True to its reputation for so many years, Baguio is not only the country’s top tourist destination during summer, but the conference center as well for various youth and professional groups – and no surprise to everyone – December is the peak month for such gatherings.
The National Rizal Youth Leadership Institute, an annual conference of student leaders all over the country sponsored by the Knights of Rizal, now headed by Supreme Commander Sir Carmelo Gempesaw, has been holding this meeting at the Teachers Camp, Baguio City for over 30 years now.
Undaunted by the extremely cold weather last December, 805 Youth Leaders from various parts of the country, met for 5 days at the Senior Mess and discussed key issues confronting the country today in the context of Rizal’s advocacy, values and beliefs.
They had a battery of outstanding speakers led by Fr. Bienvenido Nebres, SJ, president of Ateneo de Manila University; and were divided into 25 commissions, which churned out 25 timely, relevant resolutions.
But it wasn’t all work for these youth leaders led by Al Jumrani, (Zamboanga City) Most Outstanding Student of the Philippines in 2001, who headed the youth team who managed the day-to-day operation of the conference, chaired by Sir Emmanuel Cabusao, of the Knight of Rizal.
Al’s team of top leaders came from various places: Eric Aguilar (Pangasinan), Jun Magalgalit (Baguio), Jeric Mendoza (Nueva Ecija) also one of the speakers, Jun Cabacungan, St. Anthony Tiu and Alma Sentelics (Metro Manila), Julius Javier (Tarlac), Alvin del Monte (Rizal), Rachel Uy (Lucena City), Reina Reyta (Naga), Divine Gonzales (Iloilo), Olive Jopia, Mars Mandal, Denden Janea II and Mark Bryan Galo (Cebu City), Archie Torrijos (Bohol), Michael Lacsamana (Palawan), Ian Descallar (Cagayan de Oro), Ping Digaum, Michelle Manatad and Jennylyn Metillo (Marawi), Joe Marie Carandang (Gen. Santos) and Basil Sali (Tawi-Tawi).
The delegates had their city tour in the afternoon and the 3rd day, which allowed them to “invade” Baguio’s scenic spots – Mines View Park, Mansion House, Wright Park, Burnham Park, PMA, Lourdes Grotto, Trinidad Valley and special guided tours in two of Baguio’s most famous landmarks: The Baguio Country Club and Camp John Hay.
The trip to the country club was very organized, visiting its fine restaurants, conference halls, in-door sports facilities like the gym, tennis/basketball court, heated pool and spa, and the well-manicured 18 hole golf course – one of the oldest in the country. As you leave the club, you can’t fall to notice the imposing four-story hotel that greets visitors from afar.
Camp John Hay, with its vast area, was quite different – the delegates were totally unmindful of the 2-kilometer eco-trail, picnic areas, mermaid garden, Bell Amphitheater, Igorot garden, hanging bridge, the commissary and various sports areas, like mini golf, skating, biking, basketball and the famous 18-hole, par 69 championship golf course, re-designed by the “Golfer of the Century” Jack Nicklaus, which has hosted numerous tournaments since its opening 3 years ago.
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