Mamangal Beach: Pure Nature

Mamangal Beach: Pure Nature
by Danny Tariman

One of the best attractions of Virac are its beaches. For the nature lovers, Mamangal Beach is one destination you shouldn’t miss.

Mamangal Beach: nature at its best.
Mamangal Beach: nature at its best.

This beach is just a few kilometers away from the town proper of Virac. It was just about a 20-minutes drive for us, passing through the Catanduanes State University, go straight, then left to Palta road. You will pass Baranggay (village) Palta – Big, go further straight, then left at a fork road. This leads you to the beach. The road is well-paved concrete. The smooth road ends maybe 500m away to the beach, after which you need to navigate through dirt road.

I like this beach for its natural beauty. No permanent structures in the entire stretch of the beach. Just pure creamy-white sand gradually sloping towards the middle of the sea. It is very safe even for kids to swim around.

Lush trees line the beach.

The sand is fine and smooth, this is why when I asked my niece Gay to look for me a good beach, she said that if I am for “beach quality”, this is the best beach. True enough, I really liked its sandy beach which has almost flat bed to about 50 meters from the shoreline.

Most of the children with us walked toward the middle during the low tide to explore the seabed. It has great bio-diversity: small fishes, star fishes, lovely seaweeds are everywhere. There are mini-lagoons too, a spot where there are no seaweeds; just soft, creamy sand.

The almost flat seabed: very kid friendly.
The almost flat seabed: very kid friendly.

My family toured this place with my cousins and their children. We had a small family reunion. Families from as far as Mindanao and Laguna joined us and families from Virac and Bagamanoc towns in Catanduanes.

It is a lovely natural beach. Given opportunity, we will go back again to this beautiful beach again.

Marine life in Mamangal beach
Marine life in Mamangal beach
Relatives enjoying the company at the beach
Relatives enjoying the company at the beach
The big family posing at the beach
The big family posing at the beach
The beautiful marine life at Mamangal
The beautiful marine life at Mamangal
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Meeting Commitments

Meeting Commitments
by Danny Tariman

“When you make a promise… don’t fail to keep it, since [God] isn’t pleased with fools. Keep what you promise” (Eccl 5:4)

I was staring at the “Inbox” of my email, checking the latest mail arrival.

I was reviewing the incoming mails line-by-line, when suddenly I was struck by a previous e-mail with the subject “Meeting Commitments”.

It actually contains the items that all parties in the meeting agreed to do for our project – the formatting of the status report, the updating of the project timeline, the submission required documents, etc.

It occurred to me that one of the items that had been agreed upon – a simple re-formatting of the report – was not done. The report should have mentioned the over-all status in terms of percentage completion.

In a meeting earlier in the day, the Project Manager pointed out that the latest Minutes of Meeting was not reformatted as discussed and agreed upon.

Suddenly I got another perspective of ‘Meeting Commitments’.

The “commitments we had agreed to do in our meeting” became “fulfilling commitments.”

As a Christian worker, we should be witnesses for Christ in our workplace.

A simple pledged action should be acted on and fulfilled, no matter how simple the task maybe.

We should be doing our work for the LORD, no matter how menial the job is.

The Bible is very clear about this: “whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God. (1 Cor 10:31).

We should work as if doing it for the Lord. Ephesian 6:7 says “rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.”

I pray that you will continue to shine in your workplace – as a Christian worker, as a Christian witness.

The Awesome Maria Cristina Falls

The Awesome Maria Cristina Falls
by Danny Tariman

My family had been traveling around Northern Mindanao for the past 4 days. This is the last day of our pleasure tour.

From Cagayan de Oro City, we headed towards the province of Lanao del Norte to our destination, the awesome Maria Cristina Falls.

The gigantic Maria Cristina Falls in Lanao Del Norte.
The gigantic Maria Cristina Falls in Lanao Del Norte.

I had been reading about this falls and seeing its photos or drawings since my elementary days in geography books. I had never thought that one day, it will be a tour destination for me.

We passed by Iligan City. This is a highly industrialized city with many factories and big buildings – oil companies, oil depots, cement plant, glass plant, etc. We enjoyed the almost 2 hours ride from the Cagayan de Oro.

We further drove down and find our way to the Maria Cristina Falls Nature Park. The park is operated and maintained by the National Power Corporation. The falls powers the hydro-electric plant that generates electricity that powers Iligan industrial city and its neighboring cities and provinces.

We reached the gate to the water falls at about 8:30 in the morning. To our surprise, it was closed for tours because of fallen tree branches that blocks the road. A storm just passed by the area the day before; even the water flowing in the downstream river is muddy-brown.

The entrance gate to Ma Cristina Falls & Nature Park
The entrance gate to Ma Cristina Falls & Nature Park

Fighting our discouragement, my family prayed for God’s intervention to allow us to see this beautiful falls. By 9am, the gate was opened to tourists! Thanks be to God!

We drove slowly passing through a forested area.

Lo and behold, a gigantic falls gushing immense water from the top! Maria Cristina Falls is just in front of us! Really an awesome view!

I really don’t know how high the falls is, but the volume of water cascading down from twin-streams is just spectacular! Really huge! The water flowing at the bottom is so swift and its current strong! Maybe because of the rains the past couple days.

My family at the viewing deck fronting the falls.
My family at the viewing deck fronting the falls.

At the right side is the hydro-electric plant which converts the water power into electric power. Tourists are restricted from going to the hydro-electric plant.

The viewing deck near the falls has a coffee shop-restaurant, in case you want to rest and have some eats or drinks. The surrounding area is rich in tropical plants and trees, with some wild small animals freely roaming around. We saw a big lizard [see photo].

A mountain lizard roaming freely at the park
A mountain lizard roaming freely at the park

After the photo shoot, we packed-up and move on to our last tour destination.

Indeed, an experience I cannot forget.

Our thanks to our Aunt Cedeng and cousins for lending us a 4×4 Strada pickup and for the warm hospitality. We also thank Mel-An, for touring us and driving for us.

The road to the falls passing though a forested area.
The road to the falls passing though a forested area.
My family at the downstream of Ma Cristina falls.
My family at the downstream of Ma Cristina falls.
One of the attractions at the Ma Cristina Nature Park
One of the attractions at the Ma Cristina Nature Park

“Rafting in the Storm”

“Rafting in the Storm”
Our Cagayan de Oro Adventure
by Danny Tariman

The excitement grows bigger as we near the date of our trip to Cagayan de Oro. My daughter who loves extreme sports/adventure is eager – no “eager” is a weak description; maybe “dying” is better – to go rafting in the wild rivers of Cagayan de Oro.

The day, and the day before, we were scheduled to try this extreme adventure, it was raining hard. When we went out for dinner in the evening the streets were flooded – only big vehicles can pass. I just dismiss the idea that the rafting tour operator would cancel the adventure ride. In fact I had already in my mind the title of my blog “Rafting in the Storm”. I thought it will be more challenging, more exciting, more adventurous.

A brief stop over at St Augustine Church in our CDO tour in the rain.
A brief stop over at St Augustine Church in our CDO tour in the rain.

In the morning, I called our friend who was going with us in the rafting adventure and who is from Cagayan, to check if the rafting is okay. He replied in the affirmative! Wow! Great!

We quickly managed to have a brief city tour despite the rains. We drove through the busy streets in the business district. We stopped at St Augustine Cathedral – the main Catholic church of the city. It is huge, the altar is large, its windows are made of frosted glass.

We tried looking for the museum which we ‘found out’ from the internet but after driving a distance, and making U-turns, we were not able to locate it. And so, we decided to visit the newest mall in the city operated by Ayala Malls. We had a good lunch in the mall but since it is an upscale, Manila-company-operated mall, most of the restaurants were branches of Manila brands.

The white water rafting -- a famous adventure in Cagayan de Oro
The white water rafting — a famous adventure in Cagayan de Oro

We then proceeded to the rafting tour office. We met our very good family friend, Fr Kit, who hails from Cagayan de Oro. We will be with him in this rafting adventure. He too, loves this extreme adventure, and was insisting we take the advance course – the “course” here means the more difficult path or waterways. I was asking him if there will be courses with jumps, a small falls where the raft jumps into the lower stream. He said there are!

My adrenalin is starting to rise! I sense my family’s too. We are all excited to go white river rafting in Cagayan. We boarded a jeep which took us to the drop-off point. The distance is a bit far – maybe 20km uphill drive from the city. You can just imagine, that same distance is almost the distance we will be rafting going down the rapids!

And the rain continues.

Exciting indeed! My mind was “seeing” the rapids, with swollen water; while we are on a rubber raft zigzag-ing though the wild river, the raft jumping into the lower stream! Wow!

Rafting in the storm!

When we reached the drop off point, our tour guides, went ahead to the river bank to assess the situation. After few minutes, the leader announced “Guys, we cannot go down the river as it had swollen beyond the ‘danger limit’”.

My children for a photo-shoot of the swollen river.
My children for a photo-shoot of the swollen river.

Our excitement was doused. It was like pouring frozen water into your head.

Anyway…

We drove back to the city, with a brief stop-over at a cave along the way – the Makahambus Cave. The marker says that it was the place where the local infantry men fought gallantly against the American soldiers. The cave is actually a tunnel leading to the river – the same river we will be passing by raft! And indeed we saw the river very swollen and gushing with strong currents.

The Makahanbus Cave marker
The Makahanbus Cave marker

We capped our day with a dinner at Panagatan, a restaurant by the bay. It is in fact, above the sea, sitting on stilts. We had a gastronomic experience here in Cagayan – seafoods galore! We thank Fr Kit and family for the hosting us in this wonderful dinner. We truly enjoyed the company, the food, and the ambiance!

The feast of seafood in Cagayan de Oro hosted by Fr Kit & family.
The feast of seafood in Cagayan de Oro hosted by Fr Kit & family.

The next day, we visited the Shrine of Divine Mercy sitting on top of a hill near the airport. It is a very nice, serene place to meditate. The Shrine does not have a roof. It is a large garden with ornamental plants all-over the place. To go to the Shrine, you need to climb its 150 steps (my guestimate only). But it is worth the climb. Once you reach the Shrine grounds, a cool breeze and a peaceful environment welcomes you.

The Divine Mercy Shrine in Cagayan de Oro -- a peaceful garden.
The Divine Mercy Shrine in Cagayan de Oro — a peaceful garden.

My son had noticed that the “rays” emanating from the heart of Jesus’ statue is actually a ladder (or stairs) leading to the tabernacle which is imbedded in the “heart” or chest of the statue. Truly a wonderful work of art and engineering.

Thank You LORD for the gift of friends, and for the wonderful experience in Cagayan de Oro!

More photos:

The window panes of the Cathedral.
The window panes of the Cathedral.
My family in front of the Makahambus Cave
My family in front of the Makahambus Cave
Seafoods galore in Cagayan de Oro
Seafoods galore in Cagayan de Oro
The Panagatan seaside restaurant at night.
The Panagatan seaside restaurant at night.

 

[Rafting pictures courtesy of Bugsay Rafting CDO website]

A Secret of Happy, Satisfied Life

A Secret of Happy, Satisfied Life
by Danny Tariman

“I have learned to be content in any circumstance. I have experienced times of need and times of abundance. In any and every circumstance I have learned the secret of contentment, whether I go satisfied or hungry, have plenty or nothing.” (Phil 4:11-12)

“It’s too dark here!”

An officer complained as she barged into my office area. One or two of the ceiling lights were busted.

The lights were fixed in a couple of days, she barged again saying,

“It’s too bright here!”

I had noted that she would almost always complain of the circumstances around her.

“It’s too hot” when the aircon was set above 25 degrees, or “It’s too cold” when the temperature was set below 25 degrees.

“It’s very quiet here, Danny” she will tell me when I am all alone in my area. But when there are other persons working where I am, she will say “Danny, isn’t it too noisy?”

My dear reader, can you relate?

At times, we too, tend to complain just about anything.

When you were still living in an apartment, you will say, “If I can only live in my own house, I will be happy”.

You were blessed with a new house of your own. In the later years you will say “If only I have a bigger house….”

Or you say “If I only earn at least $800, I will be happy.” And then after a couple of years, you were earning $1,000, and you will complain “My $1,000 is just making ends meet!”

The Bible says, we have to be content with what we have!

​​​​​​It is better to be content with what the eyes can see ​​​​​​than for one’s heart always to crave more. (Eccl 6:9)

There is no wrong in dreaming for more. I always aim higher in my endeavors, in my workplace, and in my personal life. I usually want to break my previous record, in achieving higher goals. It is okay. But do it with a thankful, cheerful heart!

Be happy with what you have!

Your conduct must be free from the love of money and you must be content with what you have (Heb 13:5)

Instead of complaining, you say “Thank You LORD that I am earning now $800. Thank You for this blessing! I pray You will empower me to outdo my previous performance, so that I can earn my goal of $1,000.”

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I say, rejoice! In every situation, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, tell your requests to God. (Phil 4:4,6)

​Contentment brings happiness!

​​​​​A bright look brings joy to the heart, ​​​​​​and good news gives health to the body. (Prov 15:30)

When you live with a thankful heart and joyful disposition, you will feel younger and stronger. It will show in your countenance!

I pray you will live a happier, satisfied life!

Dahilayan Forest Adventure

Dahilayan Forest Adventure
by Danny Tariman

It was a rainy Saturday. The storm is approaching northern Mindanao. And yet, here we are, braving the rains and continued with our tour. This time, going to the mountains of Bukidnon. Our destination is the Dinahilayan Forest Park, which is famous for its 850-meter dual zip-line. It used to be the longest in the country 2 or 3 years ago.

My children on the 850-meter long dual zip line. Note the hazy background due to intense rains.
My children on the 850-meter long dual zip line.

Bukidnon is known for its vast pineapple plantations. Most of its fields in the valleys are planted with the fruit for Del Monte. I hear that huge plantations are company-owned while some are owned and planted by contract-growers for this same company.

It was a rainy drive. The vision was quite hazy. But I can still see the silhouette of the vast pineapple plantation as we drive. It was about 2 hours, initially uphill drive from Cagayan de Oro City. Maybe if it was not raining, it would been just an hour-and-a-half. Half of the road to the Dinahilayan Forest Park is smooth, maybe the next 40% of the way had asphalt with some potholes, and another 3-4km of rough road.

The vast pineapple plantations we passed. Despite the rains, it was an awesome panoramic view.
The vast pineapple plantations we passed. Despite the rains, it was an awesome panoramic view.

When we reached the park, it was really drenched in rain. The views were hazy and blurry. We can’t take good photo shots of the resort, even as a backdrop for us family. [See photos below].

Despite the heavy rain, our children enjoyed the zip lines! It has 3 stages. And the longest and the most exciting is the 850-meter dual zip-line which used to hold the record as the country’s longest zip line.

I and my wife initially thought of riding the zip line too, but at the last minute, we canceled our plan. We instead, took an easier ride – the go-cart. The cart has no engine, just break pedal to stop and control the speed. The starting line of this ride is at the top of the resort, then we go down the zigzag trail by gravity, until we reach the foot of the ravine, or valley as you may call it. It was also an exhilarating experience, as the cart can go down really fast if you will not step on the break!

My wife, while I am taking the photo, at the hanging bridge to the go-cart ride. See the zigzag road, that is the track for our cart ride.
My wife, while I am taking the photo, at the hanging bridge to the go-cart ride. See the zigzag road, that is the track for our cart ride.

To go to the go-cart riding spot, we had to cross a gorge – a deep ravine – through a hanging bridge. We had some photos in this area, but it was quite hazy due to intense rains. We were both, as well as the rest of the riding guests, wearing raincoats given free by the resort.

The resort has very nice, upscale facilities – coffee shops, full-dining restaurant, themed mini-parks inside, souvenir shops, room accommodation, and others.

My family at the viewing deck beside the restaurant.
My family at the viewing deck beside the restaurant.

A “must visit” place when in, or near, Cagayan de Oro City!

Thank you Aunt Cedeng and Doc Vivs for your warm hospitality, and for the 4×4 vehicle!

More photos:

The 'farm animal' theme in the park.
The ‘farm animal’ theme in the park.
A garden with farm animals
A garden with farm animals
The zorb ball
The zorb ball ride
The 850-meter zip line
The 850-meter zip line

Exploring Camiguin Island

Exploring Camiguin Island
by Danny Tariman

My family is so excited to go to this far-away island in northern Mindanao. We took a plane from Manila to Cagayan de Oro City. It was an early morning flight and because it was the peak season for travels, the airport was in chaos with so many passengers lining up the counters and many flight delays! Anyway, this was just the beginning of our 5-day journey.

My family, very early in the morning at the White Island sand bar.
My family, very early in the morning at the White Island sand bar.

We arrived at the Laguindingan International Airport in Cagayan de Oro at almost 10 in the morning. We were met and welcomed by my Aunt Cedeng at the airport who was so gracious to lend us a 4×4 Mistibishi Strada pick-up. We immediately drove down to the city where we had a quick take-out lunch. We had to do this to catch up the 1pm boat ride to Camiguin.

We missed the 1pm boat, as we arrived at 1:30pm at Balingoan port. Still, we were not immediately able to board and had to wait until the 3pm boat. While on board, I read a news that a storm is nearing the country and is expected to pass by Northern Mindanao.

“What a time to tour this place”, I sighed. But I leave it all to the LORD to allow us to enjoy this trip!

Enjoying the early morning boat ride to the White Island.
Enjoying the early morning boat ride to the White Island.

We arrived at Camiguin port at about 5pm. We first tried and dropped by the nearest tourist spot we can pass but darkness was starting to set in; we can no longer appreciate the natural beauty of the place. And so we decided to “call it day” and rest for the night.

We passed by this restaurant in a little hut, with a few cars parked in front. Being a first timer in the place, I thought it will be a good idea to eat here since there some customers. I was surprised that it was not a Filipino restaurant but an Italian – operated and managed by a couple who migrated recently to the island.

It was the Italian-owner himself who waited on us and described the selections on the menu. It was a long wait for food to be served. I was starving already! But when the food was finally served, wow, it was really authentic Italian dishes served to us by wife (an Italian too). Earlier, I was complaining inside of me for the long wait, while the couple almost vanished from our sight. It appears that it was the couple who prepared the food themselves! Truly a must for every visitor in Camiguin! If you happen to visit the island, try this Italian resto – Shardana.

An Italian dinner in a Filipino setting in Camiguin.
An Italian dinner in a Filipino setting in Camiguin.

We had a good night rest at small but really nice and clean accommodation arranged by my cousin Dr Vivian. (thank you, doc!). We woke up early in the morning to maximize our time. At 7 o’clock in the morning, we were already aboard an outrigger boat to “White Island”. It is a sand bar in the middle of the sea, about 30 minutes ride from the shore.

White Island is an icon of Camiguin – you will see this in most photographs of Camiguin Island. Its fine cream white sand and crystal clear blue waters will seduce you at first sight. Since it was early, I think we were the second or the third group to arrive, and the place was almost ours! My son had his usual sea adventure – looking for some creatures to bring home as pet – while his sister accompanied him. I and my wife just strolled the soft, clean sand of the island.

I & my wife at the sand bar
I & my wife at the sand bar

Our next stop was the trek to the extinct volcano – the Mt Vulcan. It has the Stations of the Cross, as added attraction. You can meditate on “The Way of the Cross” as you hike to the top. But it was the time when it rained so heavy, we decided not to go up to the mountains.

At the foot of Mt Vulcan, an extinct volcano.
At the foot of Mt Vulcan, an extinct volcano.

Just a little bit across is the Sunken Cemetery – believed to be a place of burial before the volcanic eruption. Today, what only exists is a Cross on a man-made islet; everything else is submerged under the sea.

The sunken cemetery
The sunken cemetery

Few meters away is an old church ruins. The old walls of the former church still stands to this day, all covered with mosses. Aside from the ‘main’ church building, there are two other ruins structure within the yard – the bell tower and the convent. The view is nice and serene, similar to the view of Cagsawa ruins in Legaspi City in Bicol.

The ruins within the church yard.

We then proceeded to the Sto Niño Cold Spring Resort. I and my son took a dip in its large pool and indeed, it was really very cold. Brrrrr. My leg froze and hardened few minutes into the pool! The best thing is that the water is all natural – no preservatives! Kidding aside, the pool is not chlorinated but it is very clean as it is a flowing spring water. There are small fishes swimming in the pool! The resort has good facilities – several huts, clean bath rooms, food stalls, and souvenir shops.

The Sto Nino Cold Springs
The Sto Nino Cold Springs

From the cold springs, we drove a long way – over half-an-hour – to another spring resort. This time it is Ardent Hot Spring Resort We drove half-way up a mountain to reach this beautiful resort. It has big pavilion, a nice restaurant, several family huts, and many souvenir shops just outside its entrance gate.

The Ardent Hot Springs
The Ardent Hot Springs

The naturally hot water pool is lined with rocks, and surrounded by trees, wild vines and ferns. It is a forest! At the time we were swimming, it was raining; we can clearly see smoke rising from the waters as the rain drops into the pool. Enchanting! The picnic area is large; guests are allowed to pitch tents for a camping experience.

Our final stop in Camiguin island is the Katibawasan Falls. Its tall water falls gently dropping to the base of the mountain is a glorious sight! It is very tall, it was a bit of a challenge to focus the camera to take its entire length!

The Katibawasan Falls
The Katibawasan Falls

We capped our tour of the island with a hearty late lunch at the Kan-anan sa Parola restaurant. It is a decent place to eat – good food, good provincial ambiance, with a bit of an urban setting.

Before you go, don’t forget to buy a few dozens of Camiguin’s favorite food-to-bring, the Vjandep pastel. This pastel is a soft bun oozing with custard (“yema”) filling. Indeed, soft on the outside, creamy in the inside. The restaurant where we had our lunch is owned by the same people who bakes this famous pastel!

Wow, we had a great time in Caminguin, despite the on-coming storm. Thank You, LORD! Thank you Doc Vivian for the 4×4 vehicle and for our driver.

More photos:

My family at the church ruins.
My family at the church ruins.
My family at Sto Nino Cold Springs
My family at Sto Nino Cold Springs
My family at the hot spring pool.
My family at the hot spring pool.
My family at Katibawasan Falls.
My family at Katibawasan Falls.