PHNO HEADLINE NEWS THIS PAST WEEK

BOHOL TOUR SHOP: LUXURY PUBLIC TOILETS

 

COMFORT ZONE Gas station supervisor Chona Bansag shows the much-talked-about women’s comfort room. PHOTOS BY CARMEL MATUS/INQUIRER VISAYAS  --TAGBILARAN CITY, JANUARY 12, 2015 (INQUIRER) Carmel Loise Matus @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas - TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines—Bohol’s latest tourist attraction is drawing visitors to a beeline outside what looks like ordinary public toilets in a gasoline station—until they enter and embrace their five-star hotel ambience. Once the door to the individual cubicles opens at the Shell station on Clarin Street in Tagbilaran City, a pleasant waft of mint-like scent and cool air welcome users. The surprise doesn’t end there for travelers seeking relief from bursting bladders when stopping by public washrooms. The Clarin gas station is a rarity in a country flaunting tourism as an economic driver but bereft of such travel essentials as clean public lavatories with functional flushes. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Ruins of old Ilocos Norte town discovered

 

PIECES of bricks with relief of different images ----
In what seems to be a typical Philippine northern village of modern concrete houses lies a secret that dates back to the Spanish colonial period. The village of Santa Monica or Barangay 24 in San Nicolas town, Ilocos Norte, does not only have a rich history but also a heritage as embodied by remnants of an ancient town that once existed in the area. Called by residents as daan nga ili, or old town, Santa Monica, which is also referred to as Nagrebcan, is said to be the former site of the poblacion or town center of Sarrat before it was burned down during the insurrection of 1815. After the insurrection, the townspeople rebuilt Sarrat at its present location—on the other side of the Padsan River. “The new Sarrat stands guard as it were, over what is theorized to be the old seat of the town, now called Nagrebcan (destroyed),” reads a portion on Sarrat of the book “Ilocos Norte: A Travel Guidebook.” Church art historian and University of Santo Tomas (UST) archivist Regalado Trota Jose agreed to the theory that Nagrebcan was the old Sarrat. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Pangasinan conjoined twins off to Taiwan for separation 

 
SEPARATION AT HAND — Conjoined twins Jennelyn (left) and Jerrelyn de Guzman are shown with their mother, Ludy, at their modest home in Bautista, Pangasinan on January 7, 2015, two days before they departed for Taiwan to undergo surgery to separate them. (Liezle Basa Iñigo)
Bautista, Pangasinan — The one-year-old conjoined twins of this town, Jennelyn and Jerrelyn de Guzman, have been flown to Taiwan with their mother, Ludy, to be separated by Taiwanese doctors.
In an interview before their departure for Taiwan last January 9, Ludy, 25, told the Manila Bulletin that the twins are in superb health and had passed all the preliminary medical examinations. READ FULL REPORT...

ALSO: Magnitude 6.0 quake jolts Luzon

 

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that that the epicenter of the earthquake was located 43 kilometers south of San Antonio in Zambales. It had a depth of 85 kilometers and was tectonic in nature. Courtesy of philvolcs.dost.gov.ph Courtesy of philvolcs.dost.gov.ph Cities in Metro Manila also felt the earthquake. Pasig City, Pasay City, Manila City, Quezon City, Makati City as well as Hagonoy in Bulacan, San Mateo in Rizal and Bulacan experienced a magnitude 4 quake; as well as Tagaytay City, San Miguel in Tarlac (Intensity 3); Baguio City and Batangas City (Intensity II). Although no damages were reported Phivolcs said aftershocks are expected. Three more quakes were reported: Magnitude 4.2 about 74 kilometers south of Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental at around 4:12 a.m.; Intensity 2.3, 20 kilometers west of San Antonio in Zambales at 5:08am; and Intensity 2.5 about 36 kilometers south of Don Marcelino in Davao Oriental at around 5:17 a.m.THIS IS THE FULL REPORT...

ALSO 'EXCITING NEW MOVIE: Don’t fret about President Aquino’s love life; enjoy Derek Ramsay’s movie–with Derek 

 

Apart from the visit of Pope Francis this week, people are talking about the surprise hit movie “English Only, Please” starring Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado, and Vice Ganda’s one-on-one with President Aquino. When you hear the staff of the hair salon small-talk about it, then you know people are really interested in the subject. The President’s love life, or lack of it, has an almost preternatural way of eclipsing everything else in any interview with him, no matter that there are more things to point out in his defy-all-odds governance. So, it wasn’t surprising that many viewers’ takeaway from Vice Ganda’s interview was the President’s zero love life. READ FULL REPORT......


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

Bohol tour stop: Luxury public toilets


COMFORT ZONE Gas station supervisor Chona Bansag shows the much-talked-about women’s comfort room. PHOTOS BY CARMEL MATUS/INQUIRER VISAYAS

TAGBILARAN CITY, Philippines JANUARY 12, 2015 (INQUIRER) Carmel Loise Matus @inquirerdotnet Inquirer Visayas - —Bohol’s latest tourist attraction is drawing visitors to a beeline outside what looks like ordinary public toilets in a gasoline station—until they enter and embrace their five-star hotel ambience.

Once the door to the individual cubicles opens at the Shell station on Clarin Street in Tagbilaran City, a pleasant waft of mint-like scent and cool air welcome users.

The surprise doesn’t end there for travelers seeking relief from bursting bladders when stopping by public washrooms.

The Clarin gas station is a rarity in a country flaunting tourism as an economic driver but bereft of such travel essentials as clean public lavatories with functional flushes.

Its 8-square-meter rest room is air conditioned and has a long horizontal clear mirror with a mahogany frame. Below the mirror are small boats embedded with shells and other preserved seashells.

Hanging on the walls are mahogany-framed paintings of Raul Agas, who is known for his brush strokes with ATM cards, and Antonio Ylanan, who won a painting contest sponsored by the Government Service Insurance System in 2008.

Both artists are Cebuano.

On the sides of the room are tables bearing baskets, vases, lampshades and other native products.

Internet access

In a women’s cubicle, a shelf of magazines and books serves as a divider between toilet bowl and sink.

In a men’s cubicle, the bowl is behind the rack of publications, with a lampshade and a native basket at the bottom.

The urinal is between two side tables—one with books and the other with native décor items and next to the sink. It is just below the mirror so users can look at themselves in moments of relief.

Men’s comfort room that was featured in a selfie video that went viral on social networking sites in November last year. Men’s comfort room that was featured in a selfie video that went viral on social networking sites in November last year. Visitors can also surf the Internet because the place has an 8-mbps WiFi signal. A landline phone is mounted on the wall.

One of four

The public lavatory on Clarin, which answers with aplomb calls of nature, is but one of four facilities put up by owner Rex Carampatana.

The others are on Carlos P. Garcia Avenue, also in Bohol’s provincial capital; in Barangay (village) Lawaan in Talisay town; and in Barangay Tunghaan in Minglanilla town, in Cebu province.

Many people have asked Carampatana why he was investing so much in public toilets. His answer—he wanted to treat each of his customers as guests who deserve luxury service.

He said his clients enjoyed the “johns” because the facilities were not only clean but also looked like those found in luxury hotels.

Marketing strategy

Carampatana recalled that when he first opened the Talisay station in 2011, jeepney drivers left their slippers outside the room to avoid bringing in mud or dirt.

“We always remember the worst in public toilets. What we offer is a delightful, a memorable toilet experience,” Carampatana said.

The toilets are also part of a marketing strategy to provide customers a pleasant experience, he said.

“I really believe that it is an important point, as equally important as the engagements of our guests with our crew. Toilets to be acceptable need to be clean and functional,” he said.

What Filipinos can do

Carampatana, a civil engineer, said his comfort rooms had similar facilities and embellishments, usually native products, because he wanted to promote and showcase the beautiful things made by Filipinos.

In the case of the Clarin station, some of the tables, baskets and lamps are made in Bohol. Others came from Cebu.

All fuel stations have adjoining coffee shops and function rooms for meetings and family gatherings. Each is equipped with at least 40 closed-circuit television cameras, is open 24 hours, and has a shop that sells native bags and accessories, as well as delicacies.

Selfies taken, too

Chona Bansag, the Clarin station supervisor, said most of the customers were so impressed by the facilities that “we often catch them taking a selfie.”

One of those who shot a selfie video was Jason Godfrey, host of AXN Asia, who posted it on his Facebook account.

As of Jan. 2, the video post had generated more than 1.5 million views with 28,347 likes. It was also shared by Facebook users 22,061 times.

In his post, Godfrey said the toilet “is better than my room” and is “better than my entire apartment actually.”

Bells and whistles

A group of Korean tourists, accompanied by AirAsia’s marketing officer Melissa Gohing, dropped by the gas station on their third and last day in Bohol on Dec. 16 last year to check the comfort room that had gone viral online. They could not believe what they saw, Gohing said.

“We want to provide a wholesome experience to customers,” Carampatana said. “What I did was simply to add bells and whistles to make it even better. I want our guests to enjoy a different experience … a personal and highly memorable [experience].”


FROM THE INQUIRER

Ruins of old Ilocos Norte town discovered Edgar Allan M. Sembrano @inquirerdotnet


PIECES of bricks with relief of different images

n what seems to be a typical Philippine northern village of modern concrete houses lies a secret that dates back to the Spanish colonial period.

The village of Santa Monica or Barangay 24 in San Nicolas town, Ilocos Norte, does not only have a rich history but also a heritage as embodied by remnants of an ancient town that once existed in the area.

Called by residents as daan nga ili, or old town, Santa Monica, which is also referred to as Nagrebcan, is said to be the former site of the poblacion or town center of Sarrat before it was burned down during the insurrection of 1815.

After the insurrection, the townspeople rebuilt Sarrat at its present location—on the other side of the Padsan River.

“The new Sarrat stands guard as it were, over what is theorized to be the old seat of the town, now called Nagrebcan (destroyed),” reads a portion on Sarrat of the book “Ilocos Norte: A Travel Guidebook.”

Church art historian and University of Santo Tomas (UST) archivist Regalado Trota Jose agreed to the theory that Nagrebcan was the old Sarrat.

“I think it is the old site of Sarrat before it transferred to the other side of the river,” he said in Filipino.

Jose is one of the writers and editors of the guidebook published by the Gameng Foundation, which won the National Book Award of the Manila Critics Circle in 2004.

Cultural mapping

Structures at the old Sarrat, which included a church, a cemetery and houses, were left in ruins as residents rebuilt their lives at the town’s new location.

In his book, “The History of San Nicolas,” Manuel Aurelio narrates that in 1985 the remains of the church and houses were still there, including the stone bridge constructed in the 1880s.

The recent cultural mapping project initiated by the local government of San Nicolas, with the help of the UST Center for Conservation of Cultural Property and Environment in the Tropics, has again brought to life the existence of the old town in Nagrebcan. (The tourism and education departments also assisted in the program.)


RESIDENT Rosita Pascua with one of the artifacts

RESIDENT Rosita Pascua with one of the artifacts It likewise raised the awareness of its residents about the importance of their place, said Municipal Tourism Officer Richie Cavinta.

Cultural mappers have been able to document what is said to be the remnants of the old church and the ruins of the old stone bridge. The bridge has since been replaced by a modern concrete one.

On a recent visit by Cavinta and the Inquirer, residents Rosita Pascua and Gloria Ramos showed artifacts from the old church—pieces of bricks with carved images.

Village chief Jowell Aliga said that brick after brick was recovered when a house was being constructed a few years ago.

The artifacts from Pascua and Ramos were turned over to the municipal government, which was reportedly planning to request the National Museum to conduct archeological excavations in Nagrebcan.

‘Boundary’

Also in his book, whose second edition has been recently published, Aurelio refuted claims that Nagrebcan was the old Sarrat.

The local historian said there was no mention of the exact location of the pre-1815 Sarrat. He added that Nagrebcan was populated by residents of Sarrat after fleeing from the insurrection that terrorized the town.


REMNANTS of the old church PHOTOS BY EDGAR ALLAN M. SEMBRANO

In Nagrebcan, according to Aurelio, Sarrateños built a church, cemetery and houses, but eventually returned to their hometown.

Aurelio based his information on a 1914 document “La Sublevacion de Sarrat.”

In support of this claim, he said the name Nagrebcan did not come from the Ilocano nagrebaan, which means “a place of ruins” or “destroyed,” but from the same word, nagrebcan, which means “boundary”—that is, the boundary between San Nicolas and Sarrat.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Pangasinan conjoined twins off to Taiwan for separation by Liezle Basa Inigo January 12, 2015 Share this:


SEPARATION AT HAND — Conjoined twins Jennelyn (left) and Jerrelyn de Guzman are shown with their mother, Ludy, at their modest home in Bautista, Pangasinan on January 7, 2015, two days before they departed for Taiwan to undergo surgery to separate them. (Liezle Basa Iñigo)


Bautista, Pangasinan — The one-year-old conjoined twins of this town, Jennelyn and Jerrelyn de Guzman, have been flown to Taiwan with their mother, Ludy, to be separated by Taiwanese doctors.

In an interview before their departure for Taiwan last January 9, Ludy, 25, told the Manila Bulletin that the twins are in superb health and had passed all the preliminary medical examinations.

 SEPARATION AT HAND — Conjoined twins Jennelyn (left) and Jerrelyn de Guzman are shown with their mother, Ludy, at their modest home in Bautista, Pangasinan on January 7, 2015, two days before they departed for Taiwan to undergo surgery to separate them. (Liezle Basa Iñigo) The twin’s father, Jayson de Guzman, said over the weekend that his wife had already contacted him by mobile phone in Barangay Bakante, here, to inform him that they are well taken care of in Taiwan by donor-institutions.

This week, the twins will undergo more medical tests to ensure that they will be prepared for the operation to separate them.

Born on Dec. 8, 2013 at the Region 1 Medical Center, Jennelyn and Jerrelyn are conjoined from the chest to the stomach, but each have vital organs that will allow to them to live separately.

Ludy has thanked the Manila Bulletin for publishing their story because she said it opened the floodgates for donors to help them seek advanced medical assistance to find a way to relieve the twins’ situation.

Dra. Ma Cecelia Nerona, a pediatrician who had examined the twins, had advised Ludy back then to undergo a CT-scan with angiogram to ensure that all their organs are intact and their bodies are capable of separation. The results of that examination was good, Ludy said.

“Sinabi ng foundation na aabutin ng six months to one year ang aming pananatili sa Taiwan para sa gagawing operasyon sa kambal (The foundation helping us said that we will have to be in Taiwan for six months to one year for the operation of the twins),” Ludy told the Manila Bulletin last week.

She said that although a lot of things are uncertain, she and her family are ready to make all the sacrifices in order to ensure a better health and future for the twins and that includes the separation of their bodies.

Asked why it may take them a year in Taiwan to have the operation done, Ludy said: “Pagpapagaling… pero baka mapaaga pa diyan kung maganda naman ang resulta (For their recovery… it may be a shorter time if the results of the operation are good).”

At this point, Ludy said she was more worried for her husband and their other child.

“Marami pong tumutulong sa kambal pero mahirap po ang buhay namin sa probinsya. Yun pong asawa ko, payag magsakripisyo na magkahiwalay kami kahit matagal at mahirap para lang maayos yung kambal (A lot of help is given to the twins, but our life in the province remains difficult. My husband is willing to take the sacrifice of being away from us just so the twins can be fixed.),” Ludy said.


FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

Magnitude 6.0 quake jolts Luzon January 11, 2015 (updated) Share this: A magnitude 6.0 earthquake jolted Luzon at around 3:31 a.m. Jan. 11, 2015.

The Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (Phivolcs) reported that that the epicenter of the earthquake was located 43 kilometers south of San Antonio in Zambales. It had a depth of 85 kilometers and was tectonic in nature.

Courtesy of philvolcs.dost.gov.ph Courtesy of philvolcs.dost.gov.ph Cities in Metro Manila also felt the earthquake. Pasig City, Pasay City, Manila City, Quezon City, Makati City as well as Hagonoy in Bulacan, San Mateo in Rizal and Bulacan experienced a magnitude 4 quake; as well as Tagaytay City, San Miguel in Tarlac (Intensity 3); Baguio City and Batangas City (Intensity II).

Although no damages were reported Phivolcs said aftershocks are expected. Three more quakes were reported: Magnitude 4.2 about 74 kilometers south of Jose Abad Santos in Davao Occidental at around 4:12 a.m.; Intensity 2.3, 20 kilometers west of San Antonio in Zambales at 5:08am; and Intensity 2.5 about 36 kilometers south of Don Marcelino in Davao Oriental at around 5:17 a.m.


FROM THE INQUIRER

Don’t fret about President Aquino’s love life; enjoy Derek Ramsay’s movie–with Derek Thelma San Juan @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 6:58 AM | Sunday, January 11th, 2015


AFTER the private screening, Derek Ramsay with Virgie Ramos and Tessa Valdes, and Dunkin Donuts

Apart from the visit of Pope Francis this week, people are talking about the surprise hit movie “English Only, Please” starring Derek Ramsay and Jennylyn Mercado, and Vice Ganda’s one-on-one with President Aquino.

When you hear the staff of the hair salon small-talk about it, then you know people are really interested in the subject.

The President’s love life, or lack of it, has an almost preternatural way of eclipsing everything else in any interview with him, no matter that there are more things to point out in his defy-all-odds governance.

So, it wasn’t surprising that many viewers’ takeaway from Vice Ganda’s interview was the President’s zero love life.

To be accurate, his love life hasn’t always been zero. It wasn’t in the past two years.

But it came as a surprise to me when, over lunch last November, after the inauguration of the Coca-Cola Femsa plant in Laguna, he told me abruptly, “It’s really Coke Zero.”

He explained that what he had lightheartedly mentioned earlier that morning in his Femsa speech about his love life being Coke Zero was true.

It was true last November, and it is true to this day.

Knee-jerk

More than, say, the rate of unemployment or the update on the PPP projects, people, almost as a knee-jerk reaction, wonder about his love life and ask why can’t P-Noy have a girlfriend—or a wife?

The answer then and the answer now is, the presidency isn’t conducive to a long-term relationship, to say the least. In P-Noy’s case, add destiny— made more pronounced after his father’s death—to the burden of the presidency. T

here must be times he must feel that a lasting relationship isn’t for him in this lifetime, but there must also be other times he feels that, yes, he can get married this year. (Before he leaves office—you’ll never know.)

To me, however, as interesting as his love life is his love of music. It is like a coping mechanism where his love life is concerned.

It is music which is a constant in his life, whether as private citizen or as President, and which helps him chill at the end of the day. It is his playlist—extensive, varied and beautiful—that helps him cope with the moods of being in love—or falling out of love.

He’s been an audiophile almost all his adult life, and one doesn’t realize just how much of a music enthusiast he is until one sees how much he pays attention to sound equipment and technology, how assiduous he is in selecting his music, and how vast and good his playlist is.

He has songs and music he shares with friends to suit their tastes and moods. Jazz, standards, R&B, ballads, instrumentals, pop, OPM—music across genres and eras, he listens to them.

To one like us who’s stuck in ’70s and ’80s music, it is comforting to listen to some of P-Noy’s playlist. As I coped with the loss of my parents last year, he introduced me to Jane Monheit, particularly her version of “Moon River” (I’m also stuck with Audrey Hepburn).

His dream of a post-presidency chill, one imagines, must be to join the backup of Al Jarreau—my guess.

So, to those who keep wondering and fretting about the presidential (non) love-life, “chillax,” he has his music. That’s as good as it gets—for now.

Private screening

Last Wednesday, we had a movie date we couldn’t stand up: Derek Ramsay.

We’d already seen his “English Only, Please” but, hey, if the invite was to see the movie with Derek himself, who would not want to see it again?

Swatch’s wonder woman Virgie Ramos organized a private screening of the movie for Derek, a Swatch brand icon and her good friend, and for the people who had been clamoring to see the movie—but with Derek.

“English Only, Please” earned for Derek the MMFF Best Actor award, and for his costar Jennylyn Mercado, the Best Actress trophy. It’s about a New York-based Fil-Am (Julian, played by Derek) who’s looking for an English-Filipino translator in Manila to convey his words of spite for his Filipino girlfriend who had dumped him. A very simple story, with nifty characterization, laugh-a-second dialogues, perfect chemistry between Derek and Jennylyn, and award-winning acting.

We had fun watching the movie the first time. The close-ups told the story, made the funny lines even funnier and the poignant moments even more so. The movie is well-written to begin with. Of course, it didn’t hurt that Derek is so good-looking—we would learn later from him that he didn’t even wear makeup—and that Jennylyn has such a luminous face, it radiates.

Waiting for the screening to start, we got to chat with Ramsay Sr., Derek’s dad, who went down memory lane. A Brit, he was a policeman in London when Derek Jr. was born, his second child.

The baby was only three weeks old when he was brought by his dad and Filipino mom to live in Manila. After the birth of his third child, Ramsay Sr. decided to pack up his bags and move the family to Manila.

94-year-old grandma

And he said he never regretted the move. His mom, Derek’s grandmother, is now 94 years old and lives in Kent. Mother and son Skype every day to talk and see each other. No wonder, we thought, Derek is so family-anchored.

Unlike other stars, Derek is naturally warm and gracious. He has this habit of rounding up friends—who have no close kin to spend the holidays with—to celebrate Christmas Eve with him, usually in the family home in Tagaytay.

Last Christmas, he had theater actor Jerald Napoles in his home—Napoles is “Tolits” in “Rak of Aegis” (a musical we love) and has a hilarious cameo in “English Only.”

Derek came late to the screening because he was stuck in traffic. When he walked in the cinema, the audience shouted the now-famous line in the movie: “Traffic sa Edsa!”

Derek sat between me and Sea Princess (Tessa Valdes) at the screening. I told him I had already seen the movie, and now I would watch him.

Did he ever expect to win Best Actor? No, he said. But he liked the material the moment he saw it, he said.

As we watched the movie again, sometimes he’d say which lines were improvised (his entire wacky scene with Napoles—“Where do you lift?” “Where’s the light?”).

I passed on to him our colleague Alya Honasan’s message—her favorite scene was him talking about his mom and baring his soul.

He agreed, and as the scene came on, he said, “This is it.”

Another funny scene had him and Jennylyn arguing before a tricycle driver.

As the scene came on, Derek said, “That’s actually my driver!”

We enjoyed seeing the movie the second time, and casting a side glance at Derek 80 percent of the time (20 percent, we’d eavesdrop on Tita Virgie’s comments—she loved the lighting and believed it was one of Derek’s best-lit movies).

Derek said an idea for a sequel has been broached.

Not a bad Wednesday night last week.

This week will even be better—with Pope Francis.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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