“You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (John 15:14)
Jesus is my Master, my Lord, my King.
I want to be His friend.
The Bible in John 15:14 is clear about it: we can be friends with Him if we obey His command.
The key to our friendship with Him is our obedience to Him.
This is the same in our offices, in ministries, and in everything where we work with leaders.
It feels light and easy if we are friends with our superiors, right?
The same Biblical principle applies to our relationship or friendship with our earthly masters: we have to obey them.
In fact in the Book of Romans, it is emphasized:
“Every person must be subject to the governing authorities, for no authority exists except by God’s permission. The existing authorities have been established by God, so that whoever resists the authorities opposes what God has established” (Romans 13:1-2)
As a manager in an office, I tend to be easy on my staff who follow my directions. In fact, because of the trust they have earned from me, I would give the more critical tasks to these people. And they are just happy to do it for me. After office work, we are friends.
But this is not the kind of relationship I have with people who does not follow my instructions. I tend to be firm and strict with them. And yes, they consider me as a ‘boss’ and not as a ‘friend’.
As a leader in church volunteer groups, I have the same feeling: those who follow what I tell them to do are friends with me.
It is quite hard for a leader to be friends with people who does not obey what you tell them to do. Let us lighten their task.
Let’s be friends with our leaders, with our earthly masters, just as we wanted to be friends with Jesus.
Let us obey them. Because as we obey them, we also obey the Lord (Romans 13:1-2).
May the Lord empower you to obey your leaders, and prosper you in return!
Whenever my family wants a quick get-away to a beach, it will almost be the beach along Laiya.
We had been to the place many times – at least 7 times already, as of this writing.
Laiya is a long stretch of creamy white beach along the San Juan bay in Batangas.
We like this beach primarily because of its crystal clean water and the nice white beach. The sand is not the fine, powdery type, but the beach does not pebbles nor small rocks which may hurt our bare foot.
Another thing that we like about this is that the western tip – where we usually go – has a rock formation near the beach. Behind this rock is a snorkeling area which offers very nice aquatic panorama. This give us a wonderful wild ‘seascape’ view without going to the deep. (Other resorts will take you to snorkel area for an hour’s boat ride). It has a good number of live corals, different species of fishes, and other sea creatures.
My son loves this place! It was here he was able to catch a live moray eel which we took home and put in his salt-water aquarium. It lived for more than 6 months until it grew so big, my son had to trade it at a pet shop in exchange for other species.
Two of the resorts we had visited offers buffet lunch – and eat-all-you-can fare – and free snacks in the afternoon. Some has swimming pools within the resort, but for me the swimming pool is not my reason for driving this distance; it is the beach.
Laiya is a good 2-hour drive from South of Manila. Take the South Luzon Expressway (SLEX) all the way to the Star Tollway (in Batangas). I like the drive here as I can go for its limit of 100kph for a long stretch of the highway.
To avoid the city traffic in Lipa, we sometimes pass via Ibaan road. We exit from the Star Tollway Ibaan, and drive all the way to Laiya. It is about 5km longer distance but definitely shorter driving time to navigate.
However, if you want to pass by Lipa City, you have to exit at Lipa Exit. Then find your way to the road leading to Laiya. [I suggest you open your Google Maps, for easy reference]. You may opt to stop at the Lipa Cathedral. It is a centuries-old church which ancient beauty is still preserved until today.
Another stop you may consider while in Lipa is the Our Lady of Mt Carmel church where a garden which is claimed to be the place where Mama Mary had an apparition, stands and venerated today. In one of our visits, we were very fortunate to meet a care-taker nun who had shown us preserved rose petals with image of Mother Mary, and another one with Jesus’ image.
Anyway, back to our travel to Laiya.
From Lipa, it is an easy 1-hour drive to Laiya. You will pass through the town of Rosario where the road from Ibaan meets, and then the town center of San Juan. From its municipal building, you go right and drive straight to Laiya.
Once you reach the resort, it’s clean crisp air, clean clear waters, and a restful atmosphere awaits you.
The community of believers was of one in heart and mind. (Acts 4:32)
Our church workers went to Tagaytay City one weekend for a team building activity. It struck me that the reading for the Mass a few days later, is the principal subject of why we went to this mountain city.
We went up to this cool retreat venue to build up the church servants, that we may be of one heart and one mind for the Lord.
We had so much fun playing the games prepared for us: the “all at once”, the “reverse charade”, the “hoola-hoop”, the “pass the message”, and others.
We had so much laughter. All the 4 teams had quickly composed its respective “cheering”.
As we played the games, each group had to make strategies to win the games. Many were giving suggestions. Many were giving instructions on how to play the game.
Some lost, some won. But everyone had fun.
Processing our behavior, our reactions, and our participation in the games, there are a lot of parallelisms in our ministry work. Some of them are –
We have to be united, we need to move together in one direction. One person in a group that does not do what he is supposed to do will destroy the team’s ability to win.
We need to communicate with each other. We need to make sure that we are able to relay the message clearly, and that the other party fully understands the message.
There are many suggestions and instructions flying in the course of planning and strategizing. But when a decision is made, everyone should do his part to uphold and follow what has been decided.
Members of the team have different personalities and traits. But if we move together as one, setting aside our personal preferences for the greater good, we can easily achieve our purpose.
At first, a task may seem difficult to do. But with practice, and acceptance that it has to be done anyway, it becomes easier.
With many giving instructions, we need to hear only once voice – the leader’s voice – in order to win.
There are still many others we have learned during the games.
But there is one common denominator: to be one heart, one mind in serving the Lord through our ministries. Philippians 1:27 aptly says it:
Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ so that – whether I come and see you or whether I remain absent – I should hear that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, by contending side by side for the faith of the gospel (Phil 1:27)
My family always wanted the cool weather of Tagaytay. I can no longer count the number of times my family drove up to this city just to leisurely pass the time. We started going up to this mountain city since my kids were still toddlers. And up to now, we still go whenever we like to have a quick and easy picnic.
Tagaytay City is perched on top of the mountain lining the edge of Taal volcano. Its Baguio-City-like climate attracts a lot of tourists specially during summer months, less the hassle of long travel. It is very accessible from Metro Manila via bus or if you drive a car, it is just 1 ½ hours drive.
The iconic view of the city is the Taal lake with an island in the middle the water. That small island is actually the Taal volcano. The volcano is a destination in itself. This is not easily accessible from the city. You need to drive down to the lake, take a boat across, and climb the volcano hiking or riding a horse. I will tell you more about this adventure in another blog.
Tagaytay offers a lot of tourist spots. The most popular one is the Picnic Grove which has a stunning view of the lake and the volcano. It has a spacious picnic grounds with several huts where you can have barbecue, kite flying, or simply playing around with the family. It also has an eco-trail where you can take a walk on its 20-minute trail with a gorgeous view of the mountain cliff, passing through a hanging bridge. On one end, there is a zip line for the more adventurous people.
For those who wanted some quite time with the Lord, the Pink Sisters’ convent is one of the places to go. It has landscaped gardens, a chapel, and a souvenir shop. You may want to attend Mass also at St Francis church just along the main road, or try the many convents and chapels in the area.
Sonia’s Garden is another ‘must’ when you are in Tagaytay. The entire place is flower garden with accommodation that is truly unique – bedrooms furnished with antique furniture, with the toilet and bath just hiding from “plants screen” (yes, there are no walls!) The meal is fantastic – green salads and other healthy food. For those who are health conscious, this is highly recommended.
For those who are on budget, the Alfonso Market is the place to eat. Aside from being the market for Batangas beef and fresh fruits, this market is very popular – even to the high-end consumers – as it offers the very popular “bulalo” at almost half the price of restaurants along the main road. The “carinderias” has a lot to offer aside from bulalo. It also offers (on season) eat-all-you-can banana, or if this fruit if out-of-season, it offers free, refillable Batangas brewed coffee (a ‘must’ try!)
Other places to dine and taste local food for mid-market – Leslies’ or Taaleña, or for high-end – Taal Vista or Josephine’s. But anywhere you dine, a must-try dish are bulalo, tawilis (which is only available in Taal Lake), and “adobong dilaw”. The main road is lined with Manila-based restaurant brands, if you like to go for the more common dining.
Other places to visit in Tagaytay. The Sky Ranch park beside the Taal Vista Hotel that offer ferries wheel and horse back riding. Calleruega is nice place for family bonding time too. It has a chapel (a good venue to wedding), function rooms, cottages both small and big and very spacious lawns. Of course, not to be missed is the “Palace in the Sky” and old structure which was built during the Marcos regime, supposed to be the guest house for a US president’s visit.
Before you go back home from Tagaytay, take some specialty food at the Good Shepherd Convent Store. Take also fruits that are always available in the city – pineapple, banana (“senorita” variety), and of course papaya. You may also buy some Batangas beef, and dried tawilis at Alfonso market. Tip: prices of dried tawilis, and sweets from street vendors are expensive compared to market price.
Oh, so much story to tell. I have to close this now.
It is so much fun exploring these places together as a family!
We had always been on the watch for a new place to discover.
One day my wife called my attention to this “submarine garden” being aired on TV, as a featured summer destination. It immediately caught my interest because my son is always very eager to explore marine life.
I immediately searched the internet, and yes, it is worth discovering!
I was almost end-of-summer-season in the Philippines. We drove to Lobo, Batangas leaving the Metro at about 5am. After about 2 hours we reach Batangas City, passing through the South Luzon Expressway, the Calamba-Sto Tomas Expressway, and finally the STAR Tollway. It was an easy morning drive, averaging 90-100kph.
Past the city proper, we passed by the Shell oil depot where dozens of giant oil tanks fill the vast seaside yard, and other industrial plants.
It was a good well-paved, zigzag for almost an hour drive until we reach the Lobo town. It was a scenic drive by the bay.
We reached Submarine Garden Resort in no time. My family is excited to see the underwater view. We quickly put up our snorkeling gear and headed down to the beach!
Within 10 meters from the beach, you will indeed see the “submarine garden” shown on TV. My family swam and explored almost every square-meter of the underwater scenery. We were all awed by the natural “aquarium”. It was like viewing a huge aquarium: colorful corals – both soft and hard of various species, with fishes swimming around.
We were looking for the famous clown fish – popularly known as “Nemo”, and we were not disappointed. My daughter spotted the fish on her way back to the shore. While she was taking photos, the fish got near her, in an effort to guard its territory. [Clown fishes are territorial fish – meaning, it consider a territory its own, and would usually scare away other creatures getting near its territory.]
The beach has a picturesque sunset view. The good thing is my two very wonderful children took photos of the sunset. And yes, it was very nice, they immediately posted the photos in their Facebook accounts as soon as they got back the hut.
As an added place to visit, we went to the Malabrigo lighthouse, known to locals as “Parola”.
The lighthouse sits on top of a cape overlooking the bay. The tower is very much similar to the one in Calatagan (also in Batangas). We couldn’t get inside the compound as it seems to be closed. We arrived the cape at about 6:15pm after about 20 minutes easy drive from the resort, and still with the sun setting down, the lighting was just perfect!
Going back to Manila, we passed by another road: via Ibaan. It was a shorter drive but still with a long zigzag but cemented or asphalted road. It was dark when we passed. Yeah, my family is quite brave to pass this untrodden road at night! Haha! I think the ride would have been more scenic if we passed earlier when the sun was still up.
We were so amazed at the kindness of the people we passed and encountered along the road. They were all very helpful. Thank you people of Lobo, you are all very kind and hospitable!
It has been a good drive, a fantastic experience in the submarine sanctuary, and scenic view of the Parola.
“Yes, I will restore you to health. I will heal your wounds. I, the LORD, affirm it!” (Jeremiah 30:17)
About 2 months ago, while on the driver’s seat, I stretched my arm a bit too far as I try to reach for an item at the back seat of the car. Little did I know that, that simple over-stretching would harm my arm.
Few days later, I noticed pain in my upper arm, near my shoulder.
And so I rested from my regular exercise, which include some weight lifting. After 2 weeks I resumed my routine exercise. I can still lift weights but I feel a bit of pain at a certain position. I just pass it off, thinking it will heal itself.
But the pain still persists. It is quite not a big deal, but I can feel the pain.
And so last weekend, I consulted a sports medicine specialist and I was diagnosed to have a “rotator cuff tendonitis”. I don’t really know what this is but the description is quite popular these days because boxing champion Manny Pacquiao recently had an injury in his rotator cuff.
But the LORD is my Healer! Yes, He is! He had promised in Jeremiah my “restoration to health”.
I believe in His word. My God is faithful.
The night that followed after seeing a medical doctor, I had my wife and two children pray-over me. They had laid their hands on me while my wife placed her hand on the exact spot where the pain was.
I claim God’s Word in Mark 16:18
“They will place their hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Yes, I am healed. Even if I still feel the pain, I believe I am healed because the Word says so,
“By his bruises we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5)
My dear friend, do you or your love-ones need healing? Pray with me:
Lord, You are my Healer. I pray for Your healing power to touch me right now, as I claim Your word “by your wounds we are healed”, in Jesus’ name. Amen!