A quick prologue: I was invited by Skyjet Airlines, along with other bloggers to a short talk about eco-cultural tourism. I was crazy nervous and anxious about it because I’m new to this whole blogging thing having started just this year. But it turned out to be a really good experience. I met other bloggers who were really nice and friendly, and hearing Dr. Joel Mendoza talk about his vision was nothing short of inspiring. (on a side note: was star struck to see Hannah of Yellow Adventures! I’ve been a big fan of her blog since a friend sent me the link a few months back) Here’s the event from my point of view.
We all have our stories.
Some have tales of grand adventure that leave you breathless and wanting. Others have quirky, kaleidoscopic fantasies that only they can think of.
Most people, though, have a thing for the heady romances. You know, where boy meets girl, sweeps her off her feet, and rides off into the sunset, carrying her to God knows where. But the most powerful love stories are those that are real, the ones that leave you with a visceral conviction that even something as basic and intangible as love can lift you in the air and take you places.
With a smile playing on his lips, Dr. Joel Mendoza, the CEO and President of Skyjet Airlines, tells us the love story behind his company. And it’s a great story, like something straight out of a novel. I can already imagine the blurb at the back cover:
A young dentist, fresh from his studies abroad, comes home to his country and falls in love with a beautiful woman. But before he can ask for her hand in marriage, he must first come to terms with her parents and her isolated hometown. Knowing very little of his destination, he flies to the island at the northern tip of the country and discovers a place beyond his most vivid imaginations. In the place called Batanes, the young dentist falls in love all over again – with culture and people – and uncovers a dream that promises to cross borders and reach new heights.
Or something like that. It’s a fantastic tale (one which leads to Dr. Joel actually setting up an airline that would frequent the island), but it’s more than just simple romance. Dr. Joel’s story is real and hard-hitting at the same time because it’s not just about boy-meets-girl – it’s a story that swells into an ode or a love song about the country, its culture and people.
“We do not only sell seats, but we sell culture,” he declares, his eyes bright and determined. When he first landed in Batanes, he recalled feeling different. The place was undoubtedly beautiful, but he also fell in love with the culture and the simplicity of its people. What followed was a passionate pursuit for a dream to make the beauty of Batanes known to other people, whether it was through a travel agency he set up with his wife, or through the now functional Skyjet Airlines that offers flights not just to Batanes but to other far-flung areas in the country as well.
To give you an overview: MAGNUM AIR (SKYJET) INC. is the newest and service oriented airline in the Philippines. Called a whispering jet for its strong but quiet engines, it’s a fast and safe way to travel to hard-to-reach areas where short and unimproved runways are a common challenge. It can even carry up to 3,000 kilograms of baggage…and maybe even an all too eager Hannah?
“We can be rich in many ways without destroying anything,” Dr. Joel says of the Philippines.
Skyjet Airlines is an airline with a heart, and a strong beating one at that. Dr. Joel shares his vision of creating a good experience for the people, both travelers and locals, so it’s a win-win situation for everyone. He calls on travelers to “look deeper into your culture and what your country needs,” so that we can find out what makes the Philippines so unique and share it with the rest of the world.
Such stories are encouraging. Since I left my desk job last year, I’ve made it a point to travel at least once a month to learn about the country I call my own and share what I can in this blog. It hasn’t been easy. I’ve had skeptical glances thrown my way and I’ve had doubts about it myself, but hearing an impassioned Dr. Joel speaking of his own dream – so big, he has to share it with others – I feel refreshed and re-energized. Hopping from one island to another has allowed me to see what the Philippines can offer. And I like the fact that my story is just beginning because that means I’ve still got so much to experience and share.
We all have our stories.
Skyjet Airlines has a simple yet poignant theme to its own: See what I see. And it is essentially a love story, where everyone is invited to discover the beauty of the Philippines and its culture so we can fall in love over and over again.
Epilogue: If you’re itching to travel, Skyjet Airlines has a pretty cool deal where you need only to pay PHP2,500 per way to Batanes, Coron, Virac and Surigao. Visit the Skyjet Airlines booth at the Philippine Travel Mart SMX from September 6-8 to get your own travel pass. Like their Facebook page or follow them on Twitter or Instagram to know more. You can also check out the Skyjet Airlines website. 🙂