pasalubong” for his friends, US-based socialite Mikey
Gatal has been coming to Bohol and all for the Sandugo festival.

“It truly feels like home,” said Mikey who arrived with his mother Fely.

Aside from the Sandugo, Mikey came for a reunion with former high school classmates at Divine Word College High School Batch 1987 which was held at Boffo Resort in Loon town.

Mikey Gatal with his mom Fely. Courtesy: Mikey Gatal
He said he plans to join the 2nd “Bangga sa Kuradang ug Subli sa Sandugo” street-dance on Sunday.

Kuradang is dance during social gatherings such as birthday, baptism, wedding and fiesta because of its lively moves and the life it gives to the gatherings. It is dance with the accompaniment of the rondalla that it makes kuradang flared, brisk and romantic.

The kuradang, a courtship dance, imitates the playful "birig" or courting movements of the aggressive rooster and coy hen.

Mikey said although he visited some places he wants to explore more. He said he plans to make a countryside tour. He said it never fails to amaze the towns for a relaxing encounter with sight.

It is, indeed, a time for milestone high school reunions.

According to Fiel Angeli E. Araoarao-Gabin, overall coordinator of the Bohol National High School (BNHS) Class of 1987, the 30th (Pearl) anniversary celebration on July 21-22, 2017 anchored on the theme "Polished Over Time."

She said Boholanos from different parts of the world came home not only to be with their families, to attend weddings and to witness the Bohol Sandugo Festival, but to relive the 30 glorious years of their high school life.

The Divine Word College-High School 
Class of 1987 Pearl reunion. Courtesy: Mikey Gatal
A combination of "advocacy" and "lingaw-lingaw," the BNHS Class of 1987 turned over to Dr. Cecilio Putong National High School principal Virgilia Omictin P20,000 for the SpEd classroom ceiling repair from Pia Madronero-Bongulto of San Diego, California, more than 600 K to 12 books for the regular classes and more than 100 pairs of school shoes for the SpEd students from the San Joaquin Kalawaan High School of the Pasig City Schools Division, through Nicolasa Clarito-Enierga, and P10,000 worth of sports equipment.

Balikbayans who joined were Noel Cericos and Doods Bullen from the United States, Annaliza Preciado-Yano and Jadel Salazar-Karasawa from Japan and Jessica Vidal-Glyde from Australia.

Moreover, Leo Madanguit, Rolland Clarete, and Clarissa Matela - Arado from the United States got in town for their July 14-16, 2017 Divine Word College of Tagbilaran 30th year HS reunion, so with Paulino Biloy, Jr. from Hongkong, also for his church wedding to Shirmie Cuadra last July 21, while Holy Spirit School graduates Ma. Nerissa Virtusio - Clarete, Jacqueline Malanog - San Pedro, and Rebeca dela Serna also from the United States, made it in time for their July 22-23, 2017 pearl anniversary reunion.

On the other hand, those balikbayans from the US also participated in their Holy Spirit School Elementary Class of 1983 gathering last July 20 at KEW Hotel in preparation for their grand 35th anniversary reunion in 2018.

The Holy Spirit Elem. Class of 1993 gathered 
for their reunion in preparation for their
 big 30th event next year. 
Courtesy: Fiel Angeli Araoarao-Gabin
Boholano movie actress and performer Leah Scarnet "Scarlet" Geulen-Boiser, Bohol Quality Corporation CEO Raymond Ong, Tagbilaran City Community Hospital's Rey Inting, accomplished Chicago, Illinois businessman Leo Madanguit, and Tagbilaran City Information Officer Fiel Angeli E. Araoarao - Gabin are among the graduates.

Welcome greetings from friends and relatives also filled the arrival area at the Tagbilaran Airport and pier for Saudi Arabia-based couple Marvin and Jolzeccar Uy-Fronteras and  Miss Bohol International 1999 Chan Cajegas-Casabal and her family.

Unlike past years, balikbayans didn’t come in a single large group, but traveled individually.

Some came as early as May to attend some reunions and fiestas. Last May, erstwhile society writer Gisela Mae “Jiji” Apalisok came home to attend their town fiesta. I told her to wait for July. “Next year perhaps,” she said.

Pinoy Aquaman swims from Cebu
 to Bohol before English Channel trip

Triathlete lawyer Ingemar Macarine, known as "Pinoy Aquaman," swam nonstop for eight hours covering at least 18 kilometers from Argao town in Cebu to Cabilao Island in Loon town in Bohol province last Sunday.

Helen Castano with triathlete lawyer Ingemar Macarine,
 known as "Pinoy Aquaman," swims Cebu
  to Bohol, his last intense training session before 
embarking on the English Channel swim. 
Macarine was one of the Awardees during the 
163rd Bohol Day on July 22.  Leo Udtohan
Macarine said his latest feat was not easy because of the jellyfish he encountered along the way.

"During the first 8 kilometers I was really thinking of abandoning the swim because of the jellyfish. l suffered for the first 8 kms, the good thing  no more jellyfish along the way but I encountered the strong current,” he said.

The Cebu-Bohol stretch is part of his training as the first Filipino to swim through the English Channel, known as the “Mount Everest” of swimming, next month.

“This is my last swim before I depart for UK next week to start my training for the ultimate swim of my life that would be August 14," he said.

"So, I will try to swim again the English Channel because last year I was not able to swim because of the bad weather," he added.

Last May, he successfully endured New York's freezing Hudson River as he swam from Newburgh-Beacon Bridge to Bannerman Island for one hour and 49 minutes, about 8.4 kilometers.

Macarine swam from Guinsiliban, Camiguin Island, crossed the Macajalar Bay, and reached Talisayan town in Misamis Oriental to promote peace in Mindanao last June.


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Just a few more days; power and water crisis still in Bohol

Jenalyn Castaño went to bed early on Friday night since the province was plunged into darkness.

As soon as she awoke, she reached from her bed and flicked the nearest light switch.

There was light.

A student is using a rechargeable flashlight 
while studying her lesson. The province of Bohol
 is plunged into darkness after a strong earthquake
 hit Leyte last Thursday. Leo Udtohan
"Nakurat ko kay naa nay kuryente mao gi-charged nako dayun akong cellphon  (I was surprised that there was already electricity that is why I immediately charged my cellular phone)," said Castaño, 30, who lives on Lamdagan Street in this city.

"Hopeful ko padayun na unta ni nga musiga na (I am hopeful this will continue)"

Although power had resumed in Bohol last Friday night but it was limited only in the capital city of Tagbilaran and for a limited hours. An average six-hour rotational brownout had been implemented in Tagbilaran due to acute power deficiency throughout Bohol because of the shutdown of a geothermal power plant in Leyte, the province’s main energy source.

Power barge
Local leaders said the power supply in Bohol will be fully restored soon.

Acting provincial administrator lawyer John Mitchell Boiser said Bohol has sought to harness energy from two power barges which came from IloIlo City and General Santos City.

“That is another option to address the power outage since the power lines in Leyte will take weeks to restore,” said Boiser.

He said the power barge from IloIlo City is expected to arrive in Bohol in three to seven days, while the power barge from General Santos City would take about three weeks to reach Bohol.

Boiser said officials of the energy companies last Thursday inspected three proposed docking sites of the power barges in Cortes, Maribojoc, and Loon towns.

Once the barges arrive and are ready to operate, the National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) will then have to install lines to transmit power to electric distributors.

Each barge can generate up to 32 megawatts of power.

Bohol has a power demand of 70-80 megawatts, Boiser said.

In the meantime, Bohol Light Company Inc., the main power distributor in Bohol, tapped Bohol Diesel Power Plant (BDPP) in Barangay Dampas, Tagbilaran to supply power in the city although its capacity was not enough to meet the demand. The SPC Island Power Corporation which owns the BDPP was given provisional authority to operate by the Energy Regulatory Commission (ERC) last week.

Residents have been hit by the double whammy
 of a power blackout and the subsequent 
water service interruption after the Leyte earthquake. 
Leo Udtohan
The BDPP’s capacity to release power to the province’s capital was granted following an appeal made by the provincial board members, according to Totsie Escobia, provincial information officer.

Escobia said the request was also expedited through the efforts of Gov. Edgar Chatto, who was in Canada for an official function. Bohol has been and still is dependent on its power supply from Malitbog Geothermal Plant in Leyte province being connected with submarine cable from Maasin City to President Carlos P. Garcia island town of Bohol.

Power requirement for Bohol was between 70-80 MW during peak hours, said May Hope Arcenal, BLCI spokesperson.

Bohol has three hydro plants in Hanopol in Balihan town, Loboc town and Sevilla town with a combined capacity of less than 10MW.

 Arcenal said BDPP can generate up to 12 MW which was alternately distributed by the BLCI to its consumers in Tagbilaran City. But it was not enough since Tagbilaran's power demand was 25 MW, she added.

Some areas in Tagbilaran City had power for only an hour due to limited supply and high demand. Arcenal said mall owners and big establishments in the city used generator sets to help maximize the power. Water was also a problem that residents stormed supermarkets and water refilling stations to buy potable water. Arcenal said water is also rationed in some barangays.

Tagbilaran residents are waiting for water until dawn.
Photo by  Leo Udtohan
The Bohol Electric Cooperatives 1 and 2 also started to ration electricity to its consumers.

Double whammy
Residents affected by the power outage also lost flowing potable water.

Many residents on Lamdagan Street in Cogon 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.

The community is among the 15 barangays (villages) in the city that are affected by the temporary water supply cut-off.

 “We have endure the long line because we don’t have water in the house,” said 15-year-old Jezzrel Taal, 15, about the water service interruption, on Saturday afternoon.

Residents along Graham Avenue in Barangay Booy also queued for their water ration until Saturday night. Others went home when the fire truck didn’t return.

“It doesn’t matter if we don’t have electricity for as long as we have water,” said Bebei Lim, 46.

The Bohol Water Utilities, Inc. (BWUI) in Tagbilaran City used portable generator sets to power one of the water pumping stations along the J.A. Clarin-Dao road for its consumers. But the supply was limited to few areas.

People bought mineral water at P30 to P50 per container instead of the usual P15 to P20 in water refilling stations.

The owners said the increase in prices was due to the added cost since they were using generator sets to operate.

Some residents would go to Caingget Beach and Bulok-Bulok Spring to wash their clothes and take a bath.

But Mia Cadenas, 59, a resident of Barangay Sto. Nino in San Miguel town said many coped with the situation.

“We were getting used to not having any electricity. The big problem was we could no longer watch our favorite telenovelas,” said Cadenas.

The water service interruption was not a big deal for some since they could still get clean water from the deep well and spring.

Stores in Tagbilaran and municipal halls also offered free charging of  cellphones.

In Jagna town, Councilor Anthony Aniscal allowed residents to charge their cellphones for free using his generator set. 

Tourism affected
The tourism industry has been affected by the power outage.

Resort owners and operators in Panglao Island, the province’s tourism jewel, complain that the constant power outage in the province is cutting down the number of tourists visiting the area.

Resort owner Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan says the power crises 
has affected his resort in Panglao town. Leo Udtohan
Dr. Doloreich Dumaluan, owner of Dumaluan Beach Resort 2, said they had several booking cancellations due to the unstable power supply in the province.

Dumaluan Beach Resort 2 is a six-hectare property in Barangay Bolod in Panglao which was established in 1998. “Definitely, we are affected by the power interruption.

Although it is business as usual here, our tourist arrival declined due to power and water issues,” said Dumaluan. Dumaluan said that the decline started during the Abu Sayyaf infiltration last April.

The military forces killed all the Abu Sayyaf members in Inabanga town on the northern tip of Bohol, about 81 km from Panglao where tourists would usually go. Dumaluan said they had been relying mainly on three generator sets which were very costly to operate for his 107 rooms.

They are spending P30,000 to P50,000 daily for fuel to run the generators.

“We have no other choice since we need to cater the needs of our guests who are staying in our resort,” said Dumaluan. Most of the guests are Europeans.

Dumaluan is calling on the government to help address the power situation in the province.

In case for Panglao, Boheco 1 is distributing power in Panglao town with at least 6 megawatts. Dumaluan is urging for a power plant to be centrally located in Bohol as the province is only relying on power plants based in Eastern Visayas.

“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,” he said.

The first was on Oct. 15, 2013 when the province was hit by a magnitude 7.2 tremor that brought Bohol to its knees. The next month, Supertyphoon “Yolanda” hit most parts of the Visayas and affected the power suply on Nov. 8, 2013.

More than three years later, another strong earthquake hit Leyte province on July 6 but still affected Bohol. Smarting from the Bohol earthquake and Yolanda, Dumaluan purchased three generator sets for his resorts. He also put up his own wastewater treatment facility and a seven-meter long and four-meter wide water tank. “But it is still not enough,” he said.

But the effect on smaller beach resorts was worse. A resort owner (who asked for anonymity) said her guests left the resort due to the brownout and inability of water.

“It is hurting us because this is causing financial setback on our part,” she said.

Davon (family name withheld upon his request), a Russian guest, said he had to cut short his three-day Bohol trip.

“I have no choice here,” he said, because he could not sleep well with the noise coming from the generator set.

But Josephine Remolador-Cabarrus, head of the Bohol Tourism Office, assured that the power crisis in Panglao was just temporary since the provincial government was closely coordinating with the Department of Energy to speed up the restoration of power in Bohol.

She said that Bohol was able to respond the power outage in 2013 that lasted for a month. The province's tourism industry then bounced back in 2015 and 2016.

“Considering that tourism is very resilient industry, it would somehow bounce back. We always have to hope even they said that hope is the greatest sin, but hope is the thing that will get us going. I know the industry will bounce back,” she said.


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Sunday, July 9, 2017

Tagbilaran hit by floods; power outage in Bohol

Thursday had two unforgettable events.

First, after two hours of rain, several areas in this city were flooded on Thursday.

The heavy rain started around 10:30 a.m., triggering knee-deep flood on H. Grupo Street.

Heavy rains also turned Lamdagan Street into a virtual river where people were forced to wade in knee-deep floodwaters.

The heavy rain also flooded some schools. In Cogon Elementary School, the school children were forced to walk in floodwater as some of them went home for lunch.

Boy Reyes, 46, carried his son, a Grade 1 pupil, on his shoulder.

Students wade through floodwaters after 
heavy rains that hit Bohol on Thursday. Leo Udtohan
The heavy rains also left office workers stranded.

Flights were also delayed and diverted due to poor visibility at the Tagbilaran Airport because of the downpour.

A source at the Tagbilaran Airport said that a Philippine Airlines flight diverted to Mactan Cebu International Airport after two attempts to land at the Tagbilaran airport around 10 a.m. on Thursday due to zero visibility.

Four hours after the heavy downpour, a sudden blackout occurred. The strong earthquake that hit Leyte province caused a power transmission system to trip off and damaged power sources.

Bohol sources its power from Leyte since the province has no power source of its own.

The National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) had not given a statement on when power would resume although sources said the blackout could last three to four days.

“Power interruption will prolong as full assessment of transmission facilities is still to be completed,” said Betty Martinez, NGCP-Visayas spokesperson.

Around 261,000 households in the province had without electricity.

Michelle Barimbao, 28, had to buy kerosene at a gasoline station in the city since the sari-sari stores had run out of supply after the blackout gripped the province following Thursday’s earthquake.

Kerosene is commonly used for cooking and other energy needs.

However, the product has been scarce in Tagbilaran since many gas stations run out of supply since Thursday night.

Barimbao was told that Florencio Gasoline Station CPG East Avenue corner J.A. Clarin Street sold kerosene for P42.50 per liter.

Residents lined up at the gas station until midnight.

Most of the Boholanos had dinner by candlelight
 or kerosene lamp on Thursday night. Leo Udtohan
Barimbao and other residents had dinner by candlelight or kerosene lamp.

She said that after eating dinner, they just went to sleep because there was nothing much to do with no electricity.

Some business establishments with no generator sets in the capital Tagbilaran City were closed.

Barimbao said the blackout reminded her of the aftermath of Supertyphoon “Yolanda” (International Name: Haiyan) on Nov. 8, 2013 that hit the province three weeks after a magnitude 7.2 earthquake shook Bohol and killed at least 200 people.

Yolanda affected the geothermal power plant in Leyte which caused the brownouts that lasted for more than a month.

Power had not resumed in Bohol as well as in Leyte, Southern Leyte and on Samar Island after a magnitude 6.5 earthquake rocked Leyte at 4:03 p.m. on Thursday.

The quake caused a power transmission system to trip off and damaged power sources.

Based on NGCP’s advisory on Friday morning, tower along the 138-kV Ormoc-Togonan Line in Ormoc City, Leyte was found leaning following aerial and ground inspections.

NGCP has also mobilized six line gangs to temporarily restore the Ormoc-Togonan 138kV Line. Another line gang was sent to Kananga Switchyard, owned by Energy Development Corporation (EDC), to assist in restoration and to assess possible ways of extending power from the Tabango Substation to Ormoc Substation, the statement said.

NGCP’s Cebu-Leyte submarine cable, and its Tabango Substation in Leyte continue to transmit power to Leyte Electric Cooperative 5 that served the towns of Tabango, San Isidro, and Villaba.

“There is a complete loss of power in Bohol and Samar islands, and Southern Leyte. Due to supply deficiency caused by the outage of power plants located in Leyte, customers in Cebu, Negros, and Panay may also suffer occasional power interruptions,” said the NGCP advisory.

Since there was no power, several residents in Bohol also complained of no water supply. Many residents stormed malls, stores and water refilling stations to buy water.

People lined up in a gasoline station in 
Tagbilaran City until midnight to buy kerosone. 
Leo Udtohan

“We don’t have power. We don’t have water. Where will we turn to,” asked Anabelle Magoncia, 45, a resident of Ubujan District.

In its advisory, the Bohol Light advised consumers to conserve batteries and water.

“Power plants & NGCP Sub-station in Leyte are shut down and still on assessment period. Power restoration for Bohol may take long. Please take precautions to prevent fire, conserve water and remove plugs from outlets,” it said.

Many residents vented their frustration on social media.

“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.”

Beryl Elizabeth Lupot, who works with a nongovernment organization in Tagbilaran, said there was a need for Bohol to have its own power source especially with its economic boom.

“Yes of course, we really need to have our own energy source, especially now that we have a new international airport and Bohol is progressing rapidly,” said Lupot.

“Bohol has it all except its own energy source,” she added.

Another resident Keith Joseph Sepe posted on Facebook that Bohol had experienced a long Earth Day.

“Bohol needs their own Power Plant ge (should be) prioritize(d) unta na! Dili ang (not the) International airport,” Sepe said. He used the hashtags #Justsaying!! #BoholBlackout #Earthday #EarthquakeLeyte #PrayForLeyte.

Willy Ramasola also posted on Facebook that the experience should make the local and national officials realize that Bohol should not be dependent on Leyte for its power source.

“Oh well. No need to learn past lessons as long as you make sure you win elections. And the people pay the painful price. Enjoy eating melted ice creams tonight, my fellow Boholanos,” said Ramasola.

On the worst case, repair and restoration of the transmission lines may not take longer than one week.

Bohol will be bracing for more dark nights.

Note: While power supply was restored in Tagbilaran City on Friday night as part of rationing system, environmental activist Jumjum Ouano shares his thoughts on coal-powered plant:

There is plan that Government of Bohol is eyeing on investing in Coal - Powered Plant just to supply electricity in the Province, with the recent events in Leyte and that the power blackout in the Province my fear is that most Boholanos will approved of this investment plan without considering hazards it will entail to the community and general public as a whole.

To my fellow Boholanos, I know it is difficult to not have electricity as it affects our daily lives and even our supply of water. It is not easy but let us not fall into a trap of giving a thumbs up to this kind of source of power, aside from it is not sustainable, how can we claim that we are a prime ECO-cultural and heritage tourism destination?

There are other means to get our supply of electricity by not resorting in Coal-powered plant. I am speaking about this because I myself opposes to the Ludo Coal Powered plant in Cebu, and the hell would I allow the same will be built in Bohol.

I am not speaking in the comfort that I can escape the recent situation there right now because in the longer run I would still be coming home to Bohol. Again hear me out, there are more better alternatives, the Government is not limited to it. It’s just that they are not posting the issue of electricity as a priority since they could have done something about it for example, Dams.

My fellow advocates for environmental protection, let us be vigilant and let us not sold our principles for a convenient solution as of the moment. Let us all consider the longer impact. Coal is Dirty!


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Sunday, July 2, 2017

Inabanga’s Raffia Festival to keep tradition alive

Scene: There were tears, loud cheers and embraces as Lloyd Lancer Gonzaga, the man accused of the murder of environmental lawyer Mia Mascariñas-Green, was arrested on Friday afternoon.   "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, in an interview Saturday.  "However, our attention now be focused on how justice will finally be rendered to her death."   Amor Maria Vistal, a friend of Green, posted the Facebook, “God is good. God heard our prayers.”

Scene: Provincial Board Member Niño Rey Boniel on Thursday pleaded not guilty to charges of kidnapping and detaining the best friend of his wife on the night he allegedly took and killed Bien Unido Mayor Gisela Boniel.

Seen: One of the candidates in Miss Bohol 2017 is always late. “She has the potential to get the crown. But of course, she has an attitude problem,” said a beauty pageant expert VRS.  “While other girls were having fun during the many activities, she missed it,” added VRS.    

The news about a funeral wreath left at the town’s cemetery scared many residents days before the Inabanga town would celebrate its fiesta on June 30.

Inabanga Mayor Josephine Jumamoy
spearheads the Raffia Festival. Courtesy: Ric Obedencio
The “fake news” about a possible bombing on the town fiesta also circulated in text messages and social media worried some residents to go home to celebrate the feast of St. Paul.

“That’s not true,” said Mayor Josephine Socorro Jumamoy on the “fake news” reported.

“Dili nata anang news nga dili tinuod. Let’s try to live a normal life. Let us try to be an instrument nga atong lungsod and province nga maglinawon. Let us do our share,” she said.

To prove that there was no threat, the town held the Raffia Festival Streetdancing on Friday afternoon as part of the town's fiesta.  It was participated in by 10 contingents clustered from the 50 barangays.

The dancers dressed in colorful costumes and props spread cheers.  They also proudly showcased raffia products during the street-dance competition.

Since, Inabanga town just launched the the public free WiFi hotspots, residents flooded Twitter and the social media with hashtag #IloveINB during the event.

Raffia, a natural fiber obtained from "buri" palm, is one of Bohol's leading showcases of its hand woven industry.

The festival aimed to enliven the raffia loomweaving industry which was affected by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake and the infiltration of the Abu Sayyaf members on April 10.

The dancers proudly display raffia strips, locally 
called hulahula, during the Raffia Festival in
 Inabanga, Bohol province.  Courtesy: Ric Obedencio
Some of the weavers lost enthusiasm and interest to continue weaving due to the impact of the quake.  Eventually, the basket industry declined.

“Nahinay, nahilum.  Naapektuhan gyud.  So karun,  sugod ta, atong banhawun,” said Jumamoy.

Jumamoy said there were more than 1,000 individuals who were engaged in home-based raffia loom-weaving  spa in the 50 barangays of the municipality.

Now, at least 500 plant-based weavers are still making raffia.

Before the earthquake, Jumamoy said Inabanga’s raffia-based crafts have gained momentum and are now recognized worldwide.

She said a room at The White House was decorated with raffia.  She also said actress Angelina Jolie was also seen carrying a bag made of raffia designed from Inabanga.

“Raffia in Inabanga is 100 percent hand woven. That’s the beauty, it’s natural,” she said.

Some dancers and members of the Bohol media
 at the media wall inside the Inabanga gymnasium. 
Contributed Photo
Raffia fiber is stripped from dried young buri palm leaves, some dyed, others in their natural colors and woven by hand or modern looms.

Jumamoy said that loom weaving has been the most important cottage industry in Inabanga since Hispanic times.

She said during the Dagohoy uprising, woven cloths were made into uniforms for resistance fighters.

Through the years the weaving industry evolved and were sold locally as well as abroad.

Jumamoy said next year’s festival will be bigger and brighter. 

Slowly, the Inabanga weavers could feel the urge to keep the tradition alive and to move on despite the tragedy that struck them and their town.


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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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