Comfort zone away from home

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Young backpackers from Davao share life-changing ‘Juan for Fun 2017’ experience

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One-year unlimited travel passes, pots of delectable dishes, and an entire world of experience—these were the rewards eyed by the Juan For Fun 2017 challengers. But for Team Juanton, the winning team from Davao, the prize has already been won from the moment they began their adventure.

The winning team from Davao, (from left) Gloria Andrea Mendoza, Christian Ang and Chyn Crisostomoto

Cebu Pacific’s seven-day backpacking challenge brought 18-year-old Gloria Andrea Mendoza and 19-year-olds Christian Dominic Ang and Chyn Ira Crisostomoto to two islands, four provinces and countless breathtaking views in the Philippines that the trio never imagined reaching in a week’s time. The young adventurers also raced across the country with only P40,000 as pocket money, their backpacks, and smart phones to capture their adventure.

At Cebu City’s 10,000 Roses Cafe

“I realized just how beautiful the Philippines is. It’s just one country, but in it, are more than 7,000 islands that are vastly different and unique in their charm,” Mendoza told The Manila Times, still marveled by the distinctly beautiful destination they visited.

Taking off from Manila, Team Juanton landed in Dumaguete and ventured into the exquisite waters of the nearby islands. Snorkeling introduced the team to Apo Island’s bursting marine life and the flotilla of sea turtles swimming underneath.

The white blur of foam and waters urged the team to hold on to the ropes of Siquijor, as they tried the Tarzan Swing that offers an unobstructed view of the Cambughay Falls. From there, they followed the roof of trees of man-made Salagdoong Forest and climbed atop the Tierra Alta Lighthouse for a last look at the enchanting island.

As soon as their thirst for the oceans was satisfied, Team Juanton set forth to Cebu. The province offered travelers a rich serving of food, heritage and culture, and must-see locations. Being bold travelers, Team Juanton embraced all that the province had offered them, even scaling the Osmeña Peak and meeting its residents.

Jumpshot at the Cagsawa Ruins, Legazpi, Albay

It was their last destination, however, that stole the JFF winners’ hearts. With its picturesque terrain, rich spread of flavors, and most hospitable people, Legazpi, Albay left such an impression to the Davaoeño travelers.

“It was our last stop during the challenge and we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Still, we needed more time,” Mendoza explained.

Chiming in, Ang and Crisostomoto recalled their Albay exploration aboard ATVs and the moment when they came close to majestic Mayon Volcano.

“At first, we were wary of the people. Everything was new to us, and so it shookt [a millennial language for shocked]us to meet people who would go out of their way just to help,” Crisostomoto informed The Manila
Times, zeroing in on their experience in Legazpi, where a tricycle driver offered them shelter from heavy rains.
Additionally, the same drive gladly welcomed the group to his own home, served them buko or coconut flesh, and introduced them to his family.

As Ang explained, “We traveled to go outside our comfort zones, but these people actually made a comfort zone for us.”

Meditating at Taoist Temple, Cebu City

While Team Juanton and four other JFF teams definitely had fun while spreading positivity during their seven-
day challenge around the country, Ang believed it was their humble trips and the welcoming locals they met that reminded them of the beauty and uniqueness of Filipino hospitality.

“We have always heard foreigners talk about the Filipinos’ hospitality. Sheltered in our own cities, we wouldn’t have realized this, but joining Juan for Fun and going out to these places across the Philippines showed us that the classic Pinoy kindness is truly out there,” Ang explained.

Mendoza, Ang and Crisostomoto now have unlimited travel passes to any of the airline’s domestic and short haul international destinations, and when asked where they’re headed first, the young travelers agreed, “We want to go back to Legazpi!”

In ending, the trio said they are sure the Philippines will always be a top choice for every Juan finding home.

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