By: Jam Bufi
The yearly ComColidays, ComCo’s annual team bonding trip, is something the whole team looks forward to every December. The Squadron has so far visited different provinces in the country – Baguio in 2017 and Vigan in 2018 – as we are always eager to see the beauty of the Philippines. Instead of the usual Christmas party, ComCo wanted to create bonding moments beyond office walls to further strengthen the team’s camaraderie and rapport. In 2019, the ComColidays once again brought the ComCo Squadron to Baguio City, the Summer Capital of the Philippines and even ventured further to Benguet!
After a whirlwind year, the team was ready to relax, have fun, and get away from the heat of the Metro. Here are the stops of ComCo Southeast Asia’s 2019 Baguio trip.
1st stop: Breath-taking Mines View Park
This iconic Baguio attraction was the Squadron’s first stop straight from the Metro. Immediately the cold weather welcomed us as we took in the view at the overlook park. Of course, the team had to try on the traditional Igorot costume that was available for rent in the place. This is also where we had our first lunch of the trip in Mines View Restaurant, where we got to try the local Strawberry sinigang, perfect for the chilly weather. The first sip of the hot soup was a welcome comfort as it was perfect for the chill weather! The strawberry was an interesting addition to the well-loved Filipino dish.
2nd stop: Settling down at the Safari Lodge Hotel and the House Cup Culmination Bonfire
The Squadron enjoyed their stay here so much back in 2017 that we chose this as our home in Baguio again in 2019! This quaint and cozy lodge provided us with an excellent stay with their accommodating staff and quality utilities. Plus, their restaurant served the best Filipino home-cooked meals, especially Ilocano dishes.
Since they had a bonfire camp outside, this was also the venue for the culminating event for ComCo SEA’s House Cup, a year-long internal competition similar to the Hogwarts House Cup from Harry Potter where members of the ComCo team were divided into houses – House Bearcat, House Whaleshark, House Hawksbill, and House Flyingfox. Throughout the year, the houses earned points (and demerits too!) from team challenges and assignments, which were collated and totaled right before the bonfire. The winner was awarded during the bonfire but, ultimately, the bonfire was a way for the Squadron to celebrate 2019, which was a blessed year for the ComCo Squadron, by huddling around the fire, roasting marshmallows, and playing our favorite games. House Bearcat is last year’s Champion (House Whaleshark where I belong is 1st Runner-up!) but the rest of the houses are eager to take the throne from them this year!
3rd Stop: Educational tour of the Baguio Museum
Learning about our country’s diverse culture is always exciting. The Baguio Museum featured a lot of artifacts and historical items that would make you marvel at the rich and vibrant culture of Cordillera’s tribes. Going to the museum will give you a glimpse of the Igorots’ way of life and their various customs and tradition.
4th Stop: Supporting local literature at Mt. Cloud Bookshop
ComCo also has a couple of bookworms so we took a little detour and visited Mt. Cloud Bookshop, a quaint independent bookstore in Benguet. Located in Casa Vallejo, Mt. Cloud Bookshop sells a wide variety of Filipino books in different genres, even the rare ones. So if you happen to be in Baguio, stopping by Mt. Cloud Bookshop is definitely one for the books!
5th Stop: Charming Secret Garden Resto and Café with Bloggers
This restaurant suited its name because of the privacy it offered the diners. Its limited space makes it a laidback meet-up place especially with its cozy aesthetic and comforting home-cooked traditional Filipino meals. ComCo also took advantage of the trip to meet up with some of our blogger friends from Baguio. The dinner was filled with laughs as we caught up with each other’s lives and played a friendly, mildly competitive game of charades to cap off the night.
6th Stop: Cheap finds at the Harrison Road Night Market
When we found out we were going to Baguio, one word immediately popped up in our minds – UKAY! The Squadron dedicated a night of shopping at the Harrison Road Night Market where we scored so many cheap clothes, accessories, souvenirs, and other items to bring back home, all while spending less than Php 1,000.
7th Stop: Reflection time at the Pink Sisters’ Convent and Chapel
Since the Squadron always make time to visit the Pink Sisters’ Chapel in Tagaytay, we figured we had to visit its Baguio counterpart, too! This charming chapel got its name from the rose-colored clothing worn by the nuns of the convent. This is a popular for religious devotees and pilgrims and people often return to this in every visit to Baguio. It’s the perfect place to pause and reflect to reconnect with your spirituality. Pink Sisters’ has become an important stop in the ComCo Squadron’s travels as this is where we say thanks and offer our prayers.
8th Stop: One with nature at the Northern Blossom Flower Park
Definitely one of the highlights of the trip. The Squadron had originally planned a one-day trip to Banaue to see the Banaue Rice Terraces – we were going to drive up early in the morning and return late at night. But upon consulting with the locals, the drive would to and from Banaue would have taken us 16 hours. They advised us to go to Northern Blossom Flower Farm in Atok, Benguet instead and it was definitely worth it! The park was filled with flowers of various colors that made for Instagram-worthy backgrounds. Spontaneous adventures are really the most memorable ones!
9th Stop: Holy celebration at the Iconic Baguio Cathedral
As the trip approaches the end, the Squadron took some time to sit in peace and quiet at this iconic church that was built in 1936, serving as an evacuation center during World War II. As the team attended a holy mass, they prayed for the team’s travels as we prepared for the journey back home.
10th Stop: More foodie finds!
The ComCo Squadron are certified foodies so a ComCo trip would not have been complete without us trying recommended the food stops in the city. We went to classier restaurants like the Forest House Bistro and Café, which gave us a spectacular overlooking view (and superb strawberry milkshakes!). But we also learned that you don’t need to spend much to enjoy good food as we ate in to popular low-budget restaurants, Good Taste Restaurant and Glenn’s 50s Diner, which gave us hearty meals that satisfied our stomachs really well.
While we went to a lot of places already, I know there’s a lot more to explore in Baguio and Benguet. And we’ll definitely be back!
Since its birth in 2016, ComCo Southeast Asia has become one of the fastest emerging public relations agencies in the country – and entering this new decade, ComCo will just keep getting bigger. So, for ComColidays 2020, we’re looking forward to more people joining us in our out of town adventure! Who knows where we’ll go next?