CEBU PACIFIC’s backpacking trip contest, Juan for Fun, is back for its eighth year, aiming to “enable today’s generation of passionate travelers to pursue their interests through traveling,” according to a press release.

“[This is a project] that we all get excited about year in and year out… it’s fulfilling because you see these students and young people come back from their trip — they changed. [They formed] a bond,” Candice A. Iyog, Cebu Pacific Vice-President for marketing and distribution, told BusinessWorld during the launch on June 26 at the Glorietta Activity Center, Makati City.

The adventures of the chosen participants and their travel buddies are documented and are posted on the Juan for Fun Facebook page and are tracked via the hashtags, JuanforFun2019 and MyHashtagTrips.

Last year’s winners have also been doing sponsored posts for Fujifilm and Boreas backpacks on the campaign’s Facebook page.

The chosen participants will undergo a one-day travel workshop and “learn about immersive travel experiences and receive mentorship” from the travel coaches.

Ms. Iyog explained that the program is looking “passionate” individuals aged 18-24 years old who are residing in the Philippines. They need to send in a photo and their inspiring travel story in order to get the chance to go on a week-long bespoke trip around the Philippines.

“Through Juan for Fun, Cebu Pacific has enabled students to go out of their comfort zones and bring them to local communities where they can gain meaningful first travel experiences. Last year, Juan for Fun participants took home valuable insights on being a responsible traveler. This time, we’re encouraging them to bring out their bucket lists and make life-changing adventures happen,” Ms. Iyog was quoted as saying in a press release.

The country’s low-cost carrier has been holding the program for eight years now and Ms. Iyog said that it wasn’t until last year that they received “thousands of entries” from interested applicants.

“We’ve relaxed the joining requirements,” she explained of the outpouring of entries. They used to require that applicants send in a video explaining why they deserved to join the trip, but now Cebu Pacific wanted to reach more people so they decided to make joining simpler.

Applicants can either nominate themselves or a person they know to the program. Five individuals “with the most compelling stories” will be selected and they will be allowed to bring two travel companions on a one-week, all-expense paid trip around the Philippines.

One of her favorites stories that came out from the program was when one of their winners said that he wanted to go on a trip around the Philippines because he was planning to be a soldier and wanted “to see and understand the people and the country he is to protect.”

“We’re going to tailor their itinerary to their interests, we allow some flexibility to the itineraries,” Ms. Iyog said.

“When you’re in control [of the travel experience], you become more mindful and become more aware of the experience… and you learn a lot about yourself,” she added.

This year’s travel coaches who will be guiding the winners to make the most out of their trips are: actor/model Mikael Daez, YouTuber Kyle “Kulas” Jennermann, travel write Jude Bacalso, and TV host Joyce Pring.

Cebu Pacific’s Juan for Fun is accepting applications and nominations until July 7. Interested parties can send their applications to — ZBC