Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini

Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini
by Danny Tariman

It was a long weekend. My family usually looks forward to extended weekends so that we can go for our outdoor activities. We really love outdoors!

This particular weekend, we decided to just go for a day trip to one of Batangas’ famous shores for diving and snorkeling — the shorelines of the municipality of Mabini. Popular in this place is Anilao, the spot where the best underwater marine gardens are.

The view of Mabini snorkelling and diving area

While I and my wife were just lounging at the resort’s balcony which offers a good vantage view of Balayan Bay, our grown-up children were enjoying their free-diving. We later joined them in the dive area, but since I don’t know how to dive, I just enjoy seeing them go down to the deep and explore the beauty of corals and reef fishes.

My wife and I enjoyed our snorkeling, viewing the colorful corals under the sea. I was glad that my wife finally conquered her fear of the deep as we were really in the “deep”. Haha! She didn’t notice we can no longer step on the rocks; we were just floating with our life-vests.

Beautiful and colorful: coral formations in Balayan Bay

Come lunchtime, we prepared grilled tuna and pork chops. I did the cooking — on bare charcoal. This too, is an experience as I have to set it on fire with just match sticks and old newspaper. This is something that I seldom do in the city.

It was an enjoyable lunch for the family, as always! We always have fun and enjoy meals on banana leaves and use our bare hands to eat. And with the shore and the sea in front of us, wow, truly an appetizing ambiance for lunch.

My daughter going for the free dive.

We were told by local folks that there is a cave at the far right-end of the cove. And so in the afternoon, we trekked to the place, passing through pebble shoreline, and climbing rock formations. After about 15 minutes slow trek, we finally reached the “cave”. It was not really a cave but an arch — a rock, which by the pounding of waves through the years, had a huge hole punched through it. And so for me it was not a cave because we can pass through it from the front (facing the sea) to the back of the rock.

My family in front of the “cave”

We continued our snorkeling, while our children had their free-diving. It was a full-day of just enjoying the seas and the company of the family.

We drove back to the city, leaving the resort at about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a surprisingly less-traffic drive. We reached the city in just about one-and-a-half hour drive. And just before we reached home, we dropped by Starbucks for a good sip of its famous coffee concoctions.

Really a great way to spend a weekend!

Capping the day with espresso coffee at Starbucks
The sunset view of Balayan Bay
Photo of our children taken from the top balcony of the resort
A rock formation at the right-end of the bay
Our son taking his free-dive
A coral formation at the snorkelling area
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Smiling, Thanking

Smiling, Thanking
by Danny Tariman

“Let the peace of Christ control your hearts… and be thankful” (Col 3:15)

I was navigating through the early morning traffic going to my work. At an intersection, a motorcycle was about to cross my way. The rider looked into my eyes with a cheerful smile and gestured to cross.

I stopped and gave him back a good smile. And as he crossed, I can read his lips saying, “Thank you”, while still wearing that joyful smile.

I am blessed with his very simple act: a smile and a thank-you.

In today’s traffic chaos, with car drivers and motorcycle riders trying to out-do each other, it was the least that I expect from a fellow road user. Almost every day, it pisses me off that motorcycle riders will just cut across my path as if they are alone on the road: crisscrossing (changing lanes like passing through a zigzag), overtaking at the wrong side, not yielding to traffic lights. It is indeed messy on the road, driving along with motorcycle riders.

But not this morning. And I thank the LORD for people who has the courtesy, and a grateful heart.

Thank you, dear Jesus, for this motorcycle rider who crossed my way early this morning. May many more follow his example.

Reflection: Do you have the road courtesy to yield to other drivers and to traffic signals? Are you grateful to the drivers who let you pass?

Prayer: Dear LORD, grant me the grace to drive carefully and defensively, and to yield to others when necessary. Amen.

Family Adventure in Isla Verde

Family Adventure in Isla Verde
by Danny Tariman

Vista Verde is an island off Batangas province. For this particular weekend, my family planned to explore this off-beaten beach-island destination.

The creamy sand beach of Isla Verde

We left the city at about 5:30 in the morning. Passing through the entire stretch of South Luzon Expressway and of Star Tollway, it was as easy and fast drive reaching Batangas City at 7am. After a quick breakfast stop at a popular food chain, we proceeded to Tabangao Port, where a boat to Vista Verde was anchored.

We reached the island in about an hour. I was awestruck by its crystal clear small waves pounding the shoreline. With powdery white sand, the place is just perfect for this weekend family adventure.

A good vantage view of the beachfront from the top of a hill.

We checked-in at Surface Interval Resort. It is a decent quiet place, perhaps because we were just few guests. The surroundings are clean, and the staff were so friendly and accommodating.

My children had their swimming soon after our arrival, although it was almost noon. While they had their time at the beach, I & my wife prepared our lunch. Really, a nice bonding moment for the family.

It was a very relaxing afternoon. I had never had a long nap in a beach, until this time. With the strong sea breeze comforting me to sleep, the pounding waves seems music to my ears.

My family enjoying the beach

My family had happy moments swimming in the afternoon. With big waves splashing to the shore, we truly had some fun time in a playful swim riding the waves as it nears the beach.

As the sun was going down, the skies slowly turned to orange-red. It was a glorious, scenic view of the sunset. I love this part of the day when I have to capture the sun hiding into the horizon.

The color of sunset at the beach. Truly awesome!

The following day, we went to a dive site for an early morning dive and snorkelling. Wow! It was so beautiful swimming experience! Colorful coral formations with lots of fishes of various colors.

The entrance of Surface Interval Resort.

After the dive, we were treated to a rock formation at Punta, by Rowel, the resort owner who went with us to the dive. The place is good vantage point to develop: it has a snorkeling area and a 10-feet cliff diving spot.

When we were just about to leave Punta, Mother Nature gave us an amazing show. A school of dolphins danced their way, from a good distance from the boat. That really made our day!

I and my kids just loving the afternoon moments

We would like to thank the owners of Surface Interval Resort — Rowel & Jojo, and its friendly staff.

We really had many wonderful, happy moments and experiences in Isla Vista. Thank you Lord!

The beautiful beach of Isla Verde
More bonding moments: my wife and my son
Nighttime at our cottage, while preparing for dinner
The sunset colors as captured in the background
Another view of the beach

Our God of Order

Our God of Order
by Danny Tariman

“And so your faith and hope are in God.” (1 Peter 1:21)

“We’re sorry, your 5:30 a.m. flight for Iloilo this Saturday is canceled,” said the airline representative. I received the disturbing call just three days before our family trip.

With all the details of our family vacation already prepared, we couldn’t easily accept a delayed flight. Our hotel booking was confirmed, our itinerary organized, and our schedules finalized.

I asked that we get the next available flight. I was assured we would. But after an hour, I checked our flight details and learned that we weren’t rebooked yet. Worse, the next flight we could get was past noon, which would affect our tour itinerary and schedule. I was distressed and asked my family to pray.

Finally, I asked the airline that our destination be changed from Iloilo to Bacolod for the 5:30 a.m. flight that Saturday. We were approved with no charge.

God is so good! In putting our faith and hope in Him, we were able to fly to Bacolod direct, which was actually the first destination in our itinerary. It saved us from making a boat transfer had we landed in Iloilo first.

Indeed, “we know that all things work for good for those who love God” (Romans 8:28).

Reflection: Are your plans being disturbed? Trust God. Keep the faith.

Prayer: Strengthen my faith, O Lord, that even when everything seems to go wrong, I may continue to have hope and trust in You. Amen.

[This reflection was first published in Didache 2018 — May 30th]

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm
by Danny Tariman

It was a trip we all look forward to: a weekend at a farm-resort. It has been a while that my family haven’t visited a farm or garden resort. I think our last trip was years ago in Cintai Corrito, a Balinese-themed garden resort in Batangas.

The refreshing landscape of the farm.

It has rained in the city for a couple of days before our scheduled out of town trip. And so, we stormed the heavens with prayers for a good weather that weekend. Indeed, the LORD is good, He answered our prayers. It was a rainless weekend.

Leaving the city at 6:45 in the morning, we arrived at Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga just before 10. We had a breakfast at a pit stop along the North Luzon Expressway.

I was awed by the refreshing greens that welcomed us at the resort. The guard ushered us to the reception, which serves as the lobby to a very nice, nature-inspired restaurant. The place is so good, we had taken many photos from various angles inside the restaurant.

The lush greens of the farm

Native furniture made of bamboo, raw wooden planks, and all sorts of natural materials literally fills the interiors of the place. I was telling myself: this is the kind of furnishings I want for my farm house!

Myself enjoying the native interiors of the restaurant

Right behind the restaurant is a good-sized swimming pool which is just right for relaxing moments for my family. An Ifugao hut stands on one end of the pool, and at the other is an open cottage, a nice nook for family interaction.

The resort’s swimming pool with an Ifugao hut in the background

Further down the farm is a well-manicured garden surrounded by shrubs of all kinds. My daughter and my wife had a time of playing at a swing hanging from a tree.

And oh! The lunch! It was so good! Big shrimps in guava soup, sautéed chicken in soy sauce with lemon grass, “morcon” cooked the Pampanga-way… we were burping to the very satisfying lunch at the resort.

My family enjoying the satisfying, delectable lunch at Abe’s Farm

After a good after-lunch rest in an air-conditioned Ifugao hut, my family had a good swim at the resort’s swimming pool. It was like exclusive to us family! Haha!

After the swim, our children had a relaxing massage at the spa! I am not a fan of massage and so I didn’t join them.

We had attended an anticipated Mass at San Bartolome Parish. While I can’t understand the local dialect, I can sense that the priest was able to deliver a good homily, and that he was able to “connect” with the church-goers.

The San Bartolome Church in Magalang, Pampanga

Immediately after the Mass, we had a good, satisfying dinner at Bembi’s Kitchen. An awesome place to eat in Magalang, Pampanga. Not only the food was awesomely delicious, the service was excellent – with Dennis (the business owner) himself serving my family!

A delightful dinner at Bembi’s: a new kind of experience

The following morning we woke up to a fresh new day in a lush garden environment. After we had a nice breakfast at the farm-resort’s restaurant, we took another dip at the farm’s pool.

What a very relaxing weekend treat for our family! Thank You LORD for this blessing of a wonderful weekend!

My wife and daughter in their bonding moments
Our son and daughter near the entrance of the farm
My wife and me for a photo shoot in the resort
Really beautiful moments with my family
An air-conditioned Ifugao hut where stayed for the night.

God is Faithful

God is Faithful
by Danny Tariman

“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away” (Mark 13:31)

Early in my “renewed life” I was taught that the Bible is a Word from God. I believe it. I believe that it has promises that are certain to pass or manifest.

This has been my life. To trust the LORD and to trust in His Word.

One of my dearly-held promise is from Mark 11:24

“Therefore I tell you, all that you ask for in prayer, believe that you will receive it and it shall be yours”

I believe this promise. I believe His Word in Mark 13:31 that His “words will not pass away”

Strengthened by these two promises, I prayed, and I claimed, that the LORD will grant me a job despite my age.

One day, I got a message from a friend whom I have not spoken for many, many months. He asked if I will be interested in a job to head an IT Department of a company. I said, “I am”. And so, he gave me a
contact number.

I dialed the number and I was immediately scheduled for a face-to-face interview with the company head.

The interview went well. But I haven’t received any update for the next 2 weeks, which made me wonder.

While my family & I were having our vacation in the province, I received a call from an unknown number, which happened to be the HR Manager of the company where I had an interview a couple of weeks ago. And lo and behold! It was a job offer!

We went back to Manila, excited that I will be starting a new job.

Indeed, the LORD is faithful; what He promises, He fulfills.

Reflection: Do you believe in the Word of God? Do you believe that His promises will come to pass?

Prayer: Lord Jesus, grant me that faith to move mountains. Let the prayers of my heart come to pass in Your time. Amen.

[Photo Credits: Wikipedia]

Sailing in Taal Lake

Sailing in Taal Lake
by Danny Tariman

It was raining throughout the week. But my family prayed for a rainless weekend for this particular week. We wanted to try this sailing adventure in Taal Lake where the famous Taal Volcano is.

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The rows of sailboats parked at the lakeshore

Our prayers were answered! The weather forecast was partly sunny. And so we drove to Tagaytay then down to Talisay town where Taal Yatch Club is.

At first I was a bit nervous, as I saw photos of this Hobie catamaran sail boat sailing at its side. Haha! It was good, but just seeing the photos gave me a feeling that I may fall.

After an hour long lecture-orientation on sailing, I and my family were excited to hit the waters. We learned the parts of the boat, how to navigate through various wind directions, and many more, including how to raise the sail onto the boat.

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Trying it out as “skipper”

My children took turns being the skipper — the one who controls the sail and the boat — and being an assistant, the one who loosens or tightens the ropes per instructions from the skipper. It was a teamwork at the sailboat.

We traversed the lake many times, from different directions, to try sailing under various wind directions. It was really both fun and educational.

I also tried once as a skipper. Really nice feeling, a one-of-a-kind adventure.

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My family traversing the wide, wide Taal Lake in many directions

As we go back to the wharf, we were met by the Yatch Club’s Commodore, an Italian-American who had stayed for most of his life in the Philippines. He speaks fluently in Pilipino!

We were planning to sleep in tent that weekend, to complete the outdoor experience, but it rained so heavy late in the afternoon. And so instead of putting up our tents, we drove back to the city.

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Me and my wife enjoying the sailing

Even our camping plan was cancelled, my family enjoyed the moments, just the same. We are so thankful to the LORD for that awesome adventure. Truly a different kind of experience!

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My family just before sailing. At the background is the Hobbie sailboat we took.
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A small wharf for speed boats at the Yatch Club.
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A portion of the lawn where we were supposed to pitch tents for overnight camping
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Another interesting nook at the Yatch Club