Meeting is Called to Order

Meeting is Called to Order
by Danny Tariman

“Each of you should, in humility, be moved to treat one another as more important than yourself.” (Philippians 2:3)

I had attended a number of meetings recently and there is one common thing I had observed: exchange of ideas are heated, two opposing views are shot at the same time while voices are raised. It is almost chaotic.

As I was going out of the room after the meeting, a leader appeased me “Danny, I hope you won’t get disappointed with the way the meeting went. We are like that, and after the meeting we remain friends.”

Deep inside, I thought “Yes, it is alright that you remain friends. But as Christian leaders, I believe, we should exercise restraint.”

The Bible is very clear about it: we should in humility, treat each another as more important than ourselves (Phil 2:3).

When someone is speaking, we should let him speak his view, without interruption.

When you have another view or suggestion, wait for your turn to speak, wait until the person speaking is finished.

You may raise your hand so the leader can acknowledge your wanting to speak, but control yourself not to speak until the one speaking is done.

There were instances that because the argument is heated, the speakers don’t hear any more the leader’s call to order; to the point that the leader is disregarded.

I urge you to pay all deference to such leaders … and be subject to them (1Cor 16:16 MSG)

The Bible tells us that we should give deference to our leaders.

Webster dictionary defines “deference” as “a yielding in opinion; submission of judgment to the opinion or judgment of another. Hence, regard; respect.”

It is a call of God upon us Christians, that we should yield and submit to our leaders with respect.

When the leader or presider speaks, everyone should listen. And listen attentively.

I pray that the next time you have a meeting, let it be a meeting called to the Lord’s order, and may you have great success in your meetings!

Exploring Hundred Islands

Exploring Hundred Islands
by Danny Tariman

It was a sunny summer day. My family is on for another adventure in one of the Philippine’s most famous group of islands in Luzon – the Hundred Islands National Park.

A commanding view of the islands: family on top of Governor's Island.
A commanding view of the islands: family on top of Governor’s Island.

These islands commonly called Hundred Islands are in Lingayen Gulf, north of the province of Pangasinan. With so many small islands dotting the seas, I am not really sure if it is up to its name – 100 islands. A hundred or not, the islands are worth exploring.

My family had been to this place some 20 years ago when our kids were still toddlers. What I can recall is that the islands at that time had not much tourists. There were no permanent structures, we had to sleep in native nipa hut for an overnight stay.

We arrived the City of Alaminos – the jump-off point, at about 9 o’clock in the morning. We headed straight to the wharf at the end of Lucap Road where plenty of cars were already filling the free parking lots. Yes, parking are for free!

A swimming area in one of the islands: really clear and clean waters.
A swimming area in one of the islands: really clear and clean waters.

After finding a good parking slot, I immediately went to the Tourism Office just across the street. It was very organized: register your names, have the fees assessed (which include environmental, and insurance), pay, and wait for the assigned boatman. I was truly impressed as I did not experience vendors/boatmen out-doing each other to offer their services and haggling for a good price. Nothing of that sort.

Since we had no packed lunch prepared, we scouted for some food at a nearby fastfood covered court. There are many food stalls offering various dishes. You can find some good home-made dishes and have it packed for your picnic!

With our boatman guiding us, my family went to the wharf where the boats were waiting. The boats are coded; numbers are prefixed with boat classification: “S” for small, “M” medium, and “L” for large. We got the medium which can accommodate up to 8 persons, but we were only 4.

Governor's Island: the place we stayed many years ago. My family at the entrance of a cave.
Governor’s Island: the place we stayed many years ago. My family at the entrance of a cave.

We traveled through the seas for about an hour until we reached Governor’s Island. This was the island we visited before and where we stayed overnight. This time, I find it just too crowded. Perhaps it was summer time and lots of people are really going out to the beaches. Maybe.

We had some photo-ops here inside a shallow cave. I hadn’t notice this cave during our first visit. It was a good background for picture taking. In as much as it was about 11:30am, we took our lunch in this island, so we will be ready to explore the islands.

It was noon, and the sun was its hottest. We climbed the top of the island to get a commanding view of the group of islands. After ascending over 100 steps with the summer heat, it was really a grueling experience just to get to the top. But it was nice! The view was great.

The family enjoying the clear waters, creamy fine sands of the beaches
The family enjoying the clear waters, creamy fine sands of the beaches

We took our boats once again, and started our island hopping. We passed by the nearby Children’s Island where we had our picnic many years ago. This is so far the most kid-friendly island as the seabed is almost flat for a good distance from the beach. Again, the beach was so crowded, we didn’t stop.

I directed the boatmen to carry us to a snorkeling area – which is between the Quezon Island and Marcos Island. Both these islands have nice looking cabanas. It seems they are all air-conditioned. But wait – we are in the middle of the sea, do you need aircon? Haha! It has also LED lights on its beaches powered by solar panels.

At the snorkeling area, there are platforms for swimmers. Out boat sailed near the floating platform where we disembarked. My kids and I were not disappointed. Within the area, we found a number of giant clams under the sea! Yes, they were big – about 12-15 inches wide! Mostly were brown-colored but there were few blue or purple-colored clams.

Giant clams along the snorkeling area between Quezon & Marcos Islands.
An underwater shot: giant clams along the snorkeling area between Quezon & Marcos Islands.

We capped the tour by passing by other islands in the group. We just passed, as we were timing our arrival at the wharf early enough to travel back to Manila.

We reached the wharf at about 3:30pm. We had fresh water shower near the Tourism Office. The shower rooms were good enough for a decent shower. We had to pay a very minimal amount to cover maintenance and water.

Tourists coming and going in the island.
Tourists coming and going.

Heading back to Manila, we passed by Alaminos to buy some local goods. We bought the native sausage (longanisa), and boneless bangus. Wow, the price of the bangus is really very low! On the way, we had a short stop at Sual town for more fresh seafood! We got a medium-sized 2 ½ kilo tuna and another quite big 2-kilo salmon. It was really a bargain!

Don’t forget to taste the native delicacy famous in Pangasinan – the tupig. It is made of glutinous rice with young coconut and sugar wrapped in banana leaves and cooked over charcoal embers.

We thank the good Lord for all these blessings that He continue to pour upon us! Another wonderful time with my family!

Me and our children at the snorkeling area.
Me and our children at the snorkeling area.
A quite nook in one of the islands.
A quite nook in one of the islands.

Another Call

Another Call
by Danny Tariman

“Behold, I am sending you out…” – Matthew 10:16

This is my second trip to Papua New Guinea.

The first one was “Mission Accomplished.” I was able to help the Charismatic organization in the archdiocese for two years, and ended my trip with a big bang — a huge Pentecost celebration attended by Catholics from all over the archdiocese.

I thought I was finished. But another call came: to set up The Feast in Port Moresby. There was literally no presence of the Light of Jesus Family in the city. I had to rely solely on the Lord to lead me.

In July 2011, I had an audience with the archbishop and presented to him a letter from The Feast founder Bo Sanchez about our intention to set up a local community. The archbishop immediately approved it.

Sometime in late August, I got a call from a “stranger” who traced me through my Didache reflection. We met, and he agreed to help build The Feast.

From a group of four friends, we had grown to 55 by March 2012, with twice a month Feasts. By the time you read this, The Feast should be held weekly.

Indeed, when God calls, He leads. The Bible says, “Do not be anxious… for what you are to say will be given to you in that hour” (Matthew 10:19).

Reflection: Do you sense a calling? Listen to God’s Word and command for you today.

Prayer: Here I am, Lord. Send me!

[This reflection was first published in Didache, 12 June 2013]

Bolinao: a Family Discovery Tour

Bolinao: a Family Discovery Tour
by Danny Tariman

One of my family’s most favorite bonding time is discovering places together. This time, we are headed for Bolinao, a coastal town facing the West Philippine Sea, in Pangasinan province.

The stunning sunset at Patar white sand beach, in Bolinao.
The stunning sunset at Patar white sand beach, in Bolinao.

We left Manila in the middle of the night – about 1 o’clock in the morning – to be in Bolinao early in the morning. We passed through the North Luzon Expressway, turning left to SCTEX (Subic-Clark-Tarlac Expressway), and headed further passing through the newly opened TPLEX (the Tarlac-Pangasinan-La Union Expressway). We were really at cruising speed all throughout the trip until we exited at Urdaneta City.

We further drove past Dagupan City. At this time, I was so sleepy and my wife took over the wheels, until we reached the Bolinao town at about 5:30 in the morning.

As the town was still sleeping, we decided to park and take a nap in front of St James the Great Parish Church. It was quite safe; my family was indeed able to take a short sleep. By 6am, the church opened, and we entered and offered our thanksgiving and prayers.

The centuries-old St John the Great Parish Church,
The centuries-old St John the Great Parish Church.

According to history, the church was first built in 1609 by Augustinians. It is reportedly made from corals taken from the nearby sea. It used to be the tallest church in Pangasinan until it was destroyed by an earthquake in 1788. Today, it still stands with the beauty of an old architecture – which I hope can be maintained in the years to come.

We took an early morning breakfast at a popular fastfood restaurant at the back of the church. To my surprise, a lot of travelers and tourists are common customers of this small eatery. The food is simple and affordable, a good eat to start a hectic day of touring the town.

Do not forget to try to eat binuguey, a native delicacy made of sticky rice with grated coconut and a bit of salt, cooked in bamboo. This is a must food-to -taste as the usual “suman” we know are usually wrapped in either banana or coconut leaves. This is available in front of the church.

Local merchants selling "binuguey" early in the morning at the church gate.
Local merchants selling “binuguey” early in the morning at the church gate.

Our first stop were the two Bolinao falls which were just a few hundred meters apart. I can’t exactly tell which one is “1” or “2” as the billboards are quite confusing. But after talking to some locals, we understood that the first stop we had was falls #1.

Bolinao Falls-1 has a wide and deep swimming area. The falls are quite high compared to the second. However, since it is summer, the water gushing from the top was not so ‘dramatic’. But still, the view was nice and refreshing. Only few people were having their picnic in this falls, and only few huts were available for rent.

The Bolinao Falls 1: a calm and refreshing experience after a long drive from the city.
The Bolinao Falls 1: a calm and refreshing experience after a long drive from the city.

After some photo shoots, we drove to Bolinao Falls-2. Wow, this place has a lot of people – maybe 5 times more than the crowd in the first falls. It is surrounded by many huts where people were having fun. The water falls here is stronger but, there were plenty of people swimming in the river.

Our next stop was the Bolinao lighthouse. We did not use the highway, and instead drove through a dirt road going to the Patar Cape where the lighthouse is. It was a rough and difficult drive. I wouldn’t recommend this road, but it was an experience for my family passing through bumpy and dusty road! Thank God for our SUV which very capably rolled through the tough roads!

We reached the lighthouse after about an-hour-and-a-half drive. Our car was so dusty and dirty! Haha! But yes, the view of the lighthouse and the ocean was so refreshing, I forgot the hassles of the tough roads we passed.

The Patar Cape: a lighthouse hill facing the West Philippine Sea

It was about 11 in the morning, and still early for hotel check-in. So we decided to just peek at the hotel, and went to Sungayan Grill, the town’s famous floating restaurant. We were not disappointed. The food was good – we had a nice serving of crabs, shrimps, grilled fish (sungayan, hence the name), and other Filipino dishes. A folk singer was serenading us while we were having our lunch afloat the river. We finished our lunch with a delicious serving of special halo-halo!

Our next stop was the “Enchanted Cave”. Wow, it was indeed an experience to swim down-under. We have to go down the cave about 40-50 feet below the surface. It has a natural pool in the middle of the cave where tourists may dip and swim. I and our children did! It was not so cold, after all. The cave surroundings are developed, there a good number of spots you may take pictures.

An enchanting experience swimming under the earth at the "Enchanted Cave"
An enchanting experience swimming under the earth at the “Enchanted Cave”

The Patar Beach is an awesome sight! Huge waves at the fringes of the reef, with the backdrop of an afternoon sun! Sunset is a truly good photo shot in the beach. While we were here, our children explored the nearby rock formation. I followed, and wow! Big waves were splashing and pounding the big rocks!

My daughter on top of the rock formation with constant battering of big waves.
My daughter on top of the rock formation with constant battering of big waves.

So much good places to go! So much fun exploring the places with family! Thank you Lord for this wonderful gift!

*  Use Mangatarem route if driving your own vehicle – shorter trip, less traffic
*  Places with fees: the 2 falls, the enchanted cave
*  Most of the places have parking fees ranging from 30 to 50 pesos
*  Sunset at Patar White Beach is fantastic; you may end your day’s tour in this spot
*  Fresh seafood at very good price is available at Sual, a coastal town along the road.

The Patar Lighthouse towering above the Cape
The Patar Lighthouse towering above the Cape
Bolinao Falls 2: a top destination for local/neighborhood tourists
Bolinao Falls 2: a top destination for local/neighborhood tourists
Enjoying a floating experience at Sungayan Grill with really good serving of Filipino dishes.
Enjoying a floating experience at Sungayan Grill with really good serving of Filipino dishes.


Volts and Nuts

Volts and Nuts
by Danny Tariman

“Nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

My vehicle’s battery is dead. I tried to start the engine but only ‘clicks’ from the ignition can be heard.

I and my wife were in a nearby province north of Manila. I frantically called my son back in the city to phone the call center of a battery company who services cars stalled on highways and roads. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and the shops were closed.

We prayed. We asked the Lord in faith that we will be able to run again.

The good thing is we were with our car mechanic.

He checked the battery terminals and found out that the negative clip was not securely fastened. This could be a reason the battery is dead. It did not charge while we were traveling.

Fortunately, we parked just across an auto-supply shop that sells car battery clips. But no battery.

Our mechanic, knowing that the battery is discharged, just put on the clip and securely fastened it to the terminal.

I started the engine. He couldn’t believe that it started. A miracle indeed happening before our very eyes!

“I tell you the truth, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20)

We were finally able to drive again.

As we drove back to the city, our mechanic told us another story involving our other car a few months back.

We have this other car checked by him at his shop because I hear an unusual sound at the front while driving.

Upon inspection, he pointed to me that there was this big nut supposed to hold another part near the front tire’s axle. And it is missing. Wow! Thank You Lord we didn’t had any road accident!

I asked if I can buy the item from a store. He said it is not usually available. He told me further that he might have that single missing piece of nut in his house garage. Being a mechanic, he usually have a stock of spare nuts – old and new.

So I requested that he bring the following day that nut we were looking for.

He related to us that he tried to look for that nut in his boxes of bolts and nuts when he arrived home from work. He found nothing. He tried again, piece per piece, looking for the item. And again, he found none.

He said he prayed that the Lord will show it to him. In jest he told us “you are close to God that is why I believe the Lord will show it to me”. Laughs.

Just when he was about to quit and sleep for the night, he found that single missing nut!

Whatever you ask in prayer, if you believe, you will receive. (Matthew 21:22)

Truly the Lord works miracles! Have faith in God.

Thank You Lord for giving us a mechanic who believes in You!