Cebu News Digest: March 24, 2015: 6 armed men rob P1.9M from bingo club; Police to heighten security during Holy Week; Concreting of A.S. Fortuna St. to be completed on May 26

In less than 25 minutes under broad daylight, six armed men robbed an electronic bingo outlet in City Time Square on Mantawi Drive in Mandaue City.

The Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) 7 announced that the concreting in A.S. Fortuna Street will be completed on May 26.

Expecting rise of local and foreign tourists in Bantayan Island and of workers going home to their provinces during Holy Week, the Cebu Provincial Police Office (CPPO) will set up measures to heighten security during that period.

Here are the top stories for today, March 24, 2015:

E-Bingo Club robbery an inside job?

After robbing E-Bingo Club in the City Time Square yesterday afternoon, six armed men fled on board two motorcycles, carting away almost P2 million in cash.

E-Bingo Club
The E-Bingo Club in City Time Square along Mantawi Drive in Mandaue City was robbed last night by six armed men. (Photo taken from City Time Square Facebook page)

Part of the cash (P1.156 million) came from the club’s vault and the rest from the club’s income for three days (P794,137).

The robbers had locked the seven employees of the club—the security guard, two cashiers, gaming head and three attendants—inside the comfort room. One of the robbers carried a .45 pistol while another carried a KG9 pistol.

Then they fled in the direction of Barangay Subangdaku.

The police received a call for help at 2:14 p.m. Because the robbery looked thoroughly planned, they are not discounting the possibility that someone working inside the bingo place may be involved with the robbers.

CPPO to deploy more police personnel

The CPPO will deploy 120 police personnel in Bantayan Island during the Holy Week due to the increase in the number of tourists going there.

They are also bracing for traffic problems with workers expected to go home to their provinces during the period. Traffic problems may also come in the form of some other towns having activities along the highway during the Holy Week.

“We discourage activities that are done along the highway kay makapasamot sa traffic.” — CPPO Director Senior Superintendent Noel Gillamac

Several factors delay road concreting on A.S. Fortuna Street

Since February 15 last year, commuters and motorists have endured the traffic caused by the ongoing road concreting along A.S. Fortuna Street.

But it wouldn’t be long, as DPWH 7 announced that the concreting in A.S. Fortuna Street will finish on May 26.

“Our construction has been delayed because our work during the day is sometimes being cut due to the heavy volume of vehicles passing by.” — DPWH 7 Project Inspector engineer Reymond Catalunia

Another cause for the delay is the movement of pipes owned by the Metropolitan Cebu Water District (MCWD) to safer ground to ensure that water supply in Cebu City and some parts of Mandaue City is not cut off.

TOP CEBU HEADLINES. The front pages of Cebu's 3 English dailies.
TOP CEBU HEADLINES. The front pages of Cebu’s 3 English dailies.

Other Cebu News stories:

Sun.Star Cebu: Scholars’ TOR ‘held hostage’

The Freeman: Money behind killing of high school student?

The Freeman: Five men face robbery charges

Sun.Star Cebu: Informer, quick texts helped police capture 7 robbery suspects in 3 towns

Cebu Business headlines:

Sun.Star Cebu: SMEs paired with potential buyers in DTI’s speed matching event

The Freeman: Revisions in certification scheme to affect PS license holders – DTI


Boljoon ready for tourists during Holy Week break

If you’re planning a Cebu trip during the Holy Week break and feel that the holiday island of Bantayan will be too crowded, you might want to consider Boljoon and its neighboring towns in your travel itinerary.

Many tourists now consider Boljoon as an alternative Cebu destination during the Lenten season, Mayor Merlou Derama said.

It is not difficult to see why. Boljoon sits, like a postcard picture, on a narrow strip of land between the towering green mountainsides and bright blue seas.

Travelers come across Boljoon when the coastal road makes a sharp turn along a colossal promontory that hides the town from view. Boljoanons consider this natural rock formation one of the town’s landmarks and call it Ili Rock.

boljoon cebu
Boljoon sits, like a postcard picture, on a narrow strip of land between the mountain and the sea.

I’ve been to Boljoon several times but I’m never tired of the sight that greets me when our vehicle completes that bend in the road. From that spot some distance away from the town center, Boljoon is laid out in a picturesque marriage of land, sea, and mountain.

The town is also a jump-off point for travel to the nearby towns of Oslob with its whale shark watching attraction as well as Samboan and Santander, which are the last two towns south of Cebu island.

Boljoon attractions

This southeastern town was a prime target of Moro attacks in the early 17th up to the 19th century possibly in retaliation to Spain’s attempt to conquer and subjugate Mindanao, according to Paul Gerschwiler in his book “Bolhoon: A Cultural Sketch”.

He said one destructive raid that occurred in 1782 reduced the town to ashes – its houses and church burned – and prompted a Spanish priest assigned to the parish in 1802 to organize a proper defense system against the Moros.

boljoon church
The Patrocinio de Maria Church in Boljoon, completed in 1841, served both as place of worship and fortress during the Moro sieges.

The priest’s name was Fr. Julian Bermejo and he was behind many of the Spanish colonial structures that have become major Boljoon travel attractions.

These centuries-old buildings, located within the Parish Complex, are enclosed by almost intact ancient stone fortifications and include the Patrocinio de Maria Church, El Gran Baluarte, and rectory. Also worth visiting are the old cemetery walls and gate, American era edifice called Escuela Catolica, Plaza Bermejo, and museum.

Farther away from the town center, there are 19th century houses, an old spring called Baño sa Poblacion, and baluartes (watchtowers).

For more information about the town and its many attractions, we have a mobile web guide to the town as

Boljoon resorts

When it comes to accommodations, the town has a choice of seaside resorts and inns as well mountain retreats.

Many of these places are just by the sea or near it. They are affordable and easily accessed from the coastal road that runs through Boljoon.

Escuela Catolica
Escuela Catolica

Club Fort Med is nestled between the mountain and the sea. It is a combination of fine white sand, lush gardens, and quaint cottages on a hectare of seaside land. There is also the Granada beach house, which is an eight-bedroom rustic property set atop a cliff with a 180-degree view of Boljoon’s seas.

Since the beach is located about a kilometer from the main road and reached through a narrow winding road, it is secluded and very private.

Noordzee Hostel offers both budget rooms that appeal to backpackers. On its rooftop is the Noordzee Restobar which serves Dutch cuisine.

Palanas Farm and Resort distinguishes itself by its location, which is not by the seaboard but in a tranquil valley of the rural town. Getting to this mountain retreat is through a well-paved mountain road. For a list of more places to stay in Boljoon and what they have to offer, go to


Cebuanos go on Visita Iglesia or beach trips during Holy Week

For Christian Catholics in Cebu, the Holy Week celebration entails a long break from work.

Spanish period church in Argao. Click to enlarge.

In keeping with the solemnity of the week, many Catholics go on a “Visita Iglesia,” a religious practice that involves visiting seven churches on Maundy Thursday.

In Cebu City, there are a lot of churches that can be included in a Visita Iglesia. Among these religious structures are centuries-old churches built during the 18th century.

Cebu City’s heritage of churches include the Basilica Minore del Sto. Niño, the oldest founded in the Philippines, and the Cebu Metropolitan Cathedral. Here’s a listing of Cebu City churches that can be made part of a Visita Iglesia.

Many cities and towns outside of Cebu City also have their own Spanish period churches and a Visita Iglesia can double as a religious practice and a revisiting of Cebuano’s Spanish heritage.

Southern churches of Cebu bear various architectural influences such as Graeco-Roman, Gothic, and Baroque, among others. A Visita Iglesia of churches can be done with a guide or without. Churches in the towns and cities of the province are located at the town or city center, which is easily accessible by buses that ply the southern route on a regular basis.

The younger crowd hits the beach during the long Holy Week break from work. They have a variety of Cebu white sand beaches to choose from. Cebu’s smaller islands like Bantayan and Camotes are popular destinations of young people.