Saturday, June 21, 2014

Building One's Team in a Farm and in a Forest

I grew up in a working environment where a team building activity means a mere outing - eating, swimming, drinking or some parlor games. I was looking for the real meaning of team building for years. I even wondered how to build a strong team when there are no leaders. I observed only few persons attending the event. Similar faces through the years. 

Man-made forest

The concept, which is not supposed to be, changed for a day. After eight long years, I encountered a unique place in the suburb of Metro Manila. The venue is named Phillip's Sanctuary. It is located in Pestano Farm, Sitio Palinglingan, Antipolo City.

Phillip's Sanctuary is a man-made forest. It is planted with lined up trees. There are lots of greens to be enjoyed to see. It is at the same time a farm. Vegetation surrounds the Pestano estate. From marang to durian to vegetables, they have them in the Sanctuary.

Where the mud slide ends
Mud is all about fun. I enjoyed them all. I was not able to bring my phone for my own photographs, because it was just possible for the gadgets to get soaked in the mud or be thrown in the water. Lots of rope activities too and the balsa was enjoying. It was great success when I crossed the swinging log with my trembling feet. Only few participants made it to cross that wet log; the rest were outbalanced and ended up in the water. 

Base of zipline
I had the privilege of being lifted on the top of a rope hole. They thought I was the lightest of them all. I just closed my eyes and my team lifted me with all my trust on them. I felt loved.

While one may be paying separately for the zip line in other outdoor venues, it is already incorporated in the package in Phillip's Sanctuary. When doing it remember three words: check, check, check. Safety first before fun.

A heart-pumping mud slide is the finale. I slid from top to the base with a waist-deep of mud and water. I managed not to open my mouth as I splashed in the base but I felt the impact on my nose and ears. No untoward incident happened. 

I liked the humility that the mud spa brings. We used to crawl during our mandatory training in the fire service. We were oriented on the collapsed structure search and rescue but in Phillip's Sanctuary, it was a different way. There was no fire, no collapsed structure, no victims to be rescued. There was complete mud and everything's wet. All my shorts' pockets got filled with mud even. 

What a rewarding plunge in the pool after a day-long of strenuous team-building activities. It is not a hot spa but a generally cold pool. Complete change of all clothes (including all used undergarment) is required in order to be allowed to use the pool.

An added bonus is a rare Honesty Store which is not generally seen in Metro Manila.

Saturday, June 7, 2014

Sapporo Sojourn

I shall pass through this world but once...been to Sapporo once, perhaps may not be able to go back anymore. I am sharing my very best of my Sapporo sojourn. Those photographs are great reminder that Sapporo holds one of the must-visit places on the face of the planet. Sapporo is the largest city in the island of Hokkaido, located in northern Japan. 

Flowers. If there is another word aside from "cold" that will make me remember Sapporo right away, it is the abundance of flowers. Sapporo is not only filled with greens. It is also adorned with flowers - plenty of colorful flowers. You will see them everywhere.

Sapporo Fire Bureau. One of the most sophisticated and high-equipped fire bureaus in Japan. Do not forget to drop by a fire station and be able to meet the firefighters responsible for making Sapporo and its people safe. I met them.

Walk around Otaru Canal. Enjoy seeing the real pictures. Find out that ice cream is more fun to eat even if it is cold. Buy some mementos. Take more pictures that will last a lifetime of experience.

Chocolate Factory

Shiroi Koibito Park. If the smoking area is already as lovely as this, how much more the entire Shiroi Koibito complex? See the chocolate factory and witness the making of chocolates and cookies. Watch the show at the park. Be amazed of the picturesque of flowers all around. Bring home some cookies, candies and chocolates. 

Odori Park. Very neat and clean. Do not stop walking because nearby is the TV tower. If one comes from a tropical country, see for yourself the maple trees in the park. Buy some snacks too and have a taste different from our tastes in the ASEAN region.

Mt. Moiwa Observatory. Located at the top of Mt. Moiwa, this is the first of its kind in the world. Not just your ordinary ropeway. Not just an ordinary cable car but a combination of cable car and railway towards the top of the observatory. On top of the observatory is a control tower for disaster preparedness and fire protection. There is also a shrine and from the top you will see the breathtaking Sapporo. This is where I have seen the longest bow. I mean the cable operator executes the longest bow. She does not rise unless the car is in complete halt. Every tourist is accorded respect. 

Mt. Okura Ski Jump Site

Mt. Okura Ski Jump Site and Sapporo Winter Sports Museum. Mt. Okura Ski Jump Site is a kind host for various winter sports. During competitions, delegates from different countries compete in here. I loved the museum, it is a kind of tribute to sports and the people behind it.

Quick turn at the Stellar Place and catch up for the train. See the JR Tower too. Never forget the map. Maps will guide you of the way back to the hotel. Maps come in both Japanese and English. We just walked from the Sapporo Grand Hotel up to here.

Old Hokkaido Government Building. The historical building is popularly known as akarenga, or "Red Bricks", from the red bricks that make up its finishing. It is the former seat of government of Hokkaido.

Sapporo Clock Tower. The historical clock tower still works until now. It is a wooden structure and it is a symbol of Sapporo. The clock tower was built in 1878. 

Sapporo Convention Center. A venue for big events like international expositions and exhibits. It was opened in 2003 as a multipurpose convention center. 

Ask me to be back in Sapporo. Given the chance, I will. I long to be back one day, Sapporo. 

P.S. I am greatly indebted to Superintendent Ric Perdigon and Fr. Benjie Ventajar for the photographs.