Tinipak Rock Formation: A Stunning Beauty

Tinipak Rock Formation: A Stunning Beauty
by Danny Tariman

It was a long weekend. My family planned to have another outdoor adventure to discover the wonders of Rizal Province.

We were excited to trek the Mt Daraitan (728 meters above sea level) and on the same day, go down the river to an awesome limestone formation – the “Tinipak Rock” – in the Sierra Madre mountain range between Tanay, Rizal and Nakar, Quezon.

A stunning view of Tinipak Rock formation in the mountains of Tanay, Rizal
A stunning view of Tinipak Rock formation in the mountains of Tanay, Rizal

Our first route was Mt Daraitan. [I have a separate blog on this.] It seems easy as viewed from the starting point at Daraitan River but was actually a difficult 60-70 degrees ascend. It took us a challenging 2 hours and 30 minutes to reach the summit.

The strenuous hike to the top was worth the it; the view from the summit was awesome and stunning!

After the reaching the summit of Mt Daraitan, the plan was to go to the Tinipak Rock formation. So after a hearty meal at the top, we started trekking down the mountain.

Our guide led us to the another route – not the one we used going up the mountain. I thought it was an easier one. But, alas! It was as difficult, if not more, as the trail going up. The descent was as steep as we had going up.

A rock passage in the trail down the mountain to Tinipak Rock formatio
A rock passage in the trail down the mountain to Tinipak Rock formation

But this time, the trail was more “exciting”. We had passed through 2 big boulders where we had to slowly and carefully insert ourselves between the rocks. We passed rock formations where we had to duck our heads to pass through low ‘pass-through’ holes.

Add to these were the trails where we had to cross a make-shift ladder as the rock was too steep. There were also paths with loose soil where we would have tripped, if not for the small trees lining the paths that we hold on to. Wow, really challenging!

After about an hour hike, we can hear the sound of a gushing river. It was a refreshing noise to hear, but out guide says our destination is still far, about 2 hours away!

The river at the valley on our way to Tinipak
The river at the valley on our way to Tinipak

Anyway, we continued to trek down the mountain. This time, we had more ‘rest stops’ than going up. All of us were tried and the heaviness of our legs are taking its toll on our strength. But we need to move!

We finally reached the river valley after about 2 ½ hours hike. We dropped by a small hut selling some food stuff. I thought we need to replenish our energy. We ate a couple of bananas and took some drinks, and proceeded to the final stretch of our hike.

As we were approaching the limestone formations, the view of the wide, gushing river was just amazing. With the lush green mountains as a backdrop, wow, the view was so refreshing! I’d like to quickly take a dip! But no, we haven’t reached the destination yet.

A view of the river before Tinipak rock
A view of the river before Tinipak rock

And yes, after 3 hours of trekking downhill from Mt Daraitan, we finally reached the stunning cream-colored rocks, the limestone formations as bed and walls of a deep running river – the Tinipak Rock formation. Wow! This is really a stunning view: emerald-colored river, flowing on cream-colored rocks, and lush forest mountains as backdrop! Really a feast for the eyes.

We took a dip and short swim in the very cold river. After a day’s hike, it was really refreshing experience just soaking our bodies in the flowing river. It soothed my tired, aching legs, and yes, it revived my spirit! Ready again to hike the final stretch back to the village.

I and my son soaking our tired bodies in the flowing river of Tinipak.
I and my son soaking our tired bodies in the flowing river of Tinipak.

It was already late in the afternoon, and so we moved on. We trekked back to the village, passing through the river bank. And while hiking, I can’t resist to take the stunning views of the river – from whatever side you take the view! I had to take photos. Really beautiful.

We finally hit the road again after just about 30 minutes of hike.

Wow, really a wonderful experience! Another wonderful time well spent with the family!

Thank You, Lord, for the graces and protection.

My wife making her way in between two big boulders
My wife making her way in between two big boulders
My daughter while taking a 'rest stop' sitting inside a tree trunk,
My daughter while taking a ‘rest stop’ sitting in a tree trunk,
My son & my wife taking a break after a long mountain trek.
My son & my wife taking a break after a long mountain trek.
My family at the Tinipak rock formation.
My family at the Tinipak rock formation.
My son sitting in one of the rock formations in Tinipak.
My son sitting in one of the rock formations in Tinipak.
A refreshing view of the river on our way back to the village.
A refreshing view of the river on our way back to the village.
We passed through the trails at the bank of this river
The trail (right side of the river bank) going back to the village.
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A Test of Perseverance

A Test of Perseverance
by Danny Tariman

“We passionately want each of you to demonstrate the same eagerness for the fulfillment of your hope until the end…” (Hebrews 6:11)

“If our climb to Mt Pulag challenged our perseverance, this one challenged our strength”. Our daughter quipped as we continue our uphill trek to Mt Daraitan one weekend.

Mt Pulag is the Philippines 2nd highest mountain at 2922 meters above sea level. And we were trekking a much lower mountain that weekend, the Mt Daraitan at 728 meters above sea level. The difference is that while the trail in Mt Pulag was ascending slowly (on the “easy trail”), this trek is very, very steep on a rock-and-mud trail.

From the foot of the mountain, I can see the summit clearly. It seemed a short distance. Much shorter than the Mt Pulag trail. But the real challenge was the steep ascend of about 60-70 degrees.

I and my wife, at mid-fifties, found the climb hard. But we were determined to make it to the top! Our aim was to reach the summit. In my mind, after reading a lot of blogs, I was hoping we will reach it in 2 ½ hours.

Despite the difficulties – at times our foot would slip through, or at times we lost our balance, we persevered! We were dead-set to make it to the top.

Just like in our faith walk.

We have to remain focused on our goal, always maintaining our eyes toward the finish-line, while keeping in mind that the LORD is with us.

“Run with endurance the race set out for us, keeping our eyes fixed on Jesus” (Hebrew 12:1b-2)

There might be trials along the way. Sometimes answer to prayers does not happen as we want, but never think that God is not answering our prayers. Sometimes we stumble and fall, but we have to quickly rise again.

We have to keep running. We have to keep our faith alive.

During this trek, I slipped my foot at least 2 times. I was scared because of the very steep slope. But this did not deter me from pursuing to the top.

The two-and-a-half hours of steep uphill climb almost drained my strength. I endured the difficulties. I pulled all the strength I can get to keep my legs walking. And I think the rest of my family who were trekking with me felt the same.

Until we finally reached the top! And we saw the breathtaking view of the river at the foot of the mountain below. I can only say “Thank You, LORD!”

All the hardships, all the difficulties were nothing compared to the feat of reaching the top; of achieving our goal.

As the Bible says:

“Whoever prevails shall possess these things. And I will be his God, and he shall be my son.” (Revelation 21:7)

I pray that the Lord will grant you grace to persevere in the difficult trail you may be experiencing right now, in Jesus name. [Say “Amen” if you believe.]

Mt Daraitan: Making It To The Top

Mt Daraitan: Making It To The Top
by Danny Tariman

Mt Daraitan in the ranges of the Sierra Madre Mountains is one of trekkers’ favorites. Maybe because its location is very near the city. Or perhaps because it offers a different kind of challenge.

This mountain is located in Tanay, Rizal, Philippines. Coming from south of Metro Manila, it took me and my family just about 2 hours to drive to the drop-off point. Our vehicle’s odometer trip reading registered 77km.

At the foot of Mt Daraitan -- a still & quiet river
At the foot of Mt Daraitan — a still & quiet river

The drive was smooth, passing through C5, Antipolo City, Teresa, and finally reaching the town of Tanay. From the town-proper, it took us about an hour to Daraitan Village (baranggay). It was a good paved road until we reached the turning point from Marcos Highway, where we drove on dirt-and-rock road for about 10kms.

At the drop-off area, we were greeted by a scenic view of a quiet river, with green mountain ranges in the background. It was a good morning to commune with nature once again.

We crossed the river by a raft. It was just a 3 minute ride to the other bank of the river. We headed to the Village (baranggay) Hall for the registration and payment of environmental fees. We also engaged a trek guide from this office, as required. No group is allowed to climb without a local trek guide.

The trail to the top: soil & rocks on a very steep ascend
The trail to the top: soil & rocks on a very steep ascend

We left the village hall at about 8:30 in the morning with “Mang Mulong” as our guide. He is a 60-year-old man with strong knees. The road quickly ascended. We felt the pressure on our legs immediately that we asked to pause to do some stretching exercises for a few minutes.

The trail started with about 30º ascent slowly graduating to 45º. After about one hour of trekking through a 1-lane trail of rocks and mud with shrubs and rocks to hold to, we reached the mid-point. Wow, with wind blowing towards us, it was a refreshing 5-minute rest. The marker says “Station 1”.

This mid-point station has a few make-shift benches made of tree branches. The view of the river below was fantastic. There is also a cave at this point. We had some photo-shoots at the cave’s opening, but never thought of going inside. Other groups ahead of us didn’t go inside too.

Station 1: a refreshing rest at the mid-point to the top.
Station 1: a refreshing rest at the mid-point to the top.

Few steps to the climb, we saw this marker “This way to summit 2300 ft, and ready to Assault Trail”. I have no idea what the “assault trail” mean, until we realized that the slope is now about 60-70º! And this was all the way up to the summit.

It was really challenging ascent. While our climb of Mt Pulag (2900+masl) challenged our “perseverance”, this climb challenged our “strength”. This is really not for weak bodies! No offense meant, but it was really so challenging. The trail was very, very steep. We passed through the narrow trail of rocks and mud holding on to rocks, vines, small trees, and some cut branches to keep our balance.

"Assault trail" marker before the 60-to-70-degree uphill climb
“Assault trail” marker before the 60-to-70-degree uphill climb

Finally, we reached the summit at about 11:15am, after about 2 hours of difficult climb. It is an “achievement” I thought. Indeed it is, for me and my wife in our mid-fifties! We explored the summit, took photographs, and had our packed lunch.

The view from the top was just awesome! Simply breathtaking! Looking down, you can see the river making an “M” path at the foot of the mountain. The stunning sight re-energized my body, ready once again for the descending trek.

We left the summit at 12:30pm, passing a different trail going to Tinipak river. This river is noted for its enchanting lime rock formations and its emerald-color river.

Passing thru the difficult uphill climb.
Passing thru the difficult uphill climb.

The downhill trek was just as challenging as the climb. We still passed through steep slopes, passing through single-trail. At times, we had to squeeze our bodies to pass between 2 big boulders, and at times, we had to duck to pass under a rock formation.

I finally made it to the peak!
I finally made it to the peak!

After a longer trekking time than our ascent, we finally reached the river at 3:30pm. This is about 3 hours hike from the summit. At this time, our legs are tired, almost to the point of surrender. But no! Quitting is not an option! We can make it. And indeed, we made it.

I and my children had a swim at the cool waters of the river. It was a refreshing experience. It was like we were doused with cold water after many hours of hiking.

The view was truly enchanting. White limestone as walls on both side of the river, big boulders of cream colored stones on the river, and in the middle is a strong stream of emerald-colored water, gushing through the lime stones. Really captivating!

The enchanting Tinipak river and rock formation.
The enchanting Tinipak river and rock formation.

We left the Tinipak River at about 4:30pm and started our trek back to the village. We passed through the riverside. It took us about 30 minutes trek to the point where tricycles (motor bikes with a side car) were waiting. Yeah, we took the ride. We were so tired.

Tiring as it maybe, we had a very wonderful experience in this trek. Another day of family bonding time!

We praise God for graces and protection throughout this adventure.

My family at the start of the trek at Daraitan river.
My family at the start of the trek at Daraitan river.
My wife & me at the peak of Mt. Daraitan: enjoying the climb at past 50.
My wife & me at the peak of Mt. Daraitan: enjoying the climb at past 50.
My family upon reaching the summit.
My family upon reaching the summit.
My family at Tinipak river and rock formation.
My family at Tinipak river and rock formation.
The river we passed from Tinipak going back to the village.
The river we passed from Tinipak going back to the village: gorgeous natural beauty.

Teaching Our Children

Teaching Our Children
by Danny Tariman

“Let these words that I’m commanding you today be always on your heart. Teach them repeatedly to your children. Talk about them while sitting in your house or walking on the road, and as you lie down or get up.” (Deutoronomy 6:6-7)

“My dear, just speak to our children. Remind them again…” my wife will plead with me lovingly each time any of my kids would violate a house rule or break family value.

I realized now with the Biblical principle outlined in the verse above, that I have to remind the children repeatedly, or as often as necessary.

But this is not merely for a house rule that had been violated, nor for a family value that was breached, nor for a plain disobedience.

As parents, it is our highest responsibility to teach our children the way of the Lord, to teach them about Christianity in every area of our lives. We need to teach them repeatedly, as the Bible says “teach them repeatedly to your children.” Talk about them whether at rest or in an activity.

Most of the problems in our society today can be traced back to the lack of Biblical teaching or the need for basic Christian living principles being drilled down to children.

For example: the respect for authorities.

“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” (Romans 13:1)

Many of our people today do not respect government officers, church leaders, school teachers, and other persons of authorities. While still young, we need to repeatedly teach our children about respect.

Another simple yet often violated rule: the pedestrian crossing. The Bible is very clear about disobeying even “small” rules

“Anyone who breaks one of the least of these commands and teaches others to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven…” (Matthew 5:19)

I tried standing for 5 minutes at a road intersection with a traffic light. I observed how people will obey the traffic lights. I tell you, not a few – but many, more than the fingers of my two hands – I had noticed, disregard the “red signal” light.

At work, do we give our best even when the supervisor is not around?

“Obey your earthly masters with fear, trembling, and sincerity, as for the Lord. Do not do this only while you’re being watched in order to please them” (Eph 6:5-6)

Have you heard the saying “the mouse is active when the cat is away”? The verse above says that we have to work diligently even while we are not being watched.

There are a lot of Christian principles that we need to understand and drill down to our children. But this short reflection cannot handle all these. I hope you can start today studying the Word of God and drill them down to your children and to your children’s children.

My dear parents, there is an urgent need for us to teach our children. Repeatedly. Until they are able to absorb them in their heart.

One final reminder: do not be afraid to discipline your children. The Bible is very clear about this:

“Now all discipline seems painful at the time, not joyful. But later it produces the fruit of peace and righteousness for those trained by it.” (Hebrew 12:11)

May God bless us in our parenting task!

Family Time in Caylabne Bay

Family Time in Caylabne Bay
by Danny Tariman

It was the usual “after summer” weather when unexpected thunderstorm happens.

We left the Metro bound for Caylabne Bay, in Cavite. It was a good rainless ride when we left Manila. But rain started to drop when we reached the town of Ternate. And as we were driving through the forested Mt Palay National Park, the rains became intense.

My family enjoying the privacy of the beach.
My family enjoying the privacy of the beach.

Although it rained, our excitement was not at all dampened.

When we reached the resort’s reception area, we were greeted by a cozy and warm reception hall. It was not an ordinary beach-side resort, after all. The facilities were really good.

The resort has a nice swimming pool beside the restaurant, which offers us another option where to swim – at the beach front or at the pool. It also has a large well-manicured lawn really good for relaxing walk. You can also take a walk to its breakwater at the further end of the beach.

The swimming pool beside the restaurant, overlooking the beach.
The swimming pool beside the restaurant, overlooking the beach.

We had the beach almost to ourselves. It was really good! And we enjoyed every moment – we played and we swim at the beach! Just savoring the privacy of just having us on the beach. It was a common knowledge that the beach itself was covered with white sand taken from other places, to cover the naturally gray-colored beach.

The restaurant offers a variety of food. In our case, we stuck to some of the all-time Filipino favorites. This pool side restaurant also offers a fantastic view of the beach and the bay.

A quiet moment at dusk.
A quiet moment at dusk.

In the middle of the bay was a “rest hut” which was good spot for passing time and for family time. It is connected to the beach through a narrow foot path. I would have snoozed in this hut but excitement didn’t allow me – I have to discover the whole beach resort.

We roamed around the area. We reached the sea wall or breakwater. Oh, lots of crabs crawling on the rocks! We tried dropping our fishing line to try to catch some reef fish. But we were not lucky fishing at the breakwater. We moved to another area, where after a quite long wait, but we were not failed. My son, was able to hook a small reef fish. Ha ha!

Do you see the fish? Haha! It is so small but still, the excitement was there.
Do you see the fish? Haha! It is so small but still, the excitement was there.

And yes, the accommodation was really good too. We had a fully furnished condominium unit with kitchen, dining and living areas. The rooms are air-conditioned. We had a good overnight sleep.

Oh, I really treasure moments with my family, and this is one really great time!

Frolicking on the beach early in the morning
Frolicking on the beach early in the morning
The hut in the middle of the water.
The hut in the middle of the water.
Another quite spot within the resort.
Another quite spot within the resort.
The edge of the greens,
The edge of the greens,
A refreshing view of the greens
A refreshing view of the greens

The Gorgeous Marine Life of Anilao

The Gorgeous Marine Life of Anilao
by Danny Tariman

It was a long weekend, a good time to break free from the hassles and busyness of daily living in the city. This time, my family decided to go to one of the most famous diving spots near Metro-Manila: Anilao in Mabini town, Batangas, and explore the undersea beauty.

We left the city at about 7 in the morning and had a long drive via the South Luzon Expressway, then continued via Calamba-Sto Tomas Expressway, and finally passing through the Star Tollway. It was an easy drive running an average of 100kph up to Batangas City.

An awesome view of the sunset in Anilao photographed by my son.

From the city, we drove slowly though traffic in Bauan, and finally reaching Mabini. (You may check the Google Maps for the details of the road).

We reached the resort at about 10 o’clock in the morning. It was a long drive through traffic from Batangas City, but no complain because I enjoy driving with my family.

We checked-in at Arthur’s Place Diving Resort. It has nice and clean rooms at very affordable price. We were surprised, most of the resort’s guests were foreigners. I think we were the only group who were all Filipino. Haha! But don’t think that the room rates are expensive, because it is not. The meals at the resort were also good! All were reasonably-priced and offers a good variety.

Arthur's Place Diving Resort: simple & clean accommodation just fronting a diving spot.
Arthur’s Place Diving Resort: simple & clean accommodation just fronting a diving spot with the same name.

Immediately, our children took the beach and the sea. The resort was just in front of Arthur’s Place, one of the popular diving spots in the area; the reason why there were a number of boats filled with divers just in front of the resort.

Just a few meters from the shore is a good snorkeling area. The sea bed has a great bio-diversity of various marine creatures and fishes – it was all colorful. The place is really good for those who are afraid of the deep, because it is only about chest-level deep, at most. Make sure to wear aqua-shoes or any appropriate footwear to avoid any foot injury, as it got plenty of corals and live rocks.

I and my wife trying it out in the shallow portion of the snorkeling area.
I and my wife trying it out in the shallow portion of the snorkeling area.

The afternoon was really a good time to watch the sun sets down and hides in the horizon. The sky turned to amber and the view was simply glorious! I and my children took many different photo shots to capture the beautiful sunset.

A highlight of our trip was the dive to the deep. Wow, our children went down to 20 feet down the sea while I was just skimming the surface, taking the photos while they submerge. I was able to take many shots of colorful corals and fishes.

Colorful corals and fishes in the deep, as taken by my daughter.
Colorful corals and fishes in the deep, as taken by my daughter.

The most beautiful shots, though, were the ones taken by my daughter in the deep. An even more colorful marine scenery captured our imagination! While we were watching the video that she took during the dive we were all awed, you can literally hear the “”Ohs” and the “Ahs”! Haha! It was really great – bright colored corals and fishes, including the iconic clown fish popularly known as “Nemo”.

My daughter also spotted a giant clam down in the deep which she was able to capture in photo. She even touched the opening! Haha! Exciting indeed! My son also spotted a lion fish with its wide dorsal fins open! Truly elegant! Another one also saw a lobster! This was really an experience for all of us.

A giant clam spotted by my daughter in her dive of the deep.

Driving back home, we passed by a resto for lunch where we had the famous Batangas bulalo – a soupy dish of beef shank and vegies, slow cooked in low fire. The meat just peels off the bone!

Really a good time for our family! We certainly look forward to another dive in this wonderful diving resort.

My wife & me at the shores of Anilao.
My wife & me at the shores of Anilao.
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A “groufie” of my family at the resort.
A starry night at the shoreline of Anilao, as taken by my son.
Under-the-sea view, as taken by my daughter: colorful corals & fishes
Under-the-sea view, as taken by my daughter: colorful corals & fishes
Taken at the snorkeling area near the shores: even in shallow waters,  marine life is fantastic
Taken at the snorkeling area near the shores: even in shallow waters, marine life is fantastic
A diver in the deep, as taken by my daughter.
A diver in the deep, as taken by my daughter.