Category Archives: Travels

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
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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

Talisoy Cove: A Rock With Jesus’ Face

Talisoy Cove: A Rock With Jesus’ Face
by Danny Tariman

The city of Virac in Catanduanes never runs out of places to go. I had lived in this island during my childhood years, but never had the chance to explore the places.

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The rock with Jesus’ face

My only sister and her family organized this outing one beautiful summer. Gay, Lilet with their siblings and children planned to have bonding moments with the bigger, extended family. After all, it’s been a couple of years we hadn’t had any family gathering as we live in different places, some are living overseas.

We had this gathering one day in Talisoy beach. It is just a 20-minute drive from the town proper. It is a tiny cove, a good swimming beachfront but has quite big waves which may not be good for unattended children.

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The little cove called “Talisoy”

This place is open to public, and is usually crowded during summer. The huts are very affordable to rent, and beach water is clean. Really a good place for those looking for a nice place for family bonding moments, at an easy-on-the-pocket budget.

One of the attractions of this cove is the rock formation that looks like the face of Jesus. It’s amazing, some people sees 2 faces, some can only see one. Whichever or whatever you can see, one thing is sure: one looks like the face of the LORD.

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The Talisoy beach with Jesus’s face at the right side

We had good sumptuous late lunch at the beach, as my family drove down to this place all the way from another resort: the Puraran Surf.

Indeed, another wonderful time spent with my extended family. Praise be to God!

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The stretch of the cream-colored sandy beach
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My family pic
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The extended family pic

Surfing in Puraran

Surfing in Puraran
By Danny Tariman

It was raining hard when we reached this surfing destination of Catanduanes. We had been in this place in the past, but its fresh salty-wind, fine-sand shores, and barrel waves in the seas are irresistible for us not to come back. I like this place — rather I love this place. After all, I grew up in the town where this resort is located.

The iconic islets fronting the Puraran shoreline

Despite the impending storm, we braved the rains. It was good, because somehow the storm induced bigger waves. Something that my daughter liked because she wanted to ride the surf again.

My daughter in her surfing form

She wasn’t disappointed: she enjoyed the surfing. While she was riding the surf, her equally adventurous father was taking videos or photos of her surfing.

The beach with just us strolling.

And while she was surfing, my son who owns a salt water aquarium, was busy searching the seabed for sea creatures he can put live in his aquarium.

Me and my wife had wonderful moments too in the beach: just gazing the horizon, sharing stories and experiences… Really good moments.

My family at the resort’s accommodation

My family had a good accommodation too. The beach resort we checked-in is a family-run simple resort, the Pacific Surf. It has just a few native huts lining the putting greens. But we got an aircon room for just 1,500 pesos!

Indeed, it was another beautiful day in Puraran! Thank You LORD!

I and my daughter before she rode the surf board
Another view of the Puraran beach

Tuwad-Tuwadan Rolling Hills & Rock Formations

Family Adventures
Tuwad-Tuwadan Rolling Hills & Rock Formations
by Danny Tariman

My family loves outdoors and adventures. We are always in the look-out for new places to explore. It was not a surprise that when we heard and saw photos of Tuwad-Tuwadan, we put it in our bucket list.

The view of the blue ocean from the hills

Tuwad-Tuwadan Rolling Hills and Rock Formation is in the northern tip of the island province of Catanduanes. It is within the bounds of a village called Balangonan in the town of Pandan. The town is about 90km north of the City of Virac. We drove to this town from Virac for almost 3 hours, enjoying the coastal view by the road.

We got lost, actually. We didn’t notice the road to Tuwad-Tuwadan and drove straight to the town proper where we asked for directions. [Poor me! We didn’t use technology – like Google Maps – to locate the place.] That was good too, because we were able to visit the town, and even had some moments of prayers inside St Ignatius of Loyola parish church.

The fresh winds of the hills greeting us

Driving back southbound from Pandan, we finally found the road to Tuwad-Tuwadan. It was another challenge as there were no directional signs yet, as the road was under construction. And because it was under construction, we passed through dirt and muddy road.

If you plan to go driving yourself, do not go straight to the village (barangay) of Balangonan as the locals will offer you to take a boat ride to Tuwad-Tuwadan. When you go by boat, you will miss the windy and magnificent view of the rolling hills.

The rock formation on a windy day and rough seas.

Asking a few locals, we were able to finally found the right road. It was a very tough and rough drive. I would highly recommend that you bring an SUV for this adventure. I drove passing through deep trenches in the middle of the trail; I had to carefully navigate the tires not to roll down the trench! It was really a difficult, almost off-road trail.

All the difficulties reaching the place were negated when we reached the rolling hills. It was indeed an awesome view, with winds splashing our faces! From the hills, I have a fantastic view of the cream colored beach cove which opens to the blue ocean.

Another view of the rolling hills

This is just the opening of Tuwad-Tuwadan! We continued our drive until we reached the drop-off place to start our trek. This was just a short less-than-a-kilometer drive.

We were guided by 2 little local girls. We trekked passing through a rice field paddy to the main rolling hills. Really beautiful! Even our puppy who went with us from Manila enjoyed the place. She run away from us and explored the hills too! It was a good 15-20 minutes of hiking.

A lagoon that would have been a “blue lagoon” had it not been for the rough sea.

The rock formation is a down-hill trek on the side of the hills to the sea. It was a very steep trek. Although the locals made some cemented steps, I was a bit scared going down as I have this fear of heights. What could have been the blue lagoon was a white lagoon when we visited the place. It was because the sea was rough, with waves pounding the rocks, and the suds splashed by the waves covered the lagoon. It was still a good place for photos though. We didn’t swim as it was quite dangerous because of rough seas.

After few minutes of photo-ops, enjoying the sea breeze, and the magnificent views, we drove back to Virac. Another amazing experience for our family!

My family enjoying another adventure
Me and my wife at the rice paddy going to the rolling hills.
With my son
And with my daughter