Ang self-proclaimed na "regular guy" na si Jericho Malabonga ay malayo sa pagiging ordinaryo. Isa siyang Sole Survivor.
Note: Kasali si Jericho Malabonga sa darating na Australian Survivor: All Stars.
"Trust me - I'm not that great in real life. Just an average, normal person," saad niya.
Ipinagmamalaki ni Jericho Malabonga ang kanyang pagiging "average" at "normal"; pero habang nakikita lamang niya ang kanyang sarili bilang isang "regular guy", ang pambihirang 27 na taong gulang na ito ay isa sa tatlo lamang na nanalo sa ngayon bilang Australian Sole Survivor.
Ang umpisa ng adventure
Nagsisimula ang adventure sa desisyong sumubok. Walang mga salitang mas totoo pa kaysa dito para sa taga-Tarlac na si Jericho.
"I was about 4 or 5 years old [when] my family decided to move to New Zealand because it was a perfect opportunity for my parents to make a living. I lived in Auckland - that’s where I grew up and spent majority of my life," aniya.
Mula New Zealand, lumipat si Jericho sa Melbourne limang taon ng nakakalipas. At habang mas malakas ang koneksyon ni Jericho sa pagiging Kiwi kaysa sa pagiging Australyano, sa Australya nagsimula ang kanyang adventure of a lifetime.
"I grew up watching the American [version] of Survivor. I thought, if the opportunity arose, I would give it a crack. I actually applied for season 1 [of Australian Survivor] but didn't get through. I tried again for season 2. I think it was just meant to be," saad niya.
Mukhang kapalaran talaga ng flight attendant na ito na maging bahagi ng season 2 sapagkat mahigit na 21,000 na aplikante ang natalo niya para maging bahagi ng 24-na-miyembre na cast.
"Auditions started from a phone call, then a Skype interview and a group interview and then having to do a mock mini Survivor challenge," he says, adding, "I was already grateful that they saw something in me."
Nasa Los Angeles noon si Jericho ng matanggap niya ang tawag na bahagi siya ng season 2.
"I didn’t believe it because I always just watched the show on TV. For them to say that I was a contestant - it was just unreal," aniya.
"Survivor is its own little pocket"
Habang "unreal" ang pagpasok niya sa Survivor, mabilis naranasan ni Jericho ang realidad ng pagitra sa Upolu, Samoa bilang castaway.
"There were so many unpredictable things that came our way. For example, we had no control over the weather. We were in Samoa where the weather was extremely cold and extremely hot. There was even a time where we were receiving the aftermath of a cyclone that was coming from Vanuatu," saad niya.
Dahil sa tuloy-tuloy na ulan, may mga araw na nagtiis sila ng walang apoy at pagkain.
"We would literally go for nine hours of just pure rain all the way throughout the night and all the way to the next morning. That had a massive impact on how we lived during our entire time in Survivor."
Habang malaki ang epekto ng panahon sa pamumuhay ng mga castaways, mas naging mahalaga pa ang kanilang mga stratehiya at social game.
Habang lumbas ang galing ni Jericho sa mga challenges at stratehiya, ibinahagi niya na ang bahagi ng karanasan na hindi niya makakalimutan ay ang mga pagkakaibigan niyang nabuo dahil sa Survivor.
"I have my best mates [outside of Survivor] who I dearly love and will always care for, but Survivor is its own little pocket. When you go through such traumatic moments with others, there’s this camaraderie built on that. Those are some of the things that your best friends [outside] won’t ever ever understand."
Pagdating sa best friends, ang naging pinakamatalik na kaibigan ni Jericho sa Australian Survivor ay si Luke Toki na bumalik muli sa bagong season ng Australian Survivor bilang bahagi ng Champion tribe.
"I'm currently watching [season 4].Obviously, I'm still close friends with Luke but I'm one of those fans that I don’t want to be spoiled anything; so I even tell his missus, don’t tell me anything. I just want to watch it from the TV," aniya.
Naniniwala si Jericho na gumaling ang kanyang kaibigan sa kanyang stratehiya. Ayon sa kanya, "He's definitely sharpened all his strategic moves. Watching him now - it’s not me being biased - even if I wasn’t his friend and I didn’t know him, he would be my pick to win."
Habang nakakuha ng kaibigan si Jericho sa Australian Survivor, ang nawala sa kanya ay timbang.
"I went in there already quite small. I was maybe 67 kilos and I finished at 54 I think. After we got out of the game, I ordered a lobster seafood plate, thinking it was a side plate so I ordered beef brisket [too]. The seafood dish was actually a massive platter and on top of it was this massive lobster. My stomach had shrunk so much that I ate one claw and that was it - I was full. It's weird because your appetite changes."
Maliban sa nagbago na gana niyang kumain, nagbago rin ang kanyang finances pagkatapos ng Survivor dahil sa napanalunan niyang $500,000.
"I never went on the show to win the prize. I went there because I was a massive fan. When I won the title of Survivor, I was more grateful for that. I just saw the cash as a bonus but I was also intimidated by it. For a 25-year old to receive that, it was a bit daunting. I was just like, Let's pretend its not mine."
Dahil hindi siya sigurado sa kung papaano niya gagamitin ang pera, nilagay niya ang pera sa bangko ng dalawang taon. Noong ilang buwan lang na nakalipas niya napagdesisyunan kung ano ang pag-gagamitan niya nito.
"I finally bought land and I’m building a house. It’s such an adult thing to do, hey? But I guess I have to grow up at some point," tawa niya.
Ang kinailangan din harapin ni Jericho pagkatapos ng Survivor ay ang naatim niyang bagong kasikatan.
"To each their own I guess, but I never went on the show for [publicity]. I played for the actual game. Being in the public eye, also comes with a bit of me, me, me. [Being famous is] awesome but I find it kind of cringey. But thing is, once your season passes, you're no longer the 'it' thing. It's a great chapter that I've done but I'm more than just Jericho the Survivor winner," aniya.
At higit pa talaga siya sa pagiging Survivor winner - isa siyang may pusong tumulong sa may nangangailangan.
"I wanted to steer the attention from myself to where it was more needed. While people were watching my Instagram stories, why not show them what's more important? I got together with a group of Survivor contestants [to do outreach in] Cambodia."
Natulungan din ni Jericho ang sarili niyang bumalik sa kanyang totoong sarili pagkatapos niyang maging "self-centred" sa laro.
"It's so weird, but being kind to one another [is a big lesson I learned in Survivor]. Just be kind to one another," he shares.
At para sa lahat na nakakaramdam na "just an average, normal person" sila, saad ni Jericho na "never underestimate yourself".
"I wasn't even half of some of the dudes on the show. They were giants. I was a short Filipino who came from Tarlac, who grew up in New Zealand, moved to Australia and then next thing you know, I'm being crowned [Sole Survivor]. Survivor really stretched my capability. I came out of the other end feeling limitless."
BASAHIN / PAKINGGAN DIN