Pinatubo Expedition

by Danny Tariman

It was an experience of a lifetime.

The trip was rough, in fact very rough. Riding a 4×4 wheel Toyota, we had a one-and-a-half hour cruise through vast fields of volcanic debris – rocks, sand, lahar – on an almost dry riverbed.

It was worth the trip, the view is awesome and fantastic!

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My family joined a group of backpackers who were to explore the crater of Mt Pinatubo – the volcano which erupted in the mid-90’s. It was actually my son who organized this backpackers’ trip.

We all prepared for the trip. We searched blogs in the internet to know the dos-and-the-donts. We read all the groups’ announcements. And so we were ready – we made sure we have light baggage, enough water, long-sleeved tees to cover our skin and caps to cover our heads from sun and dusts.

With about 50 persons in the tourist bus, we left left Makati at about 2 o’clock in the morning. We had a brief stop-over at a fast-food shop in gas station along North Luzon Expressway where we had quick breakfast. We arrived at the drop-off point in Capas, Tarlac at about 630am. This is the starting point of our expedition.

My son, as the lead-coordinator for this trip, stepped out of the bus to register the group with the local tourism office which was managing all groups going to Mt Pinatubo. After the registration procedures, we hopped into our 4×4 Toyota which took us to the jump-off point to the crater of Mt Pinatubo.

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The ride was exciting. It was my first time to see the lahar-covered
valleys of Tarlac. We passed though winding ways – not roads really! It was very dusty, and bumpy; with rocks and lahar, it couldn’t be better. But the view was awesome! The used-to-be mountains that are now very steep gorges. It was like the earth was scooped out of the big mountains!

We zigzagged to avoid big boulders and rocks. We passed shallow streams of water. I wonder if a 2×4 will be able to cross that rough and rugged ways. And after 1 ½ hours, we reached the jump-off point to the crater.

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It was another 30-minute trek to the crater of the volcano. We passed through trails and at some point crossed shallow streams of water. The big part of the trek was uphill. For people my age (early 50’s), it was a bit of a challenge. But it was worth the walk. Upon reaching the crater we were greeted by this awesome lake created when the volcano erupted. It was really an experience that will linger in my mind.

The lake was awesome and very enticing to get near. The still and quiet, emerald green water is enclosed by ravines left behind by the most recent volcanic eruption. We went down to the lake shore. How I wish we could have took a short swim but it was prohibited! While enjoying the scenery and the cool breeze, we took out our lunch packs and had picnic on the grounds of the crater. About half-an-hour later, we packed up and prepared for our return trip.

The decent from the Mt Pinatubo was a bit easy. We reached the base camp is no time. Once again, we jumped into our 4×4, and drove back to Capas, Tarlac. Because these was really no “road”, our driver took us on a different route. I can see other off-roaders doing the same. We can over-take without the limitations of a narrow road as we can use any trail as long as it is hard enough to carry our car. At times, our driver had to engage the 4 wheels especially when we are crossing or passing along a river.

Things to bring during this trip: plenty of water, bottles of Gatorade or Powerade (whichever brand you prefer) to provide better body hydration, disposable mask which you should wear during the lahar off-road trip – because it is very dusty, and sun block lotion. Wear light-material shirt –preferably cotton. You can also bring cap or shawl to cover your head during the dusty drive. Oh, don’t forget your packed food. In our case, we bought home-made big sandwiches – big for more energy.

By the way, I didnt’ tell you yet about my expedition team – my family. I was with my wife (about 50 years old), and our 2 children, in their early 20’s. Why am I telling you about our age? Because even at 50, you can still enjoy trips like this.

Shouldn’t you try this awesome, one-of-a-kind experience?

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True Leadership

by Danny Tariman

“With humility think of others as being better than yourselves. Do not be concerned about your own interests, but also be concerned about the interests of others.” (Phil 2:3-4)

“Sir Dan, I’d like you to meet our…” thus Ger was about to introduce me to the project team.

“Just call me Dan or Danny. Please don’t call me ‘Sir’”, I interjected.

Having worked in a different culture overseas, I had been used to addressing persons in their first name, even those who are of higher positions than I do.

But Ger, who is the Head of this bank’s group was insistent on calling me ‘Sir’. His position has the initials “VP” in it. He is not a lower-ranking officer. His group is composed of a number departments.

The same with Sally who is with our project team. She also calls me ‘Sir’. She too is the Head of another group within the bank and under her are a number of departments too.

At first I was uneasy.

But it struck me that even with their high positions in the bank, they truly respect me not just by calling me “Sir”. They defer to my opinions, they listen to me when I speak. In our meetings and dealings, I can sense their humility.

Despite of their humility, I have observed how their subordinates respect them too.

This is what I call “true leadership” – a leadership that does not use force nor intimidation, nor fear. True leaders are able lead people by influence through their humility.

But don’t get me wrong. Leadership in humility does not mean weak leadership. Because there is an inner strength and an inner power to influence in humility. Actually, leadership is influence (according to leadership guru John Maxwell). People are more likely to follow persons who does not bully them, who cares for them, who regards them as a co-worker or co-leader. These people would tend follow their leaders because they want to, because they know their leader cares for them.

And this affirms a Biblical principle in Philippians 2:3-4: “with humility think of others as being better than yourselves… also be concerned about the interests of others.”

I pray that we will all lead like our Leader – Jesus Christ Himself!

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Travel Memoirs: Naga and Daet

by Danny Tariman

We had been hitting many wonderful places in the Bicol region in these past 4 days. I am enjoying the drive, thanks to our very dependable Isuzu Crosswind. We’ve been to Caramoan Islands, had explored Sorsogon, rediscovered Legaspi City with its perfect cone – the Mayon Volcano. I am a bit tired, but definitely enjoying the experience. I really love driving long-distance out-of-town trips.

Our final leg is a quick tour of Naga City in Camarines Sur and a brief stop in Daet, Camarines Norte.

We left Legaspi City en-route for Naga City, late in the afternoon. It’s been a lazy drive; plenty of cars and buses along the way. When we reached Camalig, we bought the famous pinangat (taro leaves slow cooked in coconut cream). It was great that the dish is offered frozen! We can bring some more as present to friends.

We also had a brief stop in Bato, Camarines Sur near the railroad crossing, where the popular Pancit Bato came from. This type of noodles is sun-dried. My wife bought some just enough for a family meal so we can try this local dish.

We reached Naga City at about 8 o’clock in the evening. After cam002checking-in at the hotel, we started exploring the place. We went to the city public square and see what’s going on. Aside from a monument in the middle, there is an array of vendors selling various stuff – from pork barbecue to peanuts to fruits, from souvenir items, to massage service. After few minutes of strolling the area, we took our dinner at a local restaurant and then had our rest.

Naga City is the home to Our Lady of Peñafrancia – a famous icon of cam004the Blessed Mother, which is known to be miraculous. We visited the 3 major churches in the city – the Naga Cathedral, the Shrine of Our Lady of Peñafrancia, and the Minor Basilica where the cam001image of Our Lady of Peñafrancia kept. It was like a thanksgiving visits to the churches as we wrap-up our Bicol Road Trip.

We also passed Ateneo de Naga where my wife had finished her college. Of course, my son took photos of himself in front of the Ateneo gate being an Atenean also – he graduated from Ateneo de Manila.

cam003After our lunch, we returned to Maharlika Highway en-route to Manila via Daet, Camarines Norte. My daughter took the steering wheel during our drive to Daet. – just a portion of the highway, For about 30 minutes, she drove our car as I need to rest too. We passed by the Bicol National Park – a restricted forest area. The road in the area is zigzag – caution: drivers.

We reached Daet at about 2pm. We dropped by St John Church. I visited this church in the late 90’s and it is so different now. I like its former ‘antique look’. After few minutes of communing with the cam006Lord in thanksgiving and prayer, we drove to Bagasbas Beach. We passed the busiest road in the city – right in front of a market!

The beach is a vast mass of land. I can imagine on high tide, one can walk towards the middle of the sea without the fear of getting drowned! It is so wide and almost flat. The wind is so refreshing and the cool, you’d like to inhale for more! We had some fun photos here.

cam007On our return to the main highway, we stopped at the public market and bought some items. Wow, the stuff are very, very cheap! We bought coconut and fruits. Oh yes, the Daet pineapple is a unique variety. It is elongated and slim, and even if it is still green, when you chop it and eat, it is so sweet, you can even eat the core!

Finally, we drove back to Manila. My wife had to drive the car for me for almost an hour. I have to sleep. I am so tired by now, after almost 5 days of driving.

It was a truly wonderful experience touring the Bicol region. Give it a try!

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Rediscovering Mayon & Legaspi

by Danny Tariman

I and my family had been on the road for 4 days now. We had just been from Caramoan Islands – the first leg our Bicol road trip. We were fascinated by the crystal clear waters and the islands, and the top-notch accommodation and food. Yesterday on our second leg of the tour, we were mesmerized by the natural beauty of Sorsogon – the lake, the beach, and its scenic countryside.

The third leg of our tour is the majestic Mayon volcano and its surroundings. I thought the place is the usual ordinary sight I see every time I pass by the city en route to Catanduanes. But it is different now. I am so excited to re-discover the Mayon Volcano and Legaspi City.

En-route to Legaspi, we stopped by the Cagsawa ruins. This is the leg004belfry that was left of a church after a massive eruption of Mayon Volcano in the 1800’s. Because of the volcanic debris that fell onto the church roof, it collapsed, leaving only the bell tower which has become a landmark in Bicol. Aside from the usual picture taking, you can also taste some local delicacies. Try the pili nuts in all its varieties!

It was a late Sunday afternoon drive, and so upon reaching Legaspi City, we first went to San Rafael Cathedral where we attended the Mass. This church is in the middle of the city, you wouldn’t miss it. After the Mass, we had a quick dinner at LCC where we ate the pinangat (taro leaves slow-cooked in coconut cream) that we bought from Camalig, Albay – a town before reaching Legaspi. This pinangat is a must-taste when in Legaspi.

The following day, we continued our discovery tour driving to Lingon Hills. I noted that it is the only hill popping out of a vast leg002plain. This hill is surrounded by Legaspi City and the town of Daraga, and is overlooking the airport. You can see from the top the scenic view of the city. This is an uphill drive – you have to put your gear on first or second all the way to the top. When you reach the summit, you will be greeted by a nice shopping arcade selling all kinds of souvenir items and a nice viewing deck. Indeed a good spot to take photos.

Our 2 children will not have a complete experience without riding the zip-line, a thrilling cable ride from the top to the hillside, where you can see the city and its surroundings.

Our next stop, another exciting experience for our children, is the leg001ATV ride to Mayon Volcano. We rented the All-Terrain Vehicle, for each one of them. This took them to the Base Camp of the volcano. They passed through rugged trails and rivers on their ATVs.

This discovery tour cannot finish without tasting local food. And so, after the ATV ride, we went for a late lunch at Small Talk Cafe. This cafe is small cozy place offering unique Bicol food – pasta with a t leg006wist of Bicol taste. Samplers: spaghetti in creamy finely-chopped taro leaves cooked in coconut milk; ravioli in hot chili (siling labuyo) and tomato sauce. Aren’t these very creative, uniquely Bicol gourmet? Really volcanic! Oh, we missed the chili ice-cream at that time – this is a creamy home-made vanilla ice cream spiced with hot chili syrup. Hot ice cream? Out-of-this-world indeed!

We capped the day with a late afternoon stroll at the city’s latest shopping center – the Embarcadero de Legaspi. This is a sea-front mall with many al-fresco restos and cafes. It is a glittering sight at leg003night. We did some souvenir shopping here. There are local crafts and native delicacies sold in this mall. There is this nice shop at the mall corner which sells good quality t-shirts with nicely designed local prints (Mayon, Bicol, Legaspi, etc). Make sure to buy some.

A re-discovery tour indeed for me, and a discovery tour for my family!

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After the Storm

by Danny Tariman

​I will restore the fortunes of my people Israel, and they shall rebuild the ruined cities. (Amos 9:14)

I had been monitoring the storm “Glenda” as it rips across the Philippines. At about 5:30 in the morning, while still on bed, I tuned-in to our radio to listen to the latest update. The storm has passed through the southern part of our island is now nearing Metropolitan Manila area.

At about half-past-seven, the wind’s intensity grew stronger and maintained its force. I started to feel uneasy. I called my family to a quick prayer asking God’s intervention to spare us and our house from effects of the storm.

I went outside our house to check our surroundings. I can’t stand to see the winds blowing the trees, especially the trees very near our house. I continuously prayed for protection because if indeed the trees will fall, our house will be directly hit.

I silently prayed in my heart that the storm will be gone, as it seemed that the clock ticked slower with the passing of the storm. Thanks be to God, after pounding the city for about two-and-a-half hours, the wind started to slow down.

By 10:30, I surveyed our surroundings. It was littered by debris brought by the storm – leaves, branches and twigs, fallen trees, and a knocked-down electric post.

I saw our neighborhood starting to clean up. And so I joined them clear up our street of the debris. We were hand-in-hand doing our work together to bring back our community back to its former state. Yes, I know, that the Lord will restore us His people, as we try to rebuild our lives (Amos 9:14) from what the typhoon had destroyed.

But one thing that I realized while we were cleaning up our street. The love that we – the neighbors – had for each other. Social standing was removed, job titles were gone; we were just plain good neighbors helping each other.

Jon, who has a number of cars in his garage, started helping me – even if it was still raining. He was literally drenched in rain while helping me. Vic, who is a Senior Vice President of a company, volunteered to help me carry a garbage bin full of leaves. Mang Tinoy, a neighbor’s family driver, spontaneously helped us cut a fallen tree in front of our house, while Vic carried the branches away from the road. Another neighbor Bot, who owns a power rental business, offered to connect our house to their mobile power generator set while the whole community was in black-out. [All names are fictitious but persons are real.]

This is a real display of concern for each other. This is love in action.

Thank you Lord for giving us these good neighbors. I claim Your Word in James 2:8 – “if you fulfill the royal law as expressed in this scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you are doing well”.

Yes, we are, and will always be, doing well in Your presence O Lord!

Found!

Found!
by Danny Tariman

“Seek and you will find…” (Matthew 7:7)

It was early in the morning. I was about to go to work when my wife said to me “I can’t find the original CR. Did you keep it?”

I replied “No, I did not keep it. Let us pray for it. I know it is just somewhere inside.”

She was referring to the original copy of the Car Registration Certificate.

We were about to register our car for its annual registration at a local Land Transportation Office (LTO). My wife was preparing the documents – the Car Registration Certificate, the previous Official Receipt of registration – when it occurred to her that the original Car Registration is lost!

She tried to look for the usual compartments where we normally keep documents like this. But this time, it is not there. She prayed, as I suggested, while she continually look for it in every possible place.

While waiting for my ride, I texted and asked her if she found it. She replied back that we continue to pray. She said she went the back to the possible locations again – the drawers and shelves – but couldn’t find it.

We kept on praying. Few minutes later, she was led to get hold of a Holy Week Reflection booklet which we carried along in our travel to Bicol last Holy Week.

Lo and behold! The original Certificate of Registration of our car was inserted in the book!

And our car’s registration was processed at the local LTO very fast.

Indeed, there is nothing impossible for those who believe. As the Word of God in Matthew 7:8 “For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds.”

Sorsogon Escapade

by Danny Tariman

Sorsogon was the second leg of our Bicol Road Trip. Our first stop was the Caramoan Islands where we had an exciting experience of the beach, the islands and the food.

Back on the Road

We left Caramoan at about 10:30 in the morning. We were ferried by the resort’s private boat to Sabang, reaching the port before 12. We immediately drove back to Maharlika Highway en-route to Legaspi where we plan to sleep for the night. Along the way we dropped by Bigg’s, a local fast food chain that offers not only the usual burger-pasta-chicken menu, but also Bicol dishes served in style.

We were nearing the town of Daraga in Albay when we saw this food stand selling local delicacies – baduya, kalingling, and a few others. Since I told my family that in our trips we will eat local food (part of tasting local culture), we stopped and ate our afternoon snack.

We finally arrived Legaspi for our evening rest at about 5:30pm. But before going for the rest, we went to the Mass as St Raphael Cathedral in downtown Legaspi.

Sorsogon Here We Come

We left our lodging in Legaspi City early at 7 in the morning. We were all excited as we were headed for Donsol, Sorsogon to interact sor005with “butanding”, the giant whale-shark as called by locals. We reached Donsol tourism office at about 8:30. We saw the shark replica at the office. We also saw the vast sea in front. Unfortunately, we were advised by boatmen that it is off-season (it was mid-June) and chances of an encounter with the giant fish is very small.

Not willing to take the risk of spending for nothing (renting a boat with nothing to see), we decided to explore the Bulusan Lake/Volcano. And so we hit the road again, this time heading towards Bulusan.

Bulusan Lake & Volcano

sor001We had a long drive, passing through Sorgoson City but did not enter the city proper and instead used the diversion road, and through the towns of Gubat and Barcelona, and finally reached the lake and volcano at about 11:30. We were a bit hungry by then and there was no decent food – except for instant noodles and canned goods. If you plan to go to Bulusan Lake, make sure to bring your food so you have something to fill your tummy while you enjoy the lake surroundings.

The lake is so serene with its color in perfect harmony with the surrounding tropical rain forest. There are some boat rides available for a minimal fee. And if you want to explore the lush forest, you can opt to trek assisted by a local tour guide. This is a very relaxing place, I would have taken a nap but the excitement is still boiling inside of me so I can’t sleep.

Dansalan Beach

After about an hour stay and rest, we drove back. Along the way, we sor002were captivated by this beautiful and pristine beach. I pulled our car to the side and checked the place. The rural, unspoiled charm of the beach was irresistible. And so we decided to stay for a while, have some swim, and enjoy the place.

We stayed until about 4pm and then we headed back to Legaspi. We passed by an old church which caught our attention again. We can’t let this pass, and so we had some photos taken. This trip is indeed full of surprises as there is not much blogs or articles on this route.

sor003When we reach Sorsogon City, we saw this line of vendors along the highway near a sea shore selling an assortment of seafood. From fish to crabs, to shrimps, to shell fish. What caught our curiosity is this long fan-shaped shell fish – about 8 to 10 inches long. We would have again tasted a local delicacy but we don’t know how this is cooked. And so we passed an opportunity to have taste of a Sorsogon delicacy. Maybe next time.

This is the third day of our 5-day Bicol Road trip. Definitely a most enjoyable ride!

It’s fun to explore Sorsogon!

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