If you plan on visiting all 81 provinces of the Philippines, what better way to do it than with friends…and a classic Volkswagen Kombi van. That’s what friends Alfie Agunoy, Francis Sta. Romana and Paul Quiambao that make up the team The Philippine Roadtrip are doing. What started out as an idea soon became a reality for these three, especially when they finally purchased a 45-year old Combi Van which they decided to name Cupcake. And while the ride is not as comfortable as one would hope, it sure makes for memorable and photo-worthy moments.
Apart from traveling the country, these three are also donating solar lights to people and communities that don’t have access to electricity, thanks to sponsors Liter of Light and LightUp PH.
Even before the arrival of The Philippine Roadtrip to Mindanao, my husband and I have been closely following them on Instagram and Facebook. Paul Quiambao’s photos and their stories their day to dray trips really intrigued and inspired us. And when we knew that they were finally making their way to Mindanao, we knew we had to get in touch.
You know how we all have “rock stars” in whatever industry we are in? Whether it be in the arts, fashion, music, entertainment, etc.? For those of us who love to scour the country and go to places famous and unexplored, these three are like demigods—brave beings courageous enough to explore even the most remote and sometimes dangerous (or at least what is deemed to be dangerous) spots in the country. When Alfie, Francis, and Paul arrived at our place in Butuan City after a delayed trip out of Dinagat Islands, it was, at least for us, like welcoming rock stars. The three greeted us with huge smiles as they honked their hand-held horn and drove Cupcake into our garage. After admiring Cupcake and making the initial introductions, we talked over lunch and promised them a roof over their heads while they were in town, and after months of sleeping inside their van and not having decent hot water for those daily showers, we were glad to know that they were more than happy to stay over.
Kombi Van Cupcake meets The National Boat of the Philippines—the Balangay Boat
If we admired them before even meeting them, listening to their stories made us bigger fans even more. Here were three men who had no desire to be famous for what they were doing. All they wanted was to see the beauty of their own country and to inspire others to do the same, no matter their limited resources. And if they could touch a life, or two, then that was more than they could ever ask or even hope for. I think that’s what drew us to them in the first place—their cause (to give light to those that don’t have access to electricity), their bravery (to travel cross-country in an old beat up van), their compassion, and their humility are traits that one can’t help but be drawn to.
After a night at our place, we connected the guys with the local government that had access to the Agusan Marsh so that they could visit the remote areas and donate solar lights there as well. While there, they shared with us some of the photos that they took and hopefully, soon, they can share their stories there with us all too. When they returned to Butuan, they were very excited to share with us the wonderful and memorable experiences they had at the marsh.