The Shortest School Year

The Shortest School Year
by Danny Tariman

“Persevere in the faith…” – Colossians 1:23

We homeschooled our children using the US curriculum. Because of this, they were required to take exams to qualify them to enter Philippine schools.

The exam results were released in August. My son was okay since he could start the next semester. My daughter, however, had to start immediately in a Philippine-based homeschool.

She started her last year in high school in September and she wanted to finish by February to catch up with university enrolment.

She studied from 8 a.m. until about 8 p.m. There was no let-up for her. She focused and gave all her energy to finish it in time for college enrolment. We gave our all-out support for her.

The principal couldn’t believe she finished it in a very short period. She questioned us, suspecting that there was dishonesty in the completion of exercises and tests.

But all she did was to persevere. Despite the limited time, we continued to trust in the Lord.

By God’s grace, she finished it successfully. Romans 8:37 says, “In all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us.”

Reflection: Are you in a very difficult situation? Persevere in action and in prayers. The Lord promised that He will always be with us.

Prayer: Lord, let me see Your Hand moving in my situation. Amen.

[This reflection was first published in Didache – Sept 5, 2015]

Guimaras Island Discovery Tour

Guimaras Island Discovery Tour
by Danny Tariman

Guimaras Island is an island province consisting of only 5 municipalities. It is one of the smallest provinces in the Philippines. The island is between Panay Island (where Iloilo City is) and Negros Island (where Bacolod City is). It is just about 15 minutes ride from Iloilo City.

The island is the family tour destination this time of the year.

The Raymen Beach in Alubihod, Guimaras
The Raymen Beach in Alubihod, Guimaras

We left our hotel in Iloilo City early at about 8 o’clock in the morning and went straight to Ortiz wharf. It was a cloudy morning, but our spirits are high as we will be exploring a place we have not yet set our foot—the Guimaras Island. We are all excited to see what this island has to offer.

It was an easy boat ride for us. It seems to me that boats are the common means of transport in this part of the city. They come and go every 15 minutes or so.

We reached Jordan Jetty Port in just 15 minutes after we left Iloilo City. Jordan is Guimara’s capital. Maybe because we look like strangers, a tourist assistance office personnel approached us as we walked towards the port entrance. (Thank You, Lord!) He lead us to the tourism office and have ourselves registered.

It was a good welcome experience! The desk officer showed us tour itineraries to choose from, and explained to us some of the highlights of Guimaras. Since my son had evaluated the tour options earlier, we were able to discuss with him our choices quickly. He also presented various options for land travel arrangements, with the associated costs.

The "Smallest Town Plaza" of Guimaras
The “Smallest Town Plaza” of Guimaras

Leaving Jordan, we passed by the “Smallest Town Plaza” few minutes after we left. It was a small park where a monument of our national hero Jose Rizal stands. We did not stop here.

We continued our land trip, passing well-paved roads. While cruising along mango plantations on the left and on the right, the rain poured heavily. I was whispering a little prayer in my heart that the weather will clear. Finally, after about one-and-a-half hour ride, we reached our first stop: the beach!

We checked-in at Raymen Beach Resort. It was a nice resort – with good reception hall, restaurant, rooms for guests staying overnight, and of course, beach-front cottages. It had clean shower and changing rooms too. We pre-ordered our food at the restaurant so we can eat our lunch without the usual wait for cooking.

The weather cooperated when we reached the beach! It was sunny now.

My family enjoying the sun, the sand, and the sea of Alibuhod beach
My family enjoying the sun, the sand, and the sea of Alibuhod beach

Oh the beach! It was really beautiful, unspoilt by modern development. Creamy fine sand and turquoise waters, wow! It was really inviting for a good swim! While we were at the beach, we had the opportunity to taste some local delicacies.

We had a sumptuous lunch at the beach resort. We were able to eat immediately as we had pre-ordered the food when we arrived. Our meal? Fresh seafood (crabs and fish) and of course, an island popular dish, the “pancit molo”.

After we had our lunch, we drove to our next destination: Guisi Lighthouse Ruins. This was another long trip –about 30-40 minutes with a rough road, just few meters before reaching the lighthouse. It was indeed ruins — rusty, old, non-functional lighthouse surrounded by remnants of what-used-to-be staff house. But the view was very nice. My daughter who is much into this kind of discovery tour, managed to climb the wobbly rusty stairs, with me reminding her all the way. Haha!

A view from the top of the lighthouse ruins, with my daughter
A view from the top of the lighthouse ruins, with my daughter

After some 30 minutes of photo shoots, we moved on to our next stop. The lighthouse was the farthest point we reached. And so it took same long hours to return to Jordan.

On our return, we had a short stop at Camp Alfredo, in Sibunag. It got camping grounds for family, zip line, swimming pool, and other facilities. Since we were short for time, we just had some photos at the entrance gate.

A good photo op at Camp Alfredo
A good photo op at Camp Alfredo

We passed by the mango plantations too. It was huge tract of land planted with mango trees all over. No wonder, when people speak of Guimaras, mangoes are usually mentioned!

Our next stop was the Trappist Monastery. We first stopped at the Trappist Shop where we had the best buys from Guimaras: mango bars, fruit bars, cashew nuts, plus souvenir items. But we didn’t stopped just to shop; we looked for the church where the monks pray. It was a good distance from the shop, and so we took our ride.

We arrived at the Monastery Chapel at a time when the monks were still praying. It was a very solemn moment hearing the chants of the monks. We also knelt down to give our thanksgiving to the Lord and pray.

The Trappist Monastery Chapel
The Trappist Monastery Chapel

We hit the road again, and since it was about 2:30pm, we thought of having a good snack at “The Pitstop” — a popular restaurant in Buenavista town, which is famous for its mango pie. We were definitely not disappointed. It was the first time we tasted a bright yellow-colored pizza which is topped by mango bits and cream! It was really one-of-a-kind, a “must” for visitors of Guimaras Island.

My family trying the one-of-a-kind "Mango pizza" at the Pit-Stop.
My family trying the one-of-a-kind “Mango pizza” at the Pit-Stop.

We have one more stop: the Holy Family Hills in Tamborong, San Lorenzo. We were curious on what this hills will give us, as the Holy Family (Joseph, Mary, & Jesus) is close to our hearts. We drove for another 30-40 minutes to this hill. The roads were paved up until we reached a dirt road which was still few kilometers from the hills.

My family in front of the Holy Family statue
My family in front of the Holy Family statue

When we reached the entrance, we were greeted by a rural setting: dirt roads, greens, and trees. It was a refreshing sight. The park has a number of life-sized statues of various saints of the Catholic church. It seems that the images of Stations of the Cross are lined throughout the big area. Very near where we parked our vehicle was the “Last Supper” scene. Of course, the image of the Holy Family towers at the top.

This was the final stop. We then went back to the jetty port in Jordan town for our return trip to our hotel in Iloilo City.

Really a great family adventure! A great family experience! And a great bonding moments!

My family at the Guisi lighthouse ruins
My family at the Guisi lighthouse ruins
Some structures of the lighthouse ruins
Some structures of the lighthouse ruins
The Holy Family statue at the hilltop resort
The Holy Family statue at the hilltop resort

Bringing Joy to Orphans

Bringing Joy to Orphans
by Danny Tariman

“Religious observance, pure and undefiled with our God and Father, is, this – to be visiting orphans…” (James 1:27)

Celebrating birthdays with the poor or the less-fortunate people is something that really blesses my family. We are so blessed that my daughter had her birthday celebrated again this way, and this time, with orphans.

My family and our daughter's friends, with kids at the orphanage.
My family and friends, with kids at the orphanage.

I coordinated with an orphanage in Tagaytay City. I was able to communicate with the nun in-charge of this kind of program for the orphans. She gladly accepted our proposal to hold a ‘birthday party’ for the kids in the orphanage.

Weeks before, me and my wife started buying the individual kiddie gifts, and some food & grocery for the orphanage. Our daughter had planned what kind of games to play with the little kids.

Just a week before the “big day”, my family had assembled the kiddie bags with gifts (an assortment of hygiene, food, and toy items). It was a wonderful time doing all these together for the love and care of the orphans.

Our daughter and some friends playing with little girls.
Our daughter and friends playing with little girls.

On that bright Saturday, together with our daughter’s friends, we drove to the mountain city of Tagaytay, about 50km from where we live.

We reached the orphanage before lunchtime. We were greeted by a little girl who showed us the parking area. Oh, that little girl! She was so cute waving her tiny hand as she was signaling me the direction to go.

We quickly unloaded our gift packs and brought them inside the orphanage’s reception. Wow, there were about 25 kids – from infants to early teens, both girls and boys. It was a joyful moment for us family, to be with these kids to celebrate our daughter’s birthday.

Kidsat the birthday party eating their lunch.
The birthday party lunch.

After an opening prayer, which the kids actively participated, we had our first game. Then we had our lunch together. We had a very nice interaction with the kids during and after mealtime. I had noticed, they liked to be hugged and play with. Most of our time were spent interacting with the kids – playing, talking, and simply being beside them.

Towards the end, my family and friends were treated with a special dance number by the orphans. Oh, what a touching moment. They were also prepared!

One of the games we played with kids.
The “Pabitin” — one of the games the kids really enjoyed.

Before we parted, we personally handed our kiddie gift bag for each child. We were so happy to see the kids play with the toys we placed in the bags.

Truly a blessing for my family to be a channel of God’s love for these children! Thank You, LORD!

[Pls note that the faces of the kids are blurred to protect their identity. Thanks.]

An "intense strategy" play with kids.
Interacting with kids at play.

Backbreaking Slow!

Backbreaking Slow!
by Danny Tariman

“A lazy life is an empty life, but “early to rise” gets the job done.” (Proverbs 12:27)

It was another day of waiting for things to be done.

We were in the middle of a system testing process where a new computerized system will be implemented in a couple of months.

I had been prodding the project lead to move quickly but I am getting a lukewarm response. He got a pocket-full of excuses. It would have been better to pull up tasks so we can finish the project ahead of time.

But not this project lead. He seems to be not an ‘early riser’. He takes things in stride. Because of this, the team is getting ’empty’ days, days when not much are accomplished.

The Bible is pretty clear about this:

Don’t drag your feet. Be like those who stay the course with committed faith and then get everything promised to them. (Hebrews 6:12)

As a team member, we should not be a cause for delay. We cannot afford to drag our feet. We have to maintain our pace as per the scheduled plan of tasks, so that we can achieve goals, we can finish more tasks.

Three E’s to counter slowness:

1. Be enthusiastic

“Do not lag in zeal, be enthusiastic in spirit, serve the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

We must be an eager team member to be part of the success. We have to be enthusiastic about the results of our project. Look up to the Lord as your ultimate ‘team leader’.

2. Be engrossed

“If you don’t work, you don’t eat. And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately–no excuses, no arguments–and earn their own keep.” (2Thess 3:10-12)

We have to give our all for the project. Give it your priority. Give it the attention that it requires. No excuses, no arguments. Be totally absorbed by the tasks ahead.

3. Be excitable

“Whatever turns up, grab it and do it. And heartily!” (Eccl 9:10 MSG)

Let us put excitement in our response to duties assigned to us. The verse above says that we have to “grab and do it” – this implies quick response giving all our ability!

I pray that you will be encouraged to give your all in whatever task you have, and may the Lord grant you success in your endeavor. In Jesus’ name. Amen!