By KRISTELLE BECHAYDA
I f there’s one thing that today’s youth is into aside from bingewatching on Netflix and keeping themselves abreast with social issues, it would be satiating their curiosities of what the world has to offer. And what better way for them to do this other than to travel and see for themselves what awaits on the other side?
Visiting a new place and learning about its culture is indeed an eye-opening experience, one that widens a person’s horizons as he is given a fresh perspective. This is something that Cebu Pacific continues to promote as it sets off this year’s Juan for Fun adventure where another group of young travelers are given the opportunity to visit selected destinations around the country for free.
Among more than 3,300 nominees, the following contenders were chosen because of their respective advocacies: Agriculture graduate Dariel Vallez who wishes to promote his profession among the youth; Medal of Courage recipient Bin Nur Magangcong who helped rebuild his hometown, Marawi, after it was sieged in 2017; Jeric Cabanillas who started a nongovernment organization to help educate the less fortunate children in Palawan; nonprofit organization We Feed founder Jessica Resch; and Artus Enriquez whose focus is on responsible tourism by protecting the country’s endemic species.
In a sit-down interview with the press, Cebu Pacific’s marketing director Michelle De Guzman explained they recently included the advocacy portion to their list of criteria. “[We] added this part because Gen Z is a really woke generation and they have so much to share. And why not use this platform to share it with more people?”
Last August 1, a send-off ceremony was held for the five contenders and their two chosen companions at the new Dusit Thani branch in Mactan, Cebu.
The team’s places of destination were selected in relevance to their advocacies: Dariel with Lea Encabo and Jolina Vallez in Bacolod, Cebu, and Clark; Bin with Nur Tasneem Abdurahim Salih and Lisa Leslie Amoroso Lamorena in Davao, Iloilo, and Manila; Jessica, with Tanya Arnie Uy and Dawn Enanoria, in Surigao, Siargao, and Davao; Jeric with Mea Arn Esparas Alisla and Maria Manyenina Taboh in Cagayan de Oro and Tuguegarao; and Artus with Shanne Pampola and Cerela Mae Pioquid in Puerto Princesa and Bohol.
Prior to the send-off, Juan for Fun mentors also imparted their traveling tips and advice: Travel writer Jude Bacalso talked about preserving the Filipino heritage; Kyle ‘Kulas’ Jennermann of Becoming Filipino focused on island conservation; celebrity and first-time coach Mikael Daez gave insights on trying out cuisines in new destinations; and lastly, TV host Joyce Pring shared the lessons she learned from travelling.
Jessica, who is used to visiting other places, said she is looking forward to applying what she learned from the coaches. The 22-year-old looks at the trip as an opportunity to grow.
“Every time I travel, I learn a lot from it,” Jessica said. “You adjust, you let yourself grow. With this adventure, I’m really excited to face the challenges and let myself grow with my buddies.”
Jeric, on the other hand, also sees the trip as a chance to inspire his community. “This will be my first travel. I am very excited to be able to encounter other cultures, especially the people in different places. At some point, I will learn a lesson from beyond my comfort zone,” he said. “Every experience will help me in my advocacy.”
Imparting her experience with the community is something mentor Joyce also learned from her travels. “Your advocacies started out because you saw that work needed to be done. Whether it was donating and teaching and volunteering, these are all great big things. And the reason why we travel is so that we are better equipped to become better at volunteering and helping out,” she said.
The Juan for Fun is currently on its eighth year. The contenders’ week-long adventure is set to end on Aug. 7, where not just special awards and prizes await them, but also a brand new perspective they can apply in their respective communities.