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  • By: LazBeat Staff
  • Jan 20, 2022

Pau Mendoza, 29, Community Engagement Lead, Lazada Philippines

Our “Humans of Lazada” series takes a look at the professional and personal lives of the more than 9,000 people who work at Lazada. Click here for more stories from this series.

“I worked overseas for over three years – two in Saudi Arabia and another in Germany. Both times my work kept me busy. I never had the time to do all the things I wanted to do and see the places I wanted to see. Ironically, I think that was what sparked my desire to travel when I returned to the Philippines in 2017. I felt that I needed to take some time off for myself – to regain my own sense of purpose, find my centre and get some clarity. What better way to do that than to explore my roots and go backpacking in my own motherland.

It took about five months of planning while I was still in Saudi Arabia. Initially, I had planned to travel to only three provinces. But as I continued my planning, I realized I wanted to explore even more places, so I decided to go big and cover the country from north to south. I had already visited 23 out of the 81 provinces in the Philippines, so I was going to cover as much of the remaining ones as possible.

Travelling by land and sea (mainly to save money), I managed to see 47 provinces, 59 cities and countless small towns and villages over the course of three months. My travel spanned closed to 1,600 kilometers from Calayan Island in the north to Tawi-Tawi in the south. These were unforgettable days filled with fun and sometimes hairy encounters! For example, I was stranded in Dinadiawan, Aurora, and slept on a deserted sidewalk. The next morning, I went to a nearby beach and watched the sunrise. Meanwhile, when I visited Visayas in Tacloban, I couldn’t find a place to stay since most of the hotels and motels were fully booked. Fortunately, I found shelter in a church, where a kind minister allowed me to spend the night, next to a Pope Francis standee! Another memorable encounter happened on my way to Sulu in Mindanao. The authorities had captured some members of a militant group around the time I was there, so for safety, I had to be accompanied by police escorts. I also met a few locals who kept me safe despite the looming threat.

The warmth and hospitality of the people I’ve met during my travels will stay with me for a long time. Complete strangers who didn’t know me trusted me enough to welcome me into their homes. They would prepare meals and provide a place to sleep for me, as if I were part of their family. I experienced the best of my people and my country during this solo adventure. And if you ask me, I’d do it all over again – in a heartbeat!

To my surprise, my backpacking trip garnered some media attention, and I became one of the first Filipinas to be featured on the History Channel.

In 2020, I joined Lazada, where I am now part of the customer care team, helping to grow and empower a community dedicated to Lazada shoppers. Having traversed most of the country, I can say the knowledge and learnings I gained about people and culture enables me to handle many difficult situations effectively. Whether I am on the road or behind my desk, complete strangers have put their trust in me. And it’s amazing what trust can do – it can create possibilities when things seem impossible.”

This profile was compiled by Mina Cunanan from the Lazada communications team in the Philippines.

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