If the question at large was, “would you defy travelling to a top secret destination with a budget of only Php 10,000 for 3 days and 2 nights?” would you, really?
And for all of you who have been religiously following my inconsequential posts on Snapchat, or much recently, Instagram stories, you would all know just how much my yearning for perfection has always been both a blessing, and a curse (apart from the routinely in between yoga class mirror selfies that don’t really contribute much to society’s well-being other than myself bragging about a recent weight loss and an affinity for all things non-GMO and gluten-free) & this very instance aforementioned is something tangible of my daily OCD dilemma. Yes, I am quite the perfectionist and would love to bring every pair of shoes that I have regardless of where I’m headed to because I have a strong stance against being photographed in the same pair of footwear well too soon- but I am also lenient in the rules & standards I have set for myself. After all, in this industry of digital Hollywood, the ends are not entirely justified by its means and most of us in this field would go to extremities just to get that million dollar shoot- #FeedisLife, or #ForTheFeed, as they say- and I’ve even had my experience of post-LaBoracay pre-social media craze candidly and beyond the word, luxurious, that still remains a good old funny story to tell people and the kind of experience that remains ideal for a reality show.
So I did say yes and excitingly participated Cebu Pacific Air’s #JuanForFun2017. Drifting off the trodden trail has always paid dividends in rainbows and colorful experiences.
To my immediate relief, I was sent to Bohol Island- while the 9 other digital personalities from all over this county where sent sporadically elsewhere. It would be my first time- to visit Bohol Island, fly without that constant travel companion who willingly agrees to take your photos because they also get a nice shot as you test the camera setting for them, and the first time that I only had a few hours left on the clock to fix my itinerary and book a place to stay in- and thankfully AirBNB emerged from the humid shadows of San Francisco, and is & has always facilitated keeping both my budget and sanity intact in every one of my travels.
Cebu Pacific is the first and only airline to travel to and from Bohol directly from Cagayan de Oro, which they just commenced last March. My most immediate and reflexive response upon initial descent was to take an obligatory window seat photograph (it seems mandatory for bloggers to always request for a window seat for this apparent reason), an action which would be justifiable at how evidently breathtaking Bohol already looked 30,000 feet up in the air- as if it were a shard of heaven that split into the earth, forming the Maldives, Seychelles, and apparently, as witnessed, Bohol (and several other islands in that area- a former boss always told me that in hundreds of his travels, no beach in the world could compare to the ones in the Visayas region.)
But work in Bohol never feels like work – and how the island offers a diversity of culture and strength with each side with the convenience of being relatively close to one another and at a fraction of a cost for almost anything (versus that of El Nido) and there’s a nonchalant yet vibrant spirit that flows everywhere and found in every grain of sand, piece of Anahaw leaf and every sight of gradient waters without being as overcrowded as Boracay. Further to the spectacle, on one side, in Balicasag Island, accessible thru the island hopping trips you can book, dolphins greet you on the way to waters that are pristine
and don’t need Photoshopping at all– scuba diving there isn’t even as frightening as it was in El Nido, a menagerie of fishes in full spectrum can swim along with you even at the most shallow of waters (around 4-5 feet deep, only) In another, in a complete 180 degree turn, Bohol takes you from tropical island gratification close to Tumblr wallpaper material to a diaphanous forest of lush shades of viridian & emerald, for whichever geographical preference you wish to satisfy. Again, everything is in close proximity to another. And again, at a fraction of a cost of most selfie stick infested Filipino tourist hot spot.
Bohol’s blue shadows and yellow lights after dark make heady late nights working from your windowsill quietly poetic, as a plethora of food selections, most especially vegan cafes that are as aesthetically pleasing in interior as the taste of their bowl of quinoas, homemade & non-dairy yogurt and mixed fruit are. Brutally early call times for island hopping are softened by sunrise along the shores of Alona – one of those tear-inducing sights to be absorbed in solitude with the stupidly cliché strains of an accordion puncturing your imagination. You really can lock yourself up in a romantic Technicolor bubble in Bohol, and in my case, completely forgetting that I accidentally dropped and broke my wide angle lens for my camera and not being completely well-prepared in my wardrobe (for my standards) but Bohol gives substantial meaning to the old Disney phrase, “Hakuna Matata”- No Worries. I actually checked myself in at a hostel and contrary to
contemporary Asian belief, are practically safe and fun- I do frequent hostels on my overseas trips to save more on my budget, and eventually making friends, both in reality and in social media, to the smorgasbord of several & varying nationalities housed in it as well (for some reason, I easily click with Europeans) and the Ukranians I made friends with, Daria & Anastasiia, have enjoyed our conversations about art, history and culture in some poetic justice to the extent of us three taking a 20 minute motorcycle ride for dinner at the Bohol Bee Farm. Maddie, the Singaporean and I would easily connect, apart from us both being millennial south east Asians that oppose so many traditional Asian non-liberal consumerism but I did visit Singapore last January. And Nichole, the Italian working in retail in London, would frequently be our comedic relief. Again, more material fit for a reality show.
This entire trip was, more than just a first timer’s experience at an island that is slowly getting its way up in the ranks of tourism must-visits, but has been completely eye opening: when I told Daria and Anastasiia how I reacted when I dropped my wide angle lens on the first day, I said, “I didn’t feel sad or angry. I did, perhaps for 5-10 minutes only. But I immediately realized that I couldn’t let anything else win the power of how I should feel with this trip and just make with what I have left.” (i.e. my mobile phone. So yes, most photos here were shot only on my iPhone 6s plus) And eventually taking control of how I should feel for the entire trip’s duration- screw with what I’m accustomed to: perfection & control with everything for the sake of a well-curated feed on Instagram that gets people to double tap- to let go and live life & enjoy this opportunity right before social media even became the new Hollywood. I learned and I had fun, as the same time.
Perhaps, the next question in line is: when was the last time you actually lost control of things, but actually enjoyed the liberty it also came with what you lost?
Do you have what it takes to do something as adventurous, or even more, than what I just did? Can you still manage to take nice photographs without depending on your equipment? Or do you have the guts to make new friends from various cultural backgrounds? If you think you can and you’re still a college student or a fresh graduate aged 18-23 years old , then join Cebu Pacific Air’s Juan For Fun 2017 and you & 2 of your friends can win a one (1) year travel-all-you-can pass to any of Cebu Pacific Air’s 66 domestic & international destinations.
Sign up, here.
10 different team of 3 members each will be selected from your video entries answering the question, “how can you share the fun in Juan For Fun?” and will each undergo training to become real backpack travelers & how to take travel photographs while sharing them on social media effectively. For more info, click here.