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Robberies, murders and disasters: Top 10 Cebu news stories of 2014

With the opening of 2015 we look back at 2014 with relief that we made it through and with a fervent wish for a better year. Crime and the fight…

With the opening of 2015 we look back at 2014 with relief that we made it through and with a fervent wish for a better year. Crime and the fight against it hog the headlines of Cebu news organizations. With 2016 approaching, politics is starting to heat up. This year, politics will start to dominate news.

Here is MyCebu.ph’s countdown of the 10 biggest news stories in Cebu for 2014.

1. LBC Express robberies

They say that bad luck comes in threes, but it was more than double this number for the courier company LBC Express in Cebu which was hit by robbery after robbery in 2014.

On September 2, the seventh LBC Express outlet in Cebu, located in Punta Princesa, Cebu City, was hit by robbers who ran off with P5,000 in cash. Just a few days before that, the LBC branch along a busy street in Subangdaku, Mandaue City lost P24,000 in cash and valuables to robbers in just within three minutes. The seven robberies cost LBC a combined total of around P200,000.

“They can afford to invest on security but they are not doing it,” — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama.

Police have cited security lapses in these outlets, such as the lack of security guards and damaged security cameras. LBC management, in a close-door meeting with police, still wouldn’t hire guards but agreed to have their cashiers and tellers undergo training on what to do when robbers strike.

In Cebu City, Mayor Michael Rama ordered the temporary closures of all LBC outlets not found within malls in the interest of public safety.

Western Union robbery

NOT JUST LBC. This Western Union outlet was also robbed in the spate of crimes that hit shops like these in Cebu last year. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan)

Stories on the LBC robberies:

2. Noel Archival ambush

In mid-February, reports from Dalaguete that Cebuano lawyer Noel Archival was killed in an ambush along the southern town’s national highway shocked the Cebuano community. Killed along with Archival was his aide and driver Alejandro Jaime.

Archival, 52, and his companions were heading back to Cebu City from a court hearing in Dumaguete City on February 18 when his vehicle was peppered with bullets by assailants on separate vehicles.

An even more horrific development in the story: three policemen of the Highway Patrol Group Region 7, including former chief Senior Supt. Romualdo Iglesia, were charged with multiple and frustrated murder charges soon after the February 18 ambush.

Police go over the vehicle lawyer Noel Archival was riding when he was ambushed and killed in Dalaguete. (Photo by Mark Luzano)

Police go over the vehicle lawyer Noel Archival was riding when he was ambushed and killed in Dalaguete. (Photo by Mark Luzano)

Stories on the killing of lawyer Noel Archival:

Barely a month after, a similar violent attack in Toledo City claimed the life of a barangay councilor and left her common-law husband in critical condition. Alexander Alquiza, Captain Claudio barangay chief, was on his way home with his family when they were assaulted on the boundary of Barangay Carmen and Dumlog around 4 p.m. on March 4, 2014.

Alquiza’s live-in partner, who was a barangay councilwoman, was killed. Their adopted son, 4, and three other passengers were unharmed.

3. Dispute over Naga-Carcar century-old trees

Arguably one the most contentious issues in Cebu in 2014 was about the century-old trees that line the national highway in the southern towns of Naga, San Fernando, and Carcar. Attention became focused on the 100-year-old acacia trees when one toppled and crumpled a passing dumptruck at 3 p.m. along Balud, San Francisco in July 9, stalling traffic for hours.

In response to the call of local officials in Cebu’s first district, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) conducted an assessment of the health of the trees and identified 41 of various species that need to be cut immediately. It directed the local officials and the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) in July 18 to immediately cut the trees it had found defective or diseased.

Despite appeals from conversationists and well-known environmental advocate, running priest Fr. Robert Reyes, DPWH started cutting some of the trees in August. The agency, however, had to suspend its work when some of the conservation advocates holding a rally nearby to protest the agency’s move climbed the trees in the City of Naga.

PETITION. Heritage interpreter Balbino Guerrero started an online petition to stop the cutting of the trees.

PETITION. Heritage interpreter Balbino Guerrero started an online petition to stop the cutting of the trees.

Upon the order of Environment Secretary Ramon Paje, DENR-Central Visayas Executive Director Isabelo Montejo recalled the permit covering three remaining diseased acacia trees. He added that future applications for the cutting of trees from Naga City to Carcar City will not be granted, a decision lauded by conservationists but met with objection by local officials of Naga and San Fernando.

DPWH said the road widening along this stretch will be further delayed as its engineers will have to find ways to not harm the trees in the course of the construction work.

Stories on the dispute:

4. NPA couple’s arrest

A joint team of the Philippine Army, Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG), and Carcar City police arrested the couple in the top helm of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) in the Cebu town of Aloguinsan.

Benito Tiamzon, 63, is the party chairman while his wife, Wilma Austria-Tiamzon, 61, is the secretary general. The couple and five others arrested with them were transported to Camp Crame shortly after their arrest on MArch 22, 2014. They were on board a Starex van and Toyota Innova when caught.

The couple, who was arrested in a mountain village in Aloguinsan, had been staying in a house owned by a businessman in San Fernando. Chief Supt. Danilo Constantino, Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 director, said the Tiamzons had been staying for about two months in Cebu, probably for rest and recreation.

Benito Tiamzon and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon during one a court hearing. The top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines were arrested in a mountain village in Aloguinsan on March 22, 2014.  (Photo taken from the Facebook Pge Free Benito Tiamzon, Wilma Austria and ALL Political Prisoners)

Benito Tiamzon (center) and Wilma Austria-Tiamzon (front) during one a court hearing. The top officials of the Communist Party of the Philippines were arrested in a mountain village in Aloguinsan on March 22, 2014. (Photo taken from the Free Tiamzons Facebook Page)

Stories about their arrest:

5. Cebu City Council realignment

Allies of Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama tried but failed to wrestle control of the City Council from Bando Osmena-Pundok Kauswagan (BO-PK) councilors in early October.

Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias and Mayor Michael Rama during the distribution of self help kits last November 23 in Barangay Basak Pardo. (Photo taken from the Facebook Page of Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias)

Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias and Mayor Michael Rama during the distribution of self help kits last November 23 in Barangay Basak Pardo. (Photo taken from the Facebook Page of Councilor Roberto Cabarrubias)

Team Rama councilors expected help from four of their colleagues who bolted out of the BO-PK in August 19 to form an independent bloc, over disagreements on how the South Road Properties (SRP) should be sold.

The four included Councilors Gerardo Carillo, Noel Wenceslao, Roberto Cabarrubias, and Richard “Richie” Osmena.

After Cabarrubias voted with the BO-PK during the October 8 reorganization of the City Council’s 22 committees initiated by Team Rama, three other councilors from the independent bloc lost their chairmanships.

Stories on the council drama:

6. Carcar and Boljoon accidents

Two fatal road accidents occurred during the first half of 2014. The first one was on February 6, when a sedan driven by a medical representative hit a group of high school students as they walked home from school in the southern Cebu town of Boljoon.

Three seniors of the Boljoon National High School were killed while another three of their friends were wounded. They were walking by the side of the road when a silver Toyota Vios driven by Al-Dhinier Hadjula Sanaani swerved and flipped over on the Lusapon Bridge before hitting the students. The three girls killed were thrown from the bridge into the riverbed some 15 meters below.

On April 10, nine people were killed while 24 others were wounded when a truck slammed a concrete fence and plowed into a house before falling on its side in Carcar City. The truck, which had 30 passengers, came from the market day or tabo in Barangay Mantalongon, Barili and was on its way to Argao when the accident happened in Barangay Guadalupe.

Five people were killed on the spot while two others died on the way to the hospital. Two more succumbed to their injuries a day later.

A complaint for reckless imprudence resulting in multiple homicide and multiple physical injuries was filed against truck driver Mario Famulagan, 58.

Stories on the accidents:

7. Taping of newborn’s mouth

A photo posted on Facebook of a newborn boy with his mouth taped caused an outcry from netizens. After contracting an infection shortly after he was born on May 3, the baby had to stay for a few days more in the hospital.

His parents were shocked to see their son’s taped lips when they visited him on the hospital on May 9. The nurse told them the boy’s mouth was taped with medical adhesive because he was crying too loudly and was always asking for milk.

The attending nurse’s supervisor further explained that their son’s lips were taped so he could suck on this pacifier properly and that it just might have fallen from his mouth.

The couple took the matter to social media where they earned sympathy from netizens, who also expressed outrage against the hospital. Government agencies like the Department of Health (DOH) and Commission on Human Rights (CHR) conducted investigations on the taping of the infant’s mouth.

taping of baby

SPREADING ON SOCIAL MEDIA. A mother posted this photo of her newborn child on Facebook with a pacifier taped to her mouth while confined at the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House (CPCMH).

About 15 days after, another mother posted pictures of her newborn child on Facebook with a pacifier taped to her mouth while confined at the Cebu Puericulture Center and Maternity House (CPCMH).

The baby was only two days old when the picture was taken. The infant’s mother said her daughter was born on February 22 and when she visited her at the nursery, she found her baby and two to three others with a pacifier taped to their mouths.

Stories on the incidents:

Another incident that was brought to the public’s attention through social media is the berating by a priest of a young mother during the baptism of her son in Barangay Jagobiao, Mandaue City on July 6.

A video of the priest scolding the unwed mom was posted on the video-sharing site YouTube that very night and garnered 4,000 likes within two days. It was shared over 20,000 times. The teenage mom said she was deeply hurt and affected by what the priest did.

“I deeply regret that I have done this. I only later realized how cruel my ways to educate and impart lessons for the said event.” — Fr. Romeo Obach in his apology

The priest later apologized personally and through a handwritten letter to the 17-year-old mother and the video was taken down from the YouTube site.

APOLOGY. The letter written by Fr. Romeo Obach to apologize to an unwed mother he scolded when he baptized her child.

APOLOGY. The letter written by Fr. Romeo Obach to apologize to an unwed mother he scolded when he baptized her child.

Stories on the incident:

8. Tale of two storms

The best example of how unpredictable the weather has become involved two storms that passed by Visayas in December.

Weather forecasters in early December warned of an incoming deadly typhoon that is packing sustained winds of 205 kilometers per hour and gusts of up to 240 kph as it barrels toward the Philippines. The warning sent many people fleeing their homes and sparked panic-buying sprees in stores as it brought back memories of the 2013 deadly onslaught of super typhoon Yolanda. Over a million people were evacuated from their homes in preparation for the typhoon.

Typhoon Ruby (international codename: Hagupit) weakened into a tropical storm as it made landfall in the central Philippines. It tore down homes, felled power poles and trees, and caused floods but the death toll was low at 21.

On the other hand, tropical storm Seniang (international codename: Jang-mi), which packed winds of 65 kph near the center and gusts of up to 80 kph, was deadlier. Seniang killed 53 people as it swept across the Visayas and Mindanao from December 29-30.

Three Cebu towns have been placed under a state calamity and local officials said damage to the province could reach P1 billion.

Tropical storm Seniang killed 53 people as it swept across the Visayas and Mindanao from December 29-30 and destroyed the Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga, Cebu. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan)

Tropical storm Seniang killed 53 people as it swept across the Visayas and Mindanao from December 29-30 and destroyed the Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga, Cebu. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan)

Stories of the 2 storms:

Ruby

Seniang

9. Fight against illegal drugs

If there’s one issue that consistently hogged the headlines in Cebu in 2014, it involved heightened efforts against illegal drugs, particularly shabu or methamphetamine hydrochloride. Police reported in late June that the were able to confiscate P34 million worth of illegal drugs from January to June, P27 million more compared to the same period in 2013.

The Police Regional Office (PRO) 7 said it conducted over 1,000 operations against drugs in the first six months of the year. Police anti-drug efforts were intensified in the second half of 2014.

On August 8, a 14-year-old girl was caught with P5.9 million worth of suspected shabu in Barangay Labangon, Cebu City. More shabu dealers were arrested in follow-up raids in Cebu City, Consolacion, Liloan, and Lapu-Lapu City on August 20 and 21.

DRUG RAID. Suspects are rounded up in a drug raid in Barrio Luz. The fight against drugs was one of the biggest news stories last year with many policemen getting killed in the campaign. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan)

DRUG RAID. Suspects are rounded up in a drug raid in Barrio Luz. The fight against drugs was one of the biggest news stories last year with many policemen getting killed in the campaign. (Photo by Allan Tangcawan)

Over at the neighboring island of Bohol, the police chief of the town of Ubay was killed in an ambush in June and six of his suspected assailants, one of whom was a former policeman and identified as the number one drug lord in the province, were killed in a police operation.

On August 22, police suffered a setback in the fight against drugs when another policeman, part of a team verifying reports of a pot session, was killed by a lone assailant in Tagbilaran City, Bohol.

Some stories on the anti-drugs campaign:

10. King shot dead in Davao

A prominent Cebuano businessman was shot dead on June 12 in Davao City. Businessman

Richard King, owner of the Crown Regency Group of Hotels, was eating with his employees as well as participants and guests to the closing ceremony of the wellness training for Vital C when the gunman walked in the shot him several times. The event was held inside the Vital C Building on Sobrecary St.

The business community in Cebu said it was saddened by King’s death and asked the police to prioritize the resolution of the case. Police formed a special task force to investigate the shooting and identify and arrest the people behind the businessman’s death.

Four suspects, including a police official, were arrested in late June for their involvement in King’s slay.

KILLED. Sun.Star Cebu's front page story on the killing of Richard King. (Taken from Sun.Star Facebook Page)

KILLED. Sun.Star Cebu’s front page story on the killing of Richard King. (Taken from Sun.Star Facebook Page)

Stories about Richard King’s killing:

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Cebu News Digest Jan. 4, 2015: Bad weather till Wednesday, international cargo ship sinks, Sibonga bridge problems

It’s gloomy weather in Cebu today, with dark skies and light to moderate rains affecting most of the metro. The weather bureau said Cebuanos can expect the situation to continue…

It’s gloomy weather in Cebu today, with dark skies and light to moderate rains affecting most of the metro. The weather bureau said Cebuanos can expect the situation to continue until Wednesday due to a weather disturbance it calls the tail end of a cold front.

Pag-asa expects better weather on Thursday, when activities for this year’s Sinulog Festival start. (Cebu Daily News: ‘Expect gloomy weather’)

Other top Cebu news

1. Tents set up at Sibonga Bridge

Two heavy-duty tents are to be set up on both ends of the collapsed Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga to alleviate the inconvenience of passengers, a Capitol official said. Each tent measures 20 by 30 feet.
The move was in anticipation of commuters returning to Cebu City after spending the holidays in their hometowns in south Cebu. Last Friday, there was a line more than a kilometer long of passengers from the south and neighboring island of Negros trying to get to Metro Cebu. (Sun.Star Cebu: Shelter)

Dumlog Bridge, Sibonga

VITAL LINK. The Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga is a vital link in the south coastal highway that leads all the way to southern Cebu from Cebu City. (Photo by Mark Luzano)

2. Temporary solutions to bridge problem

As engineers rush to put up a steel bridge, the mayor of Sibonga said the local government will try to come up with other measures to lessen the disruption caused by the damaged Dumlog Bridge to passengers and drivers. The bridge, destroyed by tropical storm Seniang (international codename: Jangmi), is a vital link in the south coastal highway that leads all the way to southern Cebu from Cebu City. One temporary solution the mayor is thinking of is paving the land on both sides of the bridge so cargo vehicles can pass through.

“All these products are wasted because they cannot pass through,” Sibonga Mayor Lionel Bacaltos said on agricultural goods that need to be transported to Cebu City.

(Cebu Daily NewsMayor appeals for patience; tents for southern commuters)

3. 4 Cebuanos among missing crew in foreign boat sinking

Four Cebuanos were identified to be among 16 Filipino crew members of the Bahaman ship Bulk Jupiter that sank off the East Vietnam Sea last Friday, January 2. The cargo ship was on its way to China from Malaysia when it sank off Vietnam. It was able to send a distress signal at 11:30 a.m. on January 2. Sun.Star Cebu, quoting a dyAB radio report, identified the crew members as: Jerome Dinoy, 23, third officer, a resident of Lapu-Lapu City; Renato Toribio II, 36, of Bantayan, Cebu; George Espliguera Jr., 27, OS 2, of Cebu City; and Renner Karl Abogadie, 29, chief mate, a native of Baybay, Leyte currently living in Mandaue City. (Sun.Star Cebu4 Cebuanos among crew missing from foreign boat)

4. More sinkholes discovered in southern Cebu towns

Two new sinkholes were reported in the towns of Alcantara and Badian in southern Cebu last week. The Alcantara municipal engineer said he received reports that one even caused “half a mountain” to collapse in Barangay Cabadiangan. The sinkhole reportedly measured 35 feet deep and formed on the slope of the mountain.

“After the soil caved in due to heavy rains caused by typhoon Seniang, some coconut trees’ leaves were already level with the ground,” Arturo Palencia, Alcantara Municipal Engineer, told Cebu Daily News.

(Cebu Daily NewsSinkhole swallows ‘half a mountain’ in Alcantara; another found in Badian town)

5. Central Visayas 3rd nationwide in number of HIV cases

Of the 537 new HIV cases recorded in October 2014, 10 percent or 53 individuals came from Central Visayas. The National Capital Region is still the highest with 38 percent. Region IVA or the CALABARZON is second at 14 percent.

According to the DOH, 95 percent of victims are male and the “median age” was 27 years old, with the age of cases ranging from 18 to 57 years. DOH said the common modes of transmission were sexual contact at 518 of the total cases and needle sharing by drug users, with 19 cases. (The Freeman: CV third nationwide on HIV cases – DOH)

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Cebu News Digest: 3rd Mactan-Cebu bridge groundbreaking, water service interruption

Good news greeted Cebuanos on the first day of 2015 with the groundbreaking of the 3rd Mactan-Cebu Bridge that will link the town of Cordova to Cebu City. Cordova Mayor…

Good news greeted Cebuanos on the first day of 2015 with the groundbreaking of the 3rd Mactan-Cebu Bridge that will link the town of Cordova to Cebu City.

Cordova Mayor Adelino Sitoy said he wants the structure named after the Sto. Nino in honor of Cebu’s protector whose image symbolizes the start of Christianization in the Far East over four centuries ago. (CDN story: Cordova mayor suggests calling 3rd Mactan bridge after Sto. Niño)

Sto Niño Bridge

The groundbreaking of the Sto. Nino Bridge on Shell Island was held on Thursday, New Year’s Day, which coincided with Cordova’s 102nd anniversary as a town that’s independent from Lapu-Lapu City.

Present during the event were Cordova, Cebu City, and Cebu Provincial officials as well as representatives of the Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. (MPTC), which will fund the P17 billion project. MPTC is an investment group identified with businessman Manuel V. Pangilinan. (Sun.Star Cebu story: Proponents of the P17-B third bridge eyeing middle of 2015 to start construction)

Cordova and Cebu City officials intend to start the 3rd Mactan-Cebu bridge by the middle of 2015.

Other top Cebu news

1. Water service interruption

In other news, several areas in Cebu City and Metro Cebu are experiencing low pressure to no water from 8 a.m to 4 p.m. today, January 2.

The Metro Cebu Water District (MCWD) expects about 5,000 households to be affected by the ongoing work connecting its pipes to a bulk water supply system in Carmen town that will allow it to increase production by 18,000 cubic meters per day.

CUT OFF. Capitol and DPWH will build a temporary steel bridge in Dumlog, Sibonga. (Photo by Dario Gil published in the Cebu Provincial Government Facebook Page)

CUT OFF. Capitol and DPWH will build a temporary steel bridge in Dumlog, Sibonga. (Photo by Dario Gil published in the Cebu Provincial Government Facebook Page)

2. Sibonga temporary steel bridge

In coordination with the Cebu Provincial Government, the Department of Public Works and Highways hopes to build and complete a temporary steel bridge in Dumlog, Sibonga before the Sinulog Festival celebration on January 17-18, 2015.

The temporary span will be able to accommodate passenger buses and dump trucks and constructed on the site where the Dumlog Bridge collapsed. The bridge is a vital link in the Cebu coastal highway that traverses and serves the southern towns. (Sun.Star Cebu: Steel bridge ready ‘before Sinulog’ )

3. Cebu City extends aid to 3 Cebu towns

Sibonga and two other towns, Ronda and Alcantara, were severely affected by tropical storm Seniang as it made a two-day sweep of the Visayas from December 29-30, 2014. The Cebu City Government said it will be extending assistance to these towns.

The towns will receive P300,000 each from Cebu City. The cash aid will be taken from the P10-million quick response fund of the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council (CCDRRMC). (Sun.Star Cebu: Cebu City Hall extends assistance to 3 towns affected by Seniang )

4. Townsfolk unprepared for Seniang

Although storm warnings were given out a day before Seniang made landfall in south Cebu, these didn’t reach high-risk communities. A Cebu Capitol official said the advisories for pre-emptive evacuation did not reach trickle down to the barangays. (Cebu Daily News: Order to evacuate high-risk areas ‘didn’t reach some barangays’)

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SuperCat Cebu transfers to Terminal 1 in Pier 1

2GO Travel inaugurated on Thursday a ticketing office within Pier 1 in Cebu City for SuperCat fast crafts plying the Cebu route. The move makes it easier for passengers to…

2GO Travel inaugurated on Thursday a ticketing office within Pier 1 in Cebu City for SuperCat fast crafts plying the Cebu route.

The move makes it easier for passengers to book trips on SuperCat vessels travelling from Cebu to destinations like Manila, Tagbilaran in Bohol, Ormoc, Cagayan de Oro, Butuan, Romblon, and Masbate, a company official said. Noone needs to go into debt while travelling – but occasionally expenses creep up on you, especially if you are having a good time, or travelling with your friends. In Sweden, we got låna-pengar.biz to keep some travel money until we flew home.

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Sinulog Festival 2015 schedule of activities

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is a celebration both solemn and festive, a festival of festivals held every January in Cebu City with much pomp and pageantry. Although the Sinulog Festival has…

Cebu’s Sinulog Festival is a celebration both solemn and festive, a festival of festivals held every January in Cebu City with much pomp and pageantry.

Although the Sinulog Festival has grown to become a month-long festivity, its highlights happen every third week of January.

Sinulog 2014 photo contest second grand prize winner is  by Teddy Uy. Used with permission from Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

Sinulog 2014 photo contest second grand prize winner is by Teddy Uy. Used with permission from Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

The important Sinulog 2015 dates are January 17 and 18. Sinulog 2015 activities will culminate in the first baptism reenactment as well fluvial and solemn processions on January 17 and Sinulog Grand Parade on January 18.

Below is the official list of Sinulog 2015 program of activities from the Sinulog Foundation, Inc.

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Grand Majestic offers buffet promo leading to grand launch

Good food at an affordable price is what Grand Majestic, one of three restaurants at the Grand Convention Center in Cebu City, aims to provide customers. With their selection of…

Good food at an affordable price is what Grand Majestic, one of three restaurants at the Grand Convention Center in Cebu City, aims to provide customers.

With their selection of varied cuisine, iHoldings Inc. president Winglip Chang said they’re offering what Cebuanos are used to in a buffet without them having to pay a lot.

“We want to show that a good buffet doesn’t have to be expensive,” he said.

Grand Majestic buffet

THROWBACK PRICING. When we ate in Grand Majestic yesterday, the restaurant announced a “throwback” price of P195 for the buffet from the regular P499. The restaurant will hold more throwback pricing promotions, which will be announced on the day it happens, in the days leading to the grand launch in September.

Although many of Grand Majestic’s dishes are Chinese-influenced Filipino fare, there are sections that carry international flavors. There’s a Japanese food display, carving station for steak, as well as dessert and salad bars.

Grand Majestic serves noodles and dim sum as well.

Roast beef Grand Majestic buffet.

Roast beef. Must eat.

Grand Convention Center

Chang said they have full-time food technologists working in the kitchen to ensure the quality of every dish served at the Grand Convention Center of Cebu.

“We make sure that the manufacturing and cooking process follows the standards,” he cited.

Grand Majestic buffet japanese

The Japanese station.

The two other restaurants at the newly renovated Grand Convention are Tsay Cheng and Seafood City.

Tsay Cheng is a Chinese restaurant with function rooms where small groups can meet for business or leisure while Seafood City is tailored for travelers who want to experience the fresh bounties of the sea at affordable prices. Like the popular Sutukil (for sugba-tuwa-kilaw), diners get the option of having their fresh seafood grilled, stewed or prepared as ceviche or kinilaw.

Grand Majestic Buffet Dimsum

The buffet’s dimsum station.

Promo campaigns

From today up to the grand launch in September, Chang said they’re running promotional campaigns that include a price throwback for Grand Majestic and discounts for Tsay Cheng and Seafood City. Each of the restaurants can seat around 300.

The price cut for the Grand Majestic lunch buffet, which starts at 11 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m., goes down to P195 from the regular P499. Dinner is from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. and costs P599. Grand Majestic’s popular Peking duck is served at night.

Chang said the announcement for Grand Majestic’s price throwback may be done on their Facebook page on the day that it happens.

Tsay Cheng diners get 10 percent off on their lunch bill until September 15, 2014 while travellers who can present a boarding pass or ticket with Cebu as destination enjoy a 15 percent discount at Seafood City.

Grand Majestic buffet desserts

Dessert. Have your fill of sweets at the desserts station.

MICE market

Grand Convention Center can cater to big social events like wedding receptions and birthday parties or host Meetings, Incentives, Conventions and Exhibits (MICE).

Chang said they would like to compete in the MICE market and believe their second floor facilities, which can accommodate a maximum of 1,200, are well-equipped for such events.

At P550 per person for a minimum of 300 people per event, Chang said Grand Convention has the lowest charge among similar establishments. He added that although the minimum cost for a function is P165,000, they’re flexible and prospective customers may request for other arrangements.

Grand Convention has international chefs as well and can accommodate food preferences of guests.

Grand Majestic buffet carrot cake

Take a slice or two of carrot cake.

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Rustan’s Supermarket opens in new Ayala Cebu location

Rustan’s Supermarket opens today, August 9, at its new Ayala Center Cebu location with 2,800 square meters of space and special grocery offerings. The new Rustan’s store, which is at…

Rustan’s Supermarket opens today, August 9, at its new Ayala Center Cebu location with 2,800 square meters of space and special grocery offerings.

Olives on display at Rustan's Gourmet to Go section.

Olives on display at Rustan’s Gourmet to Go section.

The new Rustan’s store, which is at Basement 1 of Ayala’s expansion wing, displays its items by categories: poultry, meat, seafood, dairy, grains, pasta and the like.

Rows and rows of local and imported ice cream.

Rows and rows of local and imported ice cream.

“Rustan’s Supermarket is really a lifestyle and you can see it in the way we display and sell things. We don’t only sell local but we’re heavy on imported goods,” said marketing manager Selina Selma-Romualdez during a media tour on Friday.

Casale Paradiso products can only be found at Rustan's Supermarket, according to the store's marketing manager.

Casale Paradiso products can only be found at Rustan’s Supermarket, according to the store’s marketing manager.

According to her, there are many items at the store that can’t be found anywhere else. She cited as example their assortment of Italian brand Casale Paradiso’s products that include the risotto or rice varieties, polenta and cous cous, zuppa or soups, choices of salt, pasta and aromatic mixes.

The new supermarket features a delicatessen section and bakery. It also has shelves for cereals, baby care, pasta and noodles, cheese, yogurt and other items.

The wine and spirits section has a consultant (shown in photo) to help you choose.

The wine and spirits section has a consultant (shown in photo) to help you choose.

One innovation that Rustan’s has brought to its new supermarket is the presence of a consultant at the wine and spirits area. So if you’re confused over which of the top brands to pick, you can always get help from the wine consultant.

Romualdez said they will be carrying more imported items, adding the yogurt section will soon display products from the US and New Zealand.

Gourmet To Go offers prepared healthy salads and sandwiches.

Gourmet To Go offers prepared healthy salads and sandwiches.

Another special offering of Rustan’s Supermarket is the Gourmet To Go area, which ready to eat healthy sandwiches and salads. There are pre-prepared Russian and Greek greens, pasta with pesto, hummus, spinach dip, and quiches. Available sandwiches include hot ham and cheese, chicken galantina, seafood, deli sub and prosciutto with arugula.

Yesterday’s soups of the day were salmon n’ corn chowder and cream of wild mushroom.

Olive oil and special pasta.

Olive oil and special pasta.

At today’s opening and up to August 18, Rustan’s is providing big discounts and buy one take another one offers on many products.

Check out the new Rustan’s Supermarket at it’s opening today and avail of the special opening offers.

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City Hall reroutes traffic for Sinulog sa Kabataan-Lalawigan 2014

It’s the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan Saturday, January 11, and school contingents will go on a parade from Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Center using Osmeña Boulevard at…

It’s the Sinulog sa Kabataan sa Lalawigan Saturday, January 11, and school contingents will go on a parade from Capitol to the Cebu City Sports Center using Osmeña Boulevard at 1 p.m.

As a result, Citom and the traffic patrol group of the Cebu City Police Office will reroute vehicular traffic on the affected streets beginning at noon up to the end of the activity tomorrow.

(To get a comprehensive guide to the Sinulog, visit our mobile Sinulog Guide on your phone or download the Sinulog Guide Android app.)

Here’s the list of jeepneys and the streets they will be using during the rerouting.

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Balik Cebu starts campaign to build houses for Pilar, Camotes community

This year’s Balik Cebu program that is among Sinulog 2014 activities will serve as the launching pad for a Balik Balay campaign that aims to help one of Yolanda-devastated communities…

This year’s Balik Cebu program that is among Sinulog 2014 activities will serve as the launching pad for a Balik Balay campaign that aims to help one of Yolanda-devastated communities in Pilar, Camotes.

Balik Cebu committee members led by group chair, Tetta Baad, said their objective is to build 50 dwellings in the style of the bahay kubo in Sitio Esperanza in Pilar as soon as possible.

The Balik Balay campaign will be officially launched during the Balik Cebu welcome party on January 16, 2014 which has served to welcome balikbayans during the Sinulog celebration for the last 12 years.

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GT Cosmetics supports Miss Cebu 2014

Cebu beauty product manufacturer GT Cosmetics is sponsoring the Miss Cebu 2014 pageant that will be held as one of Sinulog Festival activities this January. Engr. Leonora B. Salvane, company…

Cebu beauty product manufacturer GT Cosmetics is sponsoring the Miss Cebu 2014 pageant that will be held as one of Sinulog Festival activities this January.

Engr. Leonora B. Salvane, company chief operating officer, said they will also be picking a Miss GT from among the Miss Cebu 2014 finalists on pageant night slated this January 15 at the Waterfront Hotel in Cebu City.

The selected candidate will get a cash prize and a year-long supply of GT Cosmetics products, she added. The selection mechanics will be announced later in various publications.

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The Outlets at Pueblo Verde opens in Lapu-Lapu City, offers year-round discounts

Running shoes at 50% off, shirts and jackets at 30% markdown and pants at 40% discount. These are some of the things sold at The Outlets at Pueblo Verde in Basak, Lapu-Lapu City.

Running shoes at 50% off, shirts and jackets at 30% markdown and pants at 40% discount. These are some of the things sold at The Outlets at Pueblo Verde in Basak, Lapu-Lapu City.

The Outlets formally opened today after a brief ceremony attended by Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz C. Radaza, AboitizLand, Inc. president and chief executive officer Andoni Aboitiz and assistant vice president for project development Rafael de Mesa.

It is an outlet store for such brands as Adidas, G-Force (which sells Reef and Oakley), Levi’s, Dockers, Giordano, Converse and Timberland.

Customers crowd the Levi's outlet, which also sells Dockers apparel, in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde in Lapu-Lapu City. The Outlets is the first outlet store in Visayas and Mindanao where manufacturers directly sell goods to consumers at a big discount.

Customers crowd the Levi’s outlet, which also sells Dockers apparel, in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde in Lapu-Lapu City. The Outlets is the first outlet store in Visayas and Mindanao where manufacturers directly sell goods to consumers at a big discount. (Photo by Max Limpag)

Outlet stores are shops where manufacturers directly sell items to consumers, at a lower price compared to those in retail outlets. The company said The Outlets is the only one of its kind in Visayas and Mindanao.

Shops at The Outlets sell products at discounts ranging from 20% to 75% off the whole year round, said de Mesa.

TOURISM DRAW. Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz C. Radaza with AboitizLand president and CEO Andoni Aboitiz inside the Nike Factory Store in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde. Radaza said The Outlets will complement the city's tourism push. (Photo by Max Limpag)

TOURISM DRAW. Lapu-Lapu City Mayor Paz C. Radaza with AboitizLand president and CEO Andoni Aboitiz inside the Nike Factory Store in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde. Radaza said The Outlets will complement the city’s tourism push. (Photo by Max Limpag)

The Outlets will see a lot of tourism shopping, said de Mesa.

Radaza said The Outlets will complement the tourism push of Lapu-Lapu City. She said The Outlets is very near high-end resorts and hotels in Lapu-Lapu and is sure to draw foreign tourists. Radaza said she also projects a growth in domestic tourists with people from nearby towns and cities and even provinces going to Mactan to buy in the shops.

Shoes for running, basketball, tennis, football and other athletic gear are available for big discounts at the Nike Factory Shop in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde. Other athletic shops in the area include those of Adidas and G-Force (which sells Reef and Oakley products). (Photo by Max Limpag)

Shoes for running, basketball, tennis, football and other athletic gear are available for big discounts at the Nike Factory Shop in The Outlets at Pueblo Verde. Other athletic shops in the area include those of Adidas and G-Force (which sells Reef and Oakley products). (Photo by Max Limpag)

The Outlets has spaces for 22 outlet stores. Eight have opened, 14 more will open soon, de Mesa said. Giordano will open next week while Timberland will open next month. Shops are open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. every day.

De Mesa said The Outlets is located on a 1-hectare area and they are already looking into expanding by another hectare. The Outlets will include outdoor dining in the future, de Mesa said.

EVERYTHING AT P70. The Peso Store sells all items for P70. Their goods range from household items like soap, body butter, detergent, clothes hangers, clips, lotions, cleansers to specialty paper and clipboards.

EVERYTHING AT P70. The Peso Store sells all items for P70. Their goods range from household items like soap, body butter, detergent, clothes hangers, clips, lotions, cleansers to specialty paper and clipboards. (Photo by Max Limpag)

When asked about the possibility of The Outlets opening in Cebu City, de Mesa said it is very unlikely because the big discounts offered by the shops will cannibalize sales of traditional retail outlets.

YEAR-ROUND DISCOUNTS. Rafael de Mesa, AboitizLand assistant vice president for project development, says shops at The Outlets offer items at discounts ranging from 30% to 75% the whole year. He said a store like The Outlets is unlikely to open near the city center because it would cannibalize sales of traditional retail outlets. (Photo by Max Limpag)

YEAR-ROUND DISCOUNTS. Rafael de Mesa, AboitizLand assistant vice president for project development, says shops at The Outlets offer items at discounts ranging from 30% to 75% the whole year. He said a store like The Outlets is unlikely to open near the city center because it would cannibalize sales of traditional retail outlets. (Photo by Max Limpag)

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With Bantayan, Malapascua still rebuilding, Capitol promotes Southern Cebu attractions

While the destination islands of Bantayan and Malapascua recover from super typhoon Yolanda, the Provincial Government encourages tourists to visit other Cebu attractions. Cebu provincial tourism officer Mary Grace K….

While the destination islands of Bantayan and Malapascua recover from super typhoon Yolanda, the Provincial Government encourages tourists to visit other Cebu attractions.

Cebu provincial tourism officer Mary Grace K. Paulino said heritage structures in southern Cebu such as Spanish period churches and buildings are intact.

“Our southern tour is very popular right now especially because the old churches and other heritage sites of Bohol had been destroyed or damaged during the earthquake,” she added.

Since Yolanda did not directly hit the towns or cities in the southern part of Cebu, nature sites like beach and mountain resorts and the dive spots of Moalboal were either spared or sustained only slight damages, according to Paulino.

“We suggest to tourists that they visit other Cebu destinations because we have plenty. The good thing that we’ve noticed is that our tourism industry is going back to normal,” she added.

MOALBOAL BEACH. While the destination islands of Bantayan and Malapascua recover from super typhoon Yolanda, the Provincial Government encourages tourists to visit other Cebu attractions like the beaches in Moalboal. (Photo by Max Limpag)

MOALBOAL BEACH. While the destination islands of Bantayan and Malapascua recover from super typhoon Yolanda, the Provincial Government encourages tourists to visit other Cebu attractions like the beaches in Moalboal. (Photo by Max Limpag)

In the case of Bantayan, she revealed, around 80 to 90 percent of resorts were damaged and couldn’t accommodate guests. There are almost 30 accommodation facilities in the Bantayan town of Sta. Fe alone, she added.

Only 3 or 4 resorts in Bantayan are currently operational, Paulino cited, adding the situation would have a huge impact on the local economy of the island which is being driven by tourism.

Right now, Paulino said the Provincial Government is helping in clean-up activities in affected Cebu areas, especially in Malapascua.

They’ve also met with affected establishments to determine how the province can help them get back on their feet.

According to her, one program they’ve identified is to provide livelihood to local employees of the resorts who currently do not have work.

Before the typhoon, the Provincial Government had been conducting trainings on community-based tourism programs. The goal, Paulino added, is to teach the local people to conduct tours for tourists as a way of providing them jobs.

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State of Cebu, Bohol churches after the earthquake

Checked out the newest earthquake update and saw a long list of Bohol churches, chapels, and convent that were destroyed or have sustained varying degrees of damage. I counted 22…

Checked out the newest earthquake update and saw a long list of Bohol churches, chapels, and convent that were destroyed or have sustained varying degrees of damage.

I counted 22 churches, seven chapels, and a convent. I’m not sure, though, which of these structures are heritage ones.

It has been reported often enough that the San Pedro Church in Loboc collapsed while the churches in Maribojoc, Loon, Baclayon were destroyed as well when a 7.1-magnitude earthquake with its epicenter in Sagbayan, Bohol occurred on October 15.

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Strong earthquake destroys, damages Bohol, Cebu heritage structures

A strong 7.2 earthquake hit Cebu and Bohol at 8:00 this morning and reports have been coming in of lives lost as well as damage and destruction to commercial buildings…

A strong 7.2 earthquake hit Cebu and Bohol at 8:00 this morning and reports have been coming in of lives lost as well as damage and destruction to commercial buildings and residential houses.

It’s heartbreaking.

I saw pictures of collapsed or damaged public markets in Pasil and Carbon in Cebu City, Mandaue City; commercial buildings like Ayala Center Cebu, SM City at the North Reclamation Area, Gaisano Country Mall, Budget Builders; important institutions like hospitals and schools such as Cebu Doctors’ University, Cebu Doctors’ Hospital, University of Cebu to name a few.

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Blue Bell Ice Cream launches in Cebu

First, I had some of the homemade vanilla because this was cited as the bestseller of the Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors by Andrew Evans in an article that came…

First, I had some of the homemade vanilla because this was cited as the bestseller of the Blue Bell Ice Cream flavors by Andrew Evans in an article that came out on the Digital Nomad section of National Geographic.

Since I’m not a fan of vanilla flavored ice cream products, or at least the ones I’ve previously tasted and that included local and imported brands, I had been prepared to dislike Blue Bell Ice Cream’s version as well.

Surprisingly, I like, no, love Blue Bell’s homemade vanilla ice cream.

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Golden Cowrie opens newest Hukad branch at Parkmall in Mandaue

Sisig tofu and other dishes for the health conscious as well as new variations on old recipes make up the menu at the newest and seventh restaurant branch of Golden…

Sisig tofu and other dishes for the health conscious as well as new variations on old recipes make up the menu at the newest and seventh restaurant branch of Golden Cowrie at Parkmall in Mandaue City.

Aside from the usual Filipino fare of crispy pata, pinakbet, ginataang langka, sinigang na hipon, diners can also order sisig squid, escabeching tanguige, and naked chicken pandan at the Hukad sa Golden Cowrie in Parkmall.

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Cebu-wide digital tourism project launched in Argao

When someone mentions torta, I usually and immediately think of Argao because I associate this popular Cebu delicacy with the town. I’m sure a lot of Cebuanos do the same….

When someone mentions torta, I usually and immediately think of Argao because I associate this popular Cebu delicacy with the town. I’m sure a lot of Cebuanos do the same.

Our frequent visits to Argao however have made me realize that its indigenous industries of torta and tableya, another specialty, are just one of the many facets that make up this southern town of Cebu.

From research and interviews, I’ve learned things about Argao that are not common knowledge and have come to better appreciate my visits. Beyond the torta, and it is delicious by the way, I’ve come to know Argao as a town steeped in history, rich in socio-cultural heritage, and with an abundance of natural resources.

Trips are truly more meaningful if you know what to look for in a place. The problem is, information about Cebu’s rich historical and socio-cultural heritage as it relates to towns like Argao is not easily accessible to the ordinary traveler.

argao guide

The unveiling of a quick response (QR) code marker marks the start in Argao of a province-wide implementation of a digital tourism program for Cebu. In the photo are: (from L) Argao Vice Mayor Stanley Caminero, PLDT-Smart Public Affairs head Mon Isberto, Cebu Gov. Hilario “Junjun” Davide III, Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos, and InnoPub co-founder Max Limpag.

Take for example the San Miguel Arcangel Church, a late 18th century structure remaining of Spanish colonial times.

While it may seem at first glance to be like any other church built by the Spanish clergy, this structure in Argao differs in the artistic and elaborate ornamentation that can be found on the facade, pediment, retablo, pulpit, ceiling, and other interior portions.

A marker at the Argao Hall of Justice contains a short paragraph about the structure and  a quick response (QR) code that allows the download of more information when scanned with a smartphone or tablet.

A marker at the Argao Hall of Justice contains a short paragraph about the structure and a quick response (QR) code that allows the download of more information when scanned with a smartphone or tablet.

Its facade, according to Paul Gerschwiler in his historical outline of Argao, is divided into nine panels by two double cornices that intersect with four vertical paired half columns and only five of the more than 160 Augustinian churches used this style, all of them built in the southeastern coast of Cebu.

This and other relevant information related to the church in particular and travel to the town in general is being made available to travelers through a digital tourism program that is a collaboration among our new media start-up, InnoPub, our main partner Smart Communications, Inc., and the local governments of Cebu Province and Argao.

Our digital tourism project comes in three components. It involves a web-based guide to Argao, mobile application format, and markers placed on historical and heritage structures. The markers carry quick response codes which allows guests to download more information when scanned with a smartphone or tablet. The guide, web-based an app versions, lists all places and activities of interest in the town.

The project was launched Friday at Argao’s historic “cabecera” or town center, with Cebu Gov. Hilario “Junjun” Davide, Argao Mayor Edsel Galeos, and PLDT-Smart public affairs head Mon Isberto in attendance.

If you ever find yourself going around the town, we have a quick guide accessible at argao.myguide.ph, mobile app for Android devices that can be downloaded at Google Play, and QR code markers placed on important structures within the “cabecera de Argao.”

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Bathalad, InnoPub Media launch free Bisaya poetry e-book

Literary group Bathalad Inc. and journalism start-up InnoPub Media have released an e-book anthology of Cebuano poems for smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

Literary group Bathalad Inc. and journalism start-up InnoPub Media have released an e-book anthology of Cebuano poems for smartphones, tablets and e-readers.

“Skina Balak” can be downloaded for free from certain websites, including MyCebu, and through QR or quick response code scanning of posters and offline download stations.

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Royal Typewriter: Small, compact and efficient writing machine

Cebu Daily News publisher Eileen Mangubat used this typewriter before she became Sun.Star news editor. She then passed it on to Edralyn Benedicto, a Sun.Star reporter at the time, who…

Cebu Daily News publisher Eileen Mangubat used this typewriter before she became Sun.Star news editor. She then passed it on to Edralyn Benedicto, a Sun.Star reporter at the time, who gave it up when the paper shifted to computers.

On this typewriter, Mangubat wrote stories about the abduction of Fr. Rudy Romano, the fall of the Marcos regime and various key events of Cebu’s recent history.

This typewriter was a second-hand unit purchased by Sun.Star in the eighties. Pachico A. Seares bought it when the company disposed of its typewriters with the advent of PCs in its old newsroom at the leased building on Osmeña Blvd., Cebu City.

Play the video below to listen to Mangubat talk about how it was to write news stories on a typewriter.

Play the video below to listen to Mangubat reminisce about stories she wrote on this typewriter.

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Cebu Pacific takes university students on ‘ultimate Backpacker Challenge’

Attention adventure-loving university students! Pack your bags and prepare for the ultimate travel adventure, courtesy of the country’s largest airline. Cebu Pacific invites college students who are passionate about traveling…

Attention adventure-loving university students! Pack your bags and prepare for the ultimate travel adventure, courtesy of the country’s largest airline. Cebu Pacific invites college students who are passionate about traveling to join the Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge, a five-day cross-country adventure competition from August 29 to September 2, 2012.

The Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge brings 5 teams of 3 university students to six exciting and scenic destinations all over the Philippines. Armed with P30,000 in cash, the teams get to test their resourcefulness and adventurous spirit in select Philippine destinations, with some challenges along the way. The team that gets to do the most number of challenges in each destination and ends up with the most travel savings wins the challenge. To join, teams composed of three college students who are 18 years old and above must submit a video that showcases their love for travel and adventure. Entries must answer the question: “How far will your team go for a fun adventure?”

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