The Waves and The Beaches of La Union

Our North Luzon Road Trip Leg #1
The Waves and the Beaches of La Union

by Danny Tariman

The big waves and the fine sand beaches of San Juan, and the modern, classy resort hotel in Poro Point, and of course that floating restaurant that serves freshly caught fish by the river will always be the top in my mind when we talk about La Union.

La Union was the first leg of our 5-day road trip to Northern Luzon.

Enjoying a jump along the beach of San Juan, La Union
Enjoying a jump along the beach of San Juan, La Union

My family is all set and very excited for this trip. This was a trip we had longed for – going up Northern Luzon via eastern provinces of La Union, Ilocos Sur, Ilocos Norte, and back to Manila via the western side of Luzon passing though the provinces of Cagayan Valley, Isabela, Nueva Viscaya with a side trip to the Mountain Province to see the world famous Banawe Rice Terraces.

We left Sucat in Metro Manila at about 3am to be able to reach our first destination by 9 o’clock in the morning. Our first destination is San Juan, La Union – the surfing capital of Northern Luzon. It was an easy early morning drive passing though the North Luzon Expressway all the was to Tarlac and then the McArthur Hiway up to our destination.

We had some stops along the way, notably the Petron gas station in Mexico, Pampanga. We have packed meals aboard, so it was not really for a meal stop but just to stretch my body to keep me awake for the long drive.

As I saw that long bridge that link Pangasinan to the highway leading

The Agoo Basilica, La Union
The Agoo Basilica, La Union

to Kennon Road, I said “We are now in La Union!”. Yes, the long bridge ends at Rosario, La Union.

Our first stop was the town of Agoo, La Union, the province’s oldest town. We dropped by the Basilica of Our Lady of Charity where offered our thanksgiving and prayers for our trip. The Church marker says that the town and parish was founded in 1578 – wow, that was really a piece of history!

Across the church is the Museu Iloko where we viewed some historical artifacts. It is really a good thing to visit museums in trips like this to know a bit of history about the place.

In front of Museo Iloko in Agoo
In front of Museo Iloko in Agoo

We continued our road trip driving up north, passing through the busy San Fernando City – the province’s capital. We didn’t stop here, except to buy a famous product – the “chicha-corn” – corn kernels roasted to perfect crunchiness spiced with locally grown garlic!

Finally, we reached our destination – San Juan. We were met by Rey, an old office buddy who now lives in the city.

It is indeed a good surfing beach. The surf here is bigger than the ones in Baler (no offense meant, I love Baler’s Sabang beach!). The beach is very fine grayish sand, and the wave was really enticing to tourists like us to try riding the surf. But we didn’t. We just enjoyed swimming by the beach!

The waves in San Juan, La Union
The waves in San Juan, La Union

Before we checked-in in our hotel, we toured other destinations in the city. We visited Thunderbird Resort & Casino – a classy hotel in Poro Point, La Union. Our friend Rey was so kind to show us the city and its neighboring places.

We finally checked-in at our resort. There are many resorts and lodging houses in the area, you shouldn’t be afraid that you will not find a room to stay. We just did it without any reservation, just a ‘walk-in’ guest. The resort we got is a beach-front hotel with a native pavilion-restaurant overlooking the beach. As my family had agreed, we will order food that are native to the locality, as so we had for dinner some local dishes, and for breakfast, the Iloco longanisa – a local spicy sausage.

On our first day, we immediately tried the gorgeous beach and the tall waves of San Juan. A number of surfers were riding the long and big surf, we just enjoyed watching them. As we don’t know how to ride the surf, we just enjoyed swimming and being carried by big waves to the shore.

A floating restaurant in La Union
A floating restaurant in La Union

The following day, we drove out and continued our road trip to the north. Before we left La Union, we had an early lunch at this native floating restaurant at the banks of Amburayan River. Among other dishes we ordered, I cannot forget the golden tilapia which were caught live from the river right before our eyes, and cooked while we were waiting at the table! Oh, what a feast!

Finally, after that sumptuous meal by the river, our friend Rey bade us goodbye.

Our next stop: Vigan.

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Trials, Trials, Trials!

By Danny Tariman

“No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” (1Cor 10:13)

“Why is this happening to us again???”

My sister texted me in exasperation. I understand her situation.

Her son had just undergone gallstone removal last month.

Her daughter was also admitted in hospital due to some illness, 2 weeks later.

She, herself, was recently was hospitalized for a couple of days for some internal organ problems.

Again early this week, her son was back to hospital for dengue.

While I was with him in the hospital, his wife called him from home in the middle of the night telling him that their cute little girl has a slight fever.

“Her fever will be gone. It is just maybe she was tired playing all afternoon yesterday” I hear him tell his wife on the phone.

One can easily succumb to the situation. One can easily crumble in this kind of condition.

My nephew and his wife, however, are full of hope. Although distressed and worried, they both look forward to brighter days ahead.

I cannot disagree with them. I know God is faithful, He will not let this happen to them if they can’t bear it. I know too that with the trial, the Lord will also provide a way out (1 Cor 10:13)

We are still in the hospital. Waiting for the results of the latest blood tests.

But with the conversations going around among family members, my nephew continue to hold on to his hope. He is down, but he is not beaten. He will come out victorious from all these trials.

Isaiah 40:31 says “those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will take up wings like eagles. They will run and not struggle. They will walk and not tire”. Some versions render this as “they will run and not grow weary, walk and not grow tired”. Yes, the Lord is our Strength!

I pray that my nephew and his wife will indeed pass this trying moments in victory, in Jesus’ name. Amen!

Honoring Your Parents

by Danny Tariman

“Honor your father and mother…” (This is a very important commandment with a promise.) so that it may go well for you, and that you may have a long life on the earth.” (Eph 6:2,3)

“My parents are old. They are both over 90 years old. I wanted to honor them by regularly having lunch or dinner with them, with my own family, on Sundays.” A friend was sharing to me his situation over the phone.

I admire the man. Despite his hectic schedule as a businessman, he is able to arrange a time during the week to be with his aging parents. This should always be the case for all of us.

For some people, however, there is a certain level of neglect when the parents enter their old age and is no longer ‘of help’ them. The elderly are considered outcasts, and a burden to carry on their shoulders. But not this man. He really loves his elderly parents and would like to show his love and respect by visiting them, with his family, at least once a week and eating with them.

I am sure, the promise of the LORD will hold true for him for honoring his elderly parents: “that it may go well for you, and that you may have a long life on the earth” (Ephesians 6:3)

But he called me for a reason. He and his wife are battling for time – visitation time for their respective parents.

The wife appears to want more visitation days to her (former) family, while he want an equal time on weekends to join both their parents. – that is, they will visit them and have lunch with them on alternating Sundays. I say ‘former family’ because they have their own start-up family now.

So what do we do?

First, I believe this can be settled with respect for each other, through a dialogue. While both wanted to honor and show their love for their respective parents, both should agree on a mutually acceptable visitation time that will work for them, And let there be no strife, rather an atmosphere of understanding and mutual respect.

This verse from Ephesians 5:33 should guide us – “Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”

Second, I believe there should be a balance. Galatians 6:10 say “whenever we have the opportunity, let’s practice doing good to everyone, especially to the family of faith”. It says doing good to everyone. This means to me that both parents should be visited with the same frequency. However if both are expecting you to be present for lunch on Sundays, it presents a problem.

I suggest that you do it every other Sunday for lunch with each set of parents – alternating. And on Sundays that you can’t have lunch with them, visit them just the same beyond the lunch meal, and spend time with them. The important thing is you had visited them and had shown respect for the elderly. But you and your spouse should agree on a mutually acceptable schedule.

I pray that the Lord will guide you and grant you grace. May the Lord prosper your relationships!

Roaming in Davao

by Danny A. Tariman

When one speaks of Davao, what immediately comes to my mind is durian or pomelo fruits. True enough, because these 2 fruits are among the most popular fruits from Davao.

But Davao is more than these fruits. It is also home to the Philippine eagle, the famous crocodile farm, and a lot more places of interest. Join me roam around Davao.

Davao City at night as seen from Jack’s Ridge

We flew in late in the evening, arriving at the airport at about half-past-ten. This was my second time to come to Davao, my first was over 25 years ago. But for my 2 children, it was their first. There is this certain level of uncertainty as we stepped out of the airport.

This is me, holding a live baby crocodile at the Davao Crocodile Farm

The taxi cab took us to the hotel after many turns. I am actually lost. I don’t know the place and traveling at night in an unknown place is something that I avoid. But thanks to the strict discipline of the local city executive, our taxi driver was good. We arrived at the hotel quickly. No fussy transaction with the driver; just plain honest-to-goodness metered taxi.

The hotel was really nice and clean, and very economical. For a family of 4, I really cannot complain about the cost. And its location is perfect – right in the middle of the city, and a short walking distance to the Cathedral.

Day 1

The ostrich pen inside the Crocodile Farm

We woke up early to maximize our time in Davao. After the free breakfast at the hotel, we went to Crocodile Farm. Wow, this is
really an experience! The park is not just for crocs, there are a lot of other species that we saw. There were birds – yes, big birds, including the ostrich! The ostriches were quite friendly, you can actually let the birds peck your hands with its big beak. Scary! And there are all sorts of snakes, and monkeys, and lion too! It is a zoo! Hahaha!

If you want exotic food, there is a restaurant beside the zoo that offers crocodile dishes – from sizzling sisig to kare-kare, to steak. And it is butchered right inside the place.

Adjacent to the Crocodile Park is a Cultural Village. The place has a lot of local items to for sale: clothes, clothing accessories, handicrafts, native delicacies, and a host of souvenir items. There is even an “Alamid Coffee” and a display of a live amalid! Alamid is a wild cat which feeds on cocoa bean fruits. The excreted beans are cleaned, roasted, and ground to make a coffee. Do you think you can take this cat’s excrete for coffee? Ouch!

Butterfly House

We visited the Butterfly House which is just a walking distance from the Crocodile Park. The place is not so big, the central being a big dome made of net. We went inside the dome and mingled with the beautiful and colorful winged insects.

In the evening, we traveled to Samal Island via a 15-minute ride on a Ro-Ro (roll-on, roll-off) ship. We just stayed inside our van during the short boat ride and upon reaching the dock, we drove for about an hour to a resort where we slept for the night.

Day 2.

A rainy morning at a resort in Samal Island greeted our second day. And even it was cold because of the rain, we still decided to have a swim in the beach. The sand is fine and creamy; very nice to your bare feet. It was just that the weather was cloudy that prevented us from enjoying the sun & the beach to its fullest.

A big eagle — not the Philippine eagle — with us family in the background.

We moved back to the city after our lunch and visited the Philippine Eagle Center. It was raining – in fact, heavy rains. This didn’t dampen our spirt, none-the-less. We continued our tour at the eagle center with our umbrellas. At the center, my family was accompanied by a tour guide who explained to us the many facets of the eagle center. It was both educational and amusing! The experience was an encounter with the monkey-eating eagle whose wings spans 2 meters with its huge claws and beak.

After the eagle center, we traveled back to the city, dropping off at a durian factory outlet. Oh, that was a nice visit, as you can taste different varieties of durian candy. We even ordered a smoothie (durian shake) which really tastes exotically excellent!

My family at the Jack’s Ridge, overlooking Davao City.

We had a dinner at Jack’s Ridge with a cousin and her family that I have not seen for a long time. Wow, the place is really nice – overlooking the city and the wind so cold. You need to bring your jackets. We ordered Davao dishes like grilled tuna, sauteed tuna egg, and other Filipino dishes. We enjoyed not only the place but also the food.

Blugre Coffee where this durian cappuccino is served.

We capped the evening with durian cappuccino at the downtown, a “must” if you haven’t tasted one. Wow, the place was like a local version of Starbucks! Good ambiance, great coffee, good company!

Day 3

Our third day was a Sunday. We started our day going to Mass at San Pedro Cathedral which is a short walking distance to our hotel. We missed the Museo Dabawenyo as it is open only on weekdays.

The Peoples’ Park, Davao.

We walked toward the People’s Park. While walking we had a taste of durian ice candy (or ice cream bar). It was really so good, we came back for another round. This is a “must try” delicacy that comes at a very low price!

We shopped at Aldevinco shopping arcade. If you are looking for a good place to buy local crafts, this is the place to go. My daughter was able to buy a back-pack bag in muslim-inspired design. My son was able to buy a local canoe replica made of wood.

We visited also some popular places like The Peak – the roof top of a mall with a garden in the middle and surrounded by restaurants. We also went to Abreeza, a mall owned and operated by Ayala Land.

We went back to the airport for our flight back to Manila at 7pm will full of good memories of Davao.

My family really enjoyed our roaming around the city.

Pleasing the Boss

by Danny Tariman

I came across the other week in an e-newsletter some tips on how to please your boss. The guide was quite simple but I realized that as Christians, we should be doing the same. Not so much to please our earthly boss, but more so to please our Heavenly Boss. I am saying this because some of the tips have corresponding Biblical principle.

So, how should a Christian worker conduct himself in an office or workplace? I am listing down here some of the practical guides on how to behave as an employee and as a Christian in the workplace.

Note that in Biblical times, what was referred to as “slaves” are our current day “workers” or “employees”. As an employee or worker, we are subject to “masters” we call today as “supervisor” or “manager”

Tip #1. Be submissive to your boss.

Slaves are to submit to their masters in everything, aiming to please them and not argue with them (Titus 2:9)

The word “submit” means to “bow”, “defer”, “give in”. This means that as employee we should obey our superiors, even if we have another idea or another approach. Submitting means giving-in or deferring or yielding-in to someone else’ idea. The verse further says “in everything”. Does this mean we cannot suggest or verbalize our thoughts? No, it doesn’t mean we don’t speak. It does mean however that when your supervisor opens the floor for discussion, we speak, we discuss. But when he makes a decision, we follow and obey; we don’t argue anymore.

Tip #2. Do your work even if the boss is not looking at you

Obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched in order to please them, but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord. (Colossians 3:22)

Oh, wow! It is another “obedience” verse. I believe there is something pointed out here – obedience. And this time the verse says “not only while being watched”. Opppps! Have you experienced closing a computer program – that is, clicking that little ‘X’ at the upper-right corner of your computer screen – when you are doing something that is not work-related, and suddenly the boss enters the room? Hmmm. I know you are smiling. You must have done it at one time or another.

What does the verse say? “Not only while being watched in order to please them, but with a sincere heart, fearing the Lord”. We should be doing our work as if for the Lord (well, really our work should always be for the Lord), with sincere heart – even when no one is looking at you!

Tip #3. Be the best you can be

Whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.(1 Corinthians 10:31)

Do your work excellently – for the glory of God! As a good Christian witness, we cannot afford to do hanky-panky work. We cannot render a mediocre job. This means in our jobs, we finish our document with less error, or no error at all. We wear our uniforms neat and clean. We speak on the phone with smile and honesty. In our meetings, we speak with integrity and respectfully. The product of our work should be of the highest quality.

In other words, if someone is looking at your performance, or at your finished work, he will be compelled to exclaim “Wow!” That’s glorying the Lord, through our good work.

Tip #4. Give your boss full respect

Slaves must regard their own masters as deserving of full respect. This will prevent the name of God and Christian teaching from being discredited (1 Timothy 6:1)

Greeting your supervisor “Good morning” is good. But that’s not all. Respecting our bosses means not only being polite to them but also having high regard for them. We honor them, and not bad-mouthing them. We defer to him and to his ideas, and of course, we have a positive mental attitude toward him.

The verse also says “full respect” – full means 100-percent; not partial. You respect his management style, you respect his decisions, you respect his supervisory skills, and ALL! Not just some areas.

Tip #5 Have integrity in its highest level

​​​​​​​You must be truthful, honest and upright (Jeremiah 4:2)

I read somewhere “be truthful even if others can’t, be truthful even if others don’t, be truthful even if others won’t.”

As a boss, I always expect my staff to be always honest, even it if is difficult to do so. There maybe times when you want to cover-up something to hide a mistake or wrong-doing. Just the same, tell the truth.

Maybe you arrived late because you departed late – just the same, tell the truth. Admit your mistake, and say “Sorry”. Don’t blame it on traffic. You should have left early in the first place.

Or maybe you forgot to reply to a text message promptly and decided not to text at all. Be honest, don’t say you have not received the text message.

The Bible is clear about this: “the truth will set you free” (John 8:32)

As you read and ponder on this writing, I claim Proverbs for 13:11B for you: “whoever works diligently increases his prosperity” and I pray that the Lord will prosper the work of your hands, in Jesus’ name. (Say “Amen!” if you believe.)

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Peer Pressure

by Danny Tariman

The king was distressed, but because of his oaths and the guests who were present, he ordered that it be given. – Matthew 14:9

“You can do it, Danny!”

My officemates were egging me to dance during a company party. I declined, saying, “I have two left feet, and I don’t really dance.” But that made them pull me to the dance floor all the more.

With all the strength I could muster, I gave in and danced.

Like King Herod in today’s Gospel, I gave in to peer pressure. Even though he didn’t want to harm John, Herod had him killed just the same because of pressure from his guests.

Many times, we go through crossroads of peer pressure.
Sometimes it’s as simple as making the sign of the cross and praying before meals in a restaurant. Because of our fear of being scorned by friends, we don’t do it.

At times, it is as “big” as skipping Sunday Mass. The invitation from friends to go to the beach or go on a road trip doesn’t permit you to attend Mass, and yet you “go with the flow” because of peer pressure.

Dear friend, stand up for your faith. The Bible says in Matthew 10:32, “Everyone who acknowledges me before others, I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father.

Reflection: How many times did you “fail” the Lord because of peer pressure?

Lord, I am sorry for not standing up for You. I am sorry that I kept silent about You. Please grant me the grace to stand up for You. Amen.

[This reflection is out at Didache today, Aug 2, 2014. You may click this link to go to its website ]