Sick Call

SICK CALL
by Danny Tariman

“I was… ill and you cared for me… Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:36B, 40)

Our family was just driving out of the Cultural Center after watching an evening ballet performance when my daughter told me “Papa, one of my officemates will be taken to a hospital on an emergency”.

I replied “What is your plan?”

She said “I plan to go with her as she is living alone is her apartment. Can you just please drop me off at the hospital?”

And so we dropped her off.

Meanwhile, we drove off and dropped my cousin near his house in Pasig City, then waited for our daughter in a nearby gas station. It was about 10:30pm.

By 11, she updated us “Maybe you just go home for now as she is still waiting to recover. I will just accompany her until she gets better and bring her home. I will just ride a cab going home.”

My family was so touched by her show of concern. My daughter could have chosen to just stay with us and relax after watching a superb ballet performance. She was giving her officemate an “extra mile”, as it was not her responsibility. Besides, the patient is not her staff, and it was too late in the evening.

I remember telling my family while we were waiting at the gas station “whatever you do for one of these least brothers, you do for the Lord”.

I am sure, the LORD is happy with what she did. I am proud of you my child. May the LORD bless you more abundantly!

Reflection:
Would you care for a person who is not related to you in any way? Or maybe just an acquaintance?

Prayer:
LORD let me see You in others, and that others may see You in me. Amen.

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Am Healthy!

AM HEALTHY!
by Danny Tariman

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” (Luke 5:32)

It was one of my most dreaded moments — to be rushed to a hospital.

Earlier in the day, I had been experiencing dizziness. I thought it was just because of lack of sleep, and so I
had an extended sleep in the morning.

But the situation didn’t improve.

It was evening when my family was completely home, that we decided that I be rushed to the hospital. On
an emergency!

Immediately, I was interviewed, vital signs taken, and then later electrocardiograph, and blood tests were
taken. After almost 2 hours in the emergency room, I was admitted for hospitalization.

Specialist-doctors attended to me. After discharged from hospital, check-ups and laboratory tests
continued.

During this period, we continue to storm the heavens with our prayers.

For about 10 weeks, I had been seeing doctors of various specializations, blood samples taken from me,
and so many others. I was getting tired of it.

We were allayed as each of the specialist-doctors, one after another, gave me a clean bill of health!

What a relief indeed! Truly the LORD is an answering God! As Philippians 4:6 says “Have no anxiety at all,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

Thank You LORD for giving me a clean bill of health!

Reflection:
Do you need a doctor? See him, but at the same time lift up to God your situation

Prayer:
LORD Jesus, You are our Healer! Heal me from this sickness that afflicts me right now. Amen!

Coron Family Adventure – Day 3

Coron Family Adventure – Day 3
Diving in Coron’s Breathtaking Spots
by Danny Tariman

This is our final leg of our 3-day Coron adventure. The past 2 days allowed us to see and experience the natural beauty of Coron: colorful corals in Siete Pecados, the awesome sunset from Mt Tapyas, the amazing interaction with wildlife in Calauit, the sunken ship, and more.

My family at a good vantage point overlooking the famous postcard view of Coron.

It appears that even to this last day of our 3-day escapade, we are still in for more surprises. We are so blessed to have a very good tour guide who guided us throughout, and even taught my wife how to swim without too much effort, and the best of it all, he knows the best shots in the various locations we went.

We left the wharf early at about 8 in the morning. Our tour guide was so smart that he told us that we start in Cayangan Lake to avoid the over-crowding of tourists by mid-day.

Cayangan Lake

The view of the lagoon as seen from the lake’s entrance was awesome. It was the picture-perfect angle for postcards. Because we arrived early, we saw only few tourists – this means we do not have to jostle with other tourists to get that good shots! Haha!

A one-of-a-kind family picture under the water of Cayangan Lake

The lake is a fresh-water late. It is so deep that there are some tourists who took the dive with oxygen tanks. Our experience here was awesome. We had a one-of-a-kind family picture here where all of us took a dive at the same time while our tour guide took a series of shots.

My family had also some swimming formations at the water surface, while our guide took some shots from down-under. Really fascinating shots!

Our 2 floating formations, as seen from the bottom of the lake.

Twin Lagoon

These two lagoon are separated by a narrow tunnel that is accessible to pass through at low tide, but during high tide tourists are advised to climb up a few steps to go to the inner lagoon. The inner lagoon has a natural mix of warm and cold water. Because of this occurrence where warm water meets cold water, the water is not so clear, you wouldn’t be able to see the deep.

Our “centipede swim” at the Twin Lagoon

We had a good swimming experience here. Upon the suggestion of our guide, my family had a centipede formation where we swam together, with our legs holding the next, forming a long line. And we swam from the inner lagoon to the outer lagoon, passing through a narrow tunnel.

Hidden Lagoon

The Hidden Lagoon is not much for swimming or diving. But the view was impressive too: very clear waters, with rock formations as a backdrop. We had a wonderful sightseeing, pass-through tour of this place.

We passed by this Hidden Lagoon: truly awesome clear waters.

Banol Beach
We had a stop-over at this beach for our lunch of crabs, fresh fish, grilled pork belly, and local vegetable salad. It was really a feast!

Banol Beach: perfect for beach-bumming and swimming.

Fine, powdery white sand lined the beach front. It was truly a good place for beach-bumming and swimming. We had very relaxed moments in this island as we rested for a while after our sumptuous meal.

CYC Beach

Not much attraction on this small island called “CYC”. We had some photo shoots as soon as we disembark from our boat. At the right side of the island are some mangrove trees, and the left side is a bit wide beach where a lot of tourists, especially children, were crowding. There were also food vendors in this island trying to out-do each other racing in their small boats to reach the tourists.

My family at CYC Island

Balinsasayaw Reef

My family enjoyed this spot very much, primarily because we love snorkelling and we all love to see the colorful and amazing creatures under the sea. Our 2 children had their own time, diving to the depths of the sea without diving gear (free-diving), while I and my wife were assisted by our tour guide who patiently “towed” us around the reef.

My son going for the dive at Balinsasayaw Reef

The view under the water was just amazing! Branching coral formations is so huge, and yet very colorful! We saw many giant clams scattered all-over the place, living in its natural habitat. Along the paths that we swam, we encountered also various kinds of reef fish.

My daughter with beautiful coral formations at the foreground.

We enjoyed the underwater garden of this Balinsasayaw Reef! After about 30 minutes of snorkelling non-stop, we got tired, and went back to the boat.

It was indeed another day of truly enjoyable moments with family! We had an undeniably awesome adventure in this part of Palawan. We love this place called Coron! Given the chance, we will come back again to this place, but maybe explore the neighboring El Nido!

My family enjoying the deep fresh-water at Cayangan Lake

 

My children and I as caught by camera handled by my wife.
At CYC Beach near the mangrove.
Giant branching corals at Balinsasayaw Reef
Giant clams, many of them, at Balinsasayaw Reef

Peace

PEACE
by Danny Tariman

“Your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” (Mark 5:34)

“Peace be with you!” With nods, this greeting during Mass has become mechanical for most. We should truly mean it though.

I remember my friend Alden (not his real name). He would often call me in the middle of the night to ask for prayers. He would tell me his situation. Sometimes it’s about corporate struggles he is embroiled in: office politics, change of leadership, etc.

At times, he will narrate to me his domestic problems: a misunderstanding with his wife, his son’s difficult situation, his daughter’s communication problems with him, his househelp who didn’t report for work. We would talk over the phone for long periods and end with a short prayer. I’d pray that the Lord would see him through his troubles, that He’d grant him peace.

I would end claiming Philippians 4:7 for him: “Then the peace of God that surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

Peace may not be tangible, but it’s something we can seek, receive, and feel in our hearts.

Reflection:
Are you in a troubling situation right now? Pray. In faith. Right now.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, thank You for the gift of faith. I lift up to You all the things that trouble me, knowing that You are in control of everything. Grant me peace. Amen.

[This reflection was first published in Didache Jan 30, 2018 both in online and hardcopy editions]

Coron Family Adventure – Day 2

Coron Family Adventure – Day 2
Encounter with Zoo Animals, Exploring a Sunken Ship and More
by Danny Tariman

We woke up very early in the morning to our long boat trip to Calauit Island. This is our second day in Coron, Palawan.

The free-roaming giraffes in the wildlife sanctuary

The tourist van picked us up from the hotel at about 5:30am. We were taken to the wharf where the boat will take us to Calauit. We were supposed to leave at 6am per schedule, but for some reasons, we actually left at about 6:30.

It was a long trip. But thanks be to God, the sea was smooth all throughout. We just had to contend with the loud sound of the boat’s engine; it was not deafening, though. While aboard, the boat’s crew served our breakfast, and flowing instant coffee! Haha!

Calauit Wildlife 

We reached Calauit Wildlife Sanctuary at about 10:30am. After a quick registration process at the reception office, we immediately went out to meet the roaming giraffes, zebras, and others. We were quite excited as this is the first time we will have a live and unbounded interaction with these animals.

One of our first family photo in the island — with zebra in the background

We were not disappointed. From a distance, we immediately saw group of zebras roaming and feeding on the grass. We also saw the long-necked animals just wandering around. It was really a sight!

We quickly took photos with the animals. Really a one-of-a-kind experience.

The good caretaker also toured us around. There are other wild animals kept inside the sanctuary: monkeys, eagles, turtles, snakes, porcupine, crocodiles, and many more. You just have to walk about a kilometer to get a good glimpse of the animals around.

I love this activity: close encounter with a giraffe

Just before 12noon, we left the sanctuary to have our lunch at the Black Island. It was a short 30-minute boat ride.

Black Island & Bat Cave

The Black Island’s coast is so beautiful: wide beach, creamy soft white sands, and crystal clear waters. Perfect to beach bumming. We were told that this is called “Black Island” because of the rock formations which looks black from a distance.

The pristine beach of Black Island

We had our lunch in this island. It was a feast – I mean really feast: generous servings of seafood, fruits, and chicken! We had a good eat here.

But more than the food, we truly enjoyed the beach in this island.

In the island is another attraction: a bat cave, which is just a few steps away from the hut where we had our lunch. Inside the cave is a freshwater pool, which was very cold. I had dipped into the pool for few minutes. It was amazing to see a big cave in the island.
We moved on to our next destination after spending almost 2 hours in the island.

My family inside the bat cave.

Coral Garden

From the Black Garden, we had about an hour and a half boat ride to this amazing submarine garden. Wow! I was so fascinated by the colorful and huge coral formations in the area. I was with our children, while my wife was being “toured around” by our guide by pulling a rope where some tourists have just to hold.

We had a very enjoyable experience viewing the underwater scenery: corals of every kind: branching corals, plate corals, both soft- and hard-corals. Really captivating! My children and I were just floating on the sea with our life vests.

My daughter going for the free-dive at coral garden

After about 30 minutes of snorkeling, we moved on to our final destination for the day: the ship wreckage.

Lusong Ship Wreck

It was a short boat trip from the Coral Garden. All of us found our way to quickly jump into the water as this was one of the highlights of our trip. We really wanted to dive and see this famous Lusong ship wreck. We actually got assurance from the tour operator to make sure that we will visit the ship wreck.

My son at the ship wreck. Note the edge of the ship showing, with all the sea creatures that had grown on the ship.

The ship was lying on its side. It was about 12-15 meters long – I really don’t know. But it was quite long. The ship is already full of marine life: carbuncles, sea weeds, moss, and others attached to its side. Oh! There were plenty of fishes swimming in the wreck!

On the other side of the wreck is quite scary. It was very deep. I can’t see anything, except for the deep blue waters.

Feeding the fishes with seaweeds at the wreckage site.

We didn’t stay long here as the sun was setting down already. And so we left the place at about 5pm and headed back to town.

We arrived Coron town already dark, but it was good: we can see the lights of the town lining the shores, and the Cross on top of Mt Tapyas glowing bright.

It has been a long day full of adventures. It was another wonderful day, an experience of a lifetime in Coron!

I was trying to lure a porcupine who was hiding in a log, its natural habitat.
The entrance of the bat cave in Black Island
The colorful corals at the Coral Garden

Coron Family Adventure – Day 1


Coron Family Adventure 1
Diving the Depths of Sea & Scaling the Heights of Mt Tapyas
by Danny Tariman

This was a very much anticipated family trip. We had long planned to visit this world-famous tourist spot, and finally we are going to Coron!

Coron at sunset, as viewed from Mt Tapyas

We know that we would have a lot of swimming activities in this amazing adventure, and so my family brought with us our entire snorkeling gadgets, including flippers or diving fins.

We arrived Coron at about 9:00am after an hour flight from Manila. We landed at Busuanga Airport which is about 30 minutes drive to the town. We couldn’t wait to land as excitement grew, as we view the beautiful island from windows of the aircraft.

After checking-in at the hotel, we immediately look for a place to eat breakfast. We wanted to taste local food, but it was a bit early for good restaurants to open. And so we settled for a good carinderia (a small eatery).

Our boat ride to the islands.

Since the start of our packaged tour will start at 4pm yet, we decided to do some island hopping activities. We approached the hotel’s concierge who was so kind enough to arrange for us a boat and a tour guide to take us to the islands.

Our tour guide Arjay (0927-2846263) fetched us in no time. He was very conversant with his task as tour guide, and even guided us in buying some food stuff for our lunch in the island. This is not part of the tour package, and so we have to organize the food too. We were so impressed with this young man who guided us in our tour – very courteous, always ready to assist, and has big dreams for his life.

Siete Pecados

This is our first stop. This small group of islets has a very rich marine life. With its very clear waters, I can easily see the deep. It is teeming with colorful corals of all sorts of species. We had a very good first-time experience for snorkeling in this place.

My daughter going for the free-dive at Siete Pecados

Our children enjoyed their free-diving to the depths of about 15-18 feet. I can see them reach the bottom of the sea, while I and my wife just enjoy skimming the surface of the water for our snorkelling.

Atuayan Beach

We had our lunch in this pristine white beach. Our tour guide cooked for us our lunch of seafood and salad! It was really good. The beach is just perfect for our lunch and after-lunch swimming. The water is so clear and clean, you can see your feet even in the deep! There was a brief rain shower while we were resting in this beautiful beach.

My family enjoying the creamy sands of Atuayan Beach.

Baracuda Lake

I never thought that in the middle of those rocky islands is a good, deep freshwater lake! The water was so clear too, you can see the rock formations lining the lake perimeter. I understand it was about 20 feet deep! While we were enjoying the swim, there was a couple of tourists who dived with complete gadgets – tank, suits, and all.

My son having fun underwater with a sitting pose for the picture.

The view was awesome: a background of greyish limestone, and emerald-colored lake!

From this, we decided to go back to town for our 4pm tour.

Town Tour

At 4pm, our designated tour guide arrived promptly at the hotel. Our first stop was the Town Hall, which was just a few meters away from our hotel. After a few photos taken, we went to the bay area – a reclamation area – where a nice boulevard welcomes tourists and residents alike. The view was good, you can see the Coron Island group.

The Coron Town bayview

We also visited a souvenir shop where an assortment of local crafts and goods are available. You may want to buy from there a watertight bag for your electronic gadgets’ protection while touring the seas.

Mt Tapyas

Mt Taypas is that little mountain overlooking the Coron town. At its peak is a Cross which is lighted as darkness sets in. This mountain is about 210 meters above sea level, not really that challenging for those to love to trek mountains. It has concrete stairs starting from the foot of the mountain, with a number of “resting areas” every 10-15 minutes of walk. It has around 740+ steps.

The greenery side of Mt Tapyas

We started our trek to Mt Tapyas at about 5 in the afternoon, to catch a good view of the sunset. A lot of tourists go up at this hour of the day, just to catch the sunset. We were not disappointed as the sun started to set. It was indeed spectacular view!

At the top, we toured around the peak. The view at the back overlooking rolling hills was a refreshing sight.

San Agustin Church

This Catholic Church is the church in Coron town proper. For those who tour Coron on a weekend, it is best to check the schedule of Masses with the hotel’s reception or concierge.

The interior of San Agustin Church

We dropped by this church, first, to offer our thanksgiving for the safe trip and for the good weather, and second, to lift up to God our personal prayers.

Maquinit Hot Spring

Our last stop for the day was the Maquinit Hot Spring. We left the church at about 6:30 in the evening, and reached this hot spring resort about an hour later, passing through unpaved roads with lots of pot holes along the way. It was a tough ride! Haha!

An early evening dip at the warm pools of  Maguinit Hot Spring

The visit was a good culminating activity for the busy day. Immersing our entire body in the hot pool somehow relaxed our tired bodies. But it was really hot! I would suggest that you immerse little by little so as to acclimatize your body to the really hot pool. I had the mistake of immediately jumping into the pool; it was a “shocking” experience. Haha! It was so hot I had to jump out of the water as quickly as I jumped!

But it was a very relaxing experience, and a good final activity for the day!

The beautiful marine gardens of Siete Pecados
My family photo at Baracuda Lake
A family pic at Mt Tapyas while waiting for the colorful sunset.
Maquinit Hot Springs by night

New Life

New Life
by Danny Tariman

“… for to him all are alive.” (Luke 20:38)

I am overwhelmed by this verse. In another version, this is rendered as, “He considers all people to be alive to him” (ISV). We are all “dead to sin” (Romans 6:11). But the Lord has redeemed us to give us “new life” (Romans 6:4)! We received this new life when we were baptized in the Lord.

A dead person cannot eat. He cannot hug and experience love. He cannot walk and explore the beauty that surrounds him. He cannot hear and enjoy the harmony of music.

I thank the Lord for giving me this new life. I have a family who loves me and whom I can hug and laugh with anytime. We can go out for food trips and taste the feasts that the Lord abundantly provides. We can walk and explore mountains, rivers and seas together and enjoy the beauty of God’s creation. We can go to theaters and concerts, and enjoy music symphonies.

This is life — the new life that the Lord had promised in John 10:10: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.”

Thank You, Lord, for this new, abundant life!

Reflection: Are you still living in the dark, and not enjoying life? Be set free and let Jesus be the Lord of your life!

Lord Jesus, please forgive me for all my sins. Come into my life and be my Lord and King. Amen!

[This reflection was originally published in Didache, Nov 25, 2017, both in paperback and online editions, and was read over Radio Veritas 846]