(Photo courtesy of Cebu Pacific Air Inc.)

Enriching a travel experience means more than just sharing captivating photos and garnering hundreds of likes on social media. It is also a means to broaden one’s perspective and understand different cultures.

For young Filipinos who are starting their bucket lists of places to visit, traveling is most certainly an exciting experience.

This year, Cebu Pacific is once again empowering wide-eyed wanderers to discover and enjoy the rewarding feeling of traveling in “Juan for Fun 2019”.

On its eight amazing run, Cebu Pacific has chosen five enthusiastic and passion-driven travelers out of thousands of nominees to go on a week-long backpacking trip in search of destinations and activities that will cultivate a deeper appreciation for the country, as well as enrich their own stories.

Bin Nur Magangcong is a 22-year old Marawi Siege survivor who was awarded a Medal of Courage for helping rebuild his city. A new teacher who is currently trying to help promote understanding, peace, and acceptance of diversity in different Filipino cultures, his companions are Nur Tasneem Abdurahim Salih and Lisa Leslie Amoroso Lamorena.

Stereotyping among the Muslims or Moro is one of the motivations of this young blood traveler as he wanted to show the culture of his hometown, Marawi City, as well as to learn from others.

“I want to learn other culture by traveling and through that, I can also share the culture in Marawi — that it is not about conflict and war. This city is also rich in culture, masyadong preserve ang culture doon. I believe that through traveling ay dala-dala ko ang mukha ng Marawi, we can immerse with the locals and we will be able to see the differences and similarities of different places. Dahil sa stereotyping and generalization ay nabui-build ang conflict kasi nage-generalize ang mga Moro. Alam namin na most of the people na taga-Luzon ay takot sa buong Mindanao pero ang sabi nga ng isa sa mga coach ay go with that place, live like a local and you will know what is in that place,” Magangcong said.

“It was my sister’s graduation when the siege started pero tuloy lang ang celebration namin, ‘yong barilan kasi sa amin ay parang normal lang pero nagulat kami the next day na ganoon na pala. Traffic na at wala nang madaanan hanggang sa nag-declare na ng martial law,” he said.

Jeric Cabanillas, an 18-year old student of the Palawan State University (PSU), is a local artist, Palawan museum tour guide, and founder of a non-government organization for the education of the less fortunate children, also wants to learn more through travel by doing community activities in other places in the country.

“My advocacy is to help the less fortunate children of our city. Isa ang edukasyon sa rason na makakatutulong para maiwasan ang kahirapan at ang mataas na malnutrition. Para sa akin lahat naman ng lugar sa Pilipinas ay worth to visit and explore. Since ang Palawan ay kilala bilang isang tourist spot ay gusto ko naman matutunan ang kagandahan ng ibang lugar, kung may mga proyekto sila na may kinalaman din sa sustainable development ay baka puwedeng ma-adopt natin sa Puerto Princesa City gaya ng Cebu Pacific destinations na Manila, Cagayan De Oro and Tuguegarao,” Cabanillas explained.

Cabanillas said he joined last year after seeing an advertisement by Cebu Pacific. However, he was still underage at that time so he cancelled his application.

“Kaya ngayong taon sabi ko hindi ako titigil hangga’t hindi ako nakakapasok kaya I tried with determination and hope, pinalad naman tayong makapasok representing Palawan State University and Puerto Princesa City, Palawan,” he said.

The other winner are:

Dariel Vallez, 23, from Region X, Northern Mindanao, who appreciates how food is farmed before reaching the table. He is committed to promote agriculture as a profession for the youth.

Jessica Resch of Region VII in Central Visayas and University of San Carlos, Cebu, is the founder of a non-profit organization called “We feed”. The organization helps less fortunate children in Cebu, Tacloban, Dumaguete, Boracay, Bukidnon to Clark. To fund her advocacy, she auctioned jerseys from famous Frisbee players such as Derek Ramsay, Christian Guerrero, Boboy Famorcan and some international players like Opi Payne and Takanori Furuzawa. She is a member of the Ultimate Frisbee Philippine team and won a bronze medal last June 2019 at Shirahama, Japan.

Artus Enriquez, 22, from the National Capital Region and National University, is a bird watcher whose college thesis is about creating a Biology Conservation Facility which is a shelter for endemic species in the country.

The five Juan for Fun winners bring along two companions who share the same hunger for enriching travel experiences around the Philippines.

Each team received adventure passports with curated travel itineraries featuring Cebu Pacific destinations such as Bacolod, Mindoro, Puerto Princesa, and Siargao.

They will be mentored by travel writer Jude Bacalso, TV host and social media personality Joyce Pring, and Becoming Filipino’s Kyle “Kulas” Jennermann, along with first-time coach, celebrity and vlogger Mikael Daez.

During the send-off party for the teams at the new Dusit Thani in Mactan Cebu, the Juan for Fun mentors took the stage to share practical tips and advises on making the most out of their trips.

Jennerman shared his experiences on learning through travel, while Bacalso talked about preserving Filipino heritage. Pring, on the other hand, gave some insights on island conservation and Daez gave tips on trying new cuisines in new destinations.

“Traveling is discovering new things not just about yourself, but people around you, the culture and what is in this place. When you are travelling, you put yourself into unfamiliar territory, you may not know where exactly you are and this is the time you grow,” Daez said.

Michelle Eve de Guzman, Cebu Pacific marketing director, said there were around 3,300 entries received by their company for the #JuanForFun2019 but they were only allowed to choose five winners who will be given the chance to travel in different places in the Philippines within one week and all expenses paid.

De Guzman said that everyone can always try again next year.

“We can only have five winners but maybe next year, they can try again. This is the eight year of JFF and there will be someone who will take their photos, so they can remember it. Its just like a big travel celebration,” she said.

Indeed, unforgettable memories and special awards and prizes await these teams at the end of their well-deserved Juan for Fun 2019 adventure.

Follow the fun and excitement as the teams discover new experiences on their week-long Juan for Fun 2019 at Juan for Fun’s official Facebook page (@CebuPacificJFF) and through the hashtag #JuanforFun2019.