The big moments of 2015

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The big moments of 2015

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Look back on the biggest news stories and best moments from the year on VRS. Contributed Photos/ABS-CBN/BC/Ric Obedencio/Panglao PS/Vatican

As we near the end of the year, it’s time to take a look back.

VRS is bringing you the big moments that defined 2015 and the people that inspired us the most.

Mercy and Compassion

Five Boholano survivors— Veneranda Gentallan of San Roque, Maribojoc; Shirley Bongay of Lintuan, Loon; Niza Flores of Poblacion, Sagbayan; Saturnino Barace, Jr. of Tagubaas-Obujan, Antequera;  and Salome Israel of Tubigon— met Pope Francis on Jan. 17.


Flores lost her youngest son, Geevie, 12, who was covered by rubbles of the collapsed internet cafe. She said that she can hardly overcome what happened to her youngest son.

Israel lost her right arm and broke her pelvic bone when earthquake struck. However, the cheerful Salome said that “everything happened has a purpose.”

Bongay of Loon town lost her right hand after being trapped in wreckage for nine hours.

Gentallan almost died when her house collapsed. She suffered a head injury and was brought to Cebu province to undergo an operation. She stayed at the hospital for one month. Her recovery was said to be a “miracle.”

Half of Jr’s body was buried underground after the quake. He, too, was injured, but he managed to survive. Unfortunately, Barace lost four of his family members who died during the earthquake.  After the tragedy, Barace entered the seminary.

All of them were excited — and nervous — during their meeting with Pope Francis. They said they found comfort with the Pope.


In Manila, some Boholanos were lucky to see the Pope in person.


“Surreal. Unexplainable. Magical,” said Engr. Aprimel Lupot when she saw the Pope along Finance Road, going to Manila Cathedral in Intramuros. “I cannot describe the feeling of being so close to Pope Francis even for just a few seconds. Such an unforgettable moment. It’s like I’m closer to God or something. I love you, Pope Francis!”

JP Maslog also shared his experience, “So this is how it feels to see the Pope… I cried and I cannot explain why!”

The Pope had been a few feet away from couple Benjie Oliva and his wife lawyer Joan.


“Honored to have joined the crowd of Catholic faithful today at SM MOA and Roxas Boulevard to experience a personal encounter with Pope Francis, the vicar of the Lord Jesus Christ on earth,” said Oliva. “Father in Heaven bless the Pope and the Filipino people.”

Hundreds of thousands showed up for the Pope including Engr. Dionisio Neil Balite who was at MOA Arena to join the “Encounter with Families” with the Pope.


May Pope Francis continue to smile and spread his message of mercy and compassion.

Boholano fans who were watching the Miss Universe 2015 at the Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada, say Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach (shown in Bohol for a glorious summer shoot and a much-needed break in April 2015) deserves to win the title. Contributed Photos/Mikey Gatal & Philippine Daily Inquirer

Viral celebrity

Jenali Alexis Mandin Calipusan sounds like Justin’s. Her voice is a replication of Justin’s and Alexis can dance as well. She does a lot of things that are very appealing.

A Belieber since 2009, her YouTube video gone viral, the world knows it too.

Apparently, Alexis is not new in singing. She was a member of the world-famous Loboc Children’s Choir. She had toured Europe, the USA and China together with the other members of the Loboc Children’s Choir.

For Alexis, her rise to Internet stardom was a mix of the right song at the right time.

Dream and Believe

Gian Luigi Ale, 9, of Cogon District, this city, had spiced up the stage with his undeniably amazing blind auditions performance in The Voice Kids Philippines Season 2.

Ale made all the three coaches turned for him when he sang the hit song Thinking Out Loud while playing guitar. Just when I thought I’d seen every cover of Thinking Out Loud in the known universe, Ale’s might be the best (and the cutest) version.

Also joining The Voice Kids were brothers Emmanuel and Sandy Tanio who sang the (unofficial) Visayan version of Pink’s Give Me A Reason.  Their performance made a huge impression on Bamboo who turned his chair as he watched them singing with their diwdiw (an invented musical instrument with two strings) and ukelele.

From Amakan Village in Dampas, Tagbilaran City, Emman, 12, and Sandy,9,  are singing for various people in the beach in Panglao, terminals and restaurants, to help their parents– Sanny, an occasional construction worker and Elizabeth, a housewife.  Until The Voice producers saw Emman and Sandy were caroling in Acacia de Bubu on Burgos Street.  The Voice producers sent them straight through to the judges in Manila.

Unfortunately, Ale and the Tanio brothers didn’t win. However, Ale’s version of Thinking Out Loud has gathered 10 million viewers on Youtube.

‘Feelings’ over Miss Bohol results

Miss Tagbilaran Mary Eda Cimafranca won the most coveted crown and the “hakut queen” award —with at least 12 corporate and major awards during the Miss Bohol 2015.

Cimafranca’s win met with boos and criticisms as the audience reacted intensely that she was booed repeatedly during the pageant night.  However, beauty watchers said Cimafranca kept her poise despite the boos.

Boholanos turned to social media to express their opinions with bitter and hilarious posts to express their dismay with the results of the Miss Bohol. Much has been said about this year’s pageant; not only about the organizer’s unpreparedness but it was pre-arranged (lutong Macau), and a “cooking show.”

Some netizens were also entertained by how some people can post humorous feedback like “luto na ang lechon (the lechon is ready) and some rejoinders said, “kalami ba anang lechon, (the lechon is yummy)” and “paghukad na kay excited nako mo hiwa sa panit sa lechon. (Get it ready because I am excited to get the skin of the lechon).”


A popular website posted their review on the pageant saying “Miss Bohol 2015 is the best cooking show at its finest.” The website said that “a clear gesture that everybody disagreed to the final decision as it was very different based on what we’ve seen and heard during the entire ‘cooking show.’ I pity Miss Tagbilaran as she’s now on the hot seat and the target of all bashes.”  The post was deleted.

Miss Bohol 2014 Queenie Melody Fullante said, “That was a well-deserved win. I salute Eda for being able to handle pressure with such grace.”

‘Twilight’ actor visits Bohol

Hollywood actor Kellan Lutz, known for playing Emmett Cullen in “The Twilight” Saga film series; as Poseidon in the 2011 film “Immortals”; as Hercules in the 2014 film “The Legend of Hercules” and as ex-US Marine John Smilee in the action-thriller “The Expendables 3”, visited Bohol last July.

He was in Panglao town to attend the wedding of his friend Jeremiah who married Miss Bohol International 2003 Maya Calope Galvan in a beach wedding.  During the reception, Lutz joined the CenterStage Band performing on stage.

Lutz was mobbed by fans who said, “He’s so mabait at sobrang guapo.”

Bohol’s Mister

AR dela Serna (real name: Alberto Rodolfu), the son of Alberto and former Poblacion 2 barangay captain Glorivic, was a runner-up in the Mister of Pilipinas (MP) 2015.  MP is responsible for selecting the country’s representative for four international male beauty contests–Mister International, Mr. Tourism International, Mister Model International and Mister Globe.

He said his modeling and acting workshops helped him become more conscious, confident and disciplined-traits he believes can help him in the competition.

He already joined other male beauty pageant in previous years. He won the title Mr Generation East 2013  of  Sta. Lucia Generation East Model Search. He was also declared first runner-up in Mr Philippine Youth in 2002 but he replaced the dethroned Mr. Philippine Youth 2012 Leo Angeles Flores of Parañaque in Nov. 2012.


Prayers and hardwork paved the way for three Boholano nursing graduates to land in the 10 topnotchers of the May 2015 nursing licensure examination. Thus, a good year for Bohol’s nursing schools.

Euben Hope Olaso Gamutan, Krissa Mae Duco Lapiz and Christine Joy Camilotes Roferos went to different schools, prayed in different churches and reviewed in different styles but there’s one common denominator—topnotchers! Gamutan finished fifth place with a rating of 85 percent, Lapiz was ranked sixth place with a rating of 84.8 percent and Roferos landed on the eighth spot with a rating of 84.4 percent.

They shared only one secret in preparing for the board exam.  Prayer.

“Prayer. That is my best secret. I prayed for wisdom and for strength that I can endure all the sleepless nights,” Gamutan told VRS. “Of course, I also had to do my part in studying. I usually isolate myself when studying because that is where I can concentrate the most.”

“Prayer. I prayed a lot. When I had time I went to the Sto. Niño and I prayed not just to top but to pass including my classmates as well,” Roferos said.

Gamutan, Lapiz and Roferos were among the 9,707 aspirants who passed the May examination out of a total of 17,896 examinees, according to the Professional Regulation Commission (PRC).

Heroes of the Year

This year there were no shortages of heroes.

Poet and community organizer Nestor Pestelos was Rappler’s The Enterprise Mover awardee.

As president of the Bohol Local Development Foundation, he launched the Bohol Quake Assistance Fund Drive to help families who were homeless by the strong earthquake. “This award will inspire our young volunteers and fieldworkers to work harder to expand our current work,” he told Rappler after accepting the award on Sept 26 at the World Resorts Manila. The Move Awards is Rappler’s first effort to celebrate those who actively campaign and move for social change.

Friends Michael Horcasitas, Alejandro Bonita and Fulgencio Esterado turned-over to police officers P138,000 cash they found inside a belt bag that fell from a car in Panglao town.

The three chased after the car to warn the driver but the vehicle sped off. Instead of splitting the money among themselves, the three went to the police to track down the owner and return the money.

Not one of them was tempted to keep the money even if only Esterado had a regular job which barely paid him P10,000 a month.

Esterado works as a merchandiser at the City Hardware in Tagbilaran. His wife, Isabel, 39, is a housewife. They have two children- Issagene, 11 and Ian Jay, 4.

Horcasitas and Bonita don’t have regular jobs.

Esterado said, “Returning the money is the right thing to do because we didn’t earn that money.”

The honesty shown by the three came a month after a tricycle driver returned an envelope containing P88,135 left by a female passenger in Tagbilaran City.

Reynaldo Ingking, 45, turned over the envelope to radio station dyRD which started looking for the owner.

A tearful woman went to the station and profusely thanked Ingking who was later cited by the city government for his honesty.

They taught us a lesson, didn’t they? That money didn’t matter.

In a year with so much darkness comes a beautiful lesson from all of these heroes on how to view the world.


Pia ‘confidently beautiful amid chaos’, say Boholano fans


Boholano supporters who travelled miles away from Los Angeles to Las Vegas to support Philippines’ Miss Universe bet Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach, who was crowned Miss Universe 2015 held on Dec. 20 (Monday, Manila Time), was worth watching.

“42 years is a very long time waiting for the crown. This is our time to win the Miss Universe again,” said US-based Boholano socialite Mikey Gatal, who along with his friends , including Boholano Andy Doria, watched the pageant at The Axis in Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Gatal and Doria were in the same group when they watched the Miss Universe in 2006.

“Her presence is strong. We are captivated by Pia,” he said.

Wurtzbach, according to Gatal, said she felt she never left home and she felt the love of her kababayans.

For Digal, “Wurtzbach is a complete package: Beauty, grace and brains.”

However, before Wurtzbach was announced winner, the crown went to Miss Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo by mistake when host Steve Harvey read the wrong card.

“My first reaction was so mad. I even cried, and everybody was shocked,” he said.

He said Miss Colombia was not deserving since Wurtzbach aced her Question and Answer.

“I said some words that Miss Colombia is not deserving of the title and the crowd agreed to me then all of a sudden Steve Harvey calmed down the people after two minutes because he realized he made a mistake then the thought I had that he would day that came true and everyone was stunned,” he said.

“Gubot (Chaotic)” was how Gatal described this year’s pageant. He said previous Miss Universe pageants he had watched were “smooth” and “organized.”

He said that it was the moment when both countries were victims of a pageant blunder.

“What happened to Miss Colombia was very painful. To have the crown on your head and to have taken away from you for seconds,” said Gatal. “The moment of ecstasy turned to sour and because they one of the biggest supporters during the entire pageant, it can’t be denied that literally they hate each other now,” he added.

At the lobby and inside the stage area, Gatal said there was “so much drama” as  Colombia and Philippine supporters had chanting bout before and after the pageant.

“Even the crowd and all the candidates were focusing now to Colombia not to Pia. It’s so sad, the moment of happiness for Colombia and Pia were taken away from them,” he said.

Earlier, Gatal had predicted that Wurtzbach would win the crown for “I believe this is Pia’s time. She is very fierce, very lovable and most of all, she is very intelligent as well.”

For Andy Doria, he admired Wurtzbach’s humility. He said that Wurtzbach had no hint of arrogance when she was crowned by Miss Universe 2014 Paulina Vega from Colombia.

“She looked happy yet sad for Miss Colombia,” he said.

Wurtzbach was the third Filipina beauty queen to win the crown after Gloria Diaz won it in 1969 and Margie Moran in 1973.

During the Question and Answer portion, the top three contestants were asked, “Why should you be the next Miss Universe?”

Wurtzbach answered, “To be a Miss Universe is both an honor and a responsibility. If I were to be Miss Universe, I will use my voice to influence the youth and I will raise awareness to certain causes like HIV awareness that is timely and relevant to my country, Philippines. I want to show the world-the Universe, rather-that I am confident and beautiful from the heart.”

Miss Universe Colombia Ariadna Gutierrez Arevalo was named first runner-up and Miss Universe USA Olivia Jordon was named second runner-up.

Wurtzbach visited Bohol during the pictorial of the Bb. Pilipinas. She was seen at the Punta Cruz, Baclayon Church and the Chocolate Hills in Carmen.


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