Expect heavy traffic in Cebu City starting at noon today for this afternoon’s Sinulog 2015 launching parade. Early yesterday morning, Cebu saw the “biggest and most attended Walk with Jesus,” which surprised church officials who expected attendance to be affected by the upcoming visit of Pope Francis.
In Mandaue, meanwhile, traffic officials said they have been called out by the public works department for allowing tricycles on national highways. They will discuss with drivers and operators possible route changes when tricycles are barred from national highways.
Here are today’s top news stories in Cebu:
Cebu City roads closed today for Sinulog launching parade
Both lanes of Osmeña Blvd. will be closed to vehicles this afternoon for the Sinulog launching parade that will start at the Basilica del Sto. Niño until Fuente-Osmeña. Traffic enforcers will close the roads by noon until the last contingent enters the Cebu City Sports Center.
The launch will start with a mass at the basilica at 2 p.m. to be followed by the parade at 3 p.m.
Drivers should follow traffic advisories and take alternate routes to ease traffic, said Citom Operations Chief Jonathan Tumulak. He said enforcers will be deployed along the route to guide drivers and communters.
“Let’s all be patient and keep cool to avoid trouble on the road.” — Citom Operations Chief Jonathan Tumulak
Thursday morning’s Walk with Jesus procession was the biggest so far since Fr. Jonas Mejares became rector of the Basilica del Sto. Niño de Cebu. He said it was the “most attended religious opening salvo” he attended.
The “Walk with Jesus” procession is a penitential walk while also serving as the opening of the religious activities of the annual Fiesta Señor.
“Ang Facebook ug ang lain matang sa social media grasya gikan sa Ginoo busa gamiton nato sa maayong pamaagi.” — Fr. Jonas Mejares during sermon, after which he sang “The Impossible Dream.”
Sr. Supt. Conrad Capa, officer-in-charge of the Cebu City Police Office, said 27,000 people joined the procession. He said 29,000 devotees were already in the basilica adding up to 56,000 devotees.
No more tricycles in Mandaue national highways soon
Mandaue City tricycles will soon be barred from plying national highways, according to Traffic Enforcement Agency of Mandaue (Team) head Edwin Ermac.
Ermac said Mandaue City has been called out by the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) for allowing tricycles on national highways. These include M.L. Quezon St., M.C. Briones St., Hernan Cortes St., A.S. Fortuna St. and Plaridel St.
“Sige na og pressure nato ang DPWH nga dili na paagian og tricycles ang national highways.” — Team head Edwin Ermac Ermac.
A 2007 memorandum by the Department of Interior and Local Government banned tricycles and pedicabs on “national highways utilized by four-wheel vehicles greater than four tons and where normal speed exceeds 40 kilometers per hour.”
Ermac said they will change routes of jeepneys and as soon as the routes have been finalized, tricycles will be limited to interior roads.
DPWH to finish temporary steel bridge in Dumlog before Sinulog
If things go as planned, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 will be able to install today the rest of the materials needed for the steel bridge to temporarily connect Dumlog, Sibonga to Argao.
But DPWH 7 maintenance division chief Elvis Calunod said that if materials and the rest of the equipment will not arrive today, the temporary bridge will only have one lane. Dumlog Bridge, which connects Sibonga and Argao, collapsed during tropical storm Seniang.
“It’s an honor for Cebu nga kita ang nabuhat. Ni-participate gyud ang mga Cebuanos sa pagbisita ni Pope. Sama ra nga niapil gyud ta sa iyang misa,” — Jennifer Lunod, customer service manager of Mehitabel Inc.
The Cebu City Tourism Council (CCTC) will declare September as Tourism Month. The city will hold shopping festivals that will offer bargains similar to the annual Black Friday sale in the US.
CCTC will also launch next week a new tourism campaign called Lakbay Lingaw or Fun Travel to showcase the various aspects of the city’s tourism from shopping to history and culture and eco-tourism.
“Bohol, Palawan and Camarines Sur are doing a lot to promote their respective destinations and if we don’t come up with coordinated efforts and fail to align our directions we will lose our spot as prime tourism destination.” — Cebu City Tourism Council chairperson Tetta Baad
A town mayor has asked for Capitol’s help to build dikes to prevent flooding in low-lying areas. Other mayors of towns affected by Seniang also sought help in rehabilitation. The Cebu City Government, meanwhile, extended help not only to Cebu towns affected by the storm but to 2 cities in Samar.
Here are today’s top Cebu news stories:
Mayor asks Capitol: Give us dams
Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III asked Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III and legislators to help them build dikes in rivers to prevent floods in low-lying areas.
Davide met yesterday with mayors of towns in southern Cebu that were affected by tropical storm Seniang. When Seniang hit southern Cebu in the last days of 2014, 17 persons died, 14 of them in Ronda.
The mayors also sought the governor’s help in the rehabilitation of houses and dealing with sinkholes.
Davide said he will ask the Department of Public Works and Highways and the Cebu Provincial Engineering Office to study where they can build river dikes.
Sun.Star Cebu said the mayors who attended the meeting included Blanco, Raymond Joseph Calderon of Samboan, Verna Magallon of Alegria, Beatriz Caburnay of Alcantara, Teresito Mariñas of Barili and Inocentes Cabaron of Moalboal.
Sun.Star Cebu also reported that as of yesterday, 148 houses were destroyed and 449 houses damaged by Seniang in Alcantara, Barili, Dumanjug, and Ronda.
Cebu City sets aside P1.8 million to help areas hit by Seniang
The Cebu City Council yesterday approved P1.8 million as financial assistance to Dumanjug, Alcantara, Ronda, and Sibonga in Cebu, Catbalogan City in Samar and Borongan City in Eastern Samar. Each local government unit will get P300,000.
The financial assistance for Catbalogan and Boronggan will not be released yet since the resolution by the Cebu City Disaster Risk Reduction Management Council recommended only the P1.2 million in assistance to the four southern Cebu towns.
Councilor Alvin Dizon said that although he has no objections to helping the cities of Catbalogan and Borongan, there should be guidelines on when the City can send assistance to local government units outside Cebu.
“I’m surprised! Nakakatuwa naman the City of Cebu extended help to us. It’s really a big help and it shows that the city has a big and generous heart for areas affected by the typhoon.” — Catbalogan City Mayor Stephany Uy-Tan in an interview with The Freeman.
Issue on two-thirds vote definition stops council from overriding Rama’s veto of SRP sports hub
The question on what constitutes a two-thirds vote stopped the Cebu City Council from overriding yesterday the veto by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama of an ordinance setting aside 10.6 hectares of the South Road Properties for a sports hub.
Councilors Eugenio Gabuya Jr., Mary Ann delos Santos, Hanz Abella, Alvin Dizon, Lea Japson, Nida Cabrera, Sisinio Andales, Margarita Osmeña, Roberto Cabarrubias, Nestor Archival and Alvin Arcilla voted to overturn Rama’s veto.
But Council presiding officer and Cebu City Vice Mayor Edgardo Labella said one more vote was needed to override the veto, citing a 2001 DILG legal opinion. Gabuya, however, disagreed and cited a 2007 legal opinion to back him up.
The council agreed seek the legal opinion of the DILG and pending that, suspend the implementation of the ordinance
It is difficult to understand why a city that keeps bloating its budget with unnecessary cash doleouts would have to fund those unnecessary doleouts with more taxes. The more sensible and practical thing to do would have been to scrap those unnecessary cash doleouts altogether. After all, the only purpose they really served was to win pogi points for city officials and nothing else. — Editorial, The Freeman, Jan. 8, 2015
Cebu Business Stories
Local governments told to streamline permit renewal process
Business owners in Cebu are calling on local governments to streamline the annual renewal of business permits and licenses and cut down the red tape.
Filipino-Cebuano Business Club Inc. president Rey Calooy said procedures in getting and renewing permits should be standardized in all local governments.
“Gawas sa local taxes, naa pay fees for sanitary bisan way klaro ang [garbage] collection. Every step naay bayad.” — Rey Calooy
Cebu Business Month organizers start finalizing events
Overall chairman Francis Dy says this year’s celebration has “Glocalized Cebu” as theme and continues last year’s efforts to help businesses prepare for the Asean Economic Community (AEC).
He said CBM will be a platform for local companies to network with local and global companies to grab opportunities when the AEC takes full affect by yearend. (Sun.Star Cebu story)
“I was hesitant to accept it. I knew that it would take up almost 100 percent of my time from the business. But I saw the sincerity and that she needed someone to help out.” — Francis Dy on being asked by CCCI president Ma. Teresa Chan to chair this year’s CBM.
Sinulog organizers say the visit by Pope Francis next week will impact Sinulog attendance. Those in Luzon or Leyte would likely attend papal visit activities rather than fly to Cebu for the Sinulog. Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama and some local government and church officials, however, still talk up hopes for the pope to swing by Cebu.
Meanwhile, another public official has been shot dead in an ambush. Here are the top stories in Cebu’s papers today, January 7, 2015.
Organizers see fewer people attending Sinulog but expect more contingents joining festivities
Sinulog organizers expect fewer people to attend Sinulog activities because of Pope Francis’ visit to Manila and Tacloban starting next week. On top of the papal visit, many flights have been cancelled because Manila has been declared a no-fly zone at certain hours when Pop Francis will arrive on January 15 and leave on January 19.
Sinulog Foundation Inc. Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros said many in Luzon and Leyte will choose to join activities with the Pope in Manila or in Tacloban rather than head to Cebu for the Sinulog since the visit is a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.”
“Affected gyud ang Sinulog ani (in terms of number of people) because they are torn between two big events… Those from Luzon, Manila and Leyte might decide to attend the Pope’s activities instead,” — Sinulog Foundation Inc. Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros during the Association of Government Information Officers forum.
Ballesteros said that as of January 6, 36 contingents have confirmed joining the grand parade. They expect the number to increase to 45 next week, more than last year’s 42 contingents.
Ballesteros said the history of Cebu will be told in the grand finale performance.
“Sinulog is Cebu. Let us defend, protect and contribute to its success. To all the undesirables, please take a leave and be spiritual instead. Attend all the religious activities at the basilica,” — Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama
Mayor Rama still hopes Pope Francis will visit Cebu
Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama said he still hopes Pope Francis will visit Cebu, which he repeatedly pointed out as the cradle of Christianity in the Philippines. The city is also “very near” Tacloban City, which the pope will visit.
“I can’t understand why the Pope can’t drop by Cebu. I don’t understand why such an arrangement can’t be done and Manila is being highlighted. But let’s continue to pray,” — Mayor Michael Rama
A barangay captain of Toledo City was shot dead Tuesday at 9:30 a.m. while driving his Ford Everest SUV on the national highway after dropping off his children at school.
Timoteo Largo, 65, died in a ditch where he was gunned down allegedly by Dionesio Juarez. Largo is the barangay captain of Cambang-ug, Toledo City. Juarez, on the other hand, was identified as a member of Civil Service Unit (CSU) of the Toledo City Hall and a police asset.
Toledo City Police Chief Ricky Delelis told Sun.Star Cebu they are considering 2 motives for the attack: 1) Largo’s refusal to accept illegal drugs payment and 2) Largo’s refusal to allow Juarez to be part of the sand and gravel business in the barangay.
“Istoryahan nato ni, pre (Let’s talk about this).” Timoteo Largo to Dionesio Juarez shortly before the killing.
DSWD says Ronda mayor turned down offer to provide relief goods before Seniang
DSWD 7 Assistant Director Shailane Marie Lucero said they offered to supply relief goods to Ronda before Tropical Storm Seniang made landfall but Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III wanted these only after the storm.
Lucero said they could not distribute the relief goods because they needed a signed request from Mayor Blanco since all calamity-related expenses of DSWD are subject to audit. The goods would have been delivered immediately had the mayor signed the letter
“We are only following the law, otherwise we will go to jail.” — DSWD 7 Assistant Director Shailane Marie Lucero
Local retailers are asking for “special non-discriminatory locations” and special rates for businesses located in Mandaue and Cebu Cities. Philippine Retailers Association (PRA) – Cebu Chapter president Robert Go said this would help local retailers reeling from the challenges of the dominance by global brands of the market.
“Many of our home grown retailers are helpless and have nowhere to go, either deteriorating or are running out of business, being too dependent on malls,” — Robert Go.
Cebu Provincial Government tourism consultant Patria Aurora Roa has reported strong demand for the “Suroy-Suroy sa Sugbo” program for the southern part of the province. She said the southern leg will have new destinations such as the Aguinid Falls in Samboan and Mainit Spring in Malabuyoc.
The Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas has asked municipal health officers to monitor water sources to make sure these have not been contaminated by damage wrought by Tropical Storm Seniang. Yesterday, 2 fires hit Metro Cebu, destroying 11 houses in Cebu City and damaging 1 in Lapu-Lapu City. Also yesterday, Capitol said it will be donating P1 million to the Sinulog Foundation for the holding of the country’s grandest festival. Pit senyor, indeed!
Here’s our roundup of the top Cebu news stories coming out in today’s papers:
Need for clean water in south Cebu urgent
The Manila Water consortium, which has a joint venture with the Cebu Provincial Government to pursue the Cebu Bulk Water Project, sent a mobile water treatment plant to Alcantara on Monday. That plant can transform murky stream water into potable water by 1,500 to 3,000 liters of per hour, according to a report by Sun.Star Cebu: Need for clean water urgent.
Officials are worried damages caused by Seniang might include contamination of water sources.
Mandaue City Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Felix Suico said they have deployed a tanker to be filled with 50,000 to 75,000 liters of water in Moalboal for delivery to Ronda, which was badly damaged by Seniang.
Cebu Provincial Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Office head Baltazar Tribunalo Jr. said that there are now four water treatment systems in place in the south. On top of that, Dr. Expedito Medalla of DOH-Central Visayas said he and his staff will be with other government officials to distribute 350 jerry cans in Sibonga, Dumanjug, Alcantara and Ronda. Each can hold up to 20 liters of water, he said.
Start of classes brings, what else, heavy traffic!
The first day of class after the Christmas break was peaceful but the sudden influx of vehicles caused heavy traffic, an official told The Freeman.
Traffic Operations Management Operations Chief Jonathan Tumulak, however, told The Freeman they were able to manage the heavy traffic even during the peak hours. He particularly pointed out the Banilad-Talamban corridor as experiencing heavy traffic from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m.
“Tanan nag-expect na gyud nga ma-traffic ta kay ting klase na, ting-uli from the province, and ting-trabaho na,” — Cebu City Traffic Operations Management Operations Chief Jonathan Tumulak.
DPWH promises to complete steel bridge connecting Argao, Sibonga in 2 weeks
Public works officials said they are working to complete a temporary 2-lane steel bridge to reconnect Dumlog, Sibonga and Argao in 2 weeks. DPWH 7 Director Ador Canlas said the bridge panels are already at the site and the other components will be transported to Cebu from Cagayan de Oro City soon.
“We hope we can reopen the bridge to traffic before the Sinulog celebration,” he said.
Cebu 2nd District Representative Wilfredo Caminero, on the other hand, is asking that huge trucks be banned from using alternate roads on part of the so-called vegetable highway connecting Mompeller, Argao and Papan, Sibonga. He described the passage as in “critical situation” due to continuous rain and the passage of big trucks. (The Freeman: Caminero: Bar huge trucks from using alternate roads)
11 houses destroyed in 2 fires that hit Cebu City, Lapu-Lapu City
11 houses were destroyed in a fire at an interior portion of Barangay Capitol Site yesterday morning. Firefighters reportedly had a hard time getting to the scene because of a creek. The 20-minute fire caused an estimate P250,000 in damage to properties. The Freeman quoted Senior Fire Officer 3 Roylin Maratas as speculating that lighted candles children in the area were playing with may have started the fire.
“Duna ta nadawat na information na magsige gyud ni sila og duwa og kandila. Kon biyaan ni sila sa ilang mga ginikanan,” — Senior Fire Officer 3 Roylin Maratas.
Capitol to donate P1 million to Sinulog Foundation
Cebu Governor Hilario Davide III yesterday said the Cebu Provincial Government will be donating P1 million to the Sinulog Foundation as financial assistance for the holding of the Philippines’ grandest festival. Sinulog Foundation executive director Ricky Ballesteros had sought the governor’s help. (Sun.Star Cebu: Sinulog body to get P1M)
Benedicto company to launch BPO building this year
Cebu-based Enrison Land Inc., the company behind the Be Resorts hotel brand, will be launching a business process outsourcing or BPO building this year in the IT Park. The company recently announced expansion plans for Be Resorts.
“Cebu is growing fast and we’d like to be part of such strong growth.” — Managing Director Enrilen Joy Benedicto said.
Feng Shui ‘expert’ sees rosy economic prospects for Philippines
Feng shui and astrology expert Hanz Cua told the The Freeman that the Year of the Wooden Sheep, which will begin on the Chinese New Year on February 19, will be “more prosperous, quiet and relaxed compared to previous years.”
With the ASEAN integration, Cua says economic relations among member countries will be more prosperous.
“2015 is also a good year to start a business for start-ups. The Philippine economy will be busier this year. Dahil paakyat yung ating economy, may job offers para sa mga walang trabaho.” — Feng shui and astrology expert Hanz Cua
Vice President Jejomar Binay and the impact of the bridge damaged by Seniang dominate today’s news. With Sinulog fast approaching, stories on the festival are also becoming prominent including one about a “massive operation” against erring drivers as one way to deal with the traffic that comes with the event. Sinulog Foundation Executive Director Ricky Ballesteros also pledged that there won’t be an increase in the prices of Sinulog tickets.
Binay gives out food, cash aid in Seniang-hit towns
Vice President Jejomar Binay on Sunday visited towns hit the worst by Seniang and distributed 7,500 food packs to affected families. He also gave out cash aid to the families of those who died during the storm, saying he will still see if he can extend a similar assistance to other victims.
Binay also went to the wake of the seven members of Bajenting-Faunillan family in Barangay Liboo, Ronda. The family members died when flashfloods swept their home at the height of Seniang. A two-year-old and a one-month-old child are still missing.
“Dagdagan pa ninyo ang inyong pananampalataya sa ating Mahal na Panginoon. Hindi Niya tayo pababayaan,” Vice President Jejomar Binay speaking in Ronda town.
For thousands of commuters in south Cebu, returning back to Metro Cebu today for work or classes will be slow and difficult. Travel in the south has been complicated by the collapse of the Dumlog Bridge in Sibonga at the height of tropical Seniang five days ago.
A temporary road in Barangays Lindogon and Simala that can accommodate trucks and buses has been opened starting Sunday but only from 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Since it is not open in the morning, bus passengers will have to get off at one end of the bridge, cross to the other side on foot or by motorcycle and take another bus there.
“We are trying our best to find another path,” said Cebu Provincial Information Officer Ethel Natera.
During his visit, Vice President Binay promised to urge Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) Secretary Rogelio Singson to fast-track work on the Dumlog Bridge. (Sun.Star Cebu: Temp road for trucks opens)
Classes resume today for all but three schools in Southern Cebu that sustained damages during tropical storm Seniang.
A landslide has rendered the way to the Calagasan National High School in Argao impassable, while classrooms were damaged in two Pinamungajan elementary schools – Tupas and Lut-old – after trees fell on them. The Department of Education (DepEd) has granted the request of Argao to suspend classes for one week in Calagasan. (The Freeman: Longer break for 3 schools)
DSWD hit for failing to extend help
In Ronda, which was badly hit by Seniang, the mayor wants to know why the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) has failed to extend help to storm survivors. Not a single food pack has arrived for Seniang survivors in Ronda, the mayor said, adding he expected the DSWD to help calamity victims.
“There is not even a single family food pack that arrived from DSWD to alleviate the suffering of my people. Where are the DSWD officials now?” — Ronda Mayor Mariano Blanco III. (Sun.Star Cebu: Mayor asks: Where’s DSWD’s help?)
On the business front, Cebu’s premier business organization looks back at 2014 while a Cebu Bankers Club official dispenses sound advice for local banks.
2014 another banner year for CCCI
When it comes to meeting goals, 2014 was another banner year of the Cebu Chamber of Commerce and Industry (CCCI). CCCI president Ma. Teresa Chan said the chamber has come to represent the voice of the business community. (Sun.Star Cebu: CCCI now ‘important voice’)
Local banks told: Merge with foreign, other banks
“Foreign banks are interested to operate and open branches here. The implication of that for local banks is either you merge with bigger (local) banks if you’re quite small or you can merge with foreign banks (…) If you’re small and you don’t have the technology, merge with them,” — Cebu Bankers Club president Gino Gonzales told smaller local banks. (Sun.Star Cebu: Merge with other banks to stay competitive: officer)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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 Cebu: 4 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.
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)
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.
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.
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’)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 Basement 1 of Ayala’s expansion wing, displays its items by categories: poultry, meat, seafood, dairy, grains, pasta and the like.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.