Acer-Media Summer Power Challenge

Samal isles set backdrop to media summer-fest
By Earl D.C. Bracamonte
The bi-annual media challenge continues. Now on its fifth installment, the Acer-Media Summer Power Challenge successfully unfolded in the pristine island of Samal in Davao province. An event created for practitioners in the tri-media industry, it aims to provide attendees with great outdoor experience. It’s all about teamwork, the passion to win, and having fun in action that’s highlighted by eco-adventure, team challenges, leisure and lots of fun! And teamwork meant competing passionately while learning and having a swell time together. We experienced how collaboration broke barriers and overcame odds. We saw how team leaders became team players and how members led a team to victory.
The 2012 summer-fest was extra special as Acer Philippines took pride in celebrating the natural beauty of our archipelago and bringing us entrants to one fantastic destination – Samal Island - whose cluster of islands is presently known as the Island Garden City of Samal or IGaCoS after being declared as city on January 30, 1998.
As a city, Samal is known to be an urbanizing center within a rural setting. Putting in place urban amenities with great approbation for its natural endowments, it aspires to be the information technology hub of Southern Philippines; making it an apt venue for Acer’s summer-fest and its upcoming Aspire 5 Ultrabook gadget.
Samal Island is endowed with charms that is uniquely its own and Pearl Farm is one spot among many that showcases what the city is all about: world-class destinations, rich natural resources, great food, colorful culture, and wonderful people.
The real Samal Island outdoor experience, on the other hand, is about trekking on rugged terrain, traveling along rough roads, climbing on amazing rock formations, exploring mysterious caverns, as well as paddling and/or diving unto crystal clear waters.
Samal has several commercial resorts and private beaches spread along its 118-kilometer stretch of white sand shoreline. Aside from these, one of the attractions is the Sanipaan Shoal, also called the Vanishing Island, because half of the 80-hectare shoal emerges as a sand bar during neap tides but completely submerges to waist-deep seawater in some areas during high tides; creating the illusion that one “floats” in the open seas.
For scuba-diving buffs, Talikud and Ligid Islands are excellent dive spots where a dive into the depths will reveal colorful underwater vistas and awe-inspiring tropical marine life. A 150-hectare coral garden and marine reservation park located in Talikud and the Aundanao Fish Sanctuary offer another treat to diving and snorkeling enthusiasts as well as those into kayaking and rowing.
Despite degrees of difficulty inherent in the eight challenges we had to complete, we were able to showcase and put to test our latent endurance, patience, team effort, and competitiveness. At the same time, the eco-adventure race gave us the chance to discover, appreciate and enjoy the natural splendor that’s Samal Island.
Aside from its underwater garden, Samal also has a botanical garden and nature's park. Located in Brgy. Bandra, the 11.5-hectare government-owned property has over a hundred species of trees freely growing amidst colorful flower beds. The island city is also home to Mindanao’s first mangrovetum that serves as a laboratory for dendrological, educational, phonological, and other studies on the mangrove ecosystem. Furthermore, an indication of Samal’s sound ecological system is the bat sanctuary that hosts close to 12 million fruit bats. The Guiness Book of World Records recognized Baga Cave as a habitat with the most number of fruit bats. For experienced spelunkers, exploring Balete, Magongawong, Tamburong and Baga Caves and about 70 other cavern systems will surely offer thrill and excitement.
We learned new things, explored Mother Nature, discovered more about our strengths and weaknesses, listened to each other’s story of frustration and triumphs in accomplishing each of the given tasks, and had a good laugh on just about anything, all in the spirit of friendship and camaraderie.
Adventurers can also commune with Nature by climbing Mt.Pulang Bato or rappel down Bito Depression as some of us did, go mountain biking and camping out in the midst of lush vegetation or beside the rustling cool cascades of Hagimit or Tagbaobo Falls.
Festivities in the island abound. Each of the three districts celebrates their own festivals: Kabasan in Babak, White Nights for Kaputian, and Hugyaw Madyaw for Samal. Street-dancing, fluvial parades, sand sculpting, banca races and street parties are just a few of the many exhilarating and colorful activities during these festivities.
Me, and the nine other members of the White Team, felt more than winners. While it was true that we finished last in points (before the alleged re-computing that placed us in third place), we were honored with a recognition that went beyond the rigors of competition. In one of the tasks, the one which required us to decide which of two codes was the right one we had to decipher, we passed by members of the Yellow Team wading in the open seas as their banca capsized. Little did we know that our act of extending help made us victors in the eyes of the organizers who made a fuss at recognizing our efforts during the awarding ceremonies with prizes in both cash and kind (something that even the champions weren’t able to receive). It made us all realize that it sometimes pays to take time to pause (even under time pressure), stop and gaze, and enjoy the exquisiteness of the beauty around, because, in so doing, we created an amazing eco-adventure race experience that was distinctly our own.
The Acer-Media Summer Power Fest began in Tanay, Rizal a decade ago. The following years saw the summer-fest visiting the cities of Cagayan de Oro (Misamis Oriental), San Fernando (Pampanga) and Tagbilaran (Bohol). In every Acer-Media summer power fest, fun is an integral element; more so outside the competition. So we sang, danced, laughed and giggled our nights away by the porches in our respective cottages, in a nearby watering hole and the videoke session at the eve of our departure. We look forward to the next exciting venue in 2014.
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