Training and Traveling: A Solar-Powered Pointwester

Kat Dacusin
August 23, 2019

The dark clouds tremble at his presence. Raindrops don’t dare fall on his path. And if they do, they apologize to him for disrupting an otherwise sunshiny day.

No matter what stormy weather befalls the country, Pointwest has its own ray of sunshine through Senior Learning and Development Specialist Benedict Basiño, known to many as Bene. Whether inside or outside the training rooms, he exudes positive energy.

Bene seems to be constantly fully charged with optimism, but he admits this is not always the case. “Even if I’m a jolly person, my batteries run out too,” he said. How then does he recharge?

Bene is actually solar-powered. No, he doesn’t have solar panels strapped to his forehead. Instead, he goes to the best and most enjoyable place to bask under the sun: the beach.

Life’s a Beach

A self-confessed lakwatsero, kaladkarin, and beach bum, Bene recharges by lounging in the beautiful beaches around the Philippines.

His fascination with beaches was sparked literally close to home, as he lives 15 minutes to the closest beach in his hometown in Bicol. This was further encouraged as he tagged along to his father’s trips when he was young.


Bene loves basking under the sun in the beautiful beaches of the Philippines.

Outside his hometown, he has been to 12 provinces: Aurora, Ilocos, La Union, Batangas, Bataan, Pampanga, Zambales, Baguio, Pangasinan, Aklan, Laguna, and Quezon Province. His most visited are the beaches of Baler in Aurora Province- where he has been to 8 times- and 4 times to Ilocos. Most of his trips are with friends, and the fun starts even way before they arrive at the beach.

“I love long drives, whether as the designated driver or a passenger,” he enthused, “I love the view!”. These views he refers to range from the bright colors of rice fields and forests, to the somber greys of cemeteries that he sees going to and from the places he goes to.

The Best Beach Ever

For Bene, the best beaches ever are in his hometown: the ones at the Caramoan Islands. “And it’s not just because it’s in my hometown,’ he clarified.

The Caramoan Islands boast breathtaking views of lengthy stretches of powdery sand and sparkling blue waters. Adding to its charm are the tall rock formations and lush tropical forests. Dubbed as a secret paradise, it “remains unexploited from commercial tourism” as described in the islands’ official website.

Caramoan is not for those who are looking for lively beach parties as it is centered in the rawness of nature, rather than in a developed and curated beach experience. It is perfect for those who are looking for tranquility away from the restlessness of city life. In the islands of Caramoan, life is serene and laidback. 


Lahos Island in Caramoan. Photo Credits:

Among the principal islands of Caramoan are Catanhawan, Cagbanilad, Lahus, Matukad, and Sabitang-Laya. Bene suggests island hopping to see the unique beauty tucked away in the hidden corners of each of these islands.

Caramoan was a favorite of the Survivor franchise, serving as the venue for a couple of seasons for the U.S., Serbia, India, and other countries’ versions of the reality show. It has also been featured in several local and international travel shows, and for a good reason. A trip to the islands is a treat to the senses: the majestic views of the vast sea; the sounds of crashing waves and the wind blowing through the swaying palm trees; the feeling of fine sand and cool water against the skin; and the delectable taste of fresh seafood.

“Words are not enough to describe the islands. You have to see and experience it for yourself.” Bene said, raving about the place.


Bene brings his friends to Caramoan to let them see the beauty of the islands.

Rules for Great Beach Vacations

What vacations have rules?!

Bene thinks that some of the House Rules of Pointwest’s Learning and Development team and how he enjoys his trips are similar in many ways.  Pointwest’s L&D team offers both external and internal training plus various events for building both technical and soft skills. Pointwest boot camps and the recently-concluded EmpowHER summit are some examples of these. Training offered by L&D include those for RPA, Data Analytics, Test Automation, Cybersecurity, Application Development, User Experience, and other fields.

The words “rules” and “vacation” may seem contradictory at first. So are the concepts of learning inside the classroom, and exploring the great outdoors. But the L&D house rules won’t take out the fun; rather, they will make learning and vacationing more enjoyable.

1. Be Here Now

Bene advises learners to focus. “When you are learning, your focus should be what you are trying to learn,” he said. “Don’t get distracted.” This means refraining from using phones and doing things unrelated to the training.

Likewise, in travels, you need to live in the moment. Just this once, quit thinking about work and log off your social media accounts. Instead, focus on spending time with family and/or friends.

2. Be H.O.T.


Sunset in Boracay

Be as HOT as the sun. H.O.T. means Honest, Open, and Trusting.

  • Honest

Be honest with yourself, with what you don’t understand,” Bene tells learners. Don’t feel ashamed even if you’re the only one who can’t comprehend the lesson. In that case, let the trainer and your peers know, so they can help you learn.

In travels, there’s also nothing wrong with admitting to yourself you don’t enjoy a particular activity, even when your friends like it. There’s no need to succumb to peer pressure when on vacation; just enjoy it in your own way. For example, even if Bene loves the beaches, he doesn’t enjoy surfing. “I tried once or twice, that’s it. I don’t really enjoy it,” he said. While some of his friends surf, he lounges on the sand with a bottle of beer in hand.

  • Open

But also keep an open mind, even with the things you didn’t initially understand or enjoy.

“Learning can be challenging when you are restricted,” Bene tells learners, “so be receptive.” 

While undergoing training, you may encounter new concepts that may not match with what you already know. Instead of readily rejecting this new knowledge, try to keep an open mind.

The same applies to traveling. “You get to meet new people and experience new things; with you accepting these things wholeheartedly, you’ll find yourself enjoying your travel,” Bene said. Although you may dislike what you tried, like what happened with Bene and surfing, it’s still thrilling to try a new experience. And even better, you may find a new fun hobby!.

  • Trusting

Both learning and traveling involve trust: trust in your peers, and in yourself.

“Trust that you will understand the lessons, either through your own work, or with the help of others,” Bene reminds learners. Have confidence in your own abilities; sometimes low-self esteem is the biggest deterrent to doing one’s best. Also, asking help from your peers wouldn’t hurt, and might even hasten the learning process (as well as making new friends while you’re at it!)

Trusting in yourself is also necessary when traveling, especially when alone. “Especially if you are solo backpacking, you should find the confidence to talk to others,” Bene said. 

Also, believe that you can find your way to your destination and that you can enjoy things even when alone. When traveling in groups, trust your friends. Of course, this doesn’t mean blind faith and doing things against your will, but a healthy amount of trust and of letting go can help you appreciate the experience more.

3. Have Fun!


Bene goofing around with friends in Baler.

And the last and greatest rule: have loads of fun! “Learning is always fun and effective when you are enjoying it,” he said. A learning environment with space for fun and interactivity keeps learners alert and creative.

Of course, it goes without saying that vacations should be fun as well. “Travelling equals fun, period,” he said. Traveling is a time to enjoy with friends.

At first sight, rules in the classroom or vacation may seem to restrain, but actually, they help the learner or vacationer enjoy the experience. “Apply the rules, and you’ll definitely see a side of yourself you thought you’ll never see,” Bene asserted.

Fully Charged

After a beach trip, Bene comes back recharged. More than the sun, sand, and the sea, what refuels him the most is the time he spends with friends.

“A great trip for me is when you are with the right company at the right time at the right moment. And you can say that you 100% enjoy being with them,” he said.

Bene is recharged by the people he spends time with. In turn, he recharges the people around him through his infectious passion and optimism. And he is glad to do so, especially through his role as an L&D specialist. “When I see people around me developing themselves and being successful, it gives me so much fulfillment”, he said. His travels remind us to set aside some time to relax, so we can give our all to work and to the people around us.


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