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Cebu City News January 2014

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How to get the best out of the Malunggay
Moringa (Malungay) leaves compared to common foods
Values per 100gm. edible portion
Nutrient Moringa Leaves Other Foods
Vitamin A 6780 mcg Carrots: 1890 mcg
Vitamin C 220 mg Oranges: 30 mg
Calcium 440 mg Cow's milk: 120 mg
Potassium 259 mg Bananas: 88 mg
Protein 6.7 gm Cow's milk: 3.2 gm
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Magellan's Cross in Cebu City
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Ask your Barangay Captain/Chairman to create a Resolution to make it mandatory to put the barangay name in all Business addresses.
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Proponent secures P800 million for bulk water supply project in northern Cebu

By : Justin K. Vestil

THE consortium that proposes to supply water to Metro Cebu by tapping a river in the northern town of Carmen obtained a P800-million loan from the Japan International Cooperation Agency (Jica).

The loan, which makes up 70 percent of the needed investment, signals the start of bulk water supply project that aims to provide 35,000 cubic meters of water to Metro Cebu. The remaining funding requirement will be shouldered by shareholders of the Cebu Manila Water Development Inc. (CMWD).

Officials of CMWD, Provincial Government, the Carmen Municipal Government, Jica and the Development Bank of the Philippines, which serves as conduit of the funding facility, signed the loan agreement yesterday.

The loan, which was made possible through the Philippine Water Revolving Fund, is payable in 20 years.


The water supply project involves the construction of a diversion weir intake structure, a two-kilometer raw water pipeline, a water treatment plant, pumping stations, treated water pipelines and a reservoir. Most of the facilities will be built in Barangays Cantumug and Lower Natimao-an.

Mike Santos, CMWD general manager, told reporters that the project will be implemented as a joint venture of the Capitol and the consortium.

CMWD is composed of Metro Pacific Water Investments Corp., Vicsal Development Corp. and the Ayala-led Manila Water.

Under their joint venture agreement with the Province, the initial investment for the project is P256.5 million, of which P125.685 million will come from the Capitol.

The agreement also states that the consortium will pay P35 million in advance royalties to Carmen town.

The consortium also promised to rehabilitate and protect the watershed that supports the Luyang River.

Carmen Mayor Martin Gerard Villamor said the local government will use the royalty fees from the consortium to build a track-and-field and finance road concreting projects.

Water produced by the Carmen facility will be sold to the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) at P24.59 per cubic meter, said Santos.

CMWD and MCWD have a 20-year supply agreement.

Woo your sweetheart at Mövenpick Hotel

By :

CEBU CITY -- On February 14, escape the hustle and bustle of the city and impress the one you love with an intimate beach retreat at the Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu. Guests can choose from two Valentine room packages offered just for the special occasion.

From chocolate covered strawberries to intimate dining by the beach and late check-outs, let Mövenpick Hotel Mactan Island Cebu set the mood for a romantic getaway.

Exclusively offered to local residents, book the “Valentine Snuggle In Package” and enjoy rates starting at P10,000 nett for an overnight stay in a deluxe room. The package includes one hour massage treatment for two at Spa Del Mar, breakfast buffet for two at The Sails, a complimentary bottle of Celebrus sparkling wine with chocolate covered strawberries and 15 percent discount for an intimate dinner for two at The Sails or Ibiza Beach Club.

Couples will also be entitled to additional perks that include unlimited access to the fitness centre, free use of the outdoor pool, access to the hotel’s private white-sand beach and marine sanctuary, as well as complimentary wireless internet and option for late check-out until 3 p.m.

For those looking for something more extravagant can choose to avail themselves of the Valentine Presidential Suite package.

Check in at 3 p.m. and enjoy eight hours use of the facilities inclusive of a Porsche Cayenne pick-up service from any destination in Cebu City.

Indulge on a romantic love affair and savor a panoramic view of the ocean, a Jacuzzi bath, and a sumptuous five-course dinner for two all set in the privacy of the Presidential suite.

The packages also include complimentary one-hour massage treatment for two, a complimentary bottle of Dom Perignon 2003, a butler to attend to your every need, and a flower bouquet for the lady.

The Valentine Presidential Suite package is only available for one couple on February 14. You can snatch up this romantic package for only P55,000 nett.

TCC to join 16 events in Batang Pinoy today

By : Iste S. Leopoldo

THE Team Cebu City (TCC) delegation is in full throttle as the four-day Batang Pinoy National Championships starts today in Bacolod City.

The prestigious multi-event, which also involves out-of-school youth, was supposed to be last Nov. 19-23, 2013 but according to Batang Pinoy project director Atty. Jay Alano of the Philippine Sports Commission (PSC), they had to move it after teams from 43 areas were affected by super typhoon Yolanda.

The postponement gave the teams ample time to prepare.

Cebu City Sports Commission official Mayla Ipil said the team is very competitive especially as they are also fielding Cebu Schools Athletic Foundation Inc. (Cesafi) players.

“We have a very competitive team this year especially since we are fielding Cesafi players and we have players who are making this competition as a preparation for their participation in the Central Visayas Regional Athletic Association next month,” said Ipil.

Meanwhile, CCSC headed by chairman Edward Hayco is confident that the team can deliver what is expected of them behind the motivation and guidance by the team’s coaches.

“We believe that the team will deliver because we believe in the coaches,” said Hayco.

TCC will be competing in athletics, swimming, taekwando, chess, lawn tennis, softball, sepak takraw, boxing weightlifting, basketball girls and boys, karatedo, volleyball, chess, arnis and triathlon.

In 2012, the karatedo team took home the championship trophy but according to Ipil she can’t guarantee a sweep and take home the over-all national championship title but she assured everyone that the team will bring home more gold medals this year.

“I can say that TCC will be bringing home more gold medals from the national championships,” said Ipil after TCC won the over-all title during the qualifying round.

DSWD: Fund-raiser for new CCMC needs permit'

By : Princess Dawn H. Felicitas

THE Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) 7 has ordered the Cebu City Government to secure a permit so it can continue its fundraising campaign for the construction of a new Cebu City Medical Center (CCMC).

The DSWD 7 reversed its earlier opinion that City Hall is not required to obtain a permit from their agency to proceed with its “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” fund drive.

In a Jan. 16 letter, DSWD 7 Director Mercedita Jabagat told Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella that the initial opinion was based on the premise that the solicitation activity of the City was being conducted only at City Hall or at the hospital.

“(But) it has been found that the solicitation is not only within the boundaries of the city. A Facebook account has been created for the “Piso Mo, Hospital Ko” campaign, thus reaching a wider range of coverage,” said Jabagat.

The Facebook page was created last Oct. 20 and earned almost a thousand likes in just three months.


Jabagat pointed out that DSWD Administrative Order (AO) 14, Series of 2007, or the Revised Omnibus Rules and Regulations on Public Solicitations, stipulates that all those engage in solicitation for public welfare purposes should secure a permit from DSWD.

“While local chief executives may have the authority to issue solicitation permit, this is only limited to activities within their respective areas of jurisdiction,” Jabagat said.

DSWD 7 assistant director Nemia Antipala told Labella earlier that the City Hall did not need a permit to ask funds for the new hospital project.

She cited the same AO 14, which states that the mayor “can issue permits, without need of approval therefor from any national agency, for holding of activities for any charitable or welfare purposes, excluding prohibited games of chance or shows contrary to law, public policy and public morals.”

Labella said the City Government will comply with the latest DSWD requirement in the spirit of transparency and accountability.

But the vice mayor said he will confer first with Mayor Michael Rama, who is on leave.

The Cebu City Government is trying to raise P1 billion to build a new city hospital as the existing CCMC was declared unsafe after a 7.2 magnitude earthquake on Oct. 15, 2013.

Burglars take P1.5M in cash, jewelry

By : Jill Tatoy-Rabor

BURGLARS broke into a condominium unit in Nivel Hills, Barangay Busay, Cebu City and carted away nearly P1.5 million worth of cash and assorted jewelry.

The burglars allegedly took the P200,000 cash, US$1,000, a Rolex watch worth P400,000 and assorted jewelry, such as necklaces, earrings and rings estimated to be about P800,000 of Dr. Lizbeth Regner, 62.

According to the investigation conducted by the team from the Theft and Robbery Section led by SPO4 Ernesto Panaligan, Regner found out that her cash and valuables were missing at 1:30 p.m. Saturday. She was out of the house when the burglary happened.

The burglars managed to enter the condominium by detaching and changing the knob of the service door located beside Regner’s unit.

Once inside, the burglars took Regner’s cash and valuables, as well as documents, credit cards, a laptop and a digital camera.

Panaligan said his team will have to check the condominium unit’s security camera.

He said the security guard did not notice any suspicious people that entered the building. The condominium’s log book was also checked by the police to find out who might have entered the building on the time that the cash and valuables were stolen.

In a separate incident, a house was also burglarized in Kahayahay Subdivision, San Jose, Cebu City.

Ermalyn Menchavez Jamelo, 45, discovered that her assorted jewelry was missing on Saturday evening.

The suspected burglar was identified as Glen Baraga, Jamelo’s painter on her newly-renovated house.

Baraga reportedly took a pair of gold earrings worth P189,000, a gold diamond ring worth P110,000, and a gold necklace with diamonds worth P89,000.

Bumper crop of pulchritude at Miss Cebu 2014'

By : Jaime Picornell

In 1984 the Cebu City Tourism Commission initiated the search for Miss Cebu Tourism. The beauty contest coincided with the city’s annual celebration of the Sinulog festival in honor of Santo Niño de Cebu. The beauty title has since metamorphosed into Miss Cebu. The contestants don’t wear bathing suits. They have become prettier and wittier with every passing year. It was a bumper crop of pulchritude this year, with 12 stunning finalists. The choice was narrowed down to five, and from there the chosen one was proclaimed. The crowd had a favorite but they were in for a surprise. Miss Cebu 2014 is Diane Muego, a political science student from the University of the Philippines Cebu College. She turned 20 the day before the contest, and admitted it had been her birthday wish to win. Wish granted. The two key questions she had to answer were seemingly up her alley. “It’s absurd,” she said of the proposal of Cebu obtaining separation (call it independence) from the rest of the Philippines. She went on to enumerate the reasons. That was a question taken from a bowl of queries formulated by the contestants themselves. Then there was a common question for the five finalists put forth by the judges themselves. It had to do with how to bring hope to those affected by the recent Supertyphoon “Yolanda.” Her family being from Ormoc, one of the devastated cities in Leyte province, Diane has been involved in relief work, in particular with the fisherfolk. As anyone who has suffered in this disaster knows, it will take months, even years, to rehabilitate the damaged areas. Diane was crowned with a towering diadem of sparkling gems by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, and her predecessor Namrata Neesha Murjani who was much applauded during the several walks she was asked to do onstage earlier in the program. Lion’s share of awards Everyone expected first-runner up Eva Patalinjug to win the coveted title. That evening alone she had bagged a trove of titles, sashes, trophies and bouquets of flowers. These included: Miss Photogenic, Miss Friendship, Miss Megaworld, Best in Evening Gown (by Ditas Rodriguez), and “Kapamilya” Star of the Night. Any of the girls could have been Miss Cebu, in fact. Take a good look at the runners-up: Hannah Marie Gore, Grace Anne Yap and Crystal Star Aberasturi—stunners all. The other contestants were, in order of appearance: Rhodz Aloyon; Ayn Inking whose gown was cited as the best, by Marichu Tan; Margret Manolop; Kristie Barbas; Jennifer Montecillo; Natasha Manuel; and Pearl Hortelano. The contest was held at the grand ballroom of Waterfront Cebu City Hotel, literally filled to its rafters by an enthusiastic crowd that reacted—the loudest roars came from the balcony section—to every detail or nuance on stage. Carlo Sainz, the hotel’s officer-in-charge, was most visible, greeting everyone as they arrived. Welcoming all was Jaja Chiongbian Rama, dressed in flaming red, and perfect in her role as the Miss Cebu project chair. Not far was her vice chairperson, Philip Rodriguez. They are very much a part of the Cebu City Tourism Commission whose chairperson is Phineas Alburo, who was present as well as other members like Councilor James Cuenco, Joan Tiu, Tetta Ba-ad, Marissa Fernan, Hans Hauri and Alice Queblatin. Add to them the top personalities of the city’s Tourism secretariat, Cinbeth Orellano and Anna Quisumbing. Before the show, a beaming Mayor Mike Rama went about shaking hands with many, and most especially with those who, 30 years ago, instituted the beauty search. The founders present at the 2014 contest were former Cebu City Vice Mayor Renato Osmeña, with his wife Marivic Mila Espina, who had written the contest jingle with Mel Libre; Nelia Neri with husband Julius Neri; and Monette Aliño. The program was interspersed with performances by the talented Knapsack dancers. Much applauded, too, were singers Kate Torralba (yes, the designer), Annette Osmeña, and the debonair Pierro, who serenaded the beauties as they glided in their formal gowns. Judges were all from out of town: fashion designer Jojie Lloren; photographer Xander Angeles, who is based in New York; Megaworld VP Mariecor Manlangit; TV host-actor Bobby Yan; and Georgia del Rosario of Metro Society magazine. Winners of past Miss Cebu contests as well as runners-up and finalists had their moments of glory as they were asked to parade onstage in shimmering gowns. It was a veritable fashion show.

Priest calls to 'push country to prosperity'=

By : Justin K. Vestil

CEBU CITY -- Cebu's biggest fiesta in honor of the Sto. Niño formally ended Friday with a challenge to “start pushing our country to prosperity.”

Fr. Jonas Mejares of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño issued the challenge during the traditional Hubo Mass, when he also urged the faithful to sacrifice for the good of the country and to enrich their belief in miracles by showing genuine faith and good works.

“Matag milagro, gamay o dako, kailangan kuyugan ug pagtuo (Each miracle, big or small, requires faith),” Mejares said.

He gave his challenge amid news that as many as 13 percent of all Filipino families reported that they suffered “serious harm” when typhoon Yolanda struck the Visayas last Nov. 8.

In its fourth quarter survey, the Social Weather Stations (SWS) said that in the three months before it conducted its survey, 17.2 percent among respondents who were not victims of Yolanda reported having suffered hunger. The problem was worse for Yolanda’s survivors, among whom 23.9 percent of whom reported that they had gone hungry.

SWS conducted the survey from Dec. 11 to 16 by interviewing 1,550 adults, 650 of them in the Visayas.

Typhoon Yolanda has destroyed or damaged at least P36 billion worth of crops and infrastructure, aside from killing more than 6,000 persons and causing injuries to over 28,000 others, the national disaster council reported.

In his homily on Friday, Fr. Mejares compared the country to “an old taxi” that suddenly conks out in the middle of its journey.

“As Christians, we must leave our comfort zones and start pushing our country to prosperity. We must learn how to sacrifice ourselves to help our respective communities prosper,” Mejares said.

The typhoon and the powerful earthquake that struck less than a month before it have triggered volunteerism and acts of charity from various sectors of the community.

Mejares said there are other ways to help the country attain more prosperity.

“Kung ikaw usa ka estudyante, ayaw anara ang pangopya. Kung ikaw magtutudlo, ipopo ang tanan nimung kaakuhan aron ang imung mga tinun-an adunay makat-unan. Kung ikaw politiko, ayaw magika ang kwarta sa gobyerno. Kwarta na siya sa mga tawo. Ang batobalani, batobalani sa gugma, dili sa kwarta (Students, do not cheat. Teachers, do your best to educate. Politicians, do not trifle with the government’s money, because that belongs to the people),” Mejares said.

The Basilica rector also challenged fellow clergymen to avoid displays of worldliness.

“Kung ikaw pari, sa kalibotan ayaw pagpakahari (Priests, we are not supposed to live like kings),” he added.

After the homily, Mejares then removed the lavish garments of the Santo Niño, bathed the image in holy water and clothed it with simpler garments.

Every time a piece of the Santo Niño’s garments was removed, it was supposed to symbolize the life and sufferings of Jesus Christ’s time on earth.

The Hubo Mass also formally ended the fiesta activities, a celebration that coincided this year with the 449th anniversary of the finding of the image of the Santo Niño in Cebu.

Police officials pegged the crowd that attended in the Basilica Pilgrim Center at more than 11,000 people. (Sun.Star Cebu)

As motorbike business plateaus, Norkis turns to BPO-linked property devt


The Norkis Group of Companies is venturing into property development after its motorcycle business hit plateau due to market congestion, its top official said Friday.

The group sees a potential to grow in property development with the expansion of the business process outsourcing (BPO), Dr. Norberto Quisumbing Jr., Norkis Group chairman, told reporters in a briefing in Makati City for the launch of Norkis Cyberpark.

"We're still in the transportation business, but the problem with that is being able to hire quality personnel to be able to continue in this kind of business... Most of them are going to the BPOs or leaving for abroad," he said.

"Not only that but the field is already crowded. So we're calibrating our growth. We don't expect high rate of growth in the transportation business as there're so many players," he added.

Norkis Group has been in the motorcycle manufacturing business for over 60 years and accounts for 15 to 20 percent of the market.

"We're not really that big. We're just one of the many players. There's the Chinese brands, Japanese, Thai. Although we already have good foundation in terms of our network of branches... but still it's a very tight field to operate in," Quisumbing said.

The group is developing a P6-billion PEZA-board approved Norkis Cyberpark in the company's 2.8 hectare property in Mandaue City, Cebu which will cater to the BPO industry.

Manila-based developer DEI Properties Inc. was hired to construct five office towers and a retail strip.

"So, we rather put our direction into this kind of field, which seems to be promising for employment," Quisumbing said.

In a briefing with reporters Thursday, real estate services company CBRE Philippines said the outsourcing sector will continue to expand in 2014, as American and European banks relocate back office operations in the Philippines.

The first six-story tower, Norkis One, and the The Arcade retail strip are expected to be completed by September 2014.

DEI chairman and CEO Danilo Ignacio said the first tower and the retail area are estimated to cost P325 million, which will be financed through equity and loans from BDO Unibank Inc., Metropolitan Bank & Trust Co., and Bank of the Philippine Islands.

"We are just starting leasing for this project. In Cebu, there is a 2 percent vacancy rate for office space. We're hoping demand for office space will continue to be high," he said.

Leasing prices were initially pegged at P300 to P400 per square meter, "slightly lower than those in Cebu City to attract investors."

In Tholons Top 100 Outsourcing Destinations for 2014 released Thursday, Cebu ranked as the eighth most important place for BPOs.

Since PEZA already removed developer incentives for Manila and Cebu City, Ignacio said they expect Mandaue City to attract more development projects that could drive demand for office space.

"The product is in Cebu, where – unlike in Manila – big lands are owned by locals and Norkis is well-known in the province," he said.

Following the natural calamities that hit Central Philippines, Quisumbing said consultants have designed Norkis Cyberpark with future calamities in mind. "The buildings and the development will be designed to ensure we are ready should something similar happen in the future,” he said.

“The Norkis Cyberpark project will help push development in the Mandaue City area as well as increase overall economic activity. At its completion, Norkis Cyberpark will help generate 38,000 jobs," Quisumbing said.

Founded by Quisumbing in 1962, the Norkis Group originally made motorcycles but has since expanded to industrial products, financial services, travel service and real estate. – VS, GMA News

‘I forgive Pope as gift to God’

By : Kevin A. Lagunda

WHEN Assistant Cebu City Prosecutor Maria Theresa Casiño joined the solemn procession in honor of the Holy Child last Saturday, she said she arrived at an important decision.

“After I saw the image of Sto. Niño, I felt I have forgiven him,” she said in a phone interview. “This is my gift to God.”

Casiño is referring to the late Canadian national John Pope, who shot her outside the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC) Branch 1 on Jan. 22 last year. She returned to work three months later.

The retired journalist also shot to death Dr. Reynold Rafols, a pediatric surgeon, and the doctor’s lawyer, Jubian Achas, while they waited for a hearing inside the MTCC Branch 6.

Pope was cornered by two police officers, who crippled him. The foreigner then turned the gun on himself.

A mass commemorating the incident was held inside the tent of MTCC Branch 6 yesterday afternoon.

“Wherever he (Pope) is right now, I hope and pray that he finds peace,” said Casiño, who entered the service in March 2010.

The prosecutor had a hard time forgiving Pope because she finds it ironic to forgive a person who is not asking for forgiveness.

But Casiño said she eventually learned how to let go of the past.

“It is difficult to carry a burden,” she said.

Pope shot her in the head. The slug was removed by doctors on Feb. 5 last year.

Casiño said the unity and support of her family strengthened her. Her time spent in the hospital was also a bonding moment with her husband and two children, now aged five and three.

“I see (the incident) in a positive light,” she said. “I grow more in Christ.”

Casiño said she already knew her job is risky. But she never thought that she would be shot and experience a near-death situation.

Looking back, she realized that Pope was showing “little signs” of resentment and anger against her. Casiño and Achas handled the grave threats case against the foreigner heard before MTCC Branch 1.

“I really took it for granted,” she said. “I was just doing my job to the best of my ability.”

She remembered Pope was told by the judge to call his lawyer, but he looked at her.

“He looked at me and said, ‘If she can prove her case, let her do it,’” she said.

Casiño said she even explained to Pope the judicial process in the Philippines, but the latter “seemed not to understand or refused to understand.”

The shooting spree happened inside the Palace of Justice, which she said was supposed to be secured. The building was declared unsafe for occupancy by the Office of the Building Official after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake last Oct. 15.

After the quake, most of the courts put up tents outside the Palace of Justice. The Cebu City Prosecutor’s Office also accepts complaints inside a tent on the grounds of the legislative building.

Casiño said she is concerned about their safety now that they are very open to the public.

The Supreme Court’s Office of the Court Administrator has decided the transfer of courts to a building in the north reclamation area. But most of the judges resented after they saw cracks in the edifice.

Casiño, who handled inquest proceedings yesterday, said there are roving security guards and police officers in the compound.

“I hope the police officers who escorted suspects during the filing of complaints would also guard us,” she said.

She is still undergoing therapy and her vision in the left eye is not quite clear.

Casiño finished her law degree at Divine World University in Tacloban City in 1995. She took the bar examinations in 2003.

Before she entered in the prosecution service, she worked at the Department of Labor and Employment.

She said she dreamed of becoming a prosecutor and she will not leave her job for a safer one.

“I was inspired by my very desire to see justice unfold before my eyes,” she said. “I embrace the risks.”

Drop in ticket sales seen this year

By : Linette Ramos Cantalejo

SINULOG organizers reported a significant dip in grandstand ticket sales this year, which could affect their overall income from the Sinulog 2014 grand parade and related activities.

When before tickets for grandstand seats at the Cebu City Sports Center would be sold out days ahead of the parade, last Sunday, a number of tickets were still waiting for takers.

The Sinulog Foundation Inc. (SFI) hoped to sell at least 5,600 tickets worth about P6.5 million, excluding the 500 tickets intended for guests of the mayor and other Cebu City officials. The proceeds would form part of the P40 million needed to mount the Sinulog parade and related activities.

The bad weather last Sunday and some people’s fear of aftershocks may have caused the dip in ticket sales, SFI Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros said.

He said some may also be on a tight budget due to successive relief operations for victims of calamities last year.

“A lot of people called us to ask how safe the grand stand is, if an earthquake or aftershock occurs. Some are worried that they are not safe here, so that’s probably one of the factors,” Ballesteros told Sun.Star Cebu.

To address safety concerns, the SFI set up additional stairs and designated more entry and exit points at the bleachers to make it easy for revelers to go down in case of any untoward incident.


The SFI printed some 6,100 tickets for different sections of the grandstand.

The tickets are color-coded—1,500 tickets for the pink section at P800 each, 1,500 tickets for the green section at P1,000 each, 2,100 tickets for the yellow section at P1,200 each and 1,000 tickets for the blue section at P2,500 each.

An initial inventory of the sold tickets showed that only the pink tickets were sold out.

“We may have sold fewer tickets but there are also more entries in the photo contest, so mabawi ra sa registration fee sa photo contest,” Ballesteros said.


At the SFI office yesterday, organizers started the audit of sold and unsold tickets to find out how much the organizers earned from the grandstand tickets.

Proceeds of the tickets, rental of sidewalk stalls, registration fee for the Sinulog photo contest and corporate sponsorships will help pay for the Sinulog activities and grand parade.

Ballesteros said they could not say yet how much exactly they spent for the Sinulog until all billing statements come in. They also have to finish the audit to find out how much they earned.

From sponsorships alone, they expect to generate some P10 million in cash.

The Cebu City Government also donated P20 million for the cash prizes and trophies for the winning entries in the dance, higante, puppeteers and float categories.

Cargo ship sinks off Iloilo Strait, 29 crew rescued

By :

ILOILO CITY – A cargo vessel sank off Iloilo Strait, a narrow body of water separating mainland Iloilo and the island-province of Guimaras at around 6 a.m. yesterday.

The 29 crew aboard, including ship skipper Captain Nemesio Iguna of Cebu City, were rescued off the M/V Sportivo by the Philippine Coast Guard and the Iloilo City Emergency Response team, and brought them ashore where they were given first aid treatment.

The PCG Iloilo, headed by Commodore Othelo Ybañez, said that, based on their initial investigation, M/V Sportivo, carrying some 28,000 bags of fertilizer on its way to Palawan, decided to drop anchor Saturday evening in the shore off Buenavista, Guimaras, because of the inclement weather condition and turbulent seas brought about by tropical depression “Agaton”.

While moored at the Iloilo Strait, the ship's anchor suddenly gave way due to big waves and strong gale winds. With only the standby engine in operation, the crew failed to steer the vessel to safety before it could crash into the other cargo vessel, M/V Jehan, that was also anchored nearby.

M/V Sportivo's bow sustained a hole due to the crash, and surging seawaters entered and caused its gradual sinking, the PCG said.

Some of the crew members who were on internship status claimed that the ship tilted to its side after the crash, and submerged about 20 minutes later.

Ybañez said they undertook measures to avoid a possible oil spill that may be caused by the sunken cargo vessel.

He added he deployed Coast Guard divers to scour the waters where M/V Sportivo disappeared to check against possible bunker oil spillage in the area that may cause another environmental catastrophe.

The ship captain and the chief engineer of the ill-fated cargo vessel are now under the Coast Guard custody for investigation, and Ybañez said a board of inquiry may be formed to determine who is at fault.*PNA

The great Danes

By :

Anywhere they go, they turned heads—literally.

When pretty young Europeans join the crowd in jeepney stops or when they make their daily rounds in the slums, the curious stares are inevitable. They don’t mind having a bunch of street kids playfully cling to their bodies—in fact, they are more than delighted to join the game.

Meet Simone Christiansen, 23, and Maria Thomsen, 24, the social work interns that the Parian Drop-In Center in Cebu City was lucky to have for five months.

The Danish beauties could have just stayed in Denmark for their internship, but they opted to take the more challenging and adventurous route to finishing their social work degree at the Metropolitan University in Copenhagen.

“We wanted to experience the culture and to be aware of the social problems in Cebu and find out what causes them. I also wanted to meet and help these children, and to also learn from them. I know it’s easy to say that you want to help, but it’s different when you’re able to really do it with the right set of skills and knowledge... When you open your heart, that’s how you’re able to learn and to help,” says Maria.

For five months, they helped look after orphans or children who were neglected by their parents, children who were victims of abuse, street children and out-of-school youth in Cebu City.

They played with them, cuddled them and taught them how to cope with their situation.

While others would cringe being around such kids, much less touch them, they made the children feel like they were family.

“I feel sorry for them not because they are poor but because I know they want to have somebody to trust and care for them and they don’t have that, and that’s what I wanted to show them—that we’re here to take care of them and that they can trust us. Even if they come from the streets, they should be able to remain as kids for as long as possible,” says Simone.

Maria and Simone had a blast during their internship here, but both admit it was not easy at first, especially with the cultural differences.

While street children are everywhere in Cebu, the interns say you will not see one in Denmark, said to be one of the happiest nations on earth with the best quality of life.

They come from a country with 100 percent literacy rate and an incredibly low unemployment rate, and where education is free and social welfare programs make sure no one is hungry or without medical care, so the sight of street children is heart-wrenching.

“While we were on the car coming from the airport, a young child knocked on our window begging for money. That was the first culture shock for me. It really hurts your heart because we’re not used to seeing that,” shares Simone.

Before leaving the capital city of Copenhagen, the ladies made an internship plan and had to undergo a briefing on the social issues affecting Cebu so they would know what to expect when they got here.

“They will help you understand why things are the way they are here. But I think you can’t really be prepared until you’re here,” recalls Maria.

Both interns report to Parian Drop-In Center five days a week to assist the social worker and house parents of the children. They also do community visits, mostly in slum areas, where they check on children in difficult situations and their parents.

But it’s not all work for the Danish visitors. When they’re not working on assignments and submitting reports to their professors, they find time to unwind with their Danish and Filipino friends, they go out of town to enjoy the beach or hang out in the mall or gym.

Overall, their internship in Cebu was an enriching experience. They learned so much not only from their clients at the center, but also from the Cebuano youth and the Filipino culture.

“I like the fact that you have a close family bond where the young take care of the elderly, and you always have your brother or sister near you to help. In Denmark, since the government provides you with nearly everything, the society kind of forces you to be by yourself, so you tend to be absorbed in your own needs and you tend to forget about the people around you,” Maria says.

Simone shares Maria’s observation about the youth here and their admiration for it.

“In Denmark, we’re really affected by the American culture. We go out a lot and we go to cafes and parties, and maybe that’s because we don’t have a lot of responsibilities because we can rely on our government to take care of us and our families. Here, they have responsibilities so they grow up to be good adults—humble and respectful,” says Simone.

“But in terms of personal issues, we go through the same things, we face the same problems with boyfriends, our studies and families,” Maria was quick to add.

Both ladies are now back in Denmark. Days before their internship ended, they were emotional about leaving Cebu and the children they have formed familial ties with—ones of their inspirations in finishing their degree.

At the same time, they also looked forward to seeing family and friends, especially after their experience during the strong earthquake and typhoon while they were here.

“I will miss the work and being able to do something to make the lives of these children better… I can say that I was able to fill my baggage with a lot of learning and experiences. This is what I want to do when I graduate,” says Maria, who vows to be back next year for her thesis.

They have survived the curious stares, the language barrier, the culture shock and Cebu’s climate. They hope that with their help, the children they left behind would somehow survive their own trials and will help themselves to make their lives better.

Costanilla: ‘The Gift,’ a fund-raiser

By : Sam Costanilla

PLAY. Four of Cebu’s top-caliber stage artists will be featured in a special gala showing of a one-act minor masterpiece crafted by no less than the incomparable playwright Al Evangelio who will also direct it. Dante Luzon, Marlinda Angbetic-Tan, Maryrose Villacastin-Maghuyop and Padma Mangharam-Siap will star in The Gift, which is a presentation by the Pushermen Players of Cebu (PPC), Pasundayag Sugbo and Cebu Catholic Television Network (CCTN) Channel 47. The four actors have already starred in numerous stage productions so expect their appearance in The Gift to be amazing and wonderful, to say the least. With Evangelio directing them, expect a truly delightful and impressive performance from Luzon, Tan, Maghuyop and Siap.

Surgery. We learned that the staging of The Gift is actually a fund-raiser for the immediate surgery of Evangelio’s bleeding retina so watching the play means a lot to him as an expression also of our love, respect, admiration, support and recognition of his tireless dedication in teaching a number of performing artists that are now in the forefront of the entertainment industry. In fact, some of them are now making waves internationally and multi-awarded singer Sheryn Regis is just one of them. Undoubtedly, Evangelio had contributed a lot to the cultural enhancement of the Cebuano audience. Credit that to his almost five decades of stage engagements here and elsewhere like Japan, the US, Canada and Europe.

Productions. Talking of productions, Evangelio is a veteran. He did more than a hundred of them like concerts, beauty pageants, one-act plays, full-length musicales (Broadway and zarzuelas) as well as traditional and avant-garde plays. Back to The Gift, this writer is strongly endorsing it as a must-see play on Feb. 8, at exactly 7:30 p.m., at the CCTN channel 47 chapel and like all Evangelio shows, it starts punctually. Michel Lhuillier, Joel del Prado, Dr. Warfe Engracia, Dr. Yong Larrazabal and CCTN president Tatay Dodong Limchua should also be lauded for their full support to this play. To support this fund-raising production, call 09222516336, 09999745194 and 09225793616 and 091730211158.

View. We fully agree with Bantay Radyo commentator Engr. Greg Senining’s view that the Cebu Arts Foundation Inc.) and the local Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) and other media clubs here should sign a joint memorandum of agreement or understanding regarding the airing of those songs submitted as entries to the yearly Cebu Popular Music Festival. Cafi, chaired by former Rep. Eduardo Gullas, has been sustaining the songwriting festival since 1981. Senining, who will also be installed as the founding president of the Cebu chapter of the Publishers’ Association of the Philippines, Inc. on Jan. 25, stressed that the move is a sure-fire step of ensuring the constant airing of such compositions over local radio stations.

Revisit. We also think there is a need to revisit the Cebu City ordinance on the airing of songs written and performed by local artists. If such ordinance has not been repealed or revised, how come Cebuano/Visayan songs are not getting constant on-air exposure? So we support Senining’s view about the signing of an agreement for Cafi, KBP and other media clubs to cooperate in addressing this concern. We are hoping against hope that our local radio stations would be more than ready and willing to accommodate such songs. Doing so could encourage local songwriters and performers to improve their craft.

Boats ready for Cebu fluvial procession

By : Carine Asutilla, ABS-CBN News Central Visayas

CEBU -- Several pump boats have anchored at Barangay Umapad near the second Mactan-Mandaue bridge since Friday afternoon, as the crew began preparations for the fluvial procession.

The fluvial procession, which will start at 6:00 am at the Ouano Wharf, Mandaue City, will cross the Mactan Channel and end at Pier 1 in Cebu City.

Rosalito Balansag, among the crew of the two pump boats owned by the Gallego family of Mandaue City, has been tasked to decorate the boat and prepare the sound system.

According to Rosalito, this is the second time that the family will join the fluvial procession -- and this is also his second time to prepare the boats.

Together with the rest of the crew, they hung red and yellow fiesta banners in their pump boats, the colors associated with Senor Sto. Nino.

Aside from the fiesta banners, they also made flower arrangements of yellow daisies and white mums, which now surround their image of the Holy Child.

Rosalito said mats have been put in the pump boat -- which can accommodate 20 to 30 passengers -- to make sure that passengers will not slip as they climb and board for the procession. Life jackets, readily placed under the seats, will also be provided.

Two speakers are also in place, to aid them if they need to announce or call the attention of people on board and other pump boats or vessels sailing with them.

CSC 7 launches computerized exam system

By : Hazel F. Gloria

CEBU CITY, January 17 (PIA) --- The Civil Service Commission (CSC-7) launched the Computerized Examination (COMEX) System at the CSC Regional Office, Lahug, Cebu City today. CSC commissioner Robert Martinez in his opening statement said, this system is design to unite all existing standard examination processes. COMEX could make the entire process faster and easier from the conventional paper-and-pencil test and the alternative Computer Assisted Test (CAT). Martinez proudly announced the opening of COMEX in region 7 as a challenge to come up with a new system that is relevant in today’s technology. In 2012, the CSC in partnership with the Department of Science and Technology (DOST)-Advanced Science Institution developed a new system of examination which is the COMEX, said Martinez. “To strive as the center of excellence in Human Resource Management (HRM) in the organizational development and to enhance the delivery of good services as far as the Examination Administration is concerned, this innovation was being developed,” Martinez added. Region 7 is the first to launch the COMEX in the Visayas and the third to launch nationwide with 20 computer units available. According to CSC-7 regional director Katrin Litz Zerna, she plans to install more computer units since there is still space in the computer room to cater to more examinees. In 2013 almost 300,000 examinees took the written examination, so there is a need to continuously innovate in order to meet the growing needs of our clients every year, revealed Martinez. For this launching of the COMEX in the region, there were 18 examinees who took the Modules Hands-On exam. The next scheduled computerized exam will be by the end of January. Zerna said, she will request its Central Office that the conduct of the examination in region 7 will be weekly starting in February since Cebu is one with the growing number of examinees and in the next 2-3 months they will try to conduct the exam twice a week. Martinez thanked the personnel of the Commission who worked hard for the success of the project. They were able to achieve their target to modernize and transform the CAT into what is now the COMEX, he added.

Solar power plant, windmills proposed

By Liv G. Campo, Michael H. Braga

CEBU, Philippines - Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III welcomed the plans to construct a solar power plant and windmills in the province.

“I welcome this. Really, we need other sources of energy. Magsalig lang ta kanunay aning sa Leyte or kung asa pa nga nigamit og petroleum or uban pa. Maabot ang panahon mahurot ra gihapon na. So we need this alternative energy,” Davide told reporters.

“Parehas sa windmill tan-awon pa kung angay ba gyud. I also welcome that. Naa ta’y alternative source of power nga makatabang especially sa mountain barangays nga wa gyud na energize,” he said.

Officials from Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) met with Davide yesterday and disclosed their proposal to put up a solar power project in the province.

JICA, however, has yet to present the details of the project.

“They (JICA officials) are going discuss the project further. I welcome that kay naa na tay new alternative source of power. We need other sources of energy aron di ta magsalig lang aning coal plants. No pollution,” Davide said.

On Tuesday, the Amihan Energy Corporation (AEC) also presented a proposal to construct windmills in the province that would generate a total power capacity of 200 megawatts.

The company is eyeing the barangays of Balamban and Toledo City and Sudlon II in Cebu City as sites for the projects.

The project needs 20,000 hectares of land and an investment of $200 million.

Once the project pushes through, AEC is optimistic that it would be operational in December. -/LPM (FREEMAN)

Guardo leads in Sambag 1 recount

By Gerome M. Dalipe and Jujemay G. Awit

THE contest for barangay captain of Sambag 1 is not yet over.

Based on the appreciation of votes by the Municipal Trial Court in Cities (MTCC), Ailien Guardo leads in the votes cast last Oct. 28 by 113 votes.

But Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama advised the Guardos not to celebrate yet.

Sambag 1 Barangay Captain Lemar Alcover was declared as the winner by just 119 votes.

“I’m happy that it has been litigated, anyone who feels aggrieved should go to court,” said Rama.

But he said Guardos’ camp should wait for the court decision.

That’s exactly what Ailien will do because the results were only based on the revisor’s physical count of the ballots.

But Alcover, son of former congressman Pastor “Jun” Alcover and brother of former Agsungot barangay captain Pastor Alcover II, said he expected the result of Aileen’s electoral protest to be against his favor.


The Guardos have the money to alter the results, he said.

“The results were unusual because how come only one barangay councilor lost from our slate and I was dropped?” said Ailien, which was the reason her camp filed the protest.

As to the basis for the protest, Alcover said he wasn’t in the position to cheat.

“I ran as independent and they ran with the backing of Team Rama who campaigned for them. If I cheated, why did I only get one barangay councilor from my group?” he said.

Alcover said he will fight the results in court, adding that the teachers will back him up that no cheating took place.

“The barangay elections in Cebu City were generally peaceful and not a single precinct complained of any complication,” he said.

As incumbents, he said, the Guardos were in the position to cheat as Ailien’s husband Jerry was then the barangay captain.

In a related development, the court-formed revision committee will render its report on the recount of votes.

The committee yesterday wrapped up the revision of ballots before MTCC Judge Edwin Diez.

Barangay Sambag 1 has 9,318 registered voters.

In her poll protest, Ailien said votes counted for Alcover should be considered stray votes since Alcover “failed to comply with the residency requirements.”

She said Alcover filed a certificate of candidacy for mayor of Tabogon, Cebu during the local elections last May.


“Being a candidate for an elective post in another place in Cebu Province and not Cebu City means that protestee (Alcover) is not a resident of Sambag 1 at the time he filed his certificate of candidacy for punong barangay,” she said.

“Votes that were void, because of pattern markings appearing in them, or because of other fraud and election anomalies, were unlawfully read and counted in (Alcover’s) favor,” Ailien said.

She also said Alcover employed “widespread chaos, harassment, threats and intimidation” among her supporters, leaders and coordinators during the election.

Due to the alleged threats and coercion by Alcover’s supporters, Ailien said hundreds of their political allies were forced to go home without voting.

She also accused her rival of resorting to vote-buying “in all contested precincts” in the barangay.

She also said that valid ballots were not actually voted by the registered voters, but supporters and leaders of Alcover.

“In the same vein, the scheme of pre-filled-up ballots was rampant and extensively implemented on election day in Barangay Sambag I,” she said.

Ailien, through her counsel Delon Richel Urot, had asked the court to order the recount of ballots in all 24 polling precincts.

She sought to annul Alcover’s proclamation and, after invalid votes are deducted from the incumbent captain and credited to her, to declare her as the “duly elected and rightful” captain of Barangay Sambag.

City won’t pay for land under water: Rama

By Jujemay G. Awit

FORMER Cebu City councilor Jocelyn Pesquera and Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella have been tasked to file the motion for reconsideration on the Court of Appeals (CA) decision compelling the City Government to pay Roque Ting P37 million.

Pesquera was the lone councilor who objected to the resolution to pay Ting a down payment of P3 million in 2005 for a deal that would have the City pay P9 million for Ting’s two lots in Cebu City.

Labella was among those who approved the payment, while former councilor now Attorney V Jose Daluz III sponsored the resolution. Rama was then acting mayor.

Ting’s property had a total area of 1.2 hectares, most of which was in Talisay City.

Original Balili

Rama said that from the start, he never wanted the City to pay Ting because the property was “under water.”

“That was the first Balili,” said Rama, referring to the controversial land purchase made by the Capitol in Naga City that turned out to be mostly submerged.

Ting had titles for two lots with a total area of 4,222 square meters. Structures erected in both properties were demolished as part of the development of the South Reclamation Project (SRP).

At the height of the incident, Ting filed a case for damages before the Regional Trial Court for the demolition of his warehouse and for the SRP development that allegedly encroached on his property.

But Rama believes the properties were submerged in water before the reclamation project began.

CA decision

In an executive session in March 2006, it was revealed that the 4,222-square-meter property that the City was supposed to buy from Ting was “half land, half water” because the Metro Cebu Development Project (which implemented the SRP) reportedly excavated soil on the property to create a canal to emphasize the boundary between Talisay City and Cebu City.

During that executive session, Labella said that should the City and Ting enter into an agreement the real situation should be emphasized so there’d be no legal problems.

In 2009, Rama finally agreed to buy the Ting property but with a stipulation that the City would only pay for the portion that was dry land.

But according to the recent CA decision, evidence and exhibit would reveal that the properties were all dry land

Passengers stranded at Cebu Port

By John Carlo Cahinhinan

MANILA – A total of 225 shipping passengers are currently stranded along Cebu Port in Cebu City on Monday due to the continuous rough sea condition affecting the Visayas and Mindanao regions.

Commander Armando Balilo, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) Public Affairs chief said that sea travel are temporarily suspended in Cebu and nearby provinces in Visayas and Mindanao regions since several coastal towns are currently experiencing big waves and strong due the low pressure area (LPA).

He said that though there is no typhoon warning signal, a gale warning was hoisted by the state weather bureau over the provinces affected by LPA. The Northeast Monsoon and easterly winds also caused the sea condition along the eastern seaboard of the country to be rough.

Balilo said that they agency advised all fishermen along those areas to temporarily postponed their fishing ventures until the sea and weather condition improves.

Balilo also said warned fishermen in the areas not directly affected by the weather disturbance to exercise extra diligence in sailing and to monitor weather development as sea condition will be rough, and to always wear safety gear while at sea

He added that the PCG continuous to monitor the situation in Mindanao currently being affected by continuous rain and flash floods, still due to the effects of the LPA. (Sunnex)

January delights at The Marriott


FEEL the vibe as the Cebu City Marriott Hotel (CCMH) gears up for the city’s largest annual event, the Sinulog Festival.

Catch the Sinulog fever with a full line up of gustatory delights that will surely give you the full Cebu experience. Dine like the locals in the Filipino Fiesta Buffet and discover Philippine culture through its flavorful dishes and aromatic spices.

Sample Cebu's most popular delicacy, Lechon de Cebu along with fresh locally grown produce and homemade desserts served every Tuesday to Thursday night at the Garden Café for only P850 net.

Cebu is well known for its flavorful barbecues and street food. Find out what makes this well-loved outdoor dish distinctly Filipino in a Barbecue Buffet by the poolside every Friday and Saturday night and on Sinulog Sunday, Jan. 19, 2014. Enjoy it with great company, an iced cold beer and some live entertainment for only P495 net.

Savor the abundant supply of fresh seafood like sashimi, lobsters, and live crabs cooked to your liking! The Friday Night Seafood Buffet at the Garden Café offers a selection of starters, hot items, mains, cheese station, crepe station and homemade desserts at P1,600 net. Back to back at the Garden Café every Saturday Night is the Prime Rib Buffet. Steak all you can on a perfectly slow cooked U.S. Prime Rib of beef and if that’s not enough, indulge in a carving of Lechon de Cebu on the side. The Saturday Night Prime Rib Buffet is at P1,200 net per person.

Gather the whole family and enjoy an easy Sunday lunch in the refreshing ambience of the Garden Café with a sumptuous line-up of culinary offerings that have been casted to suit your palate. The Sunday Lunch Buffet offers your all-time favorite dishes and a carving of Roast Beef at P850 net per person.

Just when you thought indulging is limited to the weekends, the Garden Café offers Don’t Tell the Chef every Sunday and Monday night. Avail of the International Dinner Buffet at a discounted rate of P588 net.

Metafit Cebu to conduct two-day fitness clinic


AFTER its successful Christmas season edition, the Metafit Cebu fitness bootcamp will return this coming Jan. 13 in two separate venues. Metafit Cebu founder Alan Choachuy said this month is the best time to get fit and shed off the extra weight gained during the holiday season. The bootcamp will be held at The Persimmon in barangay Mabolo, Cebu City on Jan. 13 and at Parkmall at the North Reclamation Area in Mandaue City on Jan. 14. The bootcamp is accredited by Biggest Loser fitness coach and sports science expert Jim Saret.

Commercialization of novena masses


CLOSE to one million Catholic faithful joined the “Walk With Jesus” early yesterday morning, reported Radio 5’s Rey Pasaporte, citing police sources. Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgar Labella, who was among those who walked from Fuente Osmeña to the Basilica, gave the same estimate on the number of participants in the opening activity of the 2014 Fiesta Señor celebration.

It was raining heavily between 3 to 4 a.m. yesterday but “the rains stopped when the procession was about to start,” according to the vice mayor.

It was still drizzling when we left the house shortly before 5 a.m. on our way to the Cebu City Sports Center but by the time we got off at corner V. Urgello St. and Osmeña Blvd., the rains have gone completely. It started raining again after the tailend of the procession passed the Abellana National High School.

I am not prepared to ascribe anything miraculous about the rains’ vanishing just when the devotees started walking with Jesus but I will not blame those who will claim intervention of the divine hand in the happening. Anyway, I don’t think the rains, no matter how heavy, would have discouraged the devotees from joining the procession.

Their faith was overwhelming. I walked with them up to R. Landon St. and was touched by the sight of so many people in earnest supplication. I don’t remember seeing anyone chatting with another or fiddling with his cell phone during that stretch.

Okay, so there was no one to call or text at that early hour but don’t these smart phones have games and free Facebook connections?

Church leaders earlier in the week asked for less revelry in this year’s celebration of the Sinulog. If what I saw was any indication, their appeal fell on fertile ground.

I pray that Church leaders do their share in the transformation of the Sinulog by putting an end to the commercialization of the novena masses. I have written about this many times in the past but the temptation of money seems too hard to resist even among holy men.

Not this year, I pray. Not after the magnitude 7.2 earthquake that toppled the belfry of the Basilica and reduced into ruins most of the century-old churches in Bohol.

Certainly, not after Yolanda.

I look forward to not hearing the names of donors, whom they euphemistically call sponsors, read before the final blessing. I hope there is no more of that shameful practice of flashing the names of these sponsors in the same electronic board where earlier the “gozos” is shown for the faithful to sing.

If the purpose in publicizing the names of the donors is to thank them, surely, this can be done more privately such as when the donation was given. If the purpose is transparency, a simple accounting report after the fiesta will do.

But if the purpose is to play on the ego of men (and women) so that they will donate more because their names will be announced to the public, then I say that it is disgusting. I do not think Pope Francis would commend it.

So I appeal not only to the Church leaders but also to the donors. Give without expecting to be acknowledged. There is only one who should know about your Christian charity: God and He already knows. He always does.

I know I am going to get into trouble with some priests and lay leaders in doing this.

Every time I did this in the past, I got a good dose of hate mails. But I am not going to stop exposing this crude and tasteless commercialization of the holy mass until it is put to an end.

Cebu City hotels full for Sinulog

By y Katlene O. Cacho

HOTEL rooms in Cebu City are full, mostly booked by tourists for the Sinulog Festival next weekend.

Charlene Go, public relations manager of Cebu City Marriott Hotel, said occupancy of their hotel is starting to increase daily all the way up to Sinulog.

Marco Polo Plaza Cebu reported it is already full for Sinulog weekend.

“Majority of the hotels in the city are running high, starting on Jan. 17,” said Cenelyn Manguilimotan, president of Hotels, Resorts and Restaurant Association of Cebu (HRRAC) in a phone interview yesterday.

“The hotel’s occupancy for the Sinulog weekend on Jan. 17-19 is already at 95 percent and we are expecting the number to reach 100 percent as the weekend draws nearer.

The hotel has a good mix of foreign and local guests attending Sinulog,” said Ann Olalo, director of Sales and Marketing of Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu.

Manguilimotan said majority of the hotels are all set for the festival.

Sinulog, which is celebrated every third week of January is Cebu’s biggest draw for tourists. Local and foreign tourists come to Cebu to experience the Sinulog merriment which almost lasts for a month, hotel players said.

Rowena Montecillo, regional director of the Department of Tourism 7, in earlier interviews said, the first quarter of the year is the strongest for Cebu’s tourism with Sinulog as the biggest tourism attractor.

Sinulog kits

Go reported Cebu City Marriott Hotel is already 100 percent prepared for the influx of guests. Best Western Lex Cebu general manager Bernard Tanchan, on the other hand, said they are already fully-booked.

Given the expected inlfux of guests, hotel establishments have lined up activities for Cebu’s biggest festival.

“We have prepared various activities to entertain local and foreign guests such as face painting and the performances of Sinulog dancers,” said Go.

The hotel, she added, will also provide Sinulog kits that contains maps, information about the festival and city events, and a survival kit.

Manguilimotan, who is the general manager of Cebu Parklane International Hotel said they will showcase Cebuano cuisines through an event dubbed as Pasundayag Sugbu on Jan. 17. She said guests will also have a preview of the Sinulog dance performances.

Aside from face painting and the Sinulog dance performances, Janine Vienna Matig-a, sales and marketing manager of Best Western Lex Cebu said they will take advantage of the Sinulog revelry by putting up booth to sell refreshments and pastries.

She also assured guests that their hotel rooms are in good condition and they have prepared stand-by rooms for back-up.

Kyra Cabaero, public relations/media communications manager of Marco Polo Plaza Cebu said they are offering Sinulog add-on to their room package, that includes transfers to and from the Marco Polo Plaza grandstand at scheduled times, face painting, parade amenities and seating at the hotel’s grandstand in Mango Avenue.

Olalo, on the other hand, said that Radisson’s food and beverage outlets will have Cebuano themed offerings during the Sinulog week to cater to their guests.

Church officials hope to finish belfry restoration by next year

By Justin K. Vestil

OFFICIALS of the Augustinian Recollects hope to restore the damaged belfry of the Basilica Minore del Santo Niño by January next year in preparation for the 450th anniversary of the Kaplag, or the finding of the image of the Holy Child in Cebu.

Fr. Harold Rentoria, chairman of the Commission on Augustinian Cultural Heritage, said in a press conference that they want the damaged belfry restored before Jan. 19, 2015.

The belfry was damaged by the 7.2 magnitude earthquake that hit Cebu and Bohol last year.

Architect Melva Java of the University of San Carlos (USC) Conservation Heritage Research Institute and Workshop, said that before restoration of the damaged belfry can start, stakeholders must consider restoring the structure without tampering with the religious and historical aspects of the structure.

In a press conference held at the Basilica yesterday, Rentoria said that as of now, he and members of the reconstruction committee are gathering data the reconstruction of the belfry.

Rentoria said they are done with phase 1 of the reconstruction, which was the removal of debris.

Restoria said they have also started an ocular inventory on the remains of the damaged belfry.

He said they are seeking help from different consultants, including architects from Spain and Japan, on how to come up with a master plan on how to restore the belfry.

Representatives of the Escuela Taller de Intramuros and National Historical Commission and the National Commission on Culture and Arts (NCCA) are also helping in the restoration efforts.

Restoria said they expect to come up with a design for the restoration by February or March.

For Java, collecting and consolidating data on the damaged belfry is an important step. She said reconstruction may take time as it has to undergo several procedures.

Java said she and other heritage architects in charge of restoring the belfry have been discussing how to go about the project.

Java urged the Cebu City Government to protect the church’s facade by minimizing traffic vibrations along the structure.

Sinulog organizers advised to prepare for a big crowd

By Davinci S. Maru and Razel V. Cuizon

CEBU City Mayor Michael Rama advised concerned officials and organizers to prepare for a huge crowd during this year’s celebration of the Sinulog.

But Rama stressed that the ban on street parties will remain.

“We have to prepare for a people surge in Cebu,” the mayor said, adding that there is a need to improve crowd-control measures during the celebration.

Banning street parties that worsen traffic congestion is one strategy as organizers and the police struggle to manage a crowd that was estimated to have reached four million last year.

Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 Director Danilo Constantino said he will deploy at least 2,100 police personnel for the Sinulog.


About 1,300 of these personnel will come from Cebu City Police Office (CCPO).

The Central Command (Centcom) will support the police by providing reservists to help in crowd control.

Constantino said the route for procession and Grand Parade on Jan. 19 will be divided into four sectors, assigned to different police commanders and supervisors.

Sinulog organizers banned street parties on major and interior roads in Cebu City during the Sinulog Grand Parade last year.

Rama said discos at the premises of shopping malls should also be looked into as they might encroach on the roads.

“It’s a problem for the police on the matter of safety and security of the public,” said Rama.

The PRO 7 also plans to implement a 14-day gun ban from Jan. 9 to Jan. 22 in Cebu. The proposal awaits the approval of the PNP National Headquarters.

With the Sinulog Grand Parade less than two weeks away, Supt. Pablo Labra II, acting chief of Regional Intelligence Division, said they have not yet received reports on the presence of any threat groups.


“But we are actively monitoring everything to ensure this year's Sinulog will be peaceful,” he said.

In a press conference yesterday, Constantino made a joint pledge with Muslim community leaders in Cebu to work together in maintaining peace and order during the Sinulog.

Abbas Murad, president of Mandaue Islamic Association, said they will help report criminal elements in their area.

“Ibibigay namin ang suporta sa abot na aming makakaya para mapanatili ang katihimikan

dito sa Cebu (We will support however we can to ensure peace in Cebu),” he said.

Hadji Hamza Badio, president of Lapu-Lapu's Muslim community, made the same promise.

“Kung ano man ang mangyari dito, tayong lahat naman ang maapektuhan (Whatever happens here will affect all of us),” he said.

Veco power lines maintenance leaves SRP tunnel in brownout

By Princess Dawn H. Felicitas

FOR eight hours, the Cebu City Traffic Operations Management (Citom) yesterday closed to vehicular traffic the whole stretch of the Cebu South Coastal Road tunnel.

This, since the tunnel experienced a brownout after it was affected by the Visayan Electric Co.’s (Veco) maintenance of its power lines along M.J. Cuenco Ave.

Citom Executive Director Rafael Yap said the tunnel was closed to traffic around 9 a.m., the same time when the facility experienced brownout. It was only opened around 5 p.m.

Yap said they decided not to allow vehicles to pass through the tunnel for safety.

“We closed it because zero visibility gyud sa sulod,” he said.


Joy Tumulak, Citom operations officer, said one motorist who was traversing the tunnel when the brownout occurred incurred minor injuries after he was outbalanced.

“Natumba siya unya napangos (He fell and was injured),” he said.

Tumulak said, though, he was immediately rushed to one of the hospitals in the city and was given medical attention.

This is the first time the tunnel was closed since the facility was opened to the public in August 2010, Tumulak said.

Two Citom personnel were then deployed at the site—one at the side of the South Road Properties and one at the area near the Plaza Independencia—to ensure that no vehicles would go inside the tunnel.

A “no entry” sign was also installed by Citom in both openings of the tunnel.

Citom then rerouted the vehicles.

Tumulak said those going to the North Reclamation Area and Talisay City used M.J. Cuenco Ave. and the road near the Malacañang sa Sugbu.

Asked if there were traffic congestion, Yap said there is none considering that yesterday was a Sunday.


In an interview with Sun.Star Cebu yesterday, Yap believes the tunnel is supposed to have generator sets so that its operations will not be interrupted.

This, considering that the tunnel is supposed to be passable to vehicles 24 hours a day, seven days a week, he said.

Yap said this is something that the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) should consider and look into.

The operation and maintenance of the tunnel is being handled by the DPWH since the facility has not been turned over to the City.

At around 5 p.m. yesterday, Yap said the power inside the tunnel has already been restored by Veco.

Citom then immediately opened the tunnel for the use of the vehicles.

Beach volley tilt eyed

By Jade S. Violeta

Despite the absence of schedules for sponsored Sinulog sports events, Cebu City is expected to host a beach volleyball tournament within this month. Philippine Sports Commission (PSC) beach volleyball consultant Eric Lecain, in a text message to Cebu Daily News yesterday, said they are finalizing schedules late this month for a beach volleyball tournament. “As I have heard, this year there are no sponsored sporting events for the Sinulog,” Lecain said. “However, after speaking with Cebu City Sports Center manager Ricky Ballesteros, we came up with a plan to have a beach volleyball tournament anyway.” Lecain said he’s hoping they can stage the tournament in the last week of this month. “We will try and set the exact dates at the CCSC.”

Beach volleyball has gained a lot of ground in the city following the successful PSC-sponsored Women’s Beach Volleyball League last Nov. 26, 2013 at the Plaza Independencia sand court. The tournament is said to have elicited “a huge boost in the beach volleyball program in Cebu.” In fact, because of that tournament, the Cebu City Sports Commission promised to construct another sand court at the venue to accommodate more participants in upcoming tournaments this year. CCSC chairman Edward Hayco revealed to Cebu Daily News earlier that due to the huge number of turnouts in the PSC Women’s Beach Volleyball League, they will create more sand courts at Fort San Pedro. Hayco has said before that the future of beach volleyball in Cebu is very bright and that the new Cebu teams are making plans to join the Pro Asia League and the Olympic qualifiers.

CG seeks ‘closure’


TECHNICAL divers are set to return to where the M/V St. Thomas Aquinas sank in August 2013, to assess if it poses a danger to vessels going to or leaving the port of Cebu City. Coast Guard Central Visayas District Commodore William Melad said that it was the vessel owner 2Go Travel that decided to send technical experts and they will be accompanied by Coast Guard’s Special Operations Group (CGSOG) divers. Considered a dangerous area for ships, the 50-kilometer Lawis Ledge off Talisay City is a vital channel for passenger and cargo ships in Cebu. Melad said the divers will return to the site almost five months after the 11,405-gross ton Aquinas, carrying 870 passengers, collided with the 9,691-gross ton containerized cargo ship M/V Sulpicio Express 7. The collision last Aug. 16, 2013 killed 116 people while 733 others remain missing. “We agreed that they would be sending technical experts to survey the St. Thomas Aquinas. It would be held during the first or second week of January. We will be sending PCG divers to have a more or less clear picture of the present situation of the sunken vessel,” Melad said. He added that recently, the Coast Guard has been preoccupied with lending assistance in the delivery of relief to areas affected by super typhoon Yolanda and have not focused on the salvaging operations for the Aquinas. Melad said there is “no closure” in their operations since the vessel remains lying 50 meters underwater. “The PCG maintains the submerged vessel remains a potential danger and we have already informed them about this. While it sank some 50 meters deep, clear from the passing vessels, the cargo containers on board the ship are potential risks,” Melad said. He added that most of the container vans were filled with food items. “Although the possibility may be remote, but there could be a reaction for instance if there is an earthquake…Second, a daring diver might try to dive and cut parts of the ship and turn it into scrap metal. These (cargo containers) might be loosened, float and pose a danger (to passing ships)… So the position of the Coast Guard is that we have to remove it,” Melad said. He described the situation as similar to a road accident where it is the responsibility of the car owner to tow the damaged vehicle. After the scheduled dive, the Coast Guard official expects 2Go to tell the PCG its position. “They might make their position on whether there is still a need to remove the ship or they might try to assess if the wreck removal is possible,” Melad said. (Sunnex)

Appointment of Engr. Eugene Elizalde as new city administrator ‘surprises’ many certification to get cash aid

By Jujemay G. Awit

ON THE second day of 2014, Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama announced a revamp at the City Hall.

Engr. Eugene Elizalde will replace Jose Marie Poblete as city administrator.

Elizalde was a consultant of the mayor until he was tasked to preside over the Police Coordinating and Advisory Council (PCAC), which the mayor chairs.

Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella will now preside over PCAC.

Rama said when he was vice mayor for nine years, then mayor Tomas Osmeña appointed him as chairman of PCAC.

Last month, Rama announced there would be a revamp, but he did not mention any names.

The appointment of Elizalde surprised many City Hall employees, who preferred not to be named, because they thought former councilor now Attorney V Jose Daluz III would get the position.

‘Mayor’s prerogative’

The revamp took effect yesterday, or until documentation for each person is in order.

“That’s management/mayor’s prerogative, based on what I have been injecting to them about 2014 and the challenge will be SOSS (show of super service). There is a need and I have the gut feel and technical analysis based on my 21 years in public service and my being an HRDO (Human Resource and Development Office) manager at the same time,” Rama said in his regular press conference.

The mayor, though, refused to give specifics on the cause of the revamp.

Poblete will now head the Department of Engineering and Public Works (DEPW), while outgoing City Engineer Kenneth Carmelita Enriquez will become the City Planning and Development Office (CPDO) coordinator.

Legal ramification

She will be assisted by Maricon Encabo, who will return to CPDO after a year-long stint at the City Resource Management and Development Center (Cremdec), which will now be headed by Nenita Fernandez.

Engr. Rolando Ardosa and Engr. Dionisio Gualiza will swap departments, the former now head of the Department of Public Services and the latter head of the General Services Office.

There is a new city assessor in Atty. Ferdinand Cañete as Eustaquio Cesa will take the position of assistant city treasurer. Acting City Treasurer Diwa Cuevas will stay in the position.

But Cesa already has the rank of city treasurer, albeit, formerly designated as city assessor.

Asked if there will be legal ramification that Cesa will be under the supervision of someone with a lower rank, Rama said, “I talked to him (Cesa) already. He knows that will be best for him and for all.”

While Cuevas sits as city treasurer, her position is actually that of city accountant.

The council could not confirm her appointment as city accountant because members were hesitant with the confusion of her being city accountant on paper but actually doing the job of a city treasurer.

Cuevas could not be appointed city treasurer because the position is already occupied by Cesa.


Dr. Alice Utlang now heads the City Office for Substance Abuse Prevention, while also assisting the City Agriculture Department on matters attending to animals.

Rama said animals have been neglected under the agriculture department. Utlang was head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine and Fisheries before she was assigned at the Department of Agriculture 7.

Fidel Magno was transferred to the Cebu City Jail women’s detention to focus on livelihood. He was with Cremdec before the revamp.

Catherine Yso, who used to head Operation Second Chance, will still work with the youth in her new position at the Cebu City Task Force on Street Children at the Parian Drop-In Center.

Arlene Rentuza will return to the Internal Audit Services Office.

Lawyer Dominic Diño will remain head of the HRDO but will have two new assistants in lawyer Mary Ann Suson, who will handle administration, and Loida Antonio, who will handle organizational development.

Without departments

To prevent the Public Information Office and the protocol office from having overlapping functions, the two sections will have managing supervisors in Jojo Labella and lawyer Leslie Ann Reyes.

While lawyer Jerone Castillo will continue to head the City Legal Office, Rama said he will hire a private organization to monitor the activity of the department.

City Health Department will have a new head in Dr. Daisy Villa.

Outgoing department head Dr. Stella Ygoña will handle special programs like the City Hospital and Medicines Program, PhilHealth, water and health and sanitation.

Anyway, she’s on her way to retirement, said Rama.

Lawyer Evangeline Abatayo will stay on as Chief of the Office of the City Civil Registrar (OCCR) but with additional task to oversee the construction, renovation, health and sanitation of the OCCR and city health buildings.

Others not mentioned will stay in their positions, but for Engr. Alipio Bacalso (formerly CPDO coordinator) and William Artajo (head of community scout), Rama said the HRDO is still looking for departments where the two will fit.

Rama assured that the department heads will not be fired.

Philippines wins 2013 Miss Tourism International

By Robert R. Requintina

Angeli Dione Gomez, 20, was crowned 2013 Miss Tourism International in the beauty pageant held in Putrajaya, Malaysia on New Year’s Eve.

Angeli won the 2013 title, succeeding Rizzini Alexis Gomez, the 2012 Miss Tourism International. Angeli and Rizzini, who are both from Cebu City, are not related.

She is the third Filipino to win the Miss Tourism International title, the first was Maria Esperanza Manzano in 2000. Her win gives the Philippines the record for the country with the most number of titles in this pageant.

New Year’s Eve Pageant

In the New Year’s Eve pageant, Angeli Gomez, who stands 5’6, bested 59 other candidates in the contest which started at the final hour of 2013 and ended as the New Year entered.

First runner-up honors went to Miss Thailand Sunidporn Srisuwan; Miss Australia Sarah Czarnuch, second runner-up; Miss Dominican Republic Michelle Alexis Torres, third runner-up; and Miss Malaysia Thaarah Ganesan, fourth runner-up.

Beauty Queen Destiny

The new Miss Tourism International is a film major from the International Academy of Film and Television in Mactan.

Angeli believes that she is destined to become a beauty queen. “Beauty queens are born, not made,” the Cebuana beauty said.

She was also crowned 2012 Reyna ng Aliwan and joined the 2013 Bb. Pilipinas Gold Edition and Miss Resorts World in 2011.

In July, 2013, she was crowned 2013 Mutya ng Pilipinas Tourism International in a beauty contest held in Taguig City.

Mutya in Germany

Meanwhile, fellow “Mutya” winner Andrea Koreen Medina of Quezon City won third runner-up in the 2013 Miss Intercontinental contest in Madgeburg, Germany, last December 14. It was the highest place the country achieved since Maria Sovietskaya Laviano Bacud placed second runner-up in the same pageant in 1993.

2013 Beauty Queens

This was the second time in 2013 that beauty queen mentor Rodgil Flores produced an international beauty queen. Last December, Bea Rose Santiago won the 2013 Miss International beauty contest in Tokyo, Japan. 2005 Miss International Precious Lara Quigaman Alcaraz also belonged to the “Kagandahang Flores” group.

The year 2013 finished with an impressive four major crowns for the Philippines and Top 5 placements in international beauty pageants.

In 2013, Mutya Johanna Datul won the first title for the country in the Miss Supranational contest in Belarus. It was followed by Megan Lynne Young, the country’s first Miss World, in a pageant held in Bali, Indonesia; Bea Rose Santiago, 2013 Miss International; and now Angeli Gomez, 2013 Miss Tourism International.

Miss Philippines Maria Isabelle Zaragoza Mendoza, of San Beda College, was also crowned 2013/2014 Miss Campus World contest in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia last December 6. Mister Philippines Ronald William de Dios finished second in the same contest.

Other notable placements were Ariella Arida, third runner-up, 2013 Miss Universe contest in Moscow, Russia; Gil Wagas, fourth runner-up, 2013 Mister International contest, Bali, Indonesia; and Ali Forbes, 2013 Miss Grand International pageant, in Bangkok, Thailand.

Doce Pares celebrates 81st year


THE WORLD-RENOWNED Doce Pares celebrated its 81st anniversary at the Doce Pares World Head Quarters in Santo Niño Village in Banilad, Cebu City last Monday. In the gathering, Doce Pares Supreme Grand Master (SGM) Dionisio “Diony” Cañete thanked foreign members of Doce Pares for extending their helping hand to the victims of supertyphoon Yolanda. According to SGM Cañete, they were able to visit northern Cebu, Bantayan Island, Ormoc and Leyte to deliver relief goods to victims of the supertyphoon that hit the Visayas last November. “Our charity works this year was successful, thanks to our very generous brothers and sisters abroad who helped us extend the help to the victims. We will not stop helping. we will continue our good deeds to the community next year,” SGM Cañete said. Cañete said they are still going to give away 100 corrugated galvanized iron roofing sheets which were donated by a member of Doce Pares in New Jersey to victims in northern Cebu. Doce Pares also introduced its 10 talented scholars from its 12-year old scholarship program. These 12 will be representing the Philippines and Cebu City in future international tournaments like the World Eskrima Kali Arnis Foundation (WEKAF) world championships and the Doce Pares World Championships.