How to survive the Sinulog

By Leticia U. Suarez

YOU can survive anything if you can survive being packed in a crowd like sardines, and stand dehydration and hunger for six hours.

It is downright an exaggeration of the Sinulog mardi gras for the old hand, but neophytes, heed these suggestions.

* Wear all your fake jewelry; that way you won’t miss them too much when they go away with the snatcher.

But do remember to tape a triple thickness of masking tape around your neck so it doesn’t get nicked – nay, cut off (gulp) – when snatchers run away with your value-baubles.

* Bring food and water like there’s a shortage, or no tomorrow, whichever comes first.

Our enterprising brothers in the sidewalk business jack up consumables by as much as P5. That’s being kind; so you can imagine the mark-up when they go for the jugular.

* Padlock your pants pocket to discourage pickpockets, or better still – wear metal pants.

Now’s the time to bring out that antique armored suit you bought years ago, however, you’ll have to watch yourself. Someone might kidnap you as part of the antique.

* Bring cash, all your cash – all fake or toy bills, that is.

If you don’t have toy money, cut newspaper to the size of a 10-peso bill. Beef up your anemic wallet with the pseudo bills.

Hide your real cash in your shoes (wash shoes the day before) but don’t keep checking or else you will attract attention.

Melinda Ponce (died on October 16, 2011)

Melinda Ponce passed away on October 16, 2011 after she and her three children and their helper was allegedly killed by his husband on October 16, 2011 in Talisay City, Cebu province.

Emmanuel Ponce, 55, allegedly killed her wife Melinda, 53, three of their four children – eldest daughter Elaine Grace, 26; Heather Joy, 25; and son Emlin Bridge, 18 — and their helper Anastacia Deniega, 30.

Melinda, an inspiration in the local running community, died with her running clothes on.

Hours before she was killed in a gruesome massacre, Melinda, a Banco de Oro (BDO) cashier was where she was almost every Sunday—in a run.

At 5:30 a.m., October 16, 2011, the Banco de Oro employee fired the starting gun during the fun run that opened her bank’s sports fest. She was happy and enjoyed being with co-workers during the run, said BDO E-mall branch accountant and fellow ultra-runner Virgilio Remo Jr.

Having been featured in newspapers after winning ultra-marathons, races that are at least 50 kilometers, Ponce, 53, was an office celebrity, and many of her co-workers had their pictures taken with her. Ponce instructed those manning the water stations and cheered on the bank employees who joined the 3K and 5K events.

“She was very happy,” Remo said.

Ponce started running at 48, a year after undergoing total hysterectomy. She suffered a mild stroke in 2009, which she blamed on her failure to look after her health and pushing herself physically despite the lack of rest.

Ponce ran every morning from her house in Bulacao, Talisay City to the IT Park on her way to work. She was still considering joining the 100-kilometer race from Bogo City to Cebu City in November.

Ponce won the women’s category in the last two ultra-marathons she joined—the Be Resorts Warrior 53K that started and ended in Mactan Island and the Summit 60K in Talisay City last Oct. 9.

Ponce had qualified for this year’s national finals of the Milo Marathon in her age category, after running 21 kilometers in 1 hour and 52 minutes. She said running in the national finals was her dream. She also qualified last year but chose not to run so that she could join the first ultra-marathon in Cebu, a 50-kilometer run from Mt. Manunggal to the Capitol.


Runners who knew Melinda Ponce and what she had achieved as a runner, have organized a tribute run last October 23. The five-kilometer run, by seasoned runners’ standards, is short but it is a fitting gift to Melinda in acknowledgment of her esteem.

The “Run in Peace, MP” was quickly pulled together by race director Joel Baring, who offered his services for free, and runners who have organized races. Running clubs offered their time and logistics.

All proceeds of the tribute went to the surviving member of the Ponce family, 13-year-old Embrelaince, to the husband of the slain helper, and to a center for battered women in Cebu City.

Melinda was a battered wife. In running, she had found relief and escape from her troubled marriage. In death, she caused a cause.

Related articles:

Melinda Ponce rose above her troubles, inspired Cebu’s running community

So: Run in Peace, Melinda Ponce

Limpag: Melinda Ponce – It’s never too late to start

Jesus P. Garcia Sr.’s Memento

An old, yellowing campaign leaflet lists the man’s track record— reformist, student of law par excellence, civil society mover— but this one entry at the bottom virtually embodies the singular message of an entire life: “He does not belong to any political party.”

The piece of paper dates back to the time when he ran for a seat at the Constitutional Convention of 1971.

Jesus P. Garcia Sr., the independent Cebuano, signs off at 86.

He is laid to rest by a legacy enjoyed by the ladies and gentlemen of today’s dynamic community press.

An unyielding believer in the free press, Jesus Sr., the publisher, had shared the wisdom of editorial autonomy and of upholding public interest above all. He believes in the newspaper grounded upon public trust, and his passing renders those ideals more alive, even truer. A life well lived serves as a guidebook, anchorage for every student, every dreamer.

The ideal family man, lawyer, reformist, visionary, scholar, patriot, public servant, Jesus Sr. has set for us a goal, a gauge on which we aim our present and future efforts.

When dark clouds gather to blur our vision of a clear day, he will be the voice to coach us the right steps. He once lived his life as a voice in the wilderness, he shall be that voice again, audible and even more poignant, even in his passage. The visionary has left, but his visions sit well in the veins of those who believe in his ideals. He is our servant only because he is our champion.

Pens up, we offer a moment of silence on paper as the giant steps into the horizon.

Jesus P. Garcia Sr., the independent Cebuano.

So long, sir.

Memories from family members.

Fausto Tentorio (died on October 10, 2011)

Italian missionary Fausto Tentorio died on October 10, 2011 after he was shot in North Cotabato province. He was 59.

Tentorio was shot inside the Mother of Perpetual Help Parish Church in Arakan town, North Cotabato.


COTABATO. A man armed with a pistol shot dead Italian priest Fr. Fausto Tentorio at a convent in North Cotabato, Monday morning. (Courtesy of Pontifical Institute for Foreign Missions)

The 59-year-old Roman Catholic priest, a native of Santa Maria Hoe town in Italy’s Lecco province and who has been in the Philippines for the past 32 years, was the third missionary from the Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission (PIME) to be killed in the Philippines after Tulio Favali (1985) and Salvatore Carzedda (1992).

Tentorio was laid to rest in Kidapawan City on October 25.

Thousands of Filipinos joined the funeral march demanding justice for Tentorio.

Rev. Gianni Re of Italy’s Pontifical Institute for Foreign Mission said Tentorio had long experience fighting for the rights of indigenous Filipino tribes in the country’s south. Environmental activists suspect he was killed for his work.



Tentorio’s brother Felicce, sister-in-law Juliana, two nephews and a family friend arrived from Italy to attend the funeral rites.

“Even though we are sad, this sadness is alleviated a little bit by the showing of the Filipino people of their love,” Felicce said.

Kidapawan Diocese Bishop dela Cruz described Fr. Pops like Jesus in his 15-minute homily.

He said doing what Jesus did in Nazareth thousands of years ago, Tentorio, also known as Fr. Pops of the Pime, lived, worked, and died with his “own” people in Arakan, a hinterland town in North Cotabato.

Dela Cruz said because Tentorio had fallen in love with his people in Arakan town, he said to them, “Your dream is my dream; your struggle is my struggle therefore, you and I are one in building the kingdom of God here on earth.”

Village chieftain and tribal leader Gayotin Tomanding said Tentorio’s death was a big loss to their tribe.

“When we were bereft of assistance of the government, we sought help from Father Fausto. And he would always be there for us. He would always lend a helping hand. He would always give us food if we need to nourish our body. He would give us farm tractors if we wanted to plow our fields. When he died, part of us also died,” Tomanding said in the vernacular.

Tomanding was in tears when he recounted how Tentorio risked his life just to protect him from members of the Armed Forces who were looking for him.

Wilson Gamboa Sr. (died on October 13, 2011)

Lawyer Wilson Gamboa Sr. succumbed to a liver cancer at the age of 70 at the National Kidney and Transplant Institute in Quezon City on October 13, 2011.

Gamboa served in the National Government as Secretary of Agrarian Reform, Undersecretary of National Defense, and Administrator of the Sugar Regulatory Administration (SRA).

BACOLOD. Bishop Vicente Navarra blesses the casket of noted public servant Wilson Gamboa Sr. in the presence of his family during the mass and necrological service last night at the San Sebastian Cathedral. (Carla Cañet)

Gamboa Sr., as a great leader of the city, contributed selflessly to the betterment of Bacolod and, as such, the city will forever be grateful to him, the mayor said.

Wilson Sr. and his wife Thelma were blessed with five children, namely Lauro, Wilma, Wilson, Jr., Roseller and Antonino.

Wilson said his father fought a good fight. He finished the race and has kept his faith to God, country and family.

The older Gamboa served as councilor of Bacolod City from 1971 to 1981. He was the assemblyman of the Province of Negros Occidental from 1983–1986.

President Benigno Aquino III appointed him secretary of Agrarian Reform, and later undersecretary of National Defense in 1986–1988.

During the term of President Ramos, Gamboa was appointed SRA administrator and later governor of the Development Bank of the Philippines, and President Joseph Estrada appointed him chairman of the board of the Philippine Journal.


Bacolod City Mayor Evelio Leonardia signed an order giving honor and recognition to Gamboa Sr. for his significant contributions to the city and directing the observation of a half-mast flag in mourning of his death.

Leonardia, in his Executive Order No. 26, Series of 2011 signed October 18, 2011, said the former city councilor, an institution and an important political and civic figure in the city, had considerably and momentously served for two terms.

Gamboa, Sr., as a great leader of the city, contributed selflessly to the betterment of Bacolod and, as such, the city will forever be grateful to him, the mayor said.

“Wilson Sr. has his great contributions in shaping Philippine politics with his high sense of nationalism and character. He was a man who is very articulate in good governance, where even his silence disturbs many,” Gamboa’s friend former Senator Kit Tatad said.

“His favorable opinion is always sought and his disappointment is always feared. It is because he speaks his mind and what it is in his heart without any ulterior motive,” Tatad added.

“I was the one who convinced him to join politics in 1971. He won overwhelmingly and served the city with honor and distinction for 10 years. During the Marcos regime, Wilson won as assemblyman as the only opposition candidate during those times. He was not beholden to anyone. He followed his conscience and worked for God, country and people,” lawyer Babes Estrella, Gamboa’s friend, said.

Related articles:

Gamboa Sr. laid to rest

Bacolod condoles with Gamboa family