“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name, in having served and continuing to serve the saints.” (Heb 6:10)
This remote mountain village had been my mission field for over 3 years, almost 15 years ago. During the time when I had been actively bringing the Word of God, I befriended many of its local folks. I love these people. This is why, when I was assigned another mission field, it pained my heart that I won’t be seeing this people as often as it used to be.
But the Lord has better plans for me and my family.
Although I was not assigned to this place anymore, I would still get in touch with these friends.
One Christmas Eve, I and my family visited this rural village. We sung carols with them, we shared stories (of faith, of trials, and of victories), and yes, we ate with them to celebrate Christmas. We even slept in one of the households.
Every once in a while we visit them. We just love these people whom the Lord had given us. We continue to serve them in our own little way. It is very fulfilling to help these people.
Recently, we visited them again. We had some kind of adventure. Yeah, my family is into adventure trips lately.
My family and some local folks went into a hiking adventure where we trekked a mountain range and crossed rivers 7 times. Yes, we walked through mountains and valleys, waded through rivers and crept rocky gorges. It was a tiring hike but we enjoyed it, just the same.
Along the way, we enjoyed the refreshingly sweet young coconut freshly picked from the tree, courtesy of local farmers we passed along the way. Wow, we consumed them while resting beside a stream of flowing water! Refreshing to the body, in a refreshing scenery in the backdrop!
For lunch, we cooked grilled tilapia directly on fire, we had “pinangat” (finely chopped shrimps wrapped in taro leaves, slow-cooked in coconut milk, and topped with coconut cream)! Come eating time, the local folks spread banana leaves on a big rock in the middle of a river and placed all our food for lunch on the leaves. Wow, truly a wonderful rural gastronomic experience!
Oh, we just love to be with these people. We continue to help them in every way we can. As the Bible says
“For the gifts and the call of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29)
Thank You Lord for using us as Your channel of Your love! And blessings too!
Pulling-Over at Isdaan in Bay, Laguna
by Danny Tariman
Going south from Manila, the town of Bay (pronounced as “ba-e” by locals) in the province of Laguna is next to the budding city of Los Baños. You will notice this as the long stretch of almost straight road from Los Baños, where both sides of the road are lined with garden shops selling all sorts of ornamental plants.
Although the town itself has a good turn-of-century type of town-square where you can see the old parish church, old residential houses, my family has not yet explored the inner part of this municipality. This blog is about our Bae experience in the highway.
At the right side of the road are two popular native restaurants: the “Palaisdaan”, and the “Isdaan” – both have the same meaning in the vernacular: “fishpen”. Both offer an array of native dishes.
Palaisdaan was the first one to setup its business in the area. It was in this place my family had tasted our now-popular-family dish “sinugnô”. We liked the dish, and we tried to replicate it in our home. This dish is made from broiled tilapia, and topped with chunky, thick coconut milk. Your choice of dining on floating huts on the fish pond, or at a tree house.
Isdaan is like a themed park. The place is well designed and crafted with figurines or statuettes which will tickle your thoughts as if you are in a foreign place. I cannot tell whether the motif is Thai or Vietnamese. You have to check for yourself.
The place has a number of restaurants that offers various kinds of Filipino dishes. Almost of all of the dining areas are “floating” on a man-made lake. It also stages cultural shows on weekends where you can watch native folk dances for free.
Aside from the many nooks where you can take photos (Yes! There are lots, offering different scenes!), it also offers a boat ride for a fee, at the periphery of the park.
This is not a destination for a tour itself, but a good place to pull-over and have some good eats, whether full meal or snack.
For your next trip southbound, plan a pit-stop at this place. I am sure your family will enjoy the theme-park and the food!
Meet Gioni (not his real name). He is an on-the-job trainee, about to graduate from college, easy-going, extrovert and young.
He seems to be able to get on his own terms. He reports to work at his own time, sometimes not following instructions.
I required all my staff to report at exactly 8 a.m. at the project site. But he reported almost 9 a.m. His excuse? He was not feeling well.
The next day, he came in at about 10 a.m. Again, more excuses. “Sir, there was heavy traffic. I live very far.” He lives only 10 kilometers away.
I countered, “You live ‘very far,’ but one manager lives farther and another even farther. They arrive on time.”
We sometimes tend to go on the easy path, not knowing that it is a way to failure. The Bible says: “The gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many” (Matthew 7:13).
After confronting him, he began to come on time.
Yes, if you are willing, you can!
Pope Francis Says: “Love is expressed more clearly in actions than in words.”
Father, grant me the grace to accept my shortcomings and the strength to do Your will.
[This reflection was first published in Didache Jan 8, 2016]
Starting the Year With an Adventure in Lobo, Batangas
by Danny Tariman
Most of the time, my family would just be at home to welcome the entry of the New Year with the usual Thanksgiving Prayers and Noche Buena (a midnight meal to usher the coming year). It is usually noisy – with the firecrackers and fireworks – all over the place. After the noise had died down, smoke and smog covers the entire city.
This time, we decided to make it different. We wanted to celebrate it quietly, and still with the family tradition of bidding goodbye to the ending year with thanksgiving prayers, and welcoming the coming year in prayers. We will do it in a beach!
Wow! We are all excited to have a different way of celebrating the New Year. We booked for an overnight stay in Punta Verde Dive Resort in Malabrigo, Lobo, Batangas.
We left our home in the city at about half-past-six in the morning. It was an easy morning drive. We passed by Ibaan town driving through a deep ravine and a steep climb along the way, and then about one hour zigzag drive going to Lobo town.
The more challenging drive was after the Malabrigo lighthouse where the incline was maybe 50 degrees! Wow, I felt my nerve pounding! Haha! But thanks be to God, we made it going down, and up again on our return! From the steep paved road, it was an agonizing 3km drive on rough, unpaved roads.
We reached the resort at about 9 o’clock. Just about the time we planned to arrive. It was low tide on our arrival. We can view the sea bed almost dry. The view is awesome! Blue skies, merging with the blue ocean. With an infinity pool in front of the restaurant, it was indeed a marvelous scene.
We checked-in at an air-conditioned cottage, few steps down from the pool. It got a good beach-front view. It was quite spacious for a family of 4. It was clean and fresh, with balcony facing the ocean.
Going to the beach is another story, as the cottage seats on a cliff. I didn’t count the steps going down, but it is easily about 100 steps, on a well-paved, stone stairs. The staircase is really very nice, well-crafted.
When we reached the shores, it was as we expected, a bed of rock with literally different creatures. Just what my son wants! So that he can find living animals he can bring back home for his marine aquarium.
We were not disappointed. We saw not just 2 but 4 anemones lying on the rocks. My son tried to get one, but the animal was so stuck in the deep recesses of the rock. He can’t pull it out. We tried another, same thing. And still another, and again failed. Hehehe! My son just admitted the fact that he can’t get it without hurting the thing, so we left without the anemone.
We were able to collect a number of corals. All were very colorful. And even a live blue star fish. All of these are still alive in our marine aquarium, as of this writing.
In the afternoon, we enjoyed a swim at the infinity pool – which gives an illusion that the pool and the ocean are seamlessly connected! Really nice.
And oh, the meals! The serving was very generous! The food was done home-style cooking and was served ‘family buffet’ on table. In all the three meals (plus the fourth one, the last) were were all very full. It was like eating at home with a good scenic view of the infinity pool and ocean in front of you.
On the midnight of December 31st, we did our family tradition of thanking the Lord for the blessings of the past year and praying to another blessed year. It was quiet. But not really. There were some little crackling here and there, but it was not as noisy as in the city. We can view from our balcony the fireworks at the opposite side of the sea – which is Puerto Gallera in Mindoro. There was a sporadic lighting of the skies because of fireworks.
The following day – which was Janaury 1st – we went to trek to a falls nearby. The information brochure says it is a 45-minute walk, but we made it in 60 minutes. Haha! It was an easy trek, mostly at the river bank, with a short ascend when we were near the falls.
The final part of the trek was to cross a hanging bridge, giving us a good backdrop for a photo-ops. We reached this natural pool with water falling gently from the rocks above. It was truly a refreshing view. I couldn’t resist dipping myself in the cool flowing river. It was very cold, and invigorating. Some more photo shoots and then we hit the trails again back to our accommodation.
Back in the resort. We had a final experience of getting to view the inside of the resort’s private museum. A must for visitors. We saw old photographs of Manila and key cities of the Philippines, some old and rare photos of Philippine country-side, antique bayonets collected from all over the world, among others.
A truly different way of celebrating the New Year! Thank You, Lord!