One flew over the world’s tallest nest
SUPREMO - Tim Yap (The Philippine Star) - February 12, 2016 - 9:00am

Put together 30 passionate people from diverse fields across six days of fun, laughter, inspiration, good food, crazy parties and non-stop adventure and what do you get? Material more spontaneous than a reality show, more sincere than your political candidate and more intense than the teleserye you’re currently watching. Front Row International did all that in Dubai, and more.

I’ve been here before, of course. Dubai with all its exciting tales of over-the-top indulgence inside gigantic man-made structures. Everything here was designed to elicit oohs and aahs, and quite frankly, it never fails to disappoint. But there’s also more to all that than meets the eye. 

Same time last year, I cut the ribbon for the opening of this Filipino founded business that aims to empower and change lives not just here in the Philippines but around the world. “We are here to help transform people’s lives for the better. Help them succeed by giving them their own business.” said Front Row International founders Sam Verzosa and RS Francisco. 

This year I came back for the company’s first anniversary, with an arsenal of more than 20 personalities and what did we see? A full house of Filipinos, and some Emiratis, too, on their the way to achieving their dreams. Some have bought their own cars, others have helped their families with their livelihood. I came here to talk to the Filipino community about entrepreneurship, but watching them work hard and seeing them so happy to see fellow Filipinos from back home really hits the spot. I totally feel at home plus I’m fulfilling a dream to be able to empower fellow Filipinos to go after the things they want in life.

Filipino Town 

It also helps that in Dubai, they have a Boracay Bar, an Intramuros Restaurant and a Barrio Fiesta all close to each other, so you’ll never be homesick because somewhere down the road is a sign that says “kwek kwek.” A Pinoy town, if you wanna call it that.

The next few days found the Front Row Dubai team hopping from one bar to the next, one Burj to the next and one giant shopping mall to the next. In each place would be a friendly Filipino staff excitedly calling you “Kabayan!” and happily assisting you, even giving you free stuff to enjoy. Some of us even found ourselves in the posters and mugs of Burj Khalifa, proof that I was just there last year. 

The Front Row Life afforded us some privileges. Aside from going from souk to souk and mall to mall, we were able to experience the seven-star luxury hotel Burj Al Arab, even for a short time, what with its halls devoted to excess and bursts of colors and textures. The desert also proved to be a perfect backdrop for Instagram editorials. The IG hoes in all of us couldn’t stop shooting and posting...till now. #guilty

We also had a sunset party at a fully decked yacht-the grandest in the area-exploring the Dubai Marina, with the Zombettes providing the music, no less. Funnily enough, the champagne popping and beat pumping ended up in bird feeding and fried chicken eating, not necessarily in that order. 

Arabian Nights 

An “unplanned” highlight of the trip was when, on our way home after the Arabian night desert safari dinner, all our 4x4 vehicles formed a circle in the middle of the desert and our friend Tom knelt down and proposed to his girlfriend Ehra under the full moon and the stars of the Arabian sky. Happy to have helped orchestrate this fast one. A bucket list check. 

 

 

On our last day, four of us took to the skies, and literally jumped off it. There’s this daredevil side of me that really craves for that kind of adventure, and SkyDive Dubai just did it for me. Yet another thing checked off my list.

How was it? Exhilarating to say the least. There’s this distinct rush when you see the latch of the plane open, and then you feel the wind and your nerves go haywire but you still take that leap of faith. You do your free fall (you have no choice, you’re already there) and your life flashes in front of you, while someone (a videographer) clowns around in front and around you, taking snapshots... And then the parachute opens and then you learn how to fly. You then see all that you’ve seen of the city in another light. And you feel more alive than ever.

 “Have you ever dreamt of flying?” My skydive partner asked me before we boarded the plane. “Well, that dream is about to come true.” 

And then we jumped. 

* * *

More tales of adventure and the #FrontRowLife, coming soon on #TheTimYapShow, plus  @officialtimyap on Instagram and Twitter. Also check out the hashtag #FrontRowDubai2016.

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