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
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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]

For The Lord

For The Lord
by Danny Tariman

“For if we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die for the Lord…” (Romans 14:8)

Cathy lived for the Lord. She was a very active parishioner and served in various church ministries. She was a true worshiper, worshiping God in spirit and in truth. She was a generous giver — she didn’t count the cost of her giving but always gave her all.

She did all these because of her love for the Lord.

One day, friends told me she was ill, so we went to visit her.

Lying in bed, she managed to smile when she saw us. She was in pain but didn’t complain. She had been bedridden for weeks but she continued to hope in the Lord for healing. When we prayed for her, I sensed a big leap of faith in her “aura.”

A few days later, the sad news came: Cathy had passed away.

When I went to her wake, she looked like she was at peace. Her face showed a quiet calmness and tranquility that told me that she is with the Lord.

I believe that was so because the Lord says, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3).

She had lived for the Lord, and had died for the Lord. We will certainly miss you, Cathy!

Reflection: Are you living the way the Lord wants you to live?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, may I have the courage to live for You, so that I may also be with You in the life to come! Amen.

[This reflection was originally published in Didache 2015 (Nov 5)]

Tax Shield

Tax Shield
by Danny Tariman

“Then repay to Caesar what belongs to Caesar and to God what belongs to God.” (Matthew 22:21)

“Danny, but your taxes just go to the pockets of corruption.” This was my boss telling me when I decided to be fully taxed.

As a manager, I have some perks. Aside from the big salary and other benefits, I am also allowed to declare a sizable percentage of my income as ‘office expense’. I am just required to submit Official Receipts – for gas, for dining, for hotel accommodations, and even for some select grocery items – to cover these ‘expenses’.

When I comply with the submission of receipts, this ‘office expense’ portion of my salary is non-taxable. And therefore, I am able to take home much bigger amount.

However, I was not at peace. I am disturbed by the fact that the receipts that I submit are sometimes not my real expenses; I solicited the receipts from friends. Worse, the receipts are at times altered by padding zeroes to increase the expense!

In whatever way this is done, it is still not acceptable for me as these were not really official office expenses. This is plain dishonesty.

And so, after prayers and discernment, I decided to surrender this “perk” and ask my boss that I be fully taxed.

I remember telling my boss “between me and my God, I did what is right. For the corrupt officer who pockets these, it will be between him and his god”.

I felt relieved, I feel freedom! As John 8:32 says “the truth will set you free”.

Few months later, whatever amount I ‘lost’ because I was fully taxed, was compensated by a huge salary increase I got!

Reflection: Do you pay your taxes correctly? Is your bookkeeping in order in the sight of God?

Prayers: Am sorry Lord for falling to the traps of deception. Give me the strength to live out the truth in all areas of my life. Amen.

God’s Generosity

God’s Generosity
by Danny Tariman

“To anyone who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he seems to have will be taken away”  (Luke 8:18)

“We cannot outdo God’s generosity.” I’ve heard this many times from people getting more than what they give.

Meet “Kuya T.” He always gives in generous amounts at every opportunity to help the parish. He used to live in a modest house in a small village. He now owns a big house in a nice village, bought an adjacent lot, and owns a few cars.

Meet “Family K.” This family is a big-time benefactor of parishes. This family funded a substantial portion of the new church building requiring over P15 million. The Lord continues to prosper their family business even more.

I have my own little story, too. My family helped a rural village build their own modest chapel. At that time, we were still praying for our own house. I claimed God’s word in Luke 6:38: “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap….” I know God would fulfill His promise. Three years later, we moved in our own house in a quiet neighborhood in the metro!

Yes, we receive in the measure we give.

Reflection: “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully.” (2 Corinthians 9:6)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, please forgive me for being stingy. Grant me the grace to be generous, as You are.

A Family Trek to Buruwisan Falls

A Family Trek to Buruwisan Falls
by Danny Tariman

It was another long weekend. Our family had planned few weeks before, to go and “discover” Buruwisan Falls.

We have heard of this falls, we passed by the drop-off point many times in the past, but we really have not planned to go out and see this falls which is very near the Metro. But this particular weekend, we intend to trek.

The towering and enchanting Buruwisan Falls with my family in the foreground

It had been raining in the city for the past couple of days due a tropical typhoon in the northern tip of the country. But this has not dampened our spirits to go and trek that Saturday.

And so, we left the city at about 5:30 in the morning, did a 100-km drive to Macatad, in Famy, Laguna. We had a brief stop-over in Pagsanjan where we had a quick breakfast, and arrived at the drop-off point at about 8:00.

The road to the drop-off point lined by trees.

After the usual registration process and payment of fees, we got our trek guide “Kuya Dondon”. We were quite fortunate to have him for our tour guide: he was very helpful, and cheerful, and knows the place and the various trails quite well.

We started our trek at about 8:30am, passing a hanging bridge. Oh! We forgot to have our usual stretching exercise before the start.

The weather was good that morning. But the night before, we were told that there were rains. Because of this, the trail was wet, muddy, and slippery. It was a long trek. After almost an hour, we reached the summit of the first mountain. Yes, first mountain. Because we have to pass another mountain before the descending trail to the falls.

The summit of the first mountain along the trek. A good view of Rizal province, you can see the windmills of Pililia.

We passed a number of pit-stops which sells fresh young coconuts. I like these young coconuts – as it refreshes my thirst plus it is a good source of electrolytes. My family had a good drink of its juice and take its white meat!

It was quite a difficult trek mainly because the trail was wet. And because it was wet, it was muddy and slippery. It took us 3-1/2 hours to reach Buruwisan Falls! It would have been an easy 2-hour trek if the trail was dry.

This part of the trek is near the summit of the second mountain we passed.

The final descent to the falls was even trickier. The trail was very steep and rocky! But all the weariness due to the long trek were gone when we were greeted by the towering and enchanting Buruwisan falls. According to Wikipedia, the drop height of this falls is about 50 meters!

The final stretch: a steep descent to the falls.

Beneath the falls is a relatively shallow basin of water. According to our trek guide, the inner part of the basin could be 10 to 15 feet deep. We did not try. Hehe! My son & I had a good swim in the icy cold water in the periphery.

We had some good photo shoots here. While relaxing at the beautiful scenery and refreshing river, we had our lunch right at the riverbank beside the falls.

Our soiled, muddy shoes after the wet, muddy and slippery trek.

We were so tired by this time, and we wanted to just go back to the drop-off point. But our trek guide tells us that a nearby falls is just about a 5 minute walk. And so we went.

It was a 10-minute walk actually, really short distance from Buruwisan. This is called Lanzones Falls. It was a remarkably smaller falls, but the view is just as wonderful: gushing waters cascading from the rocks and splashing to small basin below.

The Lanzones Falls: so refreshingly cool with wild anthoriums lining the “walls” of the falls.

Our return trek was much faster! It took us only 2 hours with a couple of stops! Thanks to our guide Kuya Dondon (phone 0912-961-3105) who led us to another trail which was much shorter but quite steep. The deep descent was okay, since we were going down. It would have been a difficult one if we passed this trail going up.

We thank the LORD for this another wonderful family adventure experience!

My family in front of Lanzones Falls
My family at the summit of the first mountain
We finally reached the marker of Buruwisan Falls after 3-1/2 hours of trek.

Thanking in Adversity

Thanking in Adversity
by Danny Tariman

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Phil 4:6)

Our car conked-out in a far-away city, almost 70km from where we live.

I was with my family. We have no friends nor acquaintances in this place. And we have no one to run to, except to the LORD!

We stopped at about 6:15pm due to a broken engine belt. It was past 6pm and most, if not all, automotive shops were closed for the day. But we were still hoping to find one.

We prayed to the LORD and lifted up to Him our situation.

Despite this problem, we continued to thank the LORD.

We thank the LORD for a wonderful day at the beach! Yes, we had been from a beach.

We thank the LORD that we stopped not in the middle of a dark highway, but in the city, in a well-lighted road.

We thank the LORD for “Nomer” the tricycle driver who accompanied me in looking for an open shop as fast as he can, trying to beat the closing of shops. We went to over 5 shops – all closed!

We thank the LORD for “Noni” a café owner, who had extended his all-out help calling his friends from his mobile phone, and even knocking at his neighbors trying to help us resolve our situation.

We thank the LORD too for the complimentary coffee that “Noni” offered from his café.

We thank the LORD for the automotive shop near our stalled car for helping us; even contacting a car service provider to help us.

We thank the LORD for the mechanic who fixed our alternator belt; the LORD sent a skilled mechanic!

We thank the LORD for keeping us safe the entire night sleeping inside our stalled car.

We thank the LORD for bringing us back home safely!

As the Bible says “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!” (Phil 4:4).

Yes, it was grace that despite the problems, we were able to say “Thank You LORD!”