Fifteen college students belonging to five teams are on their path to becoming afflicted with a good addiction. Becoming travel junkies is just around the bend for these lucky 15, as they experience adventure in this year’s Cebu Pacific #JuanForFun Backpacker Challenge. Just like in the previous editions of #JuanForFun, Cebu Pacific is pushing the envelope once again by adding additional spice, to make this year’s challenge a more exciting one. Returning are celebrity coaches; musician Champ Lui Pio, Internet star Bogart the Explorer, and travel writer Jude Bacalso. They will be joined by first-time coaches; actress, singer and blogger Saab Magalona, and TV host and VJ Robi Domingo.
#JFFTeamWork is composed of Serge Calumpong of Ateneo de Davao, April Nacion of University of Southeastern Philippines, and Jaysson Presores of the University of Mindanao. They are excited to be partnered with adventure coach and fellow Bisaya, Jude. Close since they were in high school, the trio said joining Juan for Fun would be an exciting adventure and an ultimate test of friendship. “We know that there will be no dull moments when we are together,” shared April. “We would do our best to encourage one another and, of course, mag-lingaw-lingaw pag-ayo (enjoy everything)!”
Five Teams – Seven Days and One Adventure of a Lifetime
“the Cebu Pacific Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge 2016 promises all these and more. Now on its fifth—and biggest! —year, the annual backpacking escapade is bringing five teams of thrill-seeking students to exhilarating destinations—all for free.
As if the once-in-a-lifetime escapade is not enough, this year’s Ultimate Backpackers, or big winners, will take home the challenge’s biggest prize yet—a Travel-All-You-Can pass. This entitles each member to as many free flights to domestic and international short-haul destinations as they want within one year. They will also win exciting premium travel gear from the challenge’s partner brands.
Throughout the challenge, the teams will have to take on as many exciting experiences and daring discoveries within their given travel allowance worth P35,000. They can visit the country’s renowned tourist spots including heritage sites, churches, and parks, sample scrumptious local delicacies, and get to know the locals.”
Travel tips from the pros
First-time adventure coaches Robi and Saab shared that they can’t wait to be a part of the Juan for Fun teams’ adventures, armed and ready to share tips and pointers to help participants make the most out of the experience.
“I got to know about this fun challenge because Gretchen (Ho) was previously a part of it,” Robi said. “I’m looking forward to a crazy learning experience.”
Robi shared his excitement for the Juan for Fun teams, saying that they should prepare for one amazing experience. “They will be traveling to different areas, immersing in various cultures and eating lots of great food,” he said.
Robi added that he hopes his “hustle attitude” will help his own team bag the Ultimate Backpacker crown. “I may look like I’m playing it cool but I will do everything to get the gold.”
As a first-time adventure coach, Saab looks forward to seeing how the teams are going to prepare for their trips. “I remember my first plane ride as a grown-up was after college, so I am curious to see how much the kids know about travelling.”
Saab thinks that for Juan for Fun teams to win in the backpacking challenge, they should learn how to read maps and develop navigation skills. “The members should also be physically fit. They also need to know each other's strengths and know when to lead or follow,” she said.
In coaching her Juan for Fun adventure team, the celebrity blogger hopes to cheer her team better than the other coaches. “I’m really noisy online and I’m competitive,” said Saab who confesses to being a “fan of adventure.”
Building friendships, collecting memories
Back as adventure coaches are Bogart the Explorer, Champ Lui Pio, and Jude Bacalso, who recounted that guiding the Juan for Fun teams has given them the privilege of seeing young adventurers foster and strengthen friendships, discover not only fascinating places but also themselves, and reignite their passions for exploration.
“I had an all-girl team last year. Not only that, but they were one of the youngest teams I’ve ever coached. Seeing them finish the challenge with happy and full hearts, their friendship ever stronger, and a new fiery passion to explore reignited my own passions and has reminded me why I do what I do,” shared funny man Bogart the Explorer, or Marco Ho in real life.
Champ recalled how the Juan for Fun experience brought him closer to his team. “My first time as a coach was really memorable. My team didn’t win the first prize, but they had an incredible time,” he shared. “What made it unforgettable is that I became really close to my team. We actually stayed in contact even after the competition and hang out occasionally.”
“Every year, at the end of the whirlwind that is Juan for Fun, we gather at the awarding ceremony and get goosebumps. Last year, my team has never been on an airplane before landing in Manila for the start of the competition. And their second flight was an international one, straight to Bangkok, Thailand!” said Jude, who is back on her third coaching stint.
“They came home winners, placing third. Where else can you see the transformative powers of travel turn ingénues into citizens of the world? Yes, we cry at every closing ceremony. But these are tears of pride, never regret,” added Jude.
This year, the Cebu Pacific Juan for Fun Challenge is encouraging thrill-seeking trios from different universities across the country to take on the once-in-a-lifetime escapade to some of the airline’s most exciting destinations. The winning team will be named the Ultimate Backpackers, and will win Travel-All-You-Can passes to any domestic or international (short-haul) destination, valid for one whole year, plus exciting premium travel gear.