Sunday, November 30, 2008

Katrina Schoof, a living princess

Wake uppers:

• Quote to live by: I want to love someone whose heart has been broken, so he/she knows exactly how it feels and won’t break mine.

• The Udtohan-Pajota clan 5th annual reunion was held on Nov. 22 at the Dumaluan Beach Resort in the powdery island of Panglao. Udtohan clan members from Baclayon, Tubigon, Sevilla, Sierra-Bullones,Tagbilaran City, Carmen and other towns gathered together to strengthen their family ties. The said reunion was attended by families who carry the name “Udtohan/Odtohan/Udtojan/Odtojan/Udtuhan” and “Pajota” and associated kin. Udtohan Clan president businessman Benjamin Udtohan is this year’s chairman.

• A successful businesswoman was able to buy a posh apartment unit. She is now seeing the return of her investments via her own property. According to a Very Reliable Source (VRS), the young lawyer linked to the businesswoman already frequents the businesswoman’s unit just three days after she bought the place. This does not help continuous denials from both the businesswoman and the young lawyer that they are not an item!


Got an email from Peru: President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo unveiled on Nov. 23 the bust of Philippine national hero Dr. Jose Rizal at the newly named Rizal Park in Lima, Peru.

The unveiling rites were held on the last day of her visit to Peru to attend the two-day 16th Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' meeting at the Ministry of Defense Convention Center in Lima.

The bust of Rizal was designed by Czech sculptor Libor Piszlac of Litomerice, Czech Republic, the place where Rizal's friend, Ferdinand Blumentritt, once lived.
The bust is mounted atop a quadrilateral pedestal where four inaugural plaque markers are mounted on each side.

Inscribed in one marker are the words: "Dr. Jose P. Rizal, Heroe Nacional de Filipinas, Nacionalista, Reformador Political, Escritor, Linguistica y Poeta, 1861-1896."

Inscribed in another marker are the details of the formal inaugural rites led by Mrs. Arroyo and witnessed by Prada.

The bust of Rizal was donated by Hans Gunter Schoof - a German married to a Filipina from Baclayon, Bohol - who is a passionate admirer of Rizal, especially the national hero's exploits in Germany.

Schoof now owns a plush resort in Bohol which boasts of a fine collection of Rizal memorabilia.

The establishment of the Rizal Park in Lima was made possible through the collaborative efforts of the Philippine Honorary Consulate in Peru and the municipality of La Molina.

While Peruvians salute Rizal’s heroism, the Schoof couple are here in Bohol with their daughter, Katrina, who turned a another fab year on Nov. 24 (we missed to greet her on her special day, mea culpa!) and her birthday celebration scheduled on Nov. 29 (a party was held on Nov. 29, the first time she celebrated her birthday on Bohol and at the same time the opening of The Peacock Garden Luxury Resort and Spa’s wine cellar) was attended by tons of her pals, from business and Cosmo Manila’s, Cebu’s and Tagbilaran’s social set.

Kat is likable to Disney’s enchanted princess tales—Jasmine, Snow White, Cinderella, Ariel, Belle, Aurora and Mulan (although they were figment they are teaching us to follow our dreams) because she lives life like a princess. Name it and she has it all, princes!

Kat is also a globe trotter. Her last vacations in Palau and Macau were filled with happy memories including her closest pal and cousin Glenn Mark Blasquez who joined her recent trips.

“My lovely cousin is one of a kind! She is like a sister to me. I have good memories with her and I don’t even remember we fight,” shares Glenn.

They like buko juice, swake (sea urchin), kinilaw and tilapia (that’s why they have a small fishpond for tilapia). Kat, who lives like a princess is not “maarte” unlike other rich socialites. “But she is a very humble and kind person.”

She’s definitely a gadget explorer. “Because I observe she has the latest cellphone, laptop, and camera and other girl things, you name it, she has it!” reveals Glenn.

And when you check her closet, it’s neat and all arrange from dress to shoes. She’s smart and adventurous too just like her mom and dad.

Bohol has seen the family’s generosity. “I saw their family generosity by helping other relatives and other people and not letting them down,” Glenn adds.

Kat celebrated her debut years ago and it was one of her most memorable events in life. True to Han’s words that “she’s now a fine lady,” Glenn is looking forward to her wedding day. “Good luck for your future wedding,” says Glenn.

By the way, Kat is already engaged to her man and love of her life. Where and when they met? Well, that is another book to be read, says Glenn. Interesting, interesting!

Brownbuds to release new album

If there’s a band that is more driven these days, it is Brownbuds (Mendel’s Legacy).
Despite their popularity and status, the group is determined and as hardworking as before especially with their second album “Getting Tough.”

The album has the hit lead single “Grind,” which promises to be a big song with its contagiously easy-sing-along chorus that plays up the line “Grind baby, grind baby, come on and shake your booty, grind baby, grind baby, come over, let’s get busy.” The song embodies the ingredients enough to provide listeners with something to enjoy with, whatever your gender or gender preference is. There is something to look forward to again as Brownbuds releases the second single of the album entitled “Kumusta Ka Na.”

Amiel Jim Penecios is the group’s lead vocalist, who has been attracting live audiences with his distinctive voice, dreadlocks hair and innate talent, El Cid Tirol (lead guitarist), Richard Lagroma (rhythm guitarist), Milo Miranda (bass), Arlon Seno (drums), and Jason Piodos (keyboards).

Brownbuds released its self-titled CD back in 2007, from where they released singles (Byaheng Bohol, Iro, Wake Up, Olah ) earned good radio and music channel plays. (Grab a copy of the album at Q Music Video, BQ Mall for only PhP200.) Byaheng Bohol became Bohol’s unofficial theme song for tourism.

Brownbuds guested on ABS-CBN's Umagang Kay Ganda hosted by Edu Manzano on July 29 and at Magic Studio on August 3.

Brownbuds is scheduled to perform on Dec. 6 at Sevilla, Dec. 8, Martin’s Bar, Dec. 22 at ICM, Dec. 25-30 at Amorita Resort.

To know more Brownbuds and their gigs, you can visit or If you wish to contact Brownbuds for gigs, you can contact Arch. Morris Sarabia, the director of operations at 0928-9877887, email:

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Trisha Chatto: Sweet 16

Having seen her as a tot in the loving arms of her mom, Dame Maria Pureza Chatto (wife of public servant 1st district Rep. Edgar Chatto), I have to rub my eyes twice to make sure that the flawless-complexioned, dainty young lady (who turned 16 yesterday, Nov. 22, this tradition is a welcoming of a girl to womanhood just like a debut which has the same essence as the Sweet 16 and Quinceañera) before me is, indeed, Trisha Chatto (Esther Patrisha Veloso Chatto in real life).

How she has grown! It seems only yesterday my friend that her mom was seen bringing along in her meetings and social events.

“Once in a lifetime does a girl turn sixteen, never again will this age be seen. I am now Sixteen!” says Trisha.

Trisha’s birthday reminds me of Sound of Music’s Sixteen Going On Seventeen-- “ I am sixteen going on seventeen, I know that I'm naïve, fellows I meet may tell me I'm sweet, And willingly I believe…I am sixteen going on seventeen, innocent as a rose, bachelor dandies, drinkers of brandies, what do I know of those..”

Being the only daughter of a well-to-do family, she may have grown with a silver spoon in her mouth, but she remains simple and unaffected.

Trisha’s cause for the underprivileged goes back when she was in elementary at the Bohol Wisdom School. She could help in raising funds for the Girl Scouts of the Philippines, United Nations Youth Association of the Philippines, Pink Panthers and other charitable institutions. On her birthday, she asked her friends “to omit gifts” and those who wished to donate cash or in kind can help the Life Philippine Foundation for her feeding program for indigent children.

Since then, she has been actively involved in various community works and has been exposed to the community. It wasn’t long when she joined the Samahang Kabataan Volunteers Club (SKVC), an extended arm of the Sangguniang Kabataan Bohol Federation office.

As to why she is drawn to doing community work, she relates “I’ve already been blessed with everything I could possibly ask for. I want to be able to help those who are not as fortunate as I am. I also believe that it’s my duty as an individual and as a Filipino to help my fellowmen. It’s also a way for me to improve myself through the different experiences I get by being involved in various activities and a way to make new friends.”

She may have all the material comforts a girl her age wants, but her desire goes beyond the material. She must have be lucky to have a supportive family and friends who are more than willing to support her simple mission.

Get to know a little more about Trisha as she “plays favorites.”
Actor – Shia Saide Labeouf.
Actress - (International) Angelina Jolie and (Local) KC Concepcion. They're both very talented and they're both UN ambassadors! Haha
Movies- The Guardian (“The characters there save people's lives and that's something I would love to do.”) Click (It shows that you could no longer change what you have done in the past. so you have to make the most of every moment.”)
Singer- Lea Salonga. (“She has an amazing voice.”)
Song- River Flows in You by Yiruma. Although it's an instrumental, I love the way it sounds.
Book- I have a lot of favorite books. But right now, the Twilight Saga. Nakakakilig kasi. Just enough for a teenage girl like me. I share this love with my classmates and cousins. Haha
Perfume - Pink from Victoria's Secret.
Sport- I'm not really a sports person. I like to ice skate but I don’t really do it as a sport. Just as a hobby.
Fruit- Mango.
Snacks- Skyflakes :)
Dish- Carbonara. yumyum. :)
Part of her body- My wrists and hands.
Crush- Secret. Haha :)
Hideaway- Somewhere with a beach.. I love the sea.
Hobbies- Reading, going out with my friends.
Recipe(s)- Mom's mango float and Auntie Nikki's caesar salad.
Subjects (in school)- English.
Author-Sidney Sheldon. I have all his books!
Part of her face: Eyes and cheeks.
Part of a boy’s body: Eyes.
Sleeping wear- Shorts and one of dad's shirts. Its very comfy. Hehe
Car(s)- Porsche. Classy.
Pet- Dogs.
Saint- St. Cecilia. Her feastday is on my birthday.
Hero (es)- Mom, dad and Vance, my bff. They've done nothing but the best for me. I love them very much. Life would never be the same without those three.
Comics character- W.i.t.c.h. That's the only comic book I ever read! Haha
Time of the Day- Night time. I like to stargaze.
Day of the week- Friday. I get to rest well at night. Back to busy life na naman on Saturday. Haha
Part(s) of the house- The picture wall in my bedroom. It has pics of me, my family and best friends. :)
TV shows- Gossip girl. I love the fashion.. and Greek, its interesting but I watch them over the internet.
Restaurant- The resto in Peacock Garden. I love the food. Everytime I try a different dish, it's delicious.
Most precious possession- My family and my friends.
City- New York. The city that never sleeps.:)
Color(s)- Pink, green and blue.

Expression- "Ay shakoy!" Haha.. I say that everytime I make a mistake. Haha!

What’s up?

• Sam Penaso, a visual and performance artist from Bohol, will present his recent abstract paintings in his 10th solo exhibition opens on November 21 (6pm) to December 4 at the Galerie Astra, 2nd level, LRI Design Plaza, Nicanor Garcia St. (Reposo) Bel Air ll, Makati City, Tel. 8903988.

Penaso recently has been invited to do his Performance Art at “Asia Performance Art Festival” in Seoul and Gwangju Biennale, Korea and also a Group exhibition at Gallery Nuri, Korea Foundation Cultural Center.

His exhibition entitled “Keombae” is taken from the Korean term for “cheers” inspired by his short trip around Seoul and Gwangju Biennale.

A Bachelor of Fine Arts graduate from the Technological University of the Philippines, Penaso also took units in sculpture at Philippine Women’s University Institute of Fine Arts, He is one of the core members of the Tupada Action and Media Art (Tama) group of Performance Artist.

To know more about Sam and his works, please visit

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Chito Visarra: Calling the shots

Wake uppers:• Gay event manager (GEM) thought he hit gold after bedding Hunky Model (HM), who turned out be a closet queen! They have the same colors! Plus, HM only indulged GEM’s sexual advances in exchange for the latter’s help in improving his pangkabuhayan showcase. Ex deal or no ex deal?

• Our dog, Chubby, has turned one year old on Nov. 11 with a little “fanfare.” A dog birthday party is the ideal way to say "Happy Birthday", or just a simple "thank you" to our best friend. Our dog will be a friend for life... always there with a wagging tail, a smiling face and a wet nose to welcome you home or just to say "hello.” Chubby celebrated “her” birthday with the kids (thanks to Jane Censoria Cajes of SK for the cake, Dennis Du of Dunkins for the munchkins). A mass feeding was held in barangay Booy, this city.

• Reporter: Some say that it’s hard to get to see you in office when they need your help about something.

Official: No, that is not true. All the time, my office is open to all walks of people (All walks of people? Thanks for the new phrase!)• Welcome back, piao liang peng you (beautiful friend) Pei Nuo ( Emerson Pinos) after a two-month 13th Senior Study and Research Program for International Young Cadres in China. Ni-hao!


Something exciting is brewing in the air these days, and radio listeners are hearing the reports of seasoned broadcaster Chito Visarra over station dyRD.

He’s not carrying media IDs; instead we find, as he fishes them out, Nokia cell phone and his Asus laptop to keep him abreast on what’s happening in Bohol and the world.

That’s because as an anchor, work is never done.

In the middle of the exchange, he receives the story lineup for tomorrow’s prime time program.

The no-nonsense journalist takes his job seriously, that’s clear. It’s no joke being in charge of five programs on dyRD (Inyong Alagad (Monday to Thursday), 7:30 a.m.- 9:00 a.m.; Ok Ba Doc? (Monday to Friday), 2:30 p.m- 3:00 p.m.; dyRD Action Line (every Wednesday), 3:15 p.m.- 4:15 a.m.; Radyo Merkado (every Saturday), 7:00 a.m.- 10:00 a.m.; Takna sa Bohol Light and Bohol Water (weekdays), 10:00 a.m.-11:00 a.m.) handling them with sobriety and equilibrium and touting him the busiest radio personality in Bohol!

“And there’s one more program hopefully,” he gasps. He will handle a new program about the controversial reproductive health.

The opportunity to anchor the programs couldn’t have come at a better time for Chito who, until a few years ago, had felt his career had reached a plateau.

He admits that, as an anchor, he tends to be too hands-on, “researching and anchoring.”

More important, despite the crushing deadlines and hectic schedule of journalism, his surrogate daughter never missed his presence.

Chito never ceases to remind the up-and-coming wards to hold on the integrity and credibility. “We can discuss current issues practically under the sun... it’s my responsibility to inform them,” he says.

He came from a clan of politician (remember Congressman Genaro Visarra?) and, as early as now, there’re people who are pushing him to run for councilor in 2010. The dyRD people only had one concern; they asked Chito straight, “Are you going to run for public office?” They don’t want it used for political motives.” To which he earnestly answered, “No!”

“I never entertained running for public office. You can serve the people according to what God has given to you,” he quips.

And how about his lovelife? Chito is an eligible bachelor, think of it girls.

Not one to turn down a request for help if he can help it, Chito also agreed to a short ten-minute interview ---while he’s rushing for his next assignment.

Basic Info
Name: Joseto Mendoza Visarra
Nickname: Chito
Birthday: Feb. 1, 1952
Birth Place: Tagbilaran City

Claim to fame: Never thought about it. Feel very comfortable working behind the scenes than basking under the glory of fame.

Unforgettable moment: Forgot about it

Chito's hit list:
1. Family, friends and Caycay.
2. Loves my brothers shepherds.
3. Long walks and mind games.
4. Never tires of Rock classics and DVD live classic rock concerts
5. Books, Internet, Nature.

His most treasured item is : Never really considered material things to be treasured. All things beyond valuation such as friendship, loyalty, love - all things beyond measured.

Q & A
On the spot:

How hectic is your life, exactly? I'm really slowing down. Trying to pace myself. Laid back nalang. I've been through it all. So what is there to chase.

How do you choose stories to be aired? As long as it involves public interest - it's worth airing.

How do you keep "Ok Ba Doc?" not boring? Go back to basics. Do away with the medical gobbledegook. I ask questions like a layman. Veer away from the lecture type. Level with your listening audience. Hope I'm succeeding.

What time does your day start? At the crack of dawn. Your third peetime. ha! ha!

How much time do you have for yourself? Not much. More time with my nephews & nieces, friends and my surrogate family.

What do you do to unwind? Read, music and nature. I hate Tagbilaran because I love small towns and barangays away from the madding crowd.

How much air time do you allot to police stories? Never though about that. Police women siguro!

Your tagline is: Never wanted to be tagged.

Have you ever wanted to be a reporter? Leave it to Danny Reyes and Willie Magistrado.

What do you like most about the work you do? Sharing what little I know with the listening public.

What are the stories you’ve done that you find most fulfilling? My common threads are those that ignite vigorous public discussion.

As an anchor-reporter, how do you make sure that you’re up to speed on your job? Research, research, research, research.

Where do you want to go from here? Nowhere. Just trying to perfect my craft and share whatever I have.

What advice would you want to give young broadcast students who want to reach your level of success? You're giving me more than I deserve. I've just been in this for three years. My advice “it’s the content that matters not your voice. So do your homework.”

What was your favorite beat as an anchor? Never had a beat... Went straight into anchoring with Batchoy Alba and Fred Amora.

Who was your mentor? Our GM Peter Dejaresco.

What do you watch on TV, presuming you still have the time? Of course, National Geographic, Discovery, Pat O'Reilly & a lot of ANC. There are lots of good shows but I'm early to bed.

Do you dream about your job? Wet dreams and nightmares Ha ha ha!

Do you feel like a celebrity? No way.

What is your biggest frustration/regret? Just wondering if I could have been a good priest. Stayed in the seminary for for years.

What do you value most? Loyalty and honesty.

What do you want to achieve? I'll think about it when I grow up.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Suitcase101 launches debut album

I can't even count how many times I've told myself never to interview another band. Friends have started telling me I'm biased when I praise bands. Ooh, I'm so sorry, you said you wanted Rivermaya?Suitcase101, a local band from Bohol is no fledging band with big dreams. It is composed of young, idealistic musicians.

Last week, I saw them performed (singing the SK theme song) during the SK National Congress held at the Waterfront Hotel in Lahug Cebu City with Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo as guest of honor (who said "Maganda!" referring to the band's performance) and more than 2,000 SK leaders from all over the country headed by SK national president Jane Censoria Cajes.

Their story goes back three years ago when they decided to start a band. The name Suitcase101 was derived from the band Matchbox20, whom at that time the band started was quite popular. Formed in the mid-2005, Suitcase101 started as an acoustic band in a local resto bar in Bohol (we watched them performed at the then Martin's Bar with friends John Torralba, de Ers, Engr. Aprilmel Lupot, Julan Cordova, UBSSG etc for a drinking spree)with the band original members Alexis Balista, Rissa Cabalit and Sam Varquez who left the band for some reasons. Vocalist Adrian Bayron was in the band then.

Its metamorphosis was closely watched by fans from being an acoustic band to alternative rock band. Suitcase101 continued performing and composing songs the new members decided to take the "band thing" seriously. With Adrian on vocals, Alva Duaban on guitars, Arvin Avergonzado on drums and Venjo Busalla on bass. Slowly gaining popularity with their first original composition "Kalahati" as their regular audience would bring over a friend the next time they come. There was even a time that the song was played twice on the same night as late comers would insist on requesting for the song even though it was already played earlier.

They recorded the song "Kalahati" and two other original tracks namely "Never Need Someone" and "Three Years Since" in Backyard Project Studios in Cebu City last March 2007. They burst into Bohol's music scene as they released "Kalahati" and "Never Need Some" on local radio stations 911 FM and 102.3 Kiss FM, winning 6 Battle of the Bands, and opened for Manila-based artists such as Bamboo, Imago, Moonstar88, Hale and Urbandub to name a few.

Suitcase101 created a wave when the band the national search of the GlobeKantabataan 2007. It seems that there was no depth on the band's name, but during the course of the Globe Kantabataan competition, the band was frequently traveling back and forth Manila and Bohol. They discovered that traveling together with the band makes their bond a lot stronger and they just love traveling together. Hence, the name Suitcase101 just fit quite right for the band.

Slowly gaining recognition in the Visayas area as their songs "Kalahati" and Globe Kantabataan winning entry "Posible ang Lahat" are enjoying regular airplay in Cebu's radio stations 91.5 Hot FM and 93.1 Smash FM. The recent Battle of the Band that they won was Sandugo Battle of the Bands '07 where Adrian won the Best Vocalist, Alva as the Best Guitarist, and Arvin won as the Best Drummer for the third time. But the most prestigious competition they have won is the Globe Kantabataan '07. Besting over hundreds of hopefuls and making them 7-time Battle of the Bands Champions.

Following the success of Globe Kantabataan, Alva decided to leave the band to pursue his nursing degree, a move that every parent should be proud of. Getting another guitarist was not a problem as Felix Bacareza was ready to fill the void that Alva left. Felix is not a stranger to the band as he had already played with the band as a session guitarist.

The closeness of the members and support from their families and girlfriends-they gave the band the rush of energy-the energy they need to go to the studio, practice, produce an album and perform more gigs. The band thrives on playing live. Be it a small gathering or a big arena, they will sweat the same. Fueled by diverse influence on each of the members, their music combines an aggressive melodic vibe with honest to goodness lyrics, raw emotion and unrestrained passion.

After three years, Suitcase101 has a self-titled debut album. They don't have regrets releasing a "late" album as the cliché goes, there's time for everything.

The album has 11 songs--- Riddle, Three Years Since, Kalahati, Never Need Someone (they hate girls!), 163, Starlight, Foreman, Handuraw, Boholano, Live Loud Kicking Out and Lakas ng Himig, the official theme song of the Sangguniang Kabataan--- with two bonus tracks, Kalahati acoustic version and Posible Ang Lahat. Listening to the songs, Suitcase101 is creating a sound different from the rest, it's a Suitcase brand of music toning down the sound of maturity and turning up the volume of youthfulness. The songs in the album are edgies, funckier and really speak about their age and the fans.

Who's the cutest?
Adrian- Felix...He looks like Gerard Anderson according to my mom!
Venjo- Me, according to my Mama! (Laughter)
Arvin-Me, because I love myself
Alva- I'm the cutest of them all! (Laughter).
Felix- Hahaha it's me guys!

Who has lots of girlfriends?
Adrian. (Pointing to Arvin) He's Arvin. He's jolly… Huli niya kiliti niya sa mga chicks! (Laughter)
Arvin: (Counting his fingers) 1 2 3 4 it's Adrian!
Adrian: If underground movement si Venjo!
Felix: Arvin!!!! The comments at the friendster speak so.
Venjo: Virgin pa mi. (Laughter)

Do you have indecent proposals from fans, especially girls and fags?
Arvin: Naa… (Laughter)
Adrian: Ha ha ha wala oy.. We politely refused
Venjo: Good boy ko (Laughter)
Felix: No comment.
Alva- Hi Gladys!

Why you didn't accept previous offers?
Arvin: There were offers before but we are Bohol based. Some managers want Manila based bands.
Venjo: Dili pa daghan amung original songs.
Adrian: I was teaching, now I devote my whole time to the band.
Alva: Pure original songs.
Felix- Wala lang…He he he he

What are your future plans?
Arvin: Makipasasapalaran in Manila
Adrian: Mainstream… more gigs and platinum album (Laughter)
Felix: Success!
Venjo: Kanang maayo jud!
Alva: Fame and fortune! (Laughter)

Catch Suitcase101 on Nov. 14, 8pm at the Coralandia Resort along Graham Avenue, Tagbilaran City. Entrance fee is P50 only with free Globe sim card. The Suitcase101 album is sold at P200 during the concert. Those who want to buy can contact 0917-4587-640. Or check and


What's up?

The deadline of the submission of entries for the Ten Outstanding SK Chairmen of Bohol Search which organized by SK Bohol Federation headed by Jane Censoria Cajes is on Nov. 14. For details, you can visit SK office at the 2nd floor of the Capitol Building, or you may call 411-5914.

Erstwhile Surigao del Sur representative Prospero Pichay, who's the National Chess Federation president, was the guest of honor and speaker during the 2008 Pres. Carlos P. Garcia Memorial Open Chess Tournament on Nov. 4. The tourney was participated in by chess enthusiasts from the province. Bohol, according to Pichay, has produced Jedara Docena, a chess wizard from Antequera.

Congratulations and goodluck to the participants and organizers of this year's City Division Press Conference. It was a déjà vu seeing familiar faces during the presscon: Sir Melchor Daniel, Maam Natividad Bagaipo and Maam Fe Corazon Machete.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Blessed Assurance

It’s the time of the year when mortals feel intimations of mortality, the temporariness of life, and the permanence of everlasting life.

Each year, on Nov. 1, All Saints Day, and Nov. 2, All Souls Day, we troop to the cemetery to visit our dead ones. It is one way of assuring ourselves that our departed ones are truly gone temporarily separated from us --- that one day we should be together again in Heaven with our Maker and Infinite Intelligence. As we all remember our dear departed, I want to share with you stories of hymnists who in one or another always reminding us that we are mortals and we are dust in the wind.

We sing gospel songs because, well, we just like to - they are the musical equivalent of comfort food. But more importantly, we sing them because they connect many times with great All Souls Day and Lenten themes of sin, redemption, the cross, the resurrection and heaven or hell.

The next time you sing an old, familiar hymn, look at the small print at the bottom or top of the page and you probably will read the name of Fanny Crosby.

For the past days, I’m busy youtubing Fanny Crosby’s hymns. Frances Jane Crosby (March 24, 1820 – February 12, 1915, popularly known as Fanny Crosby, the Queen of Gospel Songs) was an American poetess and lyricist best known for her Christian hymns. A lifelong Methodist, she was one of the most prolific hymnists in history, writing over 8,000 despite being blind from shortly after birth. Also known for her preaching and speaking, during her lifetime Fanny Crosby was one of the best known women in the United States . To this day, the vast majority of American hymnals contain her work. Some of her best known songs include "Blessed Assurance", "Jesus Is Tenderly Calling You Home," “I am Thine O Lord,” "Praise Him, Praise Him," and "To God Be the Glory." Every song is a testimony of her love for Jesus Christ.

Since some publishers were hesitant to have so many hymns by one person in their hymnals, Crosby used nearly 100 different pseudonyms during her career.

"Blessed Assurance" (one of the most beloved hymns of all time) is a well-known Christian hymn. Crosby was visiting her friend Phoebe Knapp as the Knapp home was having a large pipe organ installed. The organ was incomplete so, using the piano, Mrs. Knapp played a new melody she had just composed called "Assurance". "What do you think the tune says?" asked Knapp.

"Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine," answered Fanny Crosby.

She later remarked: It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God that I should be blind all my life, and I thank him for the dispensation. If perfect earthly sight were offered me tomorrow I would not accept it. I might not have sung hymns to the praise of God if I had been distracted by the beautiful and interesting things about me.

She also once said, "when I get to heaven, the first face that shall ever gladden my
sight will be that of my Savior!"

She composed her poems and hymns entirely in her mind and then dictated them to someone else. She was said to work mentally on as many as twelve hymns at once before dictating them all.

Fanny was very well known during her time and often met with presidents, generals and other dignitaries. She played the hymn "Safe in the Arms of Jesus" at President Grant's Funeral in 1885. In her later years, she also became a popular public speaker.

When she died, her tombstone carried the words, "Aunt Fanny" and "Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine. Oh, what a foretaste of glory divine."

Decades after Fanny…

In Bohol, there’s Onecimo Oclarit, popularly known as One who spends most of his
time as church musician (at the St. Joseph Cathedral).

Like Fanny, One is a blind composer and hymnist. He is an example of giving back his life and talent to the Lord through his hymns. Churchgoers are familiar of “Sulod Kamo Nga Malipayon,” “Ania Kita Nagsaulog,” “Dayegon Ta Ang Ginoo,” “Ania Kami Ginoo” and “Dawata O Ginoo,” these are One’s compositions to signal the start of the mass. Other One’s songs are “Ang Tawo Mamatay Gayud,” “Bisan Pa Man,” “Kanunay Buhi ang Kinabuhi,” “Pamatia O Ginoo” and “Tawo Ayaw Kalimot sa Abog ka Gikan” are sung during requiem mass. “These songs remind us that we are humans,” One said.

His composition Señor San Jose is sung anywhere in the world where there are Visayan devotees of St. Joseph .

“This is unto the Lord,” One said. Blind in 1957 from typhoid fever (his survival was considered by Manila doctors as “miracle” at that time) he had never questioned the will of God. He wished to become a lawyer.

“I had questions but I don’t blame God even if my world is in total darkness,” he continued. The Church helped him to regain his faith to the Lord and confidence of himself as he started serving the Lord when he was 12 years old as bell ringer for 14 years and official organist.

One, who is now 58 years old, won the 1994 Grand Original Composition for the song “Balik sa Bohol” which is popularized by local singers in Loboc in floating restos. He also won the 12th Cebu Pop Music in 1994 for the song “Kay Gihigugma Ko Ikaw.” He’s also the man behind the jingles of CBB and Ubi Festival.

“I don’t ask for wealth that can’t change my character. It’s enough that I can eat three time a day, in good health and with my family,” the contented One said. He is married to Trinidad with whom he has three children, Rosauro Mariano, Ma. Luisa and Ma. Alma . He has 10 grandchildren.

God has proven to me, that the blind can see, and He did that through Fanny Crosby and One Oclarit. We noticed that in God's sense of equality and magnanimity, He has gifted many blind people as well with the extra-ordinary talent in music. They were never bitter about their disability.

What are you doing to help other people? Are you involved in your church? What are you doing to serve Jesus? Fanny Crosby, One Oclarit (with other blind singers and composers like Stevie Wonder and George Matheson) and those who’re physically challenged could have made many excuses--- they are blind….but they served the Lord any way and look the Lord did through them. He can use you too.

To end this piece, here’re the lyrics of Blessed Assurance (Pagkabulahang Pagsalig Ko) written by Fanny Crosby which is translated into Visayan:

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine! (Pagkabulahang pagsalig ko,)
O what a foretaste of glory divine! (Ang Manluluwas ko Siya si Jesus)
Heir of salvation, purchase of God, (Mahimayaong akong kalag)
born of his Spirit, washed in his blood.(Iyang dugo ang nagatubos)Refrain:
This is my story, this is my song, (Kini ang asoy ug awit ko)
praising my Savior all the day long; (Ang Manluluwas dayegon ta)
this is my story, this is my song, (Kini ang asoy ug awit ko)praising my Savior all the day long. (Ang Manluluwas dayegon ta)

Perfect submission, perfect delight, (Kining pagsalig kalipay ko)
visions of rapture now burst on my sight (Akong Makita ang Himaya Niya)
angels descending bring from above (Gikan sa langit nasangyaw na)
echoes of mercy, whispers of love. (Ang putling gugma sa atong Dios)
Perfect submission, all is at rest; (Makapahulay ang nagsugot)
I in my Savior am happy and blest, (Ug magkalipay uban kang Jesus)
watching and waiting, looking above, (Sa paghulat ko ug pagtukaw)
filled with his goodness, lost in his love. (Sa Iyang gugma pun-on ako)