Anytime is always a good time to come to Bohol. But for sheer excitement and unending doses of fun, pleasure and remembrance, nothing beats going there during TBTK. That triennial event in July when Bohol spreads the red carpet for homecoming overseas Boholanos for 2 glorious weeks of sun, sea, sights and other pleasures of one’s design and inclination.
Of the past three TBTKs, the most memorable for me – and doubtless to many attendees – was the one in 2006. We – my entire family, plus a few friends – had barely landed in Manila after a long and boring flight when the merriment started, setting the pace and tone of the pleasures that awaited us in Tagbilaran.
Hon. Lito Atienza,then Mayor of Manila, gave us a warm welcome at the City Hall and presented us the symbolic key to his City. Mr.Atienza, a true friend of Bohol, lauded the visiting Boholanos for their solidarity thru the TBTK and went out of his way entertaining us. He and his lady, Beng, treated us to a unique cultural show and even brought us to the best bargain centers in Manila.
Even Malacanang Palace opened its doors to us although we didn’t get to meet the President who was away on a State Visit at the time.
Day 1 in Tagbilaran, we of the TBTK Youth met up with our local counterpart – the SK’s- led by John Torralba who organized the whole week activities. A bunch of the coolest kids in that side of the Chocolate Hills, who was to host us in the delicate process of re-acquainting us to our roots and culture. So also to familiarize us with the scenic wonders of our parents’ birthplace. Our hosts had a theme for the program: Extreme Bohol, and boy, did they mean it!
The first order of the day was, wouldn’t you know? Lunch. At the Governor’s Mansion no less. But the lunch was anything but… For it turned out to be a full blown feast partaken to the pulsating beat of a live band!
After the feast, we were herded off to Maribojoc town for kayaking and repelling at the Abatan River. But first, this being Bohol, the heartland of Filipino hospitality, we had to have another meal, local officials insisted. So off we cruised along idyllic Abatan River on a floating restaurant with tables groaning with every Boholano delicacy imaginable – from the fattest crabs in God’s creation to the gooey, gravity defying kalamay.
Amazingly, we survived the pig out and we finally got around to making our first adventure of the day.
I am telling you, there is nothing more exhilarating and adrenalin inducing than kayaking and repelling under an unspoiled setting and natural conditions. It’s a more intense high than one gets doing them at some commercialized theme park under a controlled environment. The experience sharpens your natural survival instincts. As well as instills focus and concentration on an otherwise stagnant mind and body.
Repelling off Abatan Bridge to the cheers by peers and newfound friends did wonders for me. Whose intense fear of heights was once thought to be incurable. Under orders to bring flashlights (largely unheeded, to our great regret later), we set out early the next day for Bilar. For cave exploration, or spelunking, as the sport is properly called. Regardless, we TBTK youths caved in to its more popular local name: “caving” -an extreme sport that’s not for the faint hearted or for the claustrophobic.
Split into groups, we were tasked to map out an assigned cave and come out all in one piece. To enter the cave’s narrow mouth, one has to be either a contortionist or made out of elastic material. It was an almost impossible feat that me and my team miraculously pulled off only largely through our wits and prayer. Also because of our teams adventurous nature, I guess.
As we wiggled deeper into the recesses of the caves, each chamber got more intricate and tangled. We realized a very real fear of losing our way out and be forever consigned to spend the rest of our lives as a cave dweller! It was eerie and dark inside but what really spooked us was the sudden presence of a swarm of bats hovering just inches above our heads!! Only after screaming ourselves silly did the bats scamper away.
So extreme was our cave adventure that some of the teams balked at it. We found them huddled at the mouth of a mother cave when we emerged triumphant later.
The day ended with another adventure that was literally a walk in the woods. We went on a treasure hunt through a protected forest. With instructions to bring back a “treasure” in the form of any living inhabitant of the woods. It was unbelievable what most of us brought back. It was childish fun as we indulged in all kinds of competitions involving our “treasures.”
We continued discovering interesting places in the following days. One of them was the Bohol Bee Farm, a healthy haven of all things organic – from brick oven baked camote bread to hilot, a traditional form of body massage common in the Visayas region. An organic massage? Yes, only in Bohol kids!
If we weren’t exploring the countryside, we frolicked in the sparkling white sand beaches or else treated ourselves to massages by itinerant masseuses plying their trade right on the shore. If that wasn’t living, I don’t know what is.
We also dutifully attended clan reunions and reconnected with long unseen relatives and met new ones. For some of us fortunate enough to have spent a brief part of our childhood in Tagbilaran before migrating in other lands (like my brother Bryan and me) we revisited familiar places and re-tasted the many local delicacies of our childhood. For some reason, they tasted better than I can remember.
Contrary to one of our worst fears before coming over, Tagbilaran does have an interesting nightlife. The clubs overflow with a hip crowd gyrating nightly to the sounds of one of the baaaadddest rock bands I’ve ever heard. Tagbilaran rocks in the real sense of the word.
Reading this far, you’d think all the TBTK youths did was indulge the senses. To some extent that’s true. But our sojourn also brought us a new level of awareness of life around us. We realized the fragility of our ecosystem and how we must do our bit in helping preserve the environment and conserve our threatened natural resources. Bohol is unbelievably blessed in natural beauty. It is attendant upon all Boholanos to help keep it whole and un-violated.
Our TBTK experience also enabled us in so many ways. It awoke us to our inner Bolanon-ness and gave us a fresh perspective and a deeper understanding of the Filipino culture, however alienated we may have become to it. It also taught us, from the many clan reunions we attended, the importance of family ties and how we must try to nurture and preserve them.
No less important, the TBTK youth also realized our responsibility towards our less fortunate brothers and how we must give back in any way we can to the community that helped nurture our dreams of migrating to other lands.
On one of our last days at the TBTK, we thought we would treat some100 kids to a Jolibee lunch and gave away much needed school supplies. It was all we could do in our own small way to express our thanks for an unforgettable two weeks of our young lives.
Now , lots of us are coming home this July. SK’s with Pres. Jane Cajes and our coordinator John Torralba and the rest of the vibrant members have a lot in store for us again. Me and my brother Brian never missed this event since 1999. I’m telling you, it’s worth coming home . Come join us ! July 16-26, 2009. (Maribeth V. Garcia)
Maribeth Veloso-Garcia, a young Boholana Nurse in New York, shown left to then Manila Mayor and now DENR Secretary Lito Atienza, with the Youth Balikbayans during the TBTK 2006 Global Homecoming. When the TBTK delegation paid a courtesy call to the Office of the Manila Mayor.
To those who have visited the tbtk.org website, the 3,000 colored pictures posted during the 2006 TBTK Global Homecoming were taken not by a Boholano, but by an American tourist. One of the many foreign tourists invited by our TBTK Chairperson, Betty Veloso-Garcia, to come to Bohol, Philippines for the two-week festivities, three years ago. As the cliché goes that pictures tell their story, ergo, the past 2006 TBTK celebration can be fittingly described only in one line statement – A Grand Success. Where everybody had a good time. Happy together. To return home after having been away for sometime. To meet long lost friends, relatives and the Boholano folks whom they have not seen for quite a while. The sheer enjoyment, the fellowship, the laughter reverberating everywhere, can’t be quantified and much more, not be valued with in terms of peso or dollar sign.
Be that as it may, we Boholanos owe much from our American friend for leaving us one treasured album, pro-bono or free of charge. It chronicled the sequence of events unfolding: From the arrival of Boholano balikbayan delegates in the nation’s capital of Manila on Day One, up to its culmination date in Tagbilaran City,Bohol, where lined-up activities and unscheduled happenings were almost non-stop.
Time flies so swiftly. Before we know it, another global homecoming among overseas and expatriate Boholanos is in the offing this year 2009. It is envisioned to be larger in participation, far more elaborate in its pomp, pageantry and revelry. The preparations are now feverish, as the countdown begins for the July TBTK schedule. While our campaign promotions encourage early registration of Boholanos abroad, guess who is the first person to sign up, pay the $100.00 fees and register his name as sure delegate to the TBTK July, 2009 in Bohol, Philippines? If you think he is a Boholano and one of our kind, think again. For lo and behold, he is our American buddy, Irving Spivey, who likes being referred to as an ” honorary Boholano”. a title accorded him by the TBTK movers, for his friendliness, untiring efforts and invaluable support extended to the cause of the Boholanos and the TBTK in particular.
Irving Spivey came to the Philippines in June,2006 as guest of Mrs. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, a Filipina lawyer-entrepreneur now residing in New York, a part of the Balik- Sorsogon tour package organized by Mrs. Lewis, during a fiesta celebration in their place in Sorsogon Province in Bicol Region. Her American husband, the late Reginald F. Lewis, acquired Beatrice International in December 1987 in a $985 million leveraged buyout, creating the largest African American owned company in the United States,according to Wikipedia file.Lewis has spoken to audiences around the US and the world to promote the biography of her late husband,titled Why Should White Guys Have All The Fun? and How Reginald Lewis Created a Billion Dollar Business Empire?
On the other hand, Mr. Spivey, a Respiratory Therapist by profession, is a personal friend of Mrs. Betty Veloso-Garcia,a Registered Nurse, for they happen to work together at the New York Downtown Hospital, before the former moved to San Francisco,CA. When informed of Irving’s scheduled Philippine trip, our TBTK Chair invited the American to extend his stay a couple of weeks longer.so he can join the TBTK entourage in Manila and be with them in their flight to Tagbilaran. where the TBTK funfare will be for 10 days straight.
Long after the TBTK 2006 has winded up, when all the Boholano balikbayans and expatriate workers now back in their overseas assignment, The Tigum Chair received a postal mail from Mr. Spivey who was profuse in his thanks. Here are some of his letter’s content and quote:
…”I would like to personally thank you and the people of Bohol for the warm welcome during our TBTK 2006 visit and making my vacation truly wonderful. I am impressed of your great place and people so that I now consider myself an Honorary Boholano, I will never forget the hospitality, the friendliness of the Boholanos. Please let everybody know how I enjoyed my stay there. I did not expect to be part of the Boholano balikbayan entourage to be welcomed no less by Manila Mayor Lito Atienza in his office and to witness the TBTK Chairperson presented with the symbolic key to the City of Manila by Mayor Atienza. We then proceeded to Malacanang Palace to meet the President. From thereon, the celebration became endless, the program of activities for the entire TBTK, simply fantastic – the parties and dancing, the Sandugo Festival, the School Reunions, the Beauty Pageant, the Recognition and Awards Nights, etc… It was a pleasure for me to meet all the Dignitaries, Politicians and VIPs. It was also gratifying to meet the people of Bohol in general- special mention to Betty’s Mom. I would like to thank everybody in Bohol for the memories which I will treasure. I took approximately 4000 pictures during the TBTK functions. The beauty of Bohol is in its natural wonders and in its people. To the people of Bohol, God bless you all and see you in TBTK 2009.”
Just recently, Irving Spivey visited our TBTK Chair in New York. While he was all praises for the TBTK and looking forward to his next Bohol visit, the conversation among two close friends caught the interest and attention of another Phil-am personality whose name is a byword in the US – Mrs. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, who was gracious enough to invite the two friends and play host to a dinner at the exclusive Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan , Mrs Lewis expressed interest in going to Bohol and be a part of the TBTK revelry. The kind of interest shared no less by the Philippine Ambassador to the United Nations, Hon. Hilario Davide, Philippine Consul General in New York, Hon. Cecilia Rebong, and NY Philippine Tourism Director Emma Ruth Yulo, who like Mr. Spivey, was also there in Bohol as part of the TBTK 2006 Global Homecoming.
In our recent TBTK press release posting we made mention that while our campaign promotions are gaining acceptance by foreign friends and dignitaries abroad, with more reasons for our Boholano brothers and sisters overseas. to take time and be home in July, 2009 for the Tigum Bol-anon, for this affair is intended for all of us. Ipakita Nga Garbo Nato Ang Atong Pagka Bol-anon. We urge all Boholanos at home, in the Philippines and abroad to be supportive of our TBTK’s Program of Activities. For the success of the TBTK 2009 will be the success of all Boholanos,who are now respected in our country and gaining admiration in workplaces abroad. Part of the TBTK success is the recognition bestowed to our island province of Bohol as among the best tourist destination site in the Philippines. A recognition bestowed no less by the Department of Tourism. (Douglas B. Hontanosas)
TBTK Chairperson, Mrs. Betty Veloso-Garcia, with American friend Irving Spivey, while treated to fine dining at the exclusive Harvard Club in midtown Manhattan by their gracious host, Mrs. Loida Nicolas-Lewis, a prominent Phil-Am personality in the U.S. and CEO of Beatrice TLC Company.
At this early, there are already Boholano families abroad, who are booking their flights to the Philippines in July this year. To attend their town’s fiesta celebration, a relative’s wedding, family or Class Reunion, to jibe with the TBTK Global Homecoming schedules from July 16-26, 2009.
Latest information from Libeth Lamdagan-Haron, a Boholana Nurse in Saudi Arabia and is TBTK’s Coordinator in the Middle East, the Galinato Clan will come up with their own Tigum Galinato Tibuok Kalibutan (TGTK) also scheduled in mid July in Bohol. Their family members, mostly Nurses and Medical professionals, can be likened to the posted Converse adline. They’re Everywhere. Be they in Canada, USA, Hongkong, Europe, the Arab world, Australia, the Galinato’s sons and daughters form part of the Globalization of the Boholanos. In search of greener pasture in foreign lands and better pay to practice their professions, as well as to earn a living for their family. Everybody is excited that the Galinato elders come up with the meeting of the minds. To hold a family reunion, where else but in the home-province where all of them came from – Bohol. To visit the five surviving children of the late spouses Faustino Galinato and Teofila Ampong who compose the family’s counsel of elders. They have their own calendar of activities for the Galinato family to attend, as well as their participation in the TBTK affair.. Libeth is an alumna of the Bohol Provincial Hospital Hygeians Class, where the TBTK Chair, Mrs. Betty Veloso-Garcia, also belongs.
The Ng-Moreno family now based in New Jersey will also be homeward bound to attend the church wedding of their daughter Michelle at the Saint Joseph’s Cathedral in Tagbilaran sometime in July. There will be 20 of their family members and friends who already have booked their flights from JFK International Airport in New York, all the way to Tagbilaran, to be there when Michelle Ng will walk down the aisle to meet her groom before the altar. One of Michelle’s aunts, Davida Estorosos-Ng, who also is the bride’s godmother and wedding sponsor, is a Nurse by profession and is connected with a county hospital in Carlson,California. Again, Dav is a BPHSN alumna and classmate of the TBTK Chair.
Also, Mr. and Mrs. Ric Borja and family of New Jersey will be there in Tagbilaran for the TBTK, just like in the past. According to the family’s patriarch, it is one occasion to meet long lost friends and relatives in Bohol as well as see first hand, the progress and development taking place in the land of our birth. Home, after all, according to Mr. Borja, is still the best place in the world. Ditto with the Madanguit family in Chicago. As well as the Balilihanons in America, whose town fiesta falls in the middle part of July.
To those who form part of the TBTK 2006 delegations, they are one in saying that they look forward to experience the pomp, pageantry and revelry never before seen in Bohol, come TBTK 2009. To those who remain undecided, mark your calendar from July 16-26,2009 red. Manguli Ta Sa Bohol Sa TBTK 2009. (Douglas B. .Hontanosas)
Boots Babushka impersonating Pilita Corales in the YouTube file
Most of us have heard of Rip Van Winkle, a literary character in English literature . As the story goes, Rip, while still in the flower of his youth, intoxicated by the wine that he drunk, fell into a deep sleep, or much more, a long deep slumber. That did not just last for a day or two. nor weeks and months or years . But for two decades even. Like a living dead placed in indefinite suspended hibernation. When he woke up, Rip thought that it was just the morning after. But to his great astonishment, he noticed that he is now in a different surrounding. His neighborhood that he was familiar with, no longer existed. Nor the crowd of people that he met everywhere. Everybody became a virtual stranger to him. Little did Rip Van Winkle know that twenty long years have already passed. For him, it has become a whole new world setting. Far beyond the pace and cadence of his generation and beyond the spectrum of his time, when he once was young. .
If you are amazed of Rip Van Winkle’s tale but would not believe, it is expected. For it is not a true to life story, just a figment of the imagination of the American author Washington Irving, who created this literary piece as a subject of class study and stage plays. However, the subject of our feature story, who bears a striking resemblance to Rip’s fairy tale classic, certainly, would fascinate its readers. Because it is for real. A factual event, a first person account, told no less to this writer. What more, he is a Boholano, like you and me. Unlike Rip Van Winkle, our actor is not a drunkard nor did not sleep for twenty years, but nevertheless, was detached of circulation and was away from home for, hold your breath, forty (40) years. A length of time twice more than that of Mr. Van Winkle’s hibernation. But just like Rip, after all these years, the feeling is mutual. For you will indeed be surprised of the changes taking place at home, after such a pretty long absence. Perhaps you will wonder, why it took this Boholano that long to be able to return to the island-province, where he saw the light of day. This, indeed is the reason why we come up with his story.
“ The farther you go away from me, the nearer is your return”, so said our teacher before in Logic, to explain a union of contradictory principle about the course-subject.
In a related development, Boots Babushka, our main character, left his hometown in Tubigon,Bohol at age 17 in 1966. Unable to finish High School, to seek fortune in Medina town, in far-away Mindanao. The only skill he has to make a living, is as a beautician, make-up artist, hair-dresser. He was all alone in his travel to the unknown. In an unchartered course he has never set foot before. In unexplored territory, where he is a virtual stranger. No friends nor relatives to keep company or to seek comfort with . After staying for sometime in Medina, Boots tried his luck in Cebu City.
Then to the national capital of Manila in 1969. Where he made a name for himself, associated with the craft he does best. Where he used to own and manage a Boutique that made his name a byword – Boots Babushka. Soon thereafter, he was rubbing elbows with Manila’s socialite, the high and the mighty, the rich and the celebrity, for 17 years – the entirety of his stay in the Metropolis. As a working student, Boots finished High School at the Far Eastern University and was taking up Mass Communications course in college up to third year. In 1985, at the height of the post-Aquino assassination and the political-economic instability of the country, brought about by the insistence of then President Ferdinand Marcos to hang on to power, he left for the United States as tourist.
The sudden demise of his 21 year old house-help from aneurism or banggungot, who died in his sleep, made him realized the shortness of man’s life. Boots just wanted to explore the horizon beyond our shores to make life fulfilling. Although duty-bound by US immigration laws to return home, yet, in due time, he was able to seek a work authorization permit and later on as recipient of a US Permanent Resident Card. That allowed him to settle down in the Big Apple. Finding his niche in Times Square, New York’s main thoroughfare and commercial hub. Eventually, in 1996,fulfilling his American Dream, this Bohol’s Pride took his oath as naturalized citizen of the United States of America.
The further this cosmopolitan Boholano or Boholana, who represents the third kind, traveled the world, nevertheless, it took him four decades, 40 years, or generations after, before he can make a turn-around, then be homeward bound to Bohol. To please a friend and client, Mrs. Betty Veloso-Garcia, who is at the helm of the campaign promotions for the TBTK Global Homecoming that unfolded in July 2006. What started as constant interaction and chatting among two good friends in a beauty saloon, soon made him decide to pack up his bags. Be part of the TBTK delegation, took that flight from JFK International Airport in New York. Then finally be destined to Bohol. This is Boots Babushka’s recollection, intended to inspire the Boholano readers stationed abroad, to mark their calendar red, on the dates of July 16-26,2009. So we will be seeing each other in Tagbilaran City, Bohol, for the most look forward event, the 4th staging of the TBTK 2009 Global Homecoming.
The name Boots Babushka, even then, is popular in Manila newspapers’ society page circle. The preferred hair-dresser of big stars and celebrities as Pilita Corales, Vilma Santos, Connie Reyes, the APO Hiking Society, Cocoy Laurel and his mom Celia, among others. Boots doesn’t just have the talent to beautify faces, but can also act, dance and sing. He can mimic and impersonate Pilita Corales to the hilt. That whenever the famous international Filipina entertainer is out of the country, Boots can take up Pilita’s gown, shoes, and microphone, then play second fiddle in TV shows. Boots song renditions are recorded on video and can be seen online, if you click the YouTube search.
The media people too consider Boots as a true friend. Whose life-story, struggle and sacrifices, humble beginnings, from the naivety of a provinciano becoming a success story in his field, inspired them no end. Boots story was featured in the Bulletin’s Panorama Magazine, Philippine Star, among others. Letty Magsanoc for one, described Boots with such superlative as among Bohol’s wonder, next to the Chocolate Hills.Dagohoy,Sikatuna and President Carlos P. Garcia. Ricky Lo, on the other hand, writes him in one word as BRUSH. A tool he used to make a living and became famous with. As well as the close brushes with life’s misery that in his growing up stage, he was just able to overcome with, on his own merit.
Registered as Eugenio Palanas in his Birth Certificate, Boots was abandoned by a biological father at age four. His mom in turn, let him be adopted by a wealthy couple in their hometown, Dr. & Mrs. Jaime Mendoza. Dr. Mendoza was a former Malacanang physician during President Garcia’s incumbency, who got killed in the White Gold fire in Cebu City in 1972. Although Boots grew up with a healthy physique and good cognitive function, yet he did not have the wishes of his heart. The love and affection that he so desired. Instead, he always was at the receiving end of sarcasm and nasty jokes, abused in more ways than one – for his effeminate mannerism and girly conduct that was already evident and become manifested since childhood. Moreso in the neighborhood and in school.
Just as in psychological study, as concluded by leading theorists, that a child is neither good or bad, but influenced by society. A by-product of his or her environment. The only way for someone like Boots to get out of the predicament is to go somewhere else, find his place in the sun, paddle his own canoe, to improve his stature in life, and make a difference. He did it his way, and found success doing what he loves most – beautifying faces and entertaining people. If going places is the gauge to success, then the thing speaks for itself for Boots Babushka. He is a true model to someone of his kind. Who can make a transformation, be the best in his chosen field, be a friend to all. Then reach out to the star of his dream. Today, he is living in dreamland, there in America’s most exciting city – New York.. Despite his stature now, Boots remains humble, unassuming, and down to earth. Typical attitude of a Boholano who is Maka Diyos, Maka Tao, Makabayan.
Going back to the TBTK story. The moment the Philippine Airlines jet where he was onboard as passenger, together with the rest of the Boholano balikbayan TBTK delegation, made a touch-down in Tagbilaran’s airport runway from Manila, that’s it for Boots. A great sigh of relief. A nostalgic feeling. Ecstasy, as if he is in Cloud 9. Raising his head up to high heaven, giving thanks to the Lord with a grateful heart. For he is home at last after 40 long years. He left Bohol when he was seventeen. Upon his first return in July, 2006, Boots was already in the prime of his life, at 57. When Boots accompanied Betty to their place of residence in Penaflor Street, he met the Redulla siblings: Ramon, Vidal, Naty, and Al . His childhood contemporaries in Tubigon way back then. What a feeling seeing your friends then already have families of their own and now mature in their looks.
Strolling along Tagbilaran City is like walking down memory lane that reminded Boots of their school’s out of town trips and excursions before. Much have changed and everywhere he went, Boots bears witness to the progress and development of the capital city. The New York based Boholano stayed at the Metro Center where the amenities are close to first world setting. The hotel staff are friendly and hospitable. They make you feel at home, Boots said. In the malls and venues of TBTK gathering, people treat you like a VIP. Courteous in their greetings and always sporting cordial smiles. The TBTK Chair brought Boots and their American friend Irving Spivey all the way to Carmen town just to see our Chocolate Hills. It’s one famous landmark that neither Boots nor Irving had seen before. Whom everybody looks up to as an attraction worthy of fascination. What a natural wonder to behold, a breath-taking view that they brought with them in the many picture shots taken from their cameras. On their way home to Tagbilaran, they dropped by at the Loboc River to get in touch with the world’s smallest primate – the tarsius, found only in Bohol. As an added bonus, Boots claimed to have seen what the natives call as Sigbin. A lemure or Bohol’s counterpart to the kangaroo.
All in all, it was just a two-week homecoming. For Boots has to depart ahead for Manila. To meet long-time friend Pilita Corales, who invited him to perform in her concert show at the Music Museum. He also took time visiting pals in the entertainment circle. Other than that, he was able to travel to Cebu to fulfill a vow before the image of the Virgin sa Regla in Lapu-lapu City for all the life’s blessings. After which, Boots took that flight back to New York. He looks forward to TBTK 2009 this July to be back in Bohol the second time around. (Douglas B. Hontanosas)
The Loboc Children’s Choir endorsing TBTK 2009 Campaign Promotions during their recently held US Spring Concert Tour, for Boholanos All Over the World to be part of the Global Homecoming on July 16-26,2009 in Tagbilaran City,Bohol, Philippines.
In the blockbuster movie Spiderman, the lead character Peter Parker before he was transformed into a Superhero, was orphaned at a very young age. He went on to live with his aunt May and uncle Ben in a house located in Queens borough. The young Peter knows all about danger. Helping the people of New York from the bad guys, is his after-school job. Peter’s uncle Ben used to say to him…:”with great power comes great responsibility.” So be always a role model. Always be at the side of the righteous. Always take the cudgel to defend those who are harassed and who fall victim to the forces of evil…and quote. Such is the usual advice the concern Uncle used to say to his beloved nephew, during those times when they were together.
Life imitates art, and sometimes life is more stranger than fiction, so goes the cliché that we used to read in books. For believe it or not, a Boholano Priest who came from the interior town of Loboc, is now the Parish Priest of the Immaculate Conception Church, in Jamaica , Queens, the home of the young Peter and the location setting of the Spiderman’s movie-story. Who also is given the pastoral responsibility to attend to the spiritual needs of the Queens’ catholic parishioners.
If only Spiderman is just for real, one interesting personality that Peter would perhaps likely to meet is this Boholano Parish Priest, Fr. Jed Sumampong. Who could give him our Lord’s blessings in his crime-busting crusade, or a priest’s sage advice ,if not some spiritual counsel, or perhaps to hear his confessions. Just like the way Rocky Balboa does, the boxer-character played by Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky movie series, before he climbs atop the ring every fight night.
The Spiderman hero could have also watched the well-attended concert show of the Loboc Children’s Choir held on a Saturday and Sunday, respectively,, that 10h and 11th of May,2008 at the Church of St. Emeric in New York City. Brought by Fr. Jed to perform in his parish for the weekend. To showcase the musical talents of the Boholano children from the other side of the globe. As he always loves the company of children who knows him very well and who idolized him. He too, just like the rest, would have been amazed how their angelic voices can uplift the spirit of the New Yorkers, most of whom are pre-occupied with worldly affairs, getting tired with the rat race living. Who seems to be delighted that fine music performed by innocent children devoid of material trappings and who came from a third world setting can be good nourishment for the soul.
Just as Spiderman comes to rescue people who are in distress, those who fall victim to organized crimes and from the forces of evil, on the other hand, Fr. Jed and the Loboc Children’s Choir came to New York and the Queens borough to spread christian love, goodwill and to foster friendly ties. through their kind of music. Other than raising funds to renovate their church and for other charitable works. What an ideal partnership it could have been.
Perhaps also, Spiderman would have been pleased to meet another Boholana personality, Mrs.Betty Veloso-Garcia, who is working as Nurse in a New York hospital, who was among the medical professionals given awards in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy in 2001 for giving aid and comfort to the injured survivors of the World Trade Center terrorist attack that took place seven years ago. For other than promoting the Loboc Children’s Choir New York concerts, she is spearheading a global-homecoming among Boholanos in their island-province in 2009. A responsibility Betty is assuming the third time around since 2003. Duplicated in 2006 and doing it in a much bigger scale in 2009. What a super-effort from a super-lady. The Spiderman always has special affection to our Filipina Nurses, for Peter knows that it was a Filipina nurse who assisted his friend, ”Superman” actor Christopher Reeve, when he broke his neck in an equestrian accident and made him paraplegic for life, until death finally let his battered body put to rest. How we wish our Superheroes are for real, for their existence could have made a difference in the world beset with a lot of indifferences from among the billions of human populace that inhabit planet earth..
But make no mistake, our Bohol’s Pride who came to New York and to other 20 concert venue sites in major cities all over the United States of America last Spring,2008 unlike our so called super-heroes idolized in cartoon shows and in box-office hit movies, are for real. Much as their musical gem and artistry acquired at such young age, under the baton of local masters who have perfected their craft through years of practice and musical performances, are also pure, real talents. Honed up, developed and acquired. Hear their voices and watch them perform during their recorded concert shows which can be accessed online through the You tube website. The thing speaks for itself. The Loboc Children’s Choir, they are prodigies of our generation. The Boholano generation capable of producing world class talents. Just as our Boholano professionals and workers are now everywhere – in the USA and Canada, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Australia. Truly, our very own Loboc Children’s Choir will be our nation’s young Ambassador of Goodwill to the world. Serenading our kababayans wherever they are in workplaces abroad. Soothing the pain of their homesickness and loneliness with their kind of songs that are heaven sent.
At this time when Boholanos abroad and our overseas workers look forward to the next staging of the Tigum Bol-anon Tiguok Kalibutan(TBTK) on July 16-26,2009, no less than they – the Loboc Children’s Choir, are endorsing our campaign promotions. Calling on all Boholanos to go home. for the TBTK 2009 Global Homecoming. To be part of the revelry. To be our people’s role models. Just as our Filipino Overseas Contract Workers and our Overseas Filipino Workers are hailed as the Bagong Bayani Ng Bayan. So too our Boholano brothers and sisters working abroad stationed in foreign assignments.
For they are our young students and professionals inspiration that dreams can come true, if you will work for its realization. That to go abroad, for career search, to be dollar earner, to be the family’s hope for a better life, is within reach to those who aim high and who work hard to be the best in their field and to be the master of their craft. Just like our Loboc Children’s Choir who attained international fame and stardom on their own merits. Suffice it to say, the present Boholano generation, descendants of Dagohoy and Sikatuna,, wherever they are, continue to be respected in our country and admired in workplaces abroad.
Other than our Loboc Children’s Choir, our Boholano professionals overseas and expatriate workers, we have Boholano Generals in the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Boholano boxers representing our country in international competitions, movie actors and recording stars who achieved fame and glory by the sweat of their brow, the knowledge acquired in school, the skills honed up through constant use and practice, as well as our endless prayers to God that we can be pleasing to Him if we look beyond ourselves and be of service to humanity. To make a difference in life, be the hope of the family, the pride of our province and country.
During dinner at a Manhattan restaurant, courtesy of the LCC’s patron Boy Echavez, together with TBTK Chair Betty Veloso-Garcia, hubby Bebe Garcia and this writer, Gardi Labad, the Choir’s Tour Manager and Staging Director, made mention that the Loboc Children’s Choir will be going to Europe in 2009 to participate in the International Folksongs Festival where they won the Gold Medal and hailed as Champion in 2003. They will also be holding concert shows and will tour European countries. The hopes and prayers of the Boholanos will go with them., So they will not rest on their laurels, but to continue to shine in the world’s musical constellation. To be always the pride of our province and the nation as well. Yes, the Boholanos can . This is our pursuit, to continue to invest in our competitiveness and the potentials of our Boholano youth. For someday, they can make a difference in their lives and that of our people.
Let the success of our Loboc Children’s Choir be an inspiration to our youth and be a crowning glory to us Boholanos The latest batch is composed of the following: Marjorie Tadlip Acuna, Apple Mae Calipusan Anino, Marigold L. Balili, Rica Calipusan Baliton, Charlene Grace Silagan Baquial, Marylou Omac Budiongan, Jenali Alexis Calipusan, Kent Henry Salaga Calipusan, Mary Belle Angelie Dalagan, Nicole Henderson Calipusan Labajo, Ivy Macadaeg, Bernarose Uefrace Requierme Maquindang, Maria Carey D. Mondilla, Vea Navarro, Dave Gabriel Inte Peligrino, Miguel Vince Parmisano Sarigumba, Hazel De Cano Sarigumba, Anna Marie Cabajes Suganob, Paul Delfin Sumampong, Zach Elmer Jongson Varquez, and Leomel Clark Varquez. With Mrs. Alma F. Taldo as Conductor and Mrs. Baby Lina Jala as Accompanist.
Among the many positive traits of the Bolanon, none is more unique and endearing than his fabled attachment to his home province. Wherever the Bolanon casts his fate, no matter how long he’s away, he will always find the time to visit and a reason to revisit, timed usually during a fiesta celebration.
This homing instinct has been the subject of many Bolanon jokes, but far from embarrassing the Boholano into changing his ways, they have only reinforced his deep need to come back to his roots.
Tigum Bolanon sa Tibuok Kalibutan taps into this collective Boholano passion through a grand homecoming every three years. Under its current leadership, the TBTK has been celebrated twice and is gunning up for a grander third fete on July 14-26, this year. With the assurance of the province’ governor:Honorable Governor Erico B. Aumentado, you can be assured this will be the best ever in the history of Bohol.
The past two TBTKs under the leadership of chairman Betty Veloso-Garcia have been resounding successes, really coming into its own in 2003 when it gained notice in media and given a boost by the Department of Tourism. As a result, attendance more than doubled from the previous tigum, with Boholano immigrants coming in from as far as Africa and the Scandinavian countries to revel in the festivities.
One of the major components of the TBTK , Garcia had conceived in 2003 was the invitation of the schools and universities to hold a school reunion. Since then, alumni homecoming by Bohol’s institutions of learning are part of the celebration, so timed around to ensure maximum alumni presence.
TBTK ’09 is taking shape to become an even bigger and better tigum, thanks to the inspired leadership of tireless Betty Garcia, who, while steering TBTK, must also juggle a demanding job as a nurse in a New York hospital and mothering her family, to say nothing of her other commitments in various civic projects.
“If TBTK ’09 becomes a bigger success, it would largely be due to the good work put in by so many, like committed Bolanons Liklik Schroeder here in the US as over-all coordinator , Rose Soy who, despite leading busy lives, were only too willing to push TBTK,” BAMMI,Inc. , president Genju Lapez and chairman Bernie Calibo, and all the different country coordinators and most of all the different committees of the major events such as TOBAW ( The Outstanding Boholano Around The World) sponsored by FCB, Miss Bohol International – JCI –Chocolate Hills lady Jaycees, Mrs. Bohol International, Youth Activities by SK’s,etc. says Madame Chair.
What makes this year’s tigum grander in scope is the projected presence of Boholano immigrants from Europe, particularly Germany, which has a fairly big and vibrant Boholano community.
Betty combed two continents last year to sell TBTK and what she discovered only verified what’s been surmised all along: that in many nooks and corners of the world, even in its farthest reaches, there inhabits a homesick Bolanon.
“Most, if not all, of the Boholano expatriates she met in Europe pined for home. They welcomed the TBTK concept and promised to visit this year,” says Betty.
Those homesick paisanos, some of whom had been away for decades, are what will spell the difference in TBTK ’09.
A splash of European color and pageantry comes to this year’s tigum. A contingent from Bonn, Germany is readying an eye popping piece of entertainment to spice the festivities. What exactly it is, Rolf and Rosemarie (Marapao) Bruening, (Rosemarie- President of Boholano Community- Europe) the purveyors of this surprise under wraps, are not elaborating beyond saying that its called_”DREAMS”. Bohol’s VIP’s and officials will be part of this production so please save the date, July 22 at the Verdant Pavilion of the Panglao Island Resort in Bingag, Dauis Bohol.
Aspects of past tigums remain, such as the twin beauty tilts open to visiting balikbayans and locals who have what it takes to wield a scepter and crown. New York nurse Inday Sarabosing Parras, the reigning Mrs. Bohol International will be on hand to relinquish her title to a rightful successor , who will luxuriate in an overnight stay at the ultra exclusive Eskaya Resort as part of their winnings, courtesy of owner Richard and Phoebe Lim while homegrown Loida Tiza Lagonoy, Miss Bohol International ’06, will surrender cape, sash and crown to another Boholana beauty .
TBTK is unique in that its highlight actually takes place on the first day of the festivities which is, tadaaaaaa! a visit in Malacanang, hopefully to clink glasses with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. In the 2006 tigum, the balikbayan callers failed to see the president who had to honor a previous commitment somewhere. Nevertheless, the visitors were given a tour of the palace which warmed the hearts of the Bolanons with the knowledge that one of their own – Carlos P. Garcia – had once lived in that great corridor of power by the Pasig. T hanks to Congressman Edgar Chatto , 1st District Representative who made the homecomers felt likeVIP’s. Congressman Jala and congressman Cajes collaborated in all festivities too.
The theme of TBTK ‘09 is Green Bohol in keeping with the global spirit of nature conservancy and awareness of the world’s threatened eco systems. Fittingly, the event will have Honorable Jose Lito Atienza, the secretary of the Department of Environment and natural resources, as honorary chairman and honorary vice chairman is another pride of Bohol- Lani Schoof.
Something new at the TBTK ’09 festivities is an eco tour of Bohol for the environmentally correct and curious that will provide a glimpse of how our province is doing its bit in conserving nature. Many will be impressed.
Also for eco crusaders and the fit and the able, a massive tree planting aimed to rejuvenate Bohol’s soon-to-be arboreally challenged countryside made victim by fast creeping urban sprawl.
Apart from the above, TBTK ’09 remains basically what it is: a perfect personal or family getaway, an occasion to nourish the bonds of families and relations, to reinvigorate, to reawaken wonderful memories and perhaps for some, to stoke their inner Boholano fire deadened by the dailiness of life abroad.
Otherwise, if nothing else, taking in the multiple delights of Bohol’s sun, sea, sand, air and great cordiality is reason enough to go.
So, Bolanons of the world, manguli gajud ‘tang tanan karong July 14-26 for TBTK ’09! Plan and book now.
The global economic meltdown? All the more reason to go. There should be no price tag on the joys to be derived at our big homecoming. The quiet affirmation of our relationsips with families and friends as we gather in boisterous reunions, the way we bask in the safety and warmth of our province and people, the general good time that awaits us, all these are inquantifiable and priceless. For everything else, there is of course, our Mastercards, speaking of which, do take comfort in the fact that the Philippines is one of the few remaining places in the world where you can still get a big bang out of your dollar, euro or yen.
Fretting won’t turn a weakened economy around. So go before it can get any, uh, worse and get happy at the TBTK!