Battery Tested Integrity

Battery Tested Integrity
by Danny Tariman

“The one who lives uprightly and speaks honestly… This is the person who will live in a secure place” (Isaiah 33:15a,16a)

The battery of our car has been dead a number of times in the past few weeks. It happened at a time when all are rushing to go to work early in the morning.

The other day, when I and my wife visited a neighbor, it happened that a serviceman of the same battery brand was servicing our neighbor’s car battery. I took the opportunity to ask about our car’s battery which is just about 2 months before its warranty will expire. He said he will come to us to check.

Good enough, after few minutes, the serviceman came. He checked our sales invoice and noted that the warranty is about to expire. He said that a brand new of the same model can cost us P5,700. He further said that so I can save the cost of a new battery, he can “make it appear to be defective” by destroying the unit, and I can just give him some money. I then can simply call their service center for replacement.

I was uneasy because by destroying the unit, it will be unfair to the battery dealer. I further I told him I cannot lie or allow it because I am “close” to the LORD.

And so I asked him to check in detail the battery condition. He got the voltage reading of the battery with engine off, another with the engine running, and then another with the air-con and headlights on.

Based on his tests, the battery is still good. The alternator is working, only that the idling rpm or “revolution per minute” of the engine needs to be increased to fully charge the battery.

Deep inside of me I praise the LORD for saving me from the falling into the trap

In the end, the serviceman had apologized for offering the malicious “service”. I believe the LORD had spoken to his heart. As the Bible says “You must change the way you have been living and do what is right. You must treat one another fairly.” (Jeremiah 7:5)

REFLECTION: Have you experienced a trap to commit sin is laid before you? How did you respond?

PRAYER: LORD I pray that you grant me the strength to uphold what is right and true in every situation that I may be in. Amen.

Mourning to Morning

Mourning to Morning
by Danny Tariman

“You will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” (John 16:20)

I saw in my Facebook page a group called “Mourning to Morning.”

What a beautiful catchword!

I don’t know the group but it seems a good description of how we, Christians, should handle frustrations, defeats and problems. While we mourn our situations, we should look forward to “mornings” which signify a new day, a new hope.

A few years back, my overseas work contract abruptly ended because of a change in management. I was not bitter, but I was saddened of this development in my career. I had lost substantial earning capacity.

I kept my faith in the Lord. I held on to His word that He is the “God who richly provides us with all things for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). I was not able to get a job immediately after I went home, but this gave our family more bonding time after years of being away. We went to beaches and islands, explored mountains and volcanoes, and toured many places. Meanwhile, consulting jobs came in and God prospered us.

God turned my sadness into joy!

Reflection: “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” (Philippians 4:4,6)

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for all the blessings. I pray that You will meet all my needs, and even my dreams, for my enjoyment. Amen.

[This reflection is published in Didache May 25, 2017 — both online & hardcopy editions]

Family Trek to Hulugan and Two Other Falls

Family Trek to Hulugan and Two Other Falls
by Danny Tariman

It was good sunny Saturday. With all the excitement, my family is all set for the trek to three falls in Laguna.

We left the city at about 5 in the morning for a long 95-km drive to Luisiana town in Laguna. With a brief stop-over for a quick breakfast in Los Baños, we had an easy comfortable drive. We were headed to Bgy San Salvador, the jump-off point to the falls. We arrived in this fresh-mountain-air rural village at about 8:30am.

The awesome 95-meter high Hulugan Falls:

We were impressed by this small village’s organized system in handling trekkers. Upon turning right going to the inner road (there is a big tarpaulin marker announcing “Hulugan Falls”), we were greeted and met by a lady who introduced herself, and gave us some directions on how to proceed. We were also assigned a trek guide – “Kuya Boy”. Upon boarding our car, the guide led us the registration desk and the nearby parking area.

My family at the start of the trek

After a short 5-minute briefing, we started our way to the falls. Oh, by the way, we were warned to get our rubber shoes wet, or wear rubber sandals. Good enough, there is a store that sells rubber sandals at a fair price.

We boarded a tricycle which took us to the starting point of the trek. It was maybe a 2 to 2.5-km ride, but it was okay, since we saved time and energy for the mountain trek. It was an easy 35-40-minute hike going to the first falls. Passing thru a dam, and a river bed, a little down hill hike, and some up-hill trek we finally reached our first destination: the Talay Falls.

The tropical rain forest along our trail

The Talay falls has two down-streams. The first to greet you is a small “falls”. We had some good rest here as the place has bamboo benches and tables for picnic goers and trekkers. We had our snacks taken in this place too.

The Talay falls: our first stop

Few steps away, passing thru the big rocks or boulders, you will see the quiet beauty of “Talay-2” falls. This one is taller and the flowing waterfalls is slim.

The downstream from Talay Falls. This is where we had a rest for some food.

After a few minutes of rest and some photo ops, we proceeded to our next falls destination: the “Hidden Falls”. This is a short trek – about 15 minutes – from Talay but a bit challenging as it was an uphill trek. The good thing is the trail is lined with bamboo poles which serve as handles, so you can hold onto these while navigating through your uphill climb.

The Hidden Falls was a refreshing sight! Large volume of water gushing in-between big boulders. I reckon, maybe it was named “hidden” because indeed you won’t be able to see this beauty from the path of the trail. You will have to jump over to the rocks and boulders before you will see and appreciate this natural beauty.

The Hidden Falls.

We continued our trek to the final and the third falls for this adventure. It was a bit long trek.

We passed through a farm where pandan as large as trees abound – this is the variety which is used for making baskets and mats. There were even some “trees” with big fruits falling on the ground. We were told by our trek guide that some trekkers stay overnight in this area where they pitch tent and build bonfire at night.

The pandan farm along the way

After about 35-40 minute walk, with long down-hill hike, we reached our final destination: the Hulugan Falls. We were greeted by this wide rock formation where water flows freely. I thought it was IT! But it was just a ‘preview’. We were able to see the main scene when we stepped into the rocks and saw this awesome, very tall body of water, gracefully flowing down! We were told it is about 95 meters high! And it was so wide – providing a white veil that covers a wide portion of the cliff!

My family upon reaching Hulugan Falls

After looking for a spot to keep our backpacks, we immersed ourselves into the fresh gushing river from the falls. Wow, it was really refreshing after almost 1-1/2 hour of hiking! While my wife rested in a shaded area, me and my children had a good splash. We really enjoyed it!

Enjoying the gushing downstream from Hulugan Falls

Oh! We had our lunch right beside the huge falls! And our water for drinking was taken direct from a dripping water under the rocks! It was really refreshingly natural!

Fresh “mineral water” direct from the rocks, where we got refill of our drinking bottles.

After enjoying our river plunge, we trekked back passing through another route. This was the most difficult trail in this trekking adventure. We climbed almost vertically from the falls. Remember the falls was about 95 meters. And we had an almost vertical – well maybe 80 degrees – climb. We had to rest every 10 or 15 minutes! Haha! The nice thing is that the locals had placed bamboo poles as handles throughout the trail which we can hold while maneuvering the rocky path.

With my children enjoying the refreshing swim

I wouldn’t recommend this “return trail” for those with weak heart. It was really difficult. We managed to reach the pick-up point after about 30-40 minutes trek, mostly uphill. With my and my wife’s age at over 50, it was indeed a feat to pass through the uphill trail from Hulugan Falls.

Wow, this was really another great adventure for my family.

A fantastic shot of Hulugan Falls, with my daughter at the foreground

Manta Ray: A New Way to Enjoy the Depths of Anilao

Manta Ray: A New Way to Enjoy the Depths of Anilao
by Danny Tariman

It was a different kind of excitement for the family.

My family in front of the dive resort.

My 2 children had been to the depths of Anilao using the usual diving suit and gear: rubberized suits, air tanks, etc. We all enjoyed it. Me and my wife enjoyed to see the depths of the sea through the video clip that our daughter took while in the deep.

I was really fascinated by beauty of the undersea in Anilao: colorful corals – both soft and hard, variety of fishes swimming around with our children, the little discoveries they had: giant clams of various colors, lion fish, and others.

But this weekend, it was different. We are out to try the manta ray dive.

My son holding the manta-ray board

Manta rays are similar to stingray. Both are flat-type of fish that swim with their bodies (or flaps) in horizontal position. The difference is that manta rays don’t have the long tail.

And the manta ray dive use a board designed like of manta ray, which is tied to a rope and attached to a jet-ski. The diver holds onto the board while the jet-ski is in motion.

Our Adventure

It was a long drive from Manila. We passed by the SLEX tollway, then turned to STAR tollway, and out to the City of Batangas. We continued to drive to Anilao which is about 45 minutes drive from Batangas City.

We arrived at Sicilian Dive Resort at about 9 in the morning. It was sunny and clear. The resort was very nice and yet affordable. The resort owner, Eric, was very friendly too, we even had some talk about business! Haha! We didn’t slept overnight. We really had planned that this time, it will just be a day tour.

The Sicilian Dive Resort

My eyes surveyed the surroundings immediately upon our arrival. It was good! As expected of Anilao, there are no sandy beaches; only pebbles and stones. But no worry; we enjoyed this place as we were really for snorkeling, while our children went for the dive.

Snorkeling and Diving

While my wife and I enjoyed the shallow waters by just having little swimming here and there, our children went for the new adventure: the manta ray diving.

Our daughter had the first try. She held onto the manta-ray board, and when she was ready, the jet-ski went off. It was a 15-minute tour of the under-water world. I can see her enjoying the dive. She would go into the waters and in few minutes would come out again, repeating the routine as the diving board she was holding was being towed by the jet-ski.

Our daughter in the depths of the sea on manta-ray diving board

This dive was without the usual mask and oxygen tank. It was really under her control whether to go down the sea or to come out of water. She said it was really enjoyable.

After her, our son had his manta ray dive too. They both enjoyed the dive. And they got different exciting stories as we had our lunch! Haha! And yes, they were able to view the beautiful under-water scenery that they passed by.

After the dive, my family had some snorkeling. We all enjoyed seeing the colorful fishes swimming around. Some of the fishes would even get near us “thinking” that we will feed them. I realized that we should have brought with us some bread that we can feed the fish for a more exciting snorkeling. experience.

Our son trying out the manta-ray dive

More Family Bonding Moments

While are children were at the sea, my and my wife prepared the much. Oh! It was really nice! I prepared the charcoal grill and cooked the pork strips. My wife prepared the green mango salad with tomatoes and salted eggs. We really had a good and fulfilling lunch.

Our family-prepared lunch at the resort

In the afternoon, we went for a walk to a rock formation at the end of the cove. We had some photo ops here. We also noticed that near the rock formations is a dive site. There were a couple of boats ‘parked’ while waiting for the divers who were exploring the deep and the reef.

The rock formation at the end of cove. Note the dive sites where boats are parked

It was really a fun day for the family! And a new experience on manta-ray dive!

Snorkeling time for the family
Our simple family-prepared lunch.
The snorkeling area near the beach

God’s Favor

God’s Favor
by Danny Tariman

“Do not be afraid… for you have found favor with God.”  (Luke 1:30)

My family arrived at the airport departure area at about 4 o’clock in the morning for our 7 a.m. flight. I noticed an immense number of people were massing at the check-in counters of almost all the airlines. It seemed impossible for us to reach the counter in time for the cut-off, as the lines were very long.

I called my friend who was booked at the 6 a.m. flight for the same destination. He arrived at the airport at about 2:30 a.m. but his flight was canceled. No wonder it was chaotic at the departure area.

My family and I prayed that we would easily get our boarding pass. Suddenly, we saw three computer kiosks for online check-in. In less than 10 minutes, we were able to check in and get our boarding passes.

All we could do was exclaim, “This is the favor of God!”

Thank You, Lord!

Reflection:The Bible says, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 8:21). Before you leave home for work or any activity, pray for God’s favor to be manifested in whatever you undertake for the day.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for the grace You have given us to see Your hand moving in our lives. May we see Your favor manifested in us in many more ways.

[This reflection is published in Didache (online & printed edition) March 25, 2017]

A Merciful God

A Merciful God
by Danny Tariman

Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant, just as I had mercy on you?’ (Matthew 18:33)

My family & I were traversing a heavy traffic intersection along the National Road in Los Baños. I was driving our car at the outer lane, but a jeepney in front of us stopped to pick up passengers. Noting a chance to safely change our lane, I signaled our car that we are going left, and quickly changed to the inner lane.

Suddenly, the mini-bus from behind crashed into our car! Our car was hit at the left-rear corner of the body!

Immediately, I checked our car to asses the damage. Then I spoke the driver of the mini-bus, but instead of being apologetic, he was so arrogant to point that it was my fault. I said, it cannot be because my car was hit from behind!

Sensing that I cannot settle this alone, I called the police. In few minutes, a police car came, took photos of the accident scene, and accosted us and the mini-bus to the police station.

Inside the police office, the bus driver was still arrogant, insisting that I was wrong. However, the police was on our side: it was the bus which hit our car from behind. Clearly, the driver did not give-in.

The police investigator also noted that his driver’s license was ‘expired’ because of a recent apprehension that he didn’t settle within the required time frame. Thus, he can be jailed.

But then the police officer also noted that he had 3 recent apprehensions, and that he did not settle his last one, which can be reported to the LTO (Land Transportation Office) for a more grave offense. The penalty I hear is a fine of 10,000 pesos!

At this juncture, the driver became meek. His arrogance was slowly melted. And he asked me to forgive him. He cried because according to him, he has a family to feed, and that driving is his only means of livelihood.

Asking him what lessons he learned from this incident, he said he has to be humble and not arrogant, and that he has to observe road courtesy.

Taking it as a cue that he learned his lesson, I told him, with my wife beside me, “We are forgiving you.” I told him further to go to church on Sundays, and ask the Lord for forgiveness.

After this, we were allowed to go.

We were driving a bit slow, and the mini-bus overtook us. However, in another intersection, we saw the same mini-bus, in another accident. This time it appears it hit a tricycle. Oh my!

Inside of me I was telling myself “I should not have forgiven this driver” because it appears that he really didn’t learn his lesson in our incident.

While this thought was entering my mind, the Lord spoke to my heart “I have forgiven you too, despite repeating the same sin. You should forgive him.”

As this Bible says “So also my heavenly Father will do to every one of you, if you do not forgive your brother from your heart.” (Matthew 18:35)

Thank You Lord for being a merciful God! Thank You too for giving me the grace to forgive.

Family Moments in Caliraya Lake

Family Moments in Caliraya Lake
by Danny Tariman

It was a cool month of February when temperature in the city was about 17-19 degrees. We haven’t been going out lately, so to celebrate my dear wife’s birthday, we decided to go out to this lake on top of a mountain in Laguna. I was excited because I had been dreaming of fishing in a lake for quite sometime, and I thought this is a good idea to go outdoor again for a fishing adventure.

The placid lake early in the morning, where I had my morning prayers & reflection.

We drove to this mountain resort at mid-day for a check-in at 2pm. As we were nearing the place, my excitement grew stronger because I can now see the peaceful scenery of the Caliraya Lake. It was quite a long drive of about 2-1/2 hours from the city. We reached the resort pavilion in no time. It was a refreshing drive up the mountain.

Immediate I scanned the beautiful scenery. I was not disappointed. Verdant green lawns, with some ducks roaming, calm and refreshing lake, a swimming pool near the pavilion, hanging rope bridge above water crossing the lake… perfect for a weekend family outdoor adventure.

Another view of the lake. The huts at the left side where we slept. A few ducks near the edge of the hill.

We checked and kept our bags and things in the cottage reserved for us. With the front facing the lake, and the cool wind blowing, oh… wow! It would be a cool – literally – weekend for the family.

Our children tried the zipline which crosses the lake. My wife and I didn’t try this anymore. I can see the excitement of our grown-up children riding the zip-line. At the other end, after the zip-line ride, they have to come back passing through a rope hanging bridge. I tried walking a short distance on the bridge, it was wobbly, I can’t stand the movements, I have to walk back. Haha!

My daughter trying the zip-line crossing the lake

We walked around the resort. There were children feeding the ducks roaming near the lakeshore. Some ducks were just swimming at the lake. Walking further, we see some horses grazing on the grassy hillside. We did a short trek to a star-gazing point on the hill.

We took a ride on the lake using the “swan paddle boat”. We got 2 swan boats going to the farther places of the lake. It was a really enjoyable ride. Me and my son on one boat, my daughter and her friend on another. The paddle was not that heavy, it was in fact an easy foot paddle. Really nice!

My family enjoyed very much these paddle ride around the lake

The following day, after a sumptuous breakfast the clubhouse overlooking a golf course, we tried riding bicycles around the clubhouse. It was a wonderful experience for us all. It was the first time for me to use a double-bike, with my wife behind me on the bike. With cool mountain air blowing, it was a refreshing morning experience for us.

An enjoyable early morning double-bike ride with my wife.

We went to the “Fishing Village” – that part of the resort where the cottages are floating near the lakeshore – where we had a try fishing for some fish. It took us a little over an hour without any fish eating our baits. Finally, I surrendered; it was not a “fishing day” for me. I didn’t catch one. What an enviable sight it was when another group caught a fish, quite big – maybe over a kilo! Haha! Anyway…

I tried fishing for cream dory but was not lucky that time.

We had a dip at the cold swimming pool! With an ambient temperature of about 19 degrees Celcius, what would you expect? Haha! We didn’t stay long at the pool.

Wow! What a cool-cool experience it was! Really a fantastic family bonding adventure for us all.

My wife and I taking a “selfie” near the swimming pool.
The hanging bridge
The golf course behind the big club house
Family moments beside the lake
My son at the wharf for the boat ride.