Frolicking in Matabungkay Beach

Frolicking in Matabungkay Beach
by Danny Tariman

Philippines never runs out of good beaches to roam around. My family is always on the look out for places discover. We are always on the go for adventure trips.

The stretch of fine sand beach in Matabungkay.
The stretch of fine sand beach in Matabungkay.

This time, we go to a nearby destination, the Matabungkay Beach in Lian, Batangas. It is quite near from Manila. In about 1 ½ hours drive through the cool Tagaytay City and down to the scenic roads of Nasugbu. The road is quite simple: when you reach the Nasugbu junction, turn left to Lian, straight ahead, then right to Matabungkay Road.

We checked-in at Matabungkay Beach and Country Club. It is a good resort that had seen its glorious days: nice reception desk within a large pavilion, a spacious restaurant on its side, the hotel building with many rooms, a big landscaped courtyard. Really good!

A passing passenger ship viewed from the resort.
A passing passenger ship viewed from the resort.

The resort facilities include a good-sized, clean swimming pool that connects you to the beach front. Lining the pool are huts with chairs where you can relax and eat. Indeed, it was a relaxing day for my family to stay in the pool when the sun was at its hottest. The ornamental plants all over the place adds beauty and relaxing atmosphere to the resort.

From the beach, you can see big ships passing through Batangas province. During our tour, we saw this big ferry that, I think, is bound for the Visayas.

The beach has fine and greyish sand. We had a good time playing frolicking on the long stretch of sand. Since it was not a peak season for beach bummers, we had the luxury of privacy, and do anything we want – running around, playing with each other, and other fun activities.

The beach all for our selves.
The beach all for our selves.

The seabed in front is almost clear – not much sea weeds. For those of you who are scared of sea creatures, this is for you. My son who likes to explore the shallow sea for anything to put in his aquarium did not find much. Ha ha! But it’s a nice beach front. The fact that the slope is almost flat, there is less risk of drowning in the deep.

There is also a well-crafted bamboo raft in front of the resort. I believe if you want to use it for some “on-the-sea” fun, this ideal. You can dine and snooze in the middle of the sea.

A raft floating near the shores of Matabungkay.
A raft floating near the shores of Matabungkay.

A good beach to go near the Metro!

My family beside the pool. A truly relaxing afternoon.
My family beside the pool. A truly relaxing afternoon.
Myself, frolicking on the shore.
Myself, frolicking on the shore.
At the gardens of the resort.
At the gardens of the resort.
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Waiting, Soaring

Waiting, Soaring
by Danny Tariman

“They that hope in the Lord… will soar…” – Isaiah 40:31

In February 2007, I had an overseas job offer. The agency told me that I could leave in two to three months’ time. By mid-April, I had already submitted all the documents required so I was hoping to leave by May. But my long-awaited visa was not yet released. Excitement came as the estimated departure date drew near. But May came and I still had no visa.

Today’s verse, “They that hope,” is rendered in some versions of the Bible as, “They that wait.” Still, in some versions, the word “hope” is translated as “trust.” What this means to me is waiting in faith or “resting in expectation and patience,” as Webster defines it.

Waiting is one of the most excruciating experiences one can have. You can become impatient, irritated, hot-tempered — emotions that negate the fruit of the Spirit. But I chose to wait patiently.

Meanwhile, a local company offered me a consulting job that would pay me almost what I would earn overseas! Praying about it, I decided to forego the job abroad.

But God’s thoughts are way above mine. The overseas employer counter-offered and gave me an unexpectedly high salary.

Now that’s what I call soaring!

REFLECTION:

For the vision still has its time, presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint. If it delays, wait for it; it will surely come; it will not be late. (Habakkuk 2:3)

Thank You, Lord, for the grace to wait patiently for the fulfillment of Your plan for me. Amen.

[This reflection was originally published in Didache, December 2009]

Adventures in Subic

Adventures in Subic
by Danny Tariman

Subic Bay in Olongapo City is one of my family’s oft-visited places. We had been there a few times already – to shop, to laze in the beach, or plainly for adventure and sight-seeing. I love its clean surroundings and very orderly environment. It is a destination you will not tire of going over and over again, because of the various attractions that it offers.

The Subic Bay at dusk
The Subic Bay at dusk

When you enter the forested area, you will be amazed by monkeys roaming the Subic roads, specially the stretch going to Forest Park , to Zoobic, or to the beach. Be careful when you drive through this area. It is prohibited to feed these monkeys. You may stop to take photos, but don’t go out nor open your car windows – you wouldn’t know if these primates will attack.

Traffic inside the Subic Bay requires discipline. If you are driving, ensure to follow road and traffic signs. At road intersections, make sure to step on your breaks and have a full-stop before crossing – even there is no traffic signal light; otherwise you will be in trouble with traffic enforces. The rule is “first stop, first go”. You just have to wait for your turn to go. Nothing fancy really, its pure and simple discipline. And it works!

My family at the entrance of Camayan Beach in Subic
My family at the entrance of Camayan Beach in Subic

If you are in for a beach, Subic has a number of beaches outside of Subic Bay Metropolitan Area (SMBA) which is Olongapo City. It is separated by just a bridge. The bay is literally lined with many beach resorts. My family opted to go to the one inside SMBA, the Camayan Beach Resort. This one is beside the Ocean Park – which offers dolphin and sea lion shows on weekend and holidays, similar to Hong Kong’s but in a smaller scale.

At the beach resort is another experience I hadn’t had in my entire life. To watch turtle eggs hatching under the sandy beach. Yes, the eggs are hidden just beneath the surface. I was able to see little baby turtles coming out of the sand and crawling with its little flaps toward the seashore! Really amazing!

Newly hatched turtles crawling its way to the seashore
Newly hatched turtles crawling its way to the seashore

Also at the beach, monkeys are freely roaming. Make sure to keep your bags and your food properly. Some of these are looking for your open food containers to snatch the food. We are warned not to feed these monkeys.

Another place to go in Subic is the Zoobic. As the name implies, it is a zoo. But this one offers an interaction with the animals. You can go on a ‘safari ride’ to a camp where tigers are roaming free. Don’t be scared! The jeep is fitted with grills to protect you from attack during your ride. You may feed the tigers with whole raw chicken (which is on sale before the trip begins) for a more exciting experience.

A tiger roaming free at Zoobic safari.
A tiger roaming free at Zoobic safari.

Other parts of the zoo allows you to interact also with other ‘more tamed’ animals. I had one nice ‘encounter’ with a camel. There is also a crocodile farm inside the zoo, and you can also watch the feeding of these crocs! It is both entertaining and educational – both for young and old.

Another attraction within Subic is the Forest Adventure Park where you may take a ride in a zip line and other adventure rides.

Entrance to the Forest Adventure Park
Entrance to the Forest Adventure Park

I remember few years back, we were able to watch a “live” show/orientation on how to survive in a forest. We have seen how to ignite firewood from briskly rubbing bamboos, cooking rice in a bamboo, and other life saving remedies.

And yes, you shouldn’t miss shopping inside Subic. The city has a lot of really nice stuff to offer at really great prices. Most stores offer a variety of imported goods – from wines & spirits, to shoes and bags, to pants and shirts, to chocolates and groceries, and more! Some stores have their prices in U.S. dollars, and some are in peso. But don’t worry if you have no dollar notes, peso is accepted in all the stores.

Subic Bay by night: a good nightlife by the bay
Subic Bay by night: a good nightlife by the bay

In all our travels here, we always save some funds for shopping. There is always a bargain somewhere. The trick is to find where these bargains are.

Be entertained by the nightlife is Subic. The beach area is literally lined by various restaurants offering a variety of food. You just have to walk around and find what you like. Most of these restos at the beach offers some live music played by bands.

You will not find wanting in Subic. These is always a place for you, for you kind of mood: beach, adventure, shopping, food, nightlife. Enjoy your visit!

Flying dolfins at Ocean Adventure: living in the seas, not in salt-water aquarium.
Flying dolfins at Ocean Adventure: living in the seas, not in salt-water aquarium.
Monkeys roaming free in Subic beach
Monkeys roaming free in Subic beach
At the Subic seaport
At the Subic seaport — the background are US Navy ships anchored at the pier.
Roaming at Baywalk at night
Roaming at Baywalk at night
Me, with a camel at the zoo.
Me, with a camel at the zoo.

Bitter-Sweet

BITTER-SWEET
by Danny Tariman

“All bitterness… must be removed from you. Be… forgiving!” (Ephesians 4:31,32)

“Lord, I forgive this man.”

I uttered this prayer in my heart as I received another unwarranted bullying from my boss. It was truly a humiliating experience. He is the most difficult, stone-hearted fellow in the management team.

I was assigned under him upon my arrival in this overseas job. I can’t move. I can no longer think. I was blocked. To the point that even writing in my email the words “God bless!” was criticized.

Trying to witness for the Lord in my workplace, I just smiled. I learned to live in its truest sense the Word to “put on [then], as God’s chosen ones … kindness, humility.., and patience.” (Col 3:12)

In the days that followed, the harshness and the provoking words continued to fly. I was no longer productive.

I was bitter. But I decided to forgive.

One day, about 3 weeks since I started on this new job, the Chief Executive Officer circulated a memo that I, as a Division Manager, will be reporting to him directly.

Oh, how sweet to my ears this news is!

The Word of God is indeed true. “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (James 4:10)

REFLECTION
Do you feel like retaliating when someone insults you?

Prayer
Lord, teach me to be humble and forgiving.

[This reflection first appeared in Didache Aug 9, 2009]

Reaching the Crater of Taal Volcano

Reaching the Crater of Taal Volcano
By Danny Tariman

Taal Volcano is that iconic island in the middle of the lake which serves as a centerpiece of Tagaytay City’s scenic view. Tourists almost always would like to take photos in the city, with the Taal Volcano as a background. It seems that you have not been to Tagaytay without seeing the famous Taal Volcano.

The cater of Taal Volcano: an awesome view of the emerald crater-lake
The cater of Taal Volcano: an awesome view of the emerald color crater-lake

Apart from Tagaytay City, the volcano is a destination in itself. To visit the island-volcano, you have to drive down to Talisay town which has a number of lake shore resorts. Caution: on your way back to Tagaytay, the road is very steep, ensure your car can take the 45-degree ascend with U-turns.

Talisay town has plenty of lakeside resorts which offers accommodation and food. Some offer day-tour across the lake to the volcano. Since the volcano is an island, you have to take a boat to cross the lake. You may check-out from these resorts to get a boat. As alternative, you may ride the boat from peddlers in Tagaytay. Make sure you know how to haggle to get good price.

When you reach the island, you need to register at the local tourism office and pay the necessary fees. There are a lot of vendors offers all sorts of items – from hats to face masks – they will tell you its hot and dusty. It is your choice, but in our case, I noted that it is not really that dusty. But yes, it is hot, you need to put on your sunblock lotion.

My children. on our way to the rim of crater by horseback riding
My children. on our way to the rim of crater by horseback riding

Going to the volcano, you have the option to hike – quite a distance and uphill – or take a horse back ride (which is a bit expensive). Vendors in Tagaytay offering boat ride to the volcano won’t tell you of these added costs – the fees in the island and the horse ride. Ensure to Google for the latest price.

Make sure to bring also bottled water. Also bring some trekking food (energy bars), if you want. Goodies up on the crater are a bit expensive.

But once you reach the volcano crater – wow! The view is simply breathtaking! It has an emerald-color lake down the very high cliff. My children are the adventurous-type; they went to the edge of a cliff for picture taking which gave me chills in my spine! Yeah, I was literally trembling in fear of heights! Haha!

I perosnally took this photo of my children (look at the middle) standing on the cliff.
I personally took this photo of my children (look at the middle) standing on a cliff overlooking the crater-lake.

These are some ground fissure or cracks at the crater-lake. You will notice this as it emits smoke or steam. You may not go down to the lake, though. It is surrounded by very steep cliffs, it is really scary. Perhaps if you are the adventurous-type of person, you can hire a local guide to bring you down the crater-lake – I am not sure.

After some picture taking, and some refreshments, we started our horseback riding back to the shore. The ride itself is another experience!

Our boat ride back to Talisay was a bit windy. The lake waters were splashing on our faces and bodies. Bring some changing clothes with you, as you will never know if you will get wet.

The boat which took us to the volcano-island
The boat which took us to the volcano-island

Thank You LORD for giving us opportunities to see these beautiful places!

Another fun-day for my family!

My family (me on the camera) at the viewing deck of the crater.
My family (me, on the camera) at the viewing deck of the crater.
Another shot of the crater-lake of Taal
Another shot of the crater-lake of Taal

Food for the Body, Food for the Soul

Food for the Body, Food for the Soul
by Danny Tariman

Jesus answered them and said, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you are looking for me not because you saw signs, but because you ate all the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26)

I once heard a parish servant who was complaining about having to prepare food for a meeting.

“Why is it necessary to prepare food? Are we not all servants in the ministry?”

Silently I was just praying that one day, he will realize that food almost always accompany our ministry service.

The Bible recounts that many of Jesus’ gatherings have food, almost always. In the verse above, He even realized that people were following Him, not because of the miracles He had performed, but because they ate bread! Because of a need for food.

In my many years of ministry experience – both in the Philippines and abroad – I noticed that food is one “come-on” that brings people in. No food, less attendance. Be it prayer meetings, Bible study, or plain ministry meetings, food becomes an essential part.

Even in one-on-one evangelization. I would usually invite a friend for a cup of coffee, to bring-in Jesus or talk about ministry work.

I but don’t stop at offering just the physical food.

Because just as physical food nourishes the physical body, I would also offer spiritual food, the food that nourishes the soul.

I would share my faith experience. I would talk about Jesus. I would discuss Biblical principles. And for an organized audience, I would give a solid Christian teaching.

This way, we finish our meeting not just physically-satisfied, but also spiritually-satisfied.

As the Bible says:

“Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and let your soul delight itself in rich food.” (Isaiah 55:2b)

May you be spiritually-enriched, just as the Lord is enriching your body.