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Staff Domain's Sands and Suds Summer Party

Staff Domain Summer Outing 2024

Stronger and more determined than any force of nature, all 123 participants of Staff Domain’s Sands and Suds Summer Party competed, collaborated, and celebrated on that gorgeous Zambales beachfront. 

At Merbau Events and Villas, in true SD fashion, the company’s summer team-building event this year was once again a resounding success. Everyone came out a little browner and redder, and ran a little hotter, but ended up closer overall.

Getting There

Two buses and eight cars made their way to Zambales, their trips punctuated by the occasional traffic jam. Those in the buses were unfazed by the delays, however, since they alternated between bouts of sleep and karaoke. 

While many battled for the crown (and the mic) in bus one, namely Kristopher Cabrera, Keemo Ricablanca, Juan Gabriele Eisma, Maria Cristina Encinas, Renee Rose Mercado, and Maria Cristina Combs, in bus two, Alvin Tan was the undisputed karaoke king.

A few hours later, everyone was given a blazing hot welcome at Merbau – literally. According to the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), the temperature that weekend reached a peak of 53 degrees CelsiusThe heat didn’t deter anyone, of course. It helped that all the activities had been moved indoors as well. 

May the Best Team Win

Speaking of the activities, event organiser Equip did not disappoint again this year. Despite the last-minute decision to forego outdoor activities, they managed to facilitate a fun, energetic, but still moving, experience.

After a heartwarming message from Staff Domain’s ever-supportive CFO, Ben Rajah, the participants were divided into six teams – White Cebu, Green Bohol, Purple Boracay, Orange Palawan, Pink Samal, and Blue Siargao. The activities included a communication-themed sharing forum, a collaboration-focused creative workshop, and a fun-filled introduction catwalk.

While everyone had a blast going through the assignments, at the end of the day, it was a competition and there had to be a winner. Blue Siargao came out on top with 445 points. This writer was serendipitously part of that dream team. Some time later and the team’s battle cry still resonates loudly in everyone’s hearts – Bughaw Siargao!

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The Night Gets Hotter

After some much-needed respite, everyone went to the beachfront for one of the highlights of the summer party – the SD Summer Body competition. This platform for self-love and inclusion encouraged people of all gender identities and body types to confidently celebrate their individuality on the stage.

Weeks of preparation, voting, and just overall raw excitement had been building up to that point. Most people knew who were competing, and who they wanted to win. Despite that, no one could have anticipated the sheer grandiosity of the actual pageant.

One after another, the contestants came out swinging – not with their fists, but with their witty introductions, sassy runway antics, and steamy getups. Some contestants notably joined to counter norms and stereotypes, while others wanted an avenue for self-expression. Either way, the audience got a show they will not soon forget.

Amid everything, the crowd was also treated to awe-inspiring song performances by host Vincent Olson, while a party of gorgeous models
danced behind him. By the end, everyone was on the edge of their seats, waiting for the judges’ decision.

Irma Illustrisimo took home the SD Body Texters’ Choice award for the female category, while Chad Manangat won the male counterpart, as well as the SD Body Darling of the Crowd award, and the SD Body 1st Prize for the male category. 

Treasure Rosaria and Jenny Rose Reyes won the SD Body 2nd and 1st Prizes respectively for the female category. Dave Ernest got the SD Body 2nd Prize for the male category.

For the SD Body Best in Outfit award, Honeylit Brecino and Moises Salazar received the recognition.

The night’s biggest winners did not only win the favour of the judges, but the hearts of the audiences as well. 

Aside from earning the SD Body Best in Swimwear award, Kyle Seria, was named SD Body Grand Winner in the male category.

Tricia Olatan, a fellow Bughaw Siargao champion, continued the winning streak and took home the SD Body Darling of the Crowd and SD Body Best in Swimwear awards. She was also rightfully named the SD Body Grand Winner in the female category.

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Summer Suds Soirée

A hard-won battle always needs an equally grand celebration.

After another thoughtful message from Ben, the Suds part of the summer getaway had finally arrived, and the spraying foam welcomed eager partygoers on the stage.

Armed with mixed drinks and beers, everyone loosened up and joined the fray. Some wore their Hawaiian polos, dresses, and chinos, others their swimwear and flip-flops, but all were equal under the white haze of the foam and the loud, rhythmic thumps from the speakers. Not long after, everyone was panting, excited, and wet. 

But the night didn’t end there just yet. Once midnight came, everyone was invited to continue the party by the poolside, conveniently located beside the villas. There, the music was a little more subdued and conversations were a little more intentional.

While the evening did not go out with a bang, everyone eventually proceeded to either their own little after-parties or straight to their cool, embracing beds. 

The magic of the night before was evident in the happy faces of everyone the day after, hangovers and eyebags notwithstanding. 

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Final Thoughts

On the surface, the Sands and Suds Summer Party can easily be dismissed as just another beach outing. However, there is something inherently different with the way Staff Domain holds its events. Past the activities, parties, awards, freebies, and pageantry, there is an unexplainable glue that keeps everyone together.

For this writer, who had just recently joined the company, it was heartwarming to see everyone enjoy and truly participate in every single activity, instead of just going through the motions. It’s a testament to the warm and solid culture embedded in each of the staff.

Kudos to the awesome HR team who put everything together, and to the company’s leadership for fostering a close-knit and welcoming community. Only a talented team led by an exceptional leader can create such a creative and truly memorable event like this one. Surely, everyone is excited for the next event on the calendar.


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