Category Archives: Travels

A Family Weekend at Planet Dive

A Family Weekend at Planet Dive
by Danny Tariman

The town of Mabini in Batangas has been one of my family’s most frequent travel destination. And for a lot of reasons: the entire Mabini peninsula is literally lined with choices of resorts — mostly diving resorts. This is because the municipality of Mabini is blessed with many good diving spots.

Planet Dive’s boardwalk fronting the beach.

This weekend, my family booked at Planet Dive. A good place to be: clean air-conditioned rooms, restaurant overlooking the sea — not to mention its flowing coffee and tea, an infinity pool, a beachfront boardwalk, accommodating and smiling staff.

We were in this resort for a dive! I actually don’t dive; the most I can do is snorkeling near the beach. The sea is endowed with good diving sites. Not too far from the beach is a diving spot where professional divers go for a dive.

Mabini’s golden sunset as seen from the resort.

We came here with my entire household, including our 2 dogs! Ha-ha! Becoming part of the family huh. The resort is pet-friendly. We had seen big dog — a Golden Retriever — who loves to swim with his master. On the master’s signal he would swim even to the deep. Of course, he got a dog-vest strapped to his body. It appears that the dog enjoys the swim.

Our family with the dogs enjoying the beautiful and refreshing view.

During our stay, there was a team of divers from a diving group/organization. I can observe that this place is indeed for diving. I felt kind-of out-of-place, but who cares! I am here to enjoy sea breeze and see my children enjoying their dive.

At dinner time, we decided to eat outside of the resort. We checked-in to this garden restaurant, the OMG Grill. It was a good almost 7km drive from the resort. And oh… it is full of people — mostly tourists like us — enjoying moments in this al-fresco type of garden resto. The food is good, not to mention that it is reasonably priced.

OMG Grill, a very nice place to hang-out for the night.

We returned to Planet Dive Resort quite late night. We arrived with our 2 dogs asleep. Hehe. We had a good night rest in the comfortable family room that we had.

The following morning, I woke up to the quietness of the sea and tamed wind. I love those moments that I can commune with nature. I had a good prayer time at the boardwalk beside the beach. Really awesome moments with the Lord!

Thank You, Lord, for this another weekend with the family!

The resort as seen from the hill top view at our accommodation.
My family from another perspective of the beachfront. Note the infinity pool at the back.
My children who most enjoy swimming and diving together
Me and my wife enjoying the moments.
Our daughter at the edge of the the infinity pool
Inside the resort’s restaurant where flowing coffee, tea, and hot chocolate are available all day.
My family just in front of our room, overlooking the beach.

A Relaxing Day in Sunrise Cove

A Relaxing Day in Sunrise Cove
By Danny Tariman

We love to discover places. My family had been to a number of beaches in Calatagan, Batangas but it seems we haven’t explored them all. This particular weekend, we were led to go to the tip of Calatagan peninsula – the Sunrise Cove.

The beach during low tide

We drove a bit of a distance. I initially thought it was near Calatagan town proper but it was not. I had to drive more distance and curves before we finally reached the beach.

The place was indeed beautiful for relaxation: a good view of the sea where Pagapas Bay and Isla Verde Passage meets, very refreshing sea breeze, comfortable cottages and beach benches. It was a perfect place for us family wanting to just have a good relaxing day. We thought we would be able to swim; unfortunately, it was a low tide – perhaps lowest for that period – so that we were not able to swim. My children wanted to have a free-dive in one of its spots to see the submarine gardens but they were not able to make it.

The rafts as the tide was slowly rising

We had enjoyed the place, nevertheless. While my son tried to scour the almost flat seabed, trying to find creatures for his salt-water aquarium, our daughter walked our dog on the almost dry seabed. My wife and I just rested our backs on the cottage and had a nice very relaxing moment.

For our lunch, we decided to eat our prepared packed food at the raft tied a few meters away from the shore. It was supposed to be floating, but the low tide didn’t allow it to float. Haha! Just the same, we just loved the sea breeze and the company of each other as we ate our lunch together on a raft.

The rafts during a low tide. It was an easy walk with water just above our ankles

After we enjoyed our meal aboard a raft, we went back to the beach and had more relaxing moments. With the salty wind blowing on our faces, it was really good moments to rest and take a nap.

We drove back home by mid-afternoon. And the cool mountain air of Tagaytay City was irresistible not to stop a while and take a stroll in one of its new lake-facing malls – the Twinlakes. We spent some more moments here before we headed back home, finally.

The line of beach bench and our cabana

We thank the LORD for another family bonding moments… a relaxing day at the beach, and an afternoon stroll in Tagaytay.

Another view of the beach at low tide
Our children enjoying the company of our dog
My family upon our arrival
Our daughter playing with our dog while we were on a raft
A family photo on a different angle
Our after-the-beach stroll in Tagaytay City

Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini

Family Snorkeling and Diving in Mabini
by Danny Tariman

It was a long weekend. My family usually looks forward to extended weekends so that we can go for our outdoor activities. We really love outdoors!

This particular weekend, we decided to just go for a day trip to one of Batangas’ famous shores for diving and snorkeling — the shorelines of the municipality of Mabini. Popular in this place is Anilao, the spot where the best underwater marine gardens are.

The view of Mabini snorkelling and diving area

While I and my wife were just lounging at the resort’s balcony which offers a good vantage view of Balayan Bay, our grown-up children were enjoying their free-diving. We later joined them in the dive area, but since I don’t know how to dive, I just enjoy seeing them go down to the deep and explore the beauty of corals and reef fishes.

My wife and I enjoyed our snorkeling, viewing the colorful corals under the sea. I was glad that my wife finally conquered her fear of the deep as we were really in the “deep”. Haha! She didn’t notice we can no longer step on the rocks; we were just floating with our life-vests.

Beautiful and colorful: coral formations in Balayan Bay

Come lunchtime, we prepared grilled tuna and pork chops. I did the cooking — on bare charcoal. This too, is an experience as I have to set it on fire with just match sticks and old newspaper. This is something that I seldom do in the city.

It was an enjoyable lunch for the family, as always! We always have fun and enjoy meals on banana leaves and use our bare hands to eat. And with the shore and the sea in front of us, wow, truly an appetizing ambiance for lunch.

My daughter going for the free dive.

We were told by local folks that there is a cave at the far right-end of the cove. And so in the afternoon, we trekked to the place, passing through pebble shoreline, and climbing rock formations. After about 15 minutes slow trek, we finally reached the “cave”. It was not really a cave but an arch — a rock, which by the pounding of waves through the years, had a huge hole punched through it. And so for me it was not a cave because we can pass through it from the front (facing the sea) to the back of the rock.

My family in front of the “cave”

We continued our snorkeling, while our children had their free-diving. It was a full-day of just enjoying the seas and the company of the family.

We drove back to the city, leaving the resort at about 4:30 in the afternoon. It was a surprisingly less-traffic drive. We reached the city in just about one-and-a-half hour drive. And just before we reached home, we dropped by Starbucks for a good sip of its famous coffee concoctions.

Really a great way to spend a weekend!

Capping the day with espresso coffee at Starbucks
The sunset view of Balayan Bay
Photo of our children taken from the top balcony of the resort
A rock formation at the right-end of the bay
Our son taking his free-dive
A coral formation at the snorkelling area

Family Adventure in Isla Verde

Family Adventure in Isla Verde
by Danny Tariman

Vista Verde is an island off Batangas province. For this particular weekend, my family planned to explore this off-beaten beach-island destination.

The creamy sand beach of Isla Verde

We left the city at about 5:30 in the morning. Passing through the entire stretch of South Luzon Expressway and of Star Tollway, it was as easy and fast drive reaching Batangas City at 7am. After a quick breakfast stop at a popular food chain, we proceeded to Tabangao Port, where a boat to Vista Verde was anchored.

We reached the island in about an hour. I was awestruck by its crystal clear small waves pounding the shoreline. With powdery white sand, the place is just perfect for this weekend family adventure.

A good vantage view of the beachfront from the top of a hill.

We checked-in at Surface Interval Resort. It is a decent quiet place, perhaps because we were just few guests. The surroundings are clean, and the staff were so friendly and accommodating.

My children had their swimming soon after our arrival, although it was almost noon. While they had their time at the beach, I & my wife prepared our lunch. Really, a nice bonding moment for the family.

It was a very relaxing afternoon. I had never had a long nap in a beach, until this time. With the strong sea breeze comforting me to sleep, the pounding waves seems music to my ears.

My family enjoying the beach

My family had happy moments swimming in the afternoon. With big waves splashing to the shore, we truly had some fun time in a playful swim riding the waves as it nears the beach.

As the sun was going down, the skies slowly turned to orange-red. It was a glorious, scenic view of the sunset. I love this part of the day when I have to capture the sun hiding into the horizon.

The color of sunset at the beach. Truly awesome!

The following day, we went to a dive site for an early morning dive and snorkelling. Wow! It was so beautiful swimming experience! Colorful coral formations with lots of fishes of various colors.

The entrance of Surface Interval Resort.

After the dive, we were treated to a rock formation at Punta, by Rowel, the resort owner who went with us to the dive. The place is good vantage point to develop: it has a snorkeling area and a 10-feet cliff diving spot.

When we were just about to leave Punta, Mother Nature gave us an amazing show. A school of dolphins danced their way, from a good distance from the boat. That really made our day!

I and my kids just loving the afternoon moments

We would like to thank the owners of Surface Interval Resort — Rowel & Jojo, and its friendly staff.

We really had many wonderful, happy moments and experiences in Isla Vista. Thank you Lord!

The beautiful beach of Isla Verde
More bonding moments: my wife and my son
Nighttime at our cottage, while preparing for dinner
The sunset colors as captured in the background
Another view of the beach

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm

A Relaxing Family Weekend at Abe’s Farm
by Danny Tariman

It was a trip we all look forward to: a weekend at a farm-resort. It has been a while that my family haven’t visited a farm or garden resort. I think our last trip was years ago in Cintai Corrito, a Balinese-themed garden resort in Batangas.

The refreshing landscape of the farm.

It has rained in the city for a couple of days before our scheduled out of town trip. And so, we stormed the heavens with prayers for a good weather that weekend. Indeed, the LORD is good, He answered our prayers. It was a rainless weekend.

Leaving the city at 6:45 in the morning, we arrived at Abe’s Farm in Magalang, Pampanga just before 10. We had a breakfast at a pit stop along the North Luzon Expressway.

I was awed by the refreshing greens that welcomed us at the resort. The guard ushered us to the reception, which serves as the lobby to a very nice, nature-inspired restaurant. The place is so good, we had taken many photos from various angles inside the restaurant.

The lush greens of the farm

Native furniture made of bamboo, raw wooden planks, and all sorts of natural materials literally fills the interiors of the place. I was telling myself: this is the kind of furnishings I want for my farm house!

Myself enjoying the native interiors of the restaurant

Right behind the restaurant is a good-sized swimming pool which is just right for relaxing moments for my family. An Ifugao hut stands on one end of the pool, and at the other is an open cottage, a nice nook for family interaction.

The resort’s swimming pool with an Ifugao hut in the background

Further down the farm is a well-manicured garden surrounded by shrubs of all kinds. My daughter and my wife had a time of playing at a swing hanging from a tree.

And oh! The lunch! It was so good! Big shrimps in guava soup, sautéed chicken in soy sauce with lemon grass, “morcon” cooked the Pampanga-way… we were burping to the very satisfying lunch at the resort.

My family enjoying the satisfying, delectable lunch at Abe’s Farm

After a good after-lunch rest in an air-conditioned Ifugao hut, my family had a good swim at the resort’s swimming pool. It was like exclusive to us family! Haha!

After the swim, our children had a relaxing massage at the spa! I am not a fan of massage and so I didn’t join them.

We had attended an anticipated Mass at San Bartolome Parish. While I can’t understand the local dialect, I can sense that the priest was able to deliver a good homily, and that he was able to “connect” with the church-goers.

The San Bartolome Church in Magalang, Pampanga

Immediately after the Mass, we had a good, satisfying dinner at Bembi’s Kitchen. An awesome place to eat in Magalang, Pampanga. Not only the food was awesomely delicious, the service was excellent – with Dennis (the business owner) himself serving my family!

A delightful dinner at Bembi’s: a new kind of experience

The following morning we woke up to a fresh new day in a lush garden environment. After we had a nice breakfast at the farm-resort’s restaurant, we took another dip at the farm’s pool.

What a very relaxing weekend treat for our family! Thank You LORD for this blessing of a wonderful weekend!

My wife and daughter in their bonding moments
Our son and daughter near the entrance of the farm
My wife and me for a photo shoot in the resort
Really beautiful moments with my family
An air-conditioned Ifugao hut where stayed for the night.

Sailing in Taal Lake

Sailing in Taal Lake
by Danny Tariman

It was raining throughout the week. But my family prayed for a rainless weekend for this particular week. We wanted to try this sailing adventure in Taal Lake where the famous Taal Volcano is.

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The rows of sailboats parked at the lakeshore

Our prayers were answered! The weather forecast was partly sunny. And so we drove to Tagaytay then down to Talisay town where Taal Yatch Club is.

At first I was a bit nervous, as I saw photos of this Hobie catamaran sail boat sailing at its side. Haha! It was good, but just seeing the photos gave me a feeling that I may fall.

After an hour long lecture-orientation on sailing, I and my family were excited to hit the waters. We learned the parts of the boat, how to navigate through various wind directions, and many more, including how to raise the sail onto the boat.

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Trying it out as “skipper”

My children took turns being the skipper — the one who controls the sail and the boat — and being an assistant, the one who loosens or tightens the ropes per instructions from the skipper. It was a teamwork at the sailboat.

We traversed the lake many times, from different directions, to try sailing under various wind directions. It was really both fun and educational.

I also tried once as a skipper. Really nice feeling, a one-of-a-kind adventure.

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My family traversing the wide, wide Taal Lake in many directions

As we go back to the wharf, we were met by the Yatch Club’s Commodore, an Italian-American who had stayed for most of his life in the Philippines. He speaks fluently in Pilipino!

We were planning to sleep in tent that weekend, to complete the outdoor experience, but it rained so heavy late in the afternoon. And so instead of putting up our tents, we drove back to the city.

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Me and my wife enjoying the sailing

Even our camping plan was cancelled, my family enjoyed the moments, just the same. We are so thankful to the LORD for that awesome adventure. Truly a different kind of experience!

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My family just before sailing. At the background is the Hobbie sailboat we took.
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A small wharf for speed boats at the Yatch Club.
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A portion of the lawn where we were supposed to pitch tents for overnight camping
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Another interesting nook at the Yatch Club

La Mesa Eco-Park: A Forest In The City

La Mesa Eco-Park: A Forest In The City
by Danny Tariman

I never imagined there could be a forest right in the middle of the city. I was very surprised that as we cross that short bridge in a village in Quezon City, we were quickly transported to another world!

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My family at the entrance to the park

From a jungle of cement walls and iron roofs, it was a refreshing respite to be welcomed by tropical rain forest in just few meters of driving. Indeed! Tall trees, shrubs, and vines of every kind welcomed us as we enter La Mesa Nature Park.

A nice reception hall awaits visitors to this forest-in-a-city, with comfortable lounging area and clean rest rooms. Parking is spacious too but quite limited.

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The park’s reception hall

After finding a good slot to park our car, we started our short trek into the forest park.

We passed by an extra-large swimming pool with lots of people! The crowd was so big that we just decided not to take a dip in the pool.

Farther in our trek, the park is lined with food stalls offering various kinds of food. The road too has a lot of people walking around the nature park.

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One of the park’s many picnic grounds where groups and families enjoy their moments

It is quite surprising that so many visitors are walking around. Perhaps they too, like us, wanted to find some respite to the usual city living.

We had a good taste too of the various food being sold in the park. There are plenty of choices.

There are also a lot of areas to have some rest, or just to have a good chat with family and friends. We saw some groups pitch tents in the lawn; some kids just playing around with fellow kids or with parents. Really a nice and inexpensive place for bonding.

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The area where visitors can pitch their tents.

At the far end of the park is a stair leading to the wall of La Mesa Dam, the water reservoir that supplies water to households of Metro-Manila.

We walked up the stairs. It was quite tiresome, I must admit. But the view is beautiful. The steps are lined with ornamental plants and as we go higher, we can see a good view of the large pond or artificial lake within the park. The scene was very refreshing: trees, grass, shrubs, and the emerald-colored pond complement each other to give a nice green view.

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The steps to the rim of the dam.

Indeed, it was a refreshing experience of a forest within the city!

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A family photo near the man-made lagoon
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A view of the Eco-Park from the top. Note the lagoon at the middle
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Another view of the park with ornamental plants in the foreground, and trees at the background