Saturday, May 25, 2024

The Juandering Champions


By Roberto Klemente R. Timonera

For free? Trip for free?”
Such were So Myeong Lee’s words when, sometime in July, Sesinando Quilao, Jr. asked him to be part of his Juan for Fun audition video.
Sponsored by Cebu Pacific and the Department of Tourism, this was the contest that would send them (along with their friend Patrik Norouzi) racing across the Philippines on a mission to do as many fun activities using as little money as possible. From August 27 to September 2, they competed with four other teams from all over the country and emerged victorious as they recorded a total of 117 fun activities and spent only P14,895 out of the P35,000 given each team. They went home bringing not just photographs and memories but also a host of awesome prizes: twelve round-trip tickets to local or international destinations of their choice, a three-day/two-night tour package for three courtesy of the Department of Tourism, and three Samsung Galaxy Tablets, to name a few.
Myeong, Patrik, and Sesi are all Sillimanians and members of Victory Dumaguete’s music team. Collectively, they form Team Crimson, otherwise known as Team International as they are comprised of a Korean, an Iranian, and a Filipino. They are united by their love for Christ, music, and adventure. The Juan for Fun Backpacker Challenge officially started on August 27 in Metro Manila. There were six destinations all in all: Manila, Kalibo, Da ao, Dipolog, Puerto Princesa, and Cebu. Each destination had a special challenge that yielded very attractive prizes. The teams each had a martial with them who would help log the other fun activities they did. So, for Metro Manila, the challenge was a modified 4 Pics 1 Word game that featured aspects of the Manila life. “Patrik and I couldn’t do anything,” Myeong says. To which Patrik replies: “We were just watching and Sesi answered.” S a d l y , they lost this c h a l l e n g e . So they p r o c e e d e d to Kalibo
where they tried their hand at the old tradition of weaving cloth from piña fibers ( K a l i b o ’ s Special Fun Chal lenge ) and took a side-trip  to Boracay. “Actually, we didn’t have any plans in Boracay,” Sesi says. “There were people who would give us some activities, give us the rates, all over the beach. So I was told to just go there and bargain with them. When we went there, they crowded all over us because—to me lang, ha, they were very attracted to the foreigners.” From there, they made their way to Davao where they had to race around Crocodile Park and eat a lot of durian. They stopped by Blugré to get some durian cappuccino and even went to Samal Island where they did more crazy things, including riding a habalhabal and, in Patrik’s case, twirling with twirlers. And then off they went to Dipolog, Bottled Sardines Capital of the Philippines. Here the teams actually had to bottle sardines according to a very meticulous procedure—they had to evenly cut the tails, insert spices, and arrange the fish so that their top and bottom ends pointed upward alternately. Then it had to be sealed such that when the jar was upturned, the contents would not fall. Afterwards, Team Crimson went to Rizal Shrine and even got a breathtaking view of Dapitan from Ilihan Hill. At this point, Team Crimson had not won any one of the Special Fun Challenges. “We actually lost the first four challenges,” Patrik says. “Everybody had won except us. And we found it so depressing…that we don’t win no matter how much we tried, even though it’s physical or mental, whatever it is—we just don’t win. Until the fifth day. Until Palawan came, we really said this is our turn, we must win.” And surely e n o u g h , in Puerto Pr i n c e s a — the next destination— they exacted utter ownage upon the Special Fun Chal l e n g e . Dressed in their pink team shirts, they rode a pink padyak around the city and sped to Kinabuch’s Grill and Bar. Here the challenge was to wolf down some really exotic food: tamilok (worms harvested from rotten
wood) and fresh crocodile sisig (which Sesi mistook for beef at first), followed by shots of lambanog or palm wine. As the first team to finish off their meal, they won tickets to various hotels in Palawan. They also found time to go jet skiing before going to the final destination: Cebu. Here the final challenge was to have their pictures taken beside some historic landmarks in Cebu—with nothing to guide them but  photos of the places. No names, no directions. Afterwards they were to head to the finish line, Crimson Hotel. Funnily enough, even the taxi driver didn’t know where the landmarks were. They eventually found the landmarks (the oldest seal of Spain, the statue of Pigafetta, the oldest port of Cebu, the Capitol, and Museum Sugbo) and beat one team to the finish line by one minute, earning them the grand prize
and a celebratory buffet. “It was a fun experience,” says Patrik. “Very challenging, very tiring, but we had a lot of fun…To say that we were
able to go to a lot of places and visit some of the most famous places in the Philippines free of charge, that itself is a blessing and something we can cherish.” As for Myeong, “To be honest, I couldn’t enjoy well. We couldn’t enjoy well the places because of time
constraint. So just for me, I got a lot of curiosity for the places, so…I feel like I want to go back.” Even the ever-laagan Sesi concedes,
“It gave us a glimpse of how good the places are. I’d been to all the places before but I didn’t know na some of these things exist diay in  those places so I was really surprised pud so I thought ‘oh, there’s much more to discover pa diay in this place, one visit is not enough’. We had our share of laughter, just taking pictures…It was really funny.”


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