Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Brigada Eskwela starts
Monday until Saturday

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol May 14 (PIA) --Starting Monday, May 18 to May 23, the Department of Education spearheads the National School Maintenance Week and rolls out Brigada Eskwela 2015. 

Through Memorandum 41, series of 2015, the DepED adopts Tayo para sa Kalinisan, Kahandaan at Kaligtasan ng ating mga Paaralan, while engaging all stakeholders to contribute time, effort and resources in ensuring that public schools and their facilities are readied for the opening of school year 2015-2016 

At the recent Kapihan sa PIA, Ivory Garces, DepEDs Adopt-a-School focal person said, apart from ensuring clean and accident free schools, the DepEd intends to mainstream disaster preparedness principles in schools. 

This is while maintaining school preparedness and disaster safety guides to transform schools into safe learning facilities, Garces explained meaning the annual Brigada Eskwela. 

Brigada Eskwela enlivens the spirit of voluntarism from all education stakeholders: Government and non government organizations, teachers, parents and concerned organizations to take part in the repair and maintenance activities.

Following this, it also presupposes that Brigada Eskwela does not make non participation a requisite for a kid's enrolment, and even collecting fees for the activity is never allowed, the DepED clarified. 

We render voluntary work for the Brigada, because we care for our kids and their comfort while getting public education, we know they are in a safe building, one parent who said he will render service shared to PIA. 

This Monday, Bohol Division would be opening the week with a caravan from the Division office to Sta. Cruz Elementary School in Maribojoc, where the launching program would be held.

At the same school site, the DepEd would be recognizing elementary and secondary schools which have shown good examples in the implementation of the school maintenance activities last year. 

Cited and made Bohol entries to the regional fest of best Brigada implementers are two Bohol high schools and two elementary schools.

In the afternoon, Garces said the DepED is doing a massive volunteer work at the Sta. Cruz Elementary School.

The same school, which sits on the loose reclaimed land on top of a hill at the church complex, was massively hit by the earthquake, buildings blown off by Yolanda and the succeeding storms while a fire gutted three of its classrooms at the height of storm Seniang. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)

Mystifying Lamanoc 

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol May 14 (PIA) --From the crevices of this uninhabited isle off Badiang Anda, rise supplications to the gods, offerings to appease the bad spirits and thanksgiving for a bountiful harvest, fish catch and productive hunting.

This is Lamanoc Island, a place avoided by most locals who fear the graveyards and the spirits homing in this karst cliffs and its numerous mystical crevices. 

Here too are countless bones, shards of broken jar, wooden dug-out coffins, remnants of offerings: empty wine bottles, human bones, wild boar jaws and a pile of white chicken feathers lie somewhere, awaiting for the breeze to blow them off. 

Lamanoc Island has been pinned in the region's healers and quack doctors map as a sacred place, its numerous caves a testament of the countless rituals these medicine men have to perform to tap the powers of nature to continue with their healing. 

An annual visit to this island promontory in Bohol then is for them, an imperative one can't simply forego. 

For everyone also, Lamanoc allows every Boholano that rare chance to be reconnected to the past, one that could be far advanced compared to other settlements in those times. 

The Graveyard Rock Shelter

The Lamanoc graveyard, is technically not a yard. It is a rock ledge facing the seas of the island's south east side. Elevated at about 20 meters from the sea level, the ledge can be accessed by following a trail carved in the cliff's rocky face, leading to a cleared rock shelter. 

At the rock shelter, the air is humid, perhaps it had something to do with the climb. 

The graveyard features clay jar shards, with traces of pre-hispanic designs, bones now encased in a glass topped cement box, after it lay scattered for decades, and wooden dug-out coffins placed in the nooks of the ledge.

These wooden coffins, points out Lamanoc caretaker and tour guide Fortunato Simbajon, are either primary (the dead were placed inside), secondary (after the flesh has eroded, the bones are collected and replaced inside) or multiple tertiary, (bones collected from relatives graves are placed inside). 

Boholano natives, in the tradition of the people in the western pacific islands, bury their dead in the same manner: in huge clay jars or wooden coffins and placed facing the east, where the spirits rise, he said. 

Archeologists said a human bone can last for about a hundred years after which they decompose, Simbajon added, hinting that the oldest bone in the ledge could be less than a hundred years. 

Spanish period Bohol however started burying their dead in cemeteries, making the assumption that some of the bones here could be over a hundred years already. The wooden dug-out coffins of molave are possibly about over a century too. 

With the musty place littered with bone fragments, pausing and whispering a prayer or too could be prim. 

Ka Iska Cave

On the trek to another part of the small island, one passes by a rock shelter, which shows traces of vandalism. A fairly level cave floor is now clearly dug the stalactites and stalagmites show these telltale signs. 

Here, fishermen forced to the island by storms wait it out here, says the hunched tourguide as he weaves his way to rock columns in the shelter to Ka Iska Cave. 

It was said that a healer from the nearby barangay was mobbed by residents who believed she was a witch. 

Curing her patients suffering from mystifying illnesses through herbal medicines and rituals, Francisca became popular until the village turned on her and drove her off to Lamanoc, certain that no one would follow her. 

Settling on a cave, Francisca lived a peaceful life until the people in the village mustered the courage to pursue her in the cave moss-lined multi-chamber cave featuring arches and passageways too narrow for a group to venture into.

Many believe Iska has died. Some people professed they still see her in the cave, Simbajon said. 

Titanic Rock and Bil-aton Pass

Another moderate trek down the trail and it leads to a few meters above sea level, on the eastern side of Lamanoc. From the waterline, an islet floats a couple of hundred meters from Lamanoc: Titanic Island, because when you view it from the south, it looks like a ship. 

Largely limestone with sharp rocky foundation, like any of the numerous karst bases, the island has your tropical green trees, and study shrubs as crown, the limestone whites of the cliff sides forming stark contrast with the white and grey boulders upon which exude the aura worthy of awe. 

A small rock lays anchored on its left side and the space in between these two is just narrow enough for a paddleboat to slip through: this isle is also called Bil-aton, according to the over 60 years old guide. 

At night fall, if it's no man's land at Lamanoc, that unwritten code is revered even more in Bil-aton, Simbajon, who has had over ten year of sallying back and forth the island hints something even more mystifying there. 

Shaman's Cave and Diwatas

On the northeastern side of the island, just a little above the seas edge is the ritual cave of the shamans who frequent the place.

Outside the cave, at its mouth, empty bottles of cheap gin and occasional pile of chicken feathers, remnants of ritual offerings performed in the cave or at its mouth, when the cave is occupied by offering healers, Nong Forting followed on. 

Accessible through a tricky navigation over sharp rocks carved by the thunderous waves below, Shaman's cave features a hall which hides a ritual altar behind a rock wall which can be scaled. The hidden platform now contains personal effects of healers who died without somebody picking up the healing tradition. 

The right niche of the cave shows a National Museum inventory tag, and way below it is a low rock curtain that hides another opening: this one accordingly goes to the ten altars for the healers who come to the island. 

Nobody in the nearby area has ventured deep into the caves where healers speak to the spirits and beg for the healing of patients who may have angered them.

Fossilized Clam

Another wonder in the island is a fossilized giant clam, stuck in a rock wall a meter above sea level. 

This fossil proves Lamanoc island is but among the older islands in the archipelago, maybe in the country, the giant clam can well be over a foot in diameter.

Perhaps a proper carbon dating can help us determine the age of the fossil giant clam. 

The island ritual sites also show numerous giant clam shells, one of the biggest is at the graveyard. But most of these giant clams shells are separated from where they may have stuck while still alive. 

This proof or the giant clam provenance in the area was enough reason for the local leaders to seed new giant clams in the nearby marine sanctuary, to help re-propagate one of the most potent agents for biodiversity. 

Tangob Cave

Resident tour guide Fortunato "Forting" Simbajon would get you to Tangob Cave, a huge rock shelter covered by mangroves on the island facing the south east.

Tangob, according to Nong Forting is a place where the Muslim traders hid their stash of goods which they would sell to the coastal trading communities in the Visayas and Luzon. 

There was never an animosity between Boholanos and the Muslims, until the coming of the Spaniards, he said. 

When the Spaniards came, they convinced the Boholanos that the Muslims were the enemy, the guide said. 

Well, with the historic pangayaw as tradition of the southern islands , Muslim raids were regular occurrences during the pre Spanish period and the details of a local lore of the exploits of a legendary fighter name Kabel, comfortably resembles the Christain exploits of the moro-moro when Muslims are defeated by the locals who fight beside a man who could fly. 

The story of Kabel, as Nong Forting narrates, fit with the stories of San Miguel Arkanghel in defending the shores of Jagna as told in their Sinuog Estokada) and the Christain Community of Karaang Dungguan, where the men of Punta Cruz, fight intruders with the help of San Vicente Ferrer.    

Hematite hand prints and oak cross

On the southern side of the island, the one facing Mindanao, is another rock shelter which feature blots of red pigment. 

A close scrutiny would reveal that these are hand prints, probably the oldest traces of printed mark in the island, marks using hematite. 

Hematite is a ferric oxide dark red pigment that is used in the hand prints. 

As to where the printers sourced out the ferrous oxide, the guide didn't tell but it should be one good story if the provenance could be established as local.

Another anomaly in the rock shelter is the presence an oak log which, according to Simbajon was soon fashioned into a cross erected overlooking the sea. 

The oak, an alien in the tropics, could have been brought by Spanish authorities to Lamanoc where it was abandoned at the Shaman's cave, according to Simbajon. 

The oak provenance could possibly date the hematite, which, if found to be absent in the island, could only be brought by some strangers visiting the island.

The treks in between

If visiting the site in Lamanoc island is interesting, so does the treks. Lamanok is basically your rocky island of porous crevices where trees and shrubs reach out their roots to gather the nutrient it needs to survive. This also makes trekking across the island trickily delicate one false step and you could get hurt.

The trek up and down can be burdensome to those who are indisposed, but would pose a challenge to those who come unprepared.

Depending on the tides, the treks may take you wading the shallows to the fossilized clam or Tangob Cave, but that too can be a nice test of balance and footwork. 

Lamanoc Mystical Island Tour

Upon arrival at the Tourist Center situated on top of a buff overlooking the mangrove forests and the towering cliffs of Lamanoc, one needs to maneuver down the carved steps to a board walk which leads to a jump-off point where one can get a paddle boat to the island. 

The board walk, made from bamboo stakes and mangroves are lined with bamboo slats. The walkway cuts across a mangrove forest which could also be perfect for educating tourists on the diverse world of mangroves and tide flats: the spawning grounds for countless fish and crustaceans.

Over 20 species of mangroves can be seen in a short walk way span but the most common species are bakauan, bungalon and pagatpat, all bearing propagules this time of summer. 

The boatman's quarter is a decent native shed with a spacious hall where guests can linger and take breathers, breeze here, owing to the mangrove forests is delightfully cool. 

Next off is a paddling feat: one must step into a paddle boat and make sure one doesn't fall off. A paddler would guide you to the 20 minutes of cruise to the island.

Lamanoc, the mystical island s now open for tourists, just contact Anda Municipal Tourism Office on their website. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)

Boholanos in Kuwait help 
distressed stranded OFWs

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol May 14 (PIA) --A group of Boholano Overseas Filipino Workers from distant Middle eastern country in Kuwait, proved could never just leave their fellows behind. 

Because a Boholano has a sinew called help imbedded in his being a Boholano where ever he may be, members of the 350 strong Tigum Bol-anon sa Tibuok Kalibutan Kuwait (TBTK Kuwait) Chapter flexed this muscle just like what every Boholano would do in a situation. 

Seeing about 70 distressed Overseas Filipino Workers including children who have to be stranded at the Philippine Embassy in Kuwait, kept safe until their official release from suits filed against them, TBTK Kuwait raised funds to help their kababayans.

Most of them alleged that they were maltreated, some unlucky ones were sexually abused before they escaped to the embassy only to be accused of crimes of theft and other mischief, TBTK Kuwait said.

"Gibogbog kay gusto na muoli kay humana ag contrata unya dili paulion. Unya kay maot mag batasan gi bogbog og gipakulong tawon," the source narrated. (Mauled because the OFW wants to go home after completing the contract, but the master doesn't want them to. The master is cruel, the OFW was mauled and sent to prison.) 

There are also some of us who are lucky, we picked good masters, the source noted. 

We have sent some home, after being cleared of cases, helping them in returning to the country, a source from the group, in a confirmatory chat, added.

"Dia pay usa ka taga Sevilla, gikulong sa kapolisan gipasanginlan nangawat. Louy ba. Apan sagdi lang kay gitabangan na namo sya dre." (there is still one here, somebody from Sevilla, apprehended after being accused of theft. Pitiful. But we are helping the OFW)

"They could not work, they need food, something for their personal necessities and most of all, they need to realize they have us supporting them in their tough times," stressed TBTK Kuwait assistant secretary Argie Mortejo of Cortes town, in an online chat. 

Seeing this, TBTK Kuwait President, Engr Jim Dalugdog from Balilihan and Vice President Jose Simangca of Bilar, steered the organization into a raffle promo: each member selling tickets to raise funds for the distressed Boholanos. 

When they had pooled enough funds to help, with the Philippine Embassy's Outreach Program, TBTK Kuwait organized feeding and turn-over of personal necessities to the distressed OFWs, in an event March 8 at the Embassy.

"It was an emotional event, and Boholanos who received the help couldn't stop from crying, some of them asking the group for more prayers so they can immediately be allowed to go home. How can we ever leave them?" TBTK describing the event, shared. 

"We are just happy that Boholanos here are united for a cause, otherwise, what can one man do, away from home?" Mortejo asked. 

To help Bohol, just as TBTK Kuwait has sent help to families hit by the earthquake, they also sent help to Loboc which was flooded early this year. 

Another upcoming activity for the group is sending another batch of help to Bohol, aside from promoting the island home as a tourist destination, according to TBTK president Dalugdog. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)

Bol-anon bikers pedal 264 kms for 
health, environment, anti-drugs

TALIBON BOHOL, May 16 (PIA) Bikers from Bohol converged in Tagbilaran City May 16 to pedal around Bohol and manifest unity with Boholanos in environment and healthy lifestyle in the 4th Annual Unity Ride with Bol-anon cyclists, a biking group here.

Done every summer, and already making a record for the most number of long distance riders taking the 264 kilometers Bohol Circumferential Road in two days, the 4th Unity Fun Ride was done in cooperation with Golden Spear Cycling Club in Talibon.

The Unity ride, unity fun ride around Bohol lets us promote biking as one of the way of preventing aging, keeps us from dreaded sicknesses, helps build stronger bodies and helps keep us away from drugs, Mary Grace Adag Polestico, one of the event organizers said.

Moreover, we are pedaling for a greener Mother Earth in support of sustainable and protected environment.

We are also doing this for our kids, which are now targeted by drug personalities, we are enjoining them to take on the biking challenge to go around Bohol to see the beauty of out native land, she added in her facebook account.

The bikers, on road and trail mountain bikes gathered in front of the St. Joseph Cathedral from 4:00 to 6:00 before starting the long and arduous trek along the scenic coastal routes of Bohol in the refreshing Bohol morning and under the punishing summer sun by mid morning.

By biking, we showed that Boholano bikers from several bike groups are all united as brothers and as Boholanos who adhere to the call for environmental sustainability in the province that has decided to cash in on the finite natural resources, which needs to be protected, a government employee biker said.

The group, comprised of the big names in local triathlons, a fire station chief, government employees, long ride biking enthusiasts and Antequera Vice Mayor Lloyd Jadulco.

Leaving Tagbilaran at early morning, the main pack arrived in Talibon at around 4:00 PM and proceeded to the Cultural Center for a short program.

The following morning, the group took to their bikes again, now wearing the Unity Fun Ride jersey and reached Calape town around 60 kilometers, by lunchtime.

The group then proceeded back to Tagbilaran by the PM. (rac/PIA-7Bohol)

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