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Photo-Finish

Photo-Finish
by Danny Tariman

“[He] shall name him Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us!'” (Isaiah 7:14, 8:10)

I was driving to my home province with my family. We left the city at about 7:30pm, hoping to catch the first trip of the ship to the island at 7am the following day.

As it turned out however, the trip was a bit slow. We were caught in a long line of cars along the way — in Laguna and in Quezon. By midnight, we haven’t entered yet Quirino Highway.

“Even if I drive at full speed, we wouldn’t make it to the port by 6am.” This thought had entered my mind while driving.

By 6am, we arrived Legaspi City. At this point, I already surrendered our plan to get the first trip of the ship leaving the port at 7am.

Aside from the late arrival, we were not able to get a booking for our car for the 7am departure. We were on a “chance passenger” basis.

But the LORD has His ways.

We arrived the port at about 6:30am, while the ship was loading its last batch of cars and a bus. I immediately asked a staff if we can still be accommodated. He said, “Maybe.”

My family prayed, while I filed the necessary documents with the Port Administration, the Highway Patrol Group, the Coast Guard, and finally pay the cashier. These 4 offices were buildings apart. I had to run!

I finished all the required documentation in 15 minutes, by God’s grace!

By 6:45, just 15 minutes before the anchors are removed, our car was boarding the ship!

All my family can say is “God’s favor is upon us! The LORD is with us!”

Reflection:
God can make things possible if you put your full trust in Him, even if it appears impossible.

Prayer:
LORD, strengthen my faith in You! Amen.

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Family Weekend at Kota Keluarga

Family Weekend at Kota Keluarga
by Danny Tariman

Laiya in San Juan, Batangas is known for its long stretch of beaches fronting the Tayabas Bay. My family had been to a number of resorts along this place and for a reason of trying other resorts, we opted to try as walk-in guests in this resort very near the town-proper of San Juan.

A view from the bar-resto area of the resort.

The entrance to Kota Keluarga is impressive. It looks like an expensive resort, but actually has a reasonable price structure. The resort itself appears to be on the higher-end of the spectrum with its glass-walled cabanas fronting the beach, 2 very well-appointed swimming pools, a nice bar, and of course, it’s well maintained, clean cream-colored beach.

Kota Keluarga’s swimming pools

The road from the entrance to the beach is a mix of paved, concrete road, and dirt roads. The paved road ends at the Kota Keluarga Village, after which, we drove on a dirt road for about 3 kilometers.

Upon our arrival at the parking area, I noticed several cabanas with red tile roofing. I told myself “This must be expensive”. We proceeded to the reception area near the bar. I was impressed as I walked passing though well-manicured garden, and really nice facilities.

To my surprise. It was reasonably priced! And so I asked my family if we will use this resort. All agreed!

Our family photo upon our arrival at the resort

We were helped by its staff to unload our stuff and bring it to our open cabana. As I surveyed the place, I feel blessed to have been brought to this resort. The beach was not full – just a few groups, the facilities are up-scale, clean swimming pools, and the shore swimming area is just right – not too deep, and no sudden change of seabed contour. Best for kids!

We enjoyed the place almost just our family, as there were only very few guests in the resort. Our children explored the place some more. They found a good place for free-diving just about 10 meters from the shore. I joined them, and I was awed by the beauty of the deep with its corals and tropical reef fishes.

With my children near the diving spot

I also enjoyed playing with our puppy. We ran back-and-forth along the shore. I got too tired running around I have to stop, while the little puppy was very active and playful. Haha!

And of course! We enjoy a lot our family bonding moments! I had a couple of 360-degree videos with my wife, the children and I enjoyed our swimming in the deep. Really priceless moments!

It is indeed another weekend of full-pleasure! We had just a day tour in this resort, and everyone enjoyed the beach, the facilities, and even the food and drinks!

One of the colorful attractions of the deep: clownfishes playing in its anemone territory
The full view of the shoreline
My wife and I enjoying the beautiful beach
My son in the deep
My daughter in her free-dive
Our very enjoyable meal of grilled tuna and pork belly
Another scenic view of the beach front as viewed from the open cabana area

Snorkeling in Binukbok

SNORKELING IN BINUKBOK
by Danny Tariman

My family’s desire for outdoor adventure moves us to look for places we haven’t been to, for spots to discover.

That weekend in December, we planned to explore another place – the Binukbok Viewpoint in Bauan, Batangas.

Binukbok rock marker

It is about 2-1/2 hour drive from the city to the drop-off point in Bauan. We left home at about 5 in the morning so we can reach the cove by 8am. We were not disappointed: we parked our car at 7:30, had a boat ride for 15 minutes, and we reached our destination as planned!

Binukbok is a diving and snorkelling spot. The place is not for kids. There is no sandy beach; only big rounded stones lining the shores. But it was good! Just a few steps from the shores is a rich marine garden teaming with corals and reef fish.

A giant clam seen by my children just few meters from the shore

Upon arrival at the resort, we were met by the very friendly resort owner, Kuya Manny, who immediately asked his staff to assist us to our reserved space. And yes, there is a flowing coffee tourists can take – unlimited.

The seafront is lined with native cottages, and behind the cottages, are small patches of “free space” where back-packers can pitch their tents. This is not a luxurious place to be, but good enough to satisfy one’s craving for snorkelling and diving.

Tents pitched within the small space of Binukbok.

Oh, the snorkelling area! It is so near the shore! The resort has stock of fish feed that you can use so that the fishes will swim to you as you go down the water. Indeed, fish of every kind swarmed around me when I did just that! So thrilling!

Of course, my grown-up children enjoyed their dive! They went to the deeper spots where there are more colorful corals. We just enjoyed all these marine creatures!

My daughter in her free dive

We had grilled tuna and pork ribs for lunch. The resort staff were so good, they even helped us cook on charcoal our meal grilled dishes.

We stayed in this cove for just a day. It was another day of family fun and adventure!

Our family picture in Binukbok Viewpoint
The Binukbok cove
My son in his diving form
Colorful corals of the cove: can be seen just few meters from the shore
More of the beautiful corals
Our children near the shoreline
My wife and I in front of our picnic hut.
The other side of Binukbok cove
Corals, corals, more corals!

 

Serving the Flock

SERVING THE FLOCK
by Danny Tariman

“Tend the flock of God in your midst, overseeing not by constraint but willingly” (1 Peter 5:2)

I am so blessed to have served the people the LORD has given me. It is indeed a blessing that after many years since I left them, our friendship continues.

Take the story of “Amante” (not his real name). I had met him and his family way back in late 90’s in a remote mountain village in Laguna. I had helped him and his family enter into a relationship with Jesus. They had been attending Bible studies since then. He and his family’s life got renewed, and their lives flourished and continue to prosper.

My friendship with them continue to strengthen. We had helped them build their village chapel, we had conducted a number of charity missions to their village. And they would reciprocate these with their own way of showing their love for my family.

Take the story of “Pete” and “Nancy” (not their real names). I had met these people while I was serving the LORD on a mission in a foreign land. They are regular attendees of a Bible Study that I conducted in their city. They come together with their respective families. Every time they attend our sessions, I can see joy in their faces. They would tell me that they are blessed and strengthened in their faith in the LORD.

Over the months, I had built a strong friendship with their families. In fact, they had treated me as their own. I left their country in 2011 when I returned home. While we are miles away, our friendship continued. They would even come and visit us in Manila with their families. They celebrated with us special days of our families.

Truly, I am so blessed to have served them. I pray I will be able to continue to serve them even after many years of absence from the mission.

I claim the ending verse of the Mass reading: “And when the chief Shepherd is revealed, you will receive the unfading crown of glory” (Philippians 5:4)

Reflection:
How do you tend your flock? Are you able to bring them to the LORD, as you strengthen your friendship with them?

Prayer:
LORD Jesus, our Divine Shepherd, teach me how to tend the flock you are giving me. Let me imitate Your way of tending the flock. Amen.

Sick Call

SICK CALL
by Danny Tariman

“I was… ill and you cared for me… Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:36B, 40)

Our family was just driving out of the Cultural Center after watching an evening ballet performance when my daughter told me “Papa, one of my officemates will be taken to a hospital on an emergency”.

I replied “What is your plan?”

She said “I plan to go with her as she is living alone is her apartment. Can you just please drop me off at the hospital?”

And so we dropped her off.

Meanwhile, we drove off and dropped my cousin near his house in Pasig City, then waited for our daughter in a nearby gas station. It was about 10:30pm.

By 11, she updated us “Maybe you just go home for now as she is still waiting to recover. I will just accompany her until she gets better and bring her home. I will just ride a cab going home.”

My family was so touched by her show of concern. My daughter could have chosen to just stay with us and relax after watching a superb ballet performance. She was giving her officemate an “extra mile”, as it was not her responsibility. Besides, the patient is not her staff, and it was too late in the evening.

I remember telling my family while we were waiting at the gas station “whatever you do for one of these least brothers, you do for the Lord”.

I am sure, the LORD is happy with what she did. I am proud of you my child. May the LORD bless you more abundantly!

Reflection:
Would you care for a person who is not related to you in any way? Or maybe just an acquaintance?

Prayer:
LORD let me see You in others, and that others may see You in me. Amen.

Am Healthy!

AM HEALTHY!
by Danny Tariman

“Those who are healthy do not need a physician, but the sick do.” (Luke 5:32)

It was one of my most dreaded moments — to be rushed to a hospital.

Earlier in the day, I had been experiencing dizziness. I thought it was just because of lack of sleep, and so I
had an extended sleep in the morning.

But the situation didn’t improve.

It was evening when my family was completely home, that we decided that I be rushed to the hospital. On
an emergency!

Immediately, I was interviewed, vital signs taken, and then later electrocardiograph, and blood tests were
taken. After almost 2 hours in the emergency room, I was admitted for hospitalization.

Specialist-doctors attended to me. After discharged from hospital, check-ups and laboratory tests
continued.

During this period, we continue to storm the heavens with our prayers.

For about 10 weeks, I had been seeing doctors of various specializations, blood samples taken from me,
and so many others. I was getting tired of it.

We were allayed as each of the specialist-doctors, one after another, gave me a clean bill of health!

What a relief indeed! Truly the LORD is an answering God! As Philippians 4:6 says “Have no anxiety at all,
but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God”.

Thank You LORD for giving me a clean bill of health!

Reflection:
Do you need a doctor? See him, but at the same time lift up to God your situation

Prayer:
LORD Jesus, You are our Healer! Heal me from this sickness that afflicts me right now. Amen!

Coron Family Adventure – Day 3

Coron Family Adventure – Day 3
Diving in Coron’s Breathtaking Spots
by Danny Tariman

This is our final leg of our 3-day Coron adventure. The past 2 days allowed us to see and experience the natural beauty of Coron: colorful corals in Siete Pecados, the awesome sunset from Mt Tapyas, the amazing interaction with wildlife in Calauit, the sunken ship, and more.

My family at a good vantage point overlooking the famous postcard view of Coron.

It appears that even to this last day of our 3-day escapade, we are still in for more surprises. We are so blessed to have a very good tour guide who guided us throughout, and even taught my wife how to swim without too much effort, and the best of it all, he knows the best shots in the various locations we went.

We left the wharf early at about 8 in the morning. Our tour guide was so smart that he told us that we start in Cayangan Lake to avoid the over-crowding of tourists by mid-day.

Cayangan Lake

The view of the lagoon as seen from the lake’s entrance was awesome. It was the picture-perfect angle for postcards. Because we arrived early, we saw only few tourists – this means we do not have to jostle with other tourists to get that good shots! Haha!

A one-of-a-kind family picture under the water of Cayangan Lake

The lake is a fresh-water late. It is so deep that there are some tourists who took the dive with oxygen tanks. Our experience here was awesome. We had a one-of-a-kind family picture here where all of us took a dive at the same time while our tour guide took a series of shots.

My family had also some swimming formations at the water surface, while our guide took some shots from down-under. Really fascinating shots!

Our 2 floating formations, as seen from the bottom of the lake.

Twin Lagoon

These two lagoon are separated by a narrow tunnel that is accessible to pass through at low tide, but during high tide tourists are advised to climb up a few steps to go to the inner lagoon. The inner lagoon has a natural mix of warm and cold water. Because of this occurrence where warm water meets cold water, the water is not so clear, you wouldn’t be able to see the deep.

Our “centipede swim” at the Twin Lagoon

We had a good swimming experience here. Upon the suggestion of our guide, my family had a centipede formation where we swam together, with our legs holding the next, forming a long line. And we swam from the inner lagoon to the outer lagoon, passing through a narrow tunnel.

Hidden Lagoon

The Hidden Lagoon is not much for swimming or diving. But the view was impressive too: very clear waters, with rock formations as a backdrop. We had a wonderful sightseeing, pass-through tour of this place.

We passed by this Hidden Lagoon: truly awesome clear waters.

Banol Beach
We had a stop-over at this beach for our lunch of crabs, fresh fish, grilled pork belly, and local vegetable salad. It was really a feast!

Banol Beach: perfect for beach-bumming and swimming.

Fine, powdery white sand lined the beach front. It was truly a good place for beach-bumming and swimming. We had very relaxed moments in this island as we rested for a while after our sumptuous meal.

CYC Beach

Not much attraction on this small island called “CYC”. We had some photo shoots as soon as we disembark from our boat. At the right side of the island are some mangrove trees, and the left side is a bit wide beach where a lot of tourists, especially children, were crowding. There were also food vendors in this island trying to out-do each other racing in their small boats to reach the tourists.

My family at CYC Island

Balinsasayaw Reef

My family enjoyed this spot very much, primarily because we love snorkelling and we all love to see the colorful and amazing creatures under the sea. Our 2 children had their own time, diving to the depths of the sea without diving gear (free-diving), while I and my wife were assisted by our tour guide who patiently “towed” us around the reef.

My son going for the dive at Balinsasayaw Reef

The view under the water was just amazing! Branching coral formations is so huge, and yet very colorful! We saw many giant clams scattered all-over the place, living in its natural habitat. Along the paths that we swam, we encountered also various kinds of reef fish.

My daughter with beautiful coral formations at the foreground.

We enjoyed the underwater garden of this Balinsasayaw Reef! After about 30 minutes of snorkelling non-stop, we got tired, and went back to the boat.

It was indeed another day of truly enjoyable moments with family! We had an undeniably awesome adventure in this part of Palawan. We love this place called Coron! Given the chance, we will come back again to this place, but maybe explore the neighboring El Nido!

My family enjoying the deep fresh-water at Cayangan Lake

 

My children and I as caught by camera handled by my wife.
At CYC Beach near the mangrove.
Giant branching corals at Balinsasayaw Reef
Giant clams, many of them, at Balinsasayaw Reef