Mercury rising

WHEN the 900-mile-wide superstorm Sandy hit the northeastern United States in October, killing more than 100, it brought $50 billion (about a quarter of the Philippines’ gross domestic product) in economic losses and questions about whether global warming had played a part. Since a warm ocean and warm, moist air fuel storms, then global warming

San Pedro Calungsod’s help sought for son’s recovery

THE family of Cebu Provincial Sangguniang Kabataan (SK) leader Aladdin Caminero prayed to San Pedro Calungsod for his complete recovery after his operation last Tuesday at South General Hospital in the City of Naga. The SK leader was involved in a car accident last week in Barangay Binlod, Argao, Cebu. He suffered fractures in his [...]

1st underwater pilgrimage launched

THE “1st Underwater Pilgrimage,” which was headed by the Municipality of Bohol, was launched last September 7 and 8, to commemorate Mama Mary’s birthday and to see her statue along with that of Sto. Niño which were submerged in the waters off Bohol.

Situated beneath the waters off Bien Unido, Bohol, two years ago, are two 14-feet statues of the Blessed Virgin Mary or “Mother Mary” and the Holy Child or “Señor Sto. Niño”

The two religious statues serve as symbolic reminders for fishermen to rid away with their destructive and abusive fishing activities like dynamite fishing.

On Friday, September 7, the divers, who boarded their gears from the Hilton wharf, in Lapu-Lapu Mactan, arrived in Bohol for the underwater dive to be held the day after at the Bien Unido Double Barrier Reef Marine Park.

An opening mass was held at the Municipal hall around 10 a.m. which was celebrated by Reverend Father Edgardo Deligero, Bien Unido Parish Priest.

The event was graced by Mayor Nio Rey Boniel followed by a fluvial parade which gathered around 15 boats of different sizes as the community joined in on the festivities. Local fishermen with their families also paraded their “bankas” (traditional fishing boat) along with the official pump boats, headed towards the marked spots where the statues were submerged.

Prayers and flowers were offered to the sea for the Holy Child Jesus, as the crowd wave their hands to the song “Batobalani sa Gugma” (Magnet of Love). The people also cheered and clapped “Happy Birthday” to Mama Mary.

A dive briefing was then held around 3 p.m. to re-orient the participants of the dos and don’ts about the following day’s dive exploration to the statues.

After the Holy mass on Saturday, September 8, the divers prepared their diving equipment as the four pump boats revved up towards the statue spots once again.

The first dive spot was the Statue of the Blessed Virgin Mother Mary with a size of 14-feet which was submerged in the depth of approximately 80-feet below water surface. The second dive spot was the Statue of the Holy Child Señor Sto. Niño with a size of 14-feet and was submerged to the depth of approximately 30-feet.

The divers kissed and touched the holy statues as they prayed silently. Underwater photographers documented the scene.

The divers then left the place at 3 p.m. heading back to the yacht club for the sharing of experiences and closing remarks.

In his closing remarks, Jun Amalo, Danajon Bank Project Head Coordinator said, “The gathering was an overwhelming success for the municipality and community, the involved organizations and in the bigger picture, the environment. The municipality was able to build stronger ties with the community as a means to pull everyone together towards environmental protection.”

He said the first Underwater Pilgrimage was a creative way to bring people together for the purpose of promoting eco-friendly tour attractions, to share ideas, interests and advocacies, and simple to learn and experience exploring the deep blue in all its beautiful bounty.

The event was collaborated with the Coastal Conservation and Education Foundation, Inc. (CCEF); Knight-Stewards of the Sea, Inc.; United States Agency for International Development (USAID); Bohol Yacht Club; Marine Sports and Dive Operators Association (MSBOAT); and SeaKnights.

Other events conducted were community mangrove tour, seaweed farm tour, and other fun activities. <b>Anna Helen Zeta-Yap/Sunnex</b>

Fire in Lahug, Cebu City

Fire in Lahug, Cebu City on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Fire in Lahug, Cebu City on Wednesday, September 26, 2012

A fire broke out around 7:30 a.m. of Wednesday, September 26, 2012, at Sunset Drive, Lahug, Cebu City. The Cebu City fire department said the blaze was placed under control 10 minutes after the fire started.

This photo was taken by Sushmita Kyle E. Calejesan. This was also published at

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Textures of Traditions

The thing that is so enthralling about Chinese culture is its tremendous regard for tradition. Easily charged by the misguided mind (pardon but this author included) as superstitions, the many components of Chinese custom evident in the coming Chinese New Year celebration are after all but honest musings about life.

Mysterious and colorful, the Chinese New Year is an opportunity for the curious to experience the many textures of this festivity.

Sun.Star Plus & Special observes the coming of the Year of the Rabbit with the Buddha Light International Association, to know the fascinating meanings behind these age-old practices.

Starting clean

As logical as it is ceremonial, the anticipation of the New Year begins with the traditional “cleansing of the temple.”

Like many beginnings, it is right to start with a clean slate and the physical manifestation such as the cleaning of the temple is a reminder to shed-off the bad things (and habits we’ve cultivated) of the past year.

Hanging wishes

Just right at foot of the altar are two electrically lighted trees with yellow jewels suggesting either flower or foliage on which branches envelopes containing written wishes will be placed, said Ben Chua, vice president of the association.

He said that the trees represent the Bhodi tree, which according to Buddhist tradition, is the tree in whose shade Siddhartha Gautama meditated and received his enlightenment.

Summoning good rain

As the New Year comes, it is tradition for the temple’s master, this time Master Ru Seng, to beat the drum located at the left side of the temple’s entrance.

She climbs up tall chair made for this occasion, positioning herself to reach the drum. Then she’ll ceremoniously strike it to create a sound of progressing rhythm. The sound, like that of soft thunder, intones the heavens to “let the rain come but just enough for the crops to grow,” said Chua.

Aside from the drum, the temple master will also toll the bell located at the right side of temple for a hundred and eight times. Chua said that the 108 strikes signify to get rid of “108 worries” of man according to Buddhist tradition.

Auspicious Ang-pao

It is tradition that on Chinese New Year younger people line up to the elderly to receive an ang-pao, a red envelope that contains a monetary gift. It suggests the bid for good fortune for the coming year.

“The amount inside the envelope doesn’t really matter,” said Chua, who himself keeps an ang-pao inside his wallet.

“We uphold traditions because it reminds us of our roots. It’s been there for a long time, so there might be some good reason why we should keep them and why it is beneficial for us to continue observing them,” said Chua.

Chinese traditionWhat’s on the table

One charming characteristic of Chinese tradition is how meaning can be drawn from almost everything, from food for example. The Chinese derive meanings from how food sounds like, take the ones below for example, which as you guessed are perfect for the New Year’s feast! Mrs. Tan Ngai Guimchu, a Buddha devotee, tells us what’s in the menu.

Pineapple. Ong lai in Chinese, the cacophony of pineapple suggests for prosperity to come.

“Ong” sounds like “prosperous” and lai sounds “come.”

Raddish. So that you’ll always have food for the rest of the year. Raddish is tsai (vegetable) khao (head) is Chinese.

Huat khe. Is a delicacy made of camote flour. Huat khe means “to increase.”

Mis hua. The noodles suggest longer life.

Lumpia. As it’s preparation involves the family, fresh lumpia means the coming of family together.

Tikoy. Sweet in the palette, tikoy reminds us to “speak sweet words.” From the wisdom if Venerable Master Hsin Yun, we ought to “speak good words, think of good things and do good deeds.”

Experience a vegetarian Chinese New Year treat for only P100 excluding drinks at the So Gung Shan Chun Buddhist Temple located at V. Rama, Cebu City on Feb. 3 from 6 p.m. until 12 midnight. Songs and dances will also be rendered by different school groups. (Jose Jello Cubelo)


Photos by Amper Campaña

How To Make Tikoy

Tikoy lovers know it is easy to prepare and is a favorite during the Chinese New Year celebration. This type of rice cake or pudding can be served as long as it is heated or fried after it is dipped in egg. But making tikoy is not that hard.

However, Rosa Sy, one of the owners of La Fortuna Bakery, says aside from serving fresh tikoy every day, they have a secret ingredient that make this dessert one of their bestsellers in the last 55 years.

But those who want to try experimenting in the kitchen. Here re simple steps in making tikoy.


3 ¼ cups (400g) glutinous rice
2/3 cup brown sugar
7 oz warm water
1 tbsp. milk
water, as needed
1 tbsp roasted sesame seeds
1 tbsp vegetable oil or nonstick
cooking spray
½ cup dates, pitted and chopped

Cooking procedure:

1. In a bowl, mix the warm water and brown sugar. Let it cool.

2. Add glutinous rice flour to the water and brown sugar mixture. Mix thoroughly.

3. Put the pitted and chopped dates to the mixture and make sure the pieces are distributed well.

4. Add the milk and begin shaping the mixture.

5. With vegetable oil or non-stick cooking spray, grease a cake pan before placing the glutinous rice flour mixture.

6. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top.

7. Steam the rice cake over medium-high to high heat for 45 minutes or until the edges of the cake pull away from the pan.

8. Using a knife, remove the rice cake from the pan and place it on a wax paper or cling wrap.

9. Refrigerate it for at least 5 hours before cooking it in your desired method. (CJ Rodriguez)

Indulge in a Chinese Feast

The weather’s been really crazy lately. I’m just not sure how it contributed to my recently weird appetite like craving for Peking Duck Pizza!

This not-so-usual pizza I discovered when together with a friend we feasted on a stretch of buffet specialties at the new Radisson Blu Hotel Cebu. Then our attention got transferred particularly towards the Chinese section where people flocked to get a piece of everything. And oh, what’s with the red outfit?

It was when Chinese New Year comes to mind. Yes. It’s about time to practice our “Kung Hei Fat Choi” or “Kiong Hee Huat Tsai” again!

The longest and most important festivity in the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Chinese New Year is celebrated for about 15 days. Within China and some countries in the world with significant Chinese populations like ours, customs and traditions concerning the celebration of the Chinese New Year vary widely from buying presents to decorations, lucky charms and clothing mostly in red hues. These practices are believed to usher wealth, longevity, happiness and good luck in general. While the popular lion dance and fireworks are symbolic rituals that signal the New Year as well as to ward off evil spirits.

And how about the food, you ask.

Preparing food might be an understatement, because it’s a feast that is usually served during Chinese New Year. According to traditions, the sumptuous banquet includes fish which is usually not eaten completely so there’s left for tomorrow (basically translates to “may there be fish every year.”) Chicken, ducks, and dumplings are also regulars. Sweets and dried fruits are packed in red or black Chinese boxes. Noodles for long life of course, and fruits that are particularly golden and round like
oranges implies fortune.

If you’re in for dessert, the sticky Chinese New Year pudding (locally known as tikoy) is essential should you wish for a more prosperous year.

In Radisson Blu, Chinese New Year is among the big celebrations this year. Executive chef Ofir is sprucing up the buffet selection starting Feb. 2 for a weeklong Chinese New Year Lunch and Dinner Buffet special.

For P1,288+ one’ll get fireworks, lion dance and ang paos and of course Peking Duck Pizza. (Lylle Zarrene M. Roa)


Photos by Amper Campaña

Pototsky shows skill in creating sculpture in less than 2 hours

A RUSSIAN artist yesterday made a sculptural bust of a Cebuano businessman in less than two hours.

With a lump of clay and Luis “Kiting” Moro Jr. as his model, Gregory Pototsky, who has 50 monuments erected around the world, showed art enthusiasts and fine arts students how he works as an artist.

“In making a sculptural portrait, we should create the character and the psychology of the person,” he said through his wife and translator Olga.(more)