Mikael Daez and Megan Young have been giving us some serious relationship goals and travel goals even before the pandemic. Now, they’re setting new ones while adapting to the new normal.

You’ll get to see this and more as the celebrity couple hosts the newly-launched original production, My Hometown Is G.O.A.T., by AXN Asia in collaboration with the Department of Tourism (DOT).

Mikael, 33, and Megan, 31, revisit the latter’s childhood hometown of Zambales, which is also where they held one of their two weddings in early 2020, to show what makes the place G.O.A.T. or “greatest of all time” in their eyes. They also explore the neighboring provinces of Pampanga and Tarlac.

“Now, we will see a destination through the eyes of not just a tourist, but someone whose roots go deep, whose community ties hold strong, and whose love for their hometown makes it indeed the greatest,” DOT Sec. Berna Romulo-Puyat said in a media statement.

The six-episode travel and lifestyle series also features beauty queen Gazini Ganados having an Eat, Pray, Love kind of homecoming in Zamboanga, and retired cager Marc Pingris making a pit stop at his hometown of Pangasinan while motorbiking with fellow PBA players to La Union.

My Hometown is G.O.A.T. has begun airing across Southeast Asia, with episodes available via AXN Asia every Thursday and Friday at 8:30 a..m. and AXN Asia’s YouTube channel every following Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. It also starts broadcasting on AXN Taiwan tomorrow, Nov. 8, and AXN Korea on Nov. 13.

When asked what it’s like every time she returns home, Megan said, “It feels very nostalgic because I grew up in Castillejos, Zambales. Dun ako nag-grade school so every time dumadaan kami sa Castillejos, going to different parts of Zambales, lagi kong tinuturo yung dati naming bahay kasi nasa National Highway lang, and yung elementary school ko dati.”

The former Miss World added, “I always tell Mikael different stories about what it was like growing up in the province, going to and from school and home, just to give him a glimpse of the provincial life since sa Metro Manila lumaki si Mikael. It’s really nice going back and seeing how a lot of it has changed throughout the years.”

Filming the show had them bringing along their “baby,” a pet toy poodle named Soba, on a long road trip for the first time.

“I have to note that we’re really thankful to the places that AXN chose for us to shoot in because they were all pet-friendly,” said Megan, who also advised that when traveling with a pet, one must plan ahead, including checking beforehand if places they’re going to will allow it.

Pre-pandemic, the couple were “extremely, extremely spontaneous” as travelers. “Actually, si Bonez (Megan’s nickname), she wasn’t as spontaneous before. I guess, nahawa nalang siya sa akin, hahaha! And so at this point, if there weren’t any new-normal rules and I told her, ‘Bonez, alis tayo, ngayon na, OK lang?’ OK lang sa kanya. Ganung level ang spontaneity namin,” Mikael said.

“Our friends know us for our spontaneity and before the whole pandemic, they would have to get ready all the time. ‘Pag pupuntahan nila kami sa bahay, we could just tell them, ‘Tara, biyahe tayo!’ at the very last second. Siempre ngayon, we have to plan in advance,” Megan added.

Besides the pandemic altering the way they travel, it has also made living in the province attractive to them. The Kapuso actors, vloggers and now-podcasters talked about this and related topics in an exclusive chat with The STAR.

On romantic activities during my hometown is g.o.a.t.:

Mikael: “It comes out on the teaser that we were on a yacht and that was a new experience for me and Bonez. It was the first time that we’ve ever done that in my 11 plus years of being with her. And all her life, she’s never done that.”

Megan: “Oo, nakikita ko lang siya (yachts) from afar.”

Mikael: “So definitely… you can stay very intimate and exclusive, and stay very safe in that activity.”

Megan: “I think it’s very romantic.”

On how filming felt like a honeymoon:

Megan: “I would say (it was more of) like a second honeymoon. Because we got married just before the pandemic happened, we didn’t really get a honeymoon. We had like one trip that we did at the end of 2020.”

Mikael: “And then, this was the second trip to Zambales and Subic, and all the adjacent places. So that’s what it was. And then we had our baby Soba, so it made it all the more special because it was our very first time traveling for an extended period with Soba. So, at least for me, that was really icing on the cake. It was an amazing experience.”

On how the pandemic changed travel goals:

Megan: “I think it’s also changed a lot of goals that we have in life, especially when it comes to finances. We really had to realign everything. So kung before we were very spontaneous with our trips, now it’s more, ‘OK, let’s save for something in particular that we really want to do.’ We don’t go out as much so we don’t spend as much as we used to na parang, tara, bili tayo ng coffee anytime that we want. Now, we really have to plan things out para at least we both have, you know, rainy day funds.”

Mikael: “Nowadays, we’re balancing a lot of work and day-to-day stuff. When it comes to travel, nabawasan siya for sure. That’s just because that’s our new normal, our new situation. We would still love to travel, but we know that we have to be more calculated now. Which is OK naman, we have adjusted to it.”

Megan: “Before, we would really travel during the peak season because yun ang masaya nuon, we would go ‘pag maraming tao. But now, I think if there’s an opportunity for you to travel off-peak, if there’s like an area where you can squeeze in for you and your family, and you’re OK to travel, then why not?”

On plans to relocate to the province:

Mikael: “No hard and fast plans yet. I think malaking asset ngayon ay ang pagiging fluid and flexible in terms of your plans. When there’s time and when rules allow, we go to Subic from time to time, and when work requires us to be in Metro Manila, we stay in Metro Manila. It’s hard for us to say I will be here lang and dito lang and nowhere else. I think our flexibility gives us a lot more opportunities, not only with our relaxation life but also with our work life.”

Megan: “Yes (we bought a property in Subic). We’re slowly fixing that up kasi lumang bahay na siya, it’s been there since the US military (base) was here. It’s a really old house ang na-purchase namin so there are things that we still need to fix up. Pa konti-konti siempre, hindi isang buhos. We’re still saving up for that.”

Mikael: “Definitely, we’re still open (to live in the province). I think time will literally tell. When rules are relaxed, when work has relaxed, and we know na marami kaming downtime ahead, I think that’s it, we’ll say, ‘OK, now we can go to Subic and stay there for a longer period of time.’”

On changes after being married for almost two years:

Megan: “Honestly, it feels the same. Kahit na mag-boyfriend and girlfriend palang kami, when we were engaged palang, we already treated our relationship as if we were married. The commitment was already there. We were very much open to each other. So hindi siya parang, sasabihin ko lang sayo to pag-kasal na tayo. Or, saka na natin pag-uusapan pag-kasal na tayo. We’ve talked about everything that people think as taboo about relationships even before we got married. I think that really helped.”

Mikael: “I remember I told her, ‘Bonez, just because I married you, it doesn’t mean that the day after our wedding, I will love you more.’ It’s always constant and then you just slap in, you know, an official label on it when you get married. At least, yun ang naging mindset namin.

“I would think about it as, like every day, you need to be able to make that choice to love the person who you’re with. I mean, the next day, you can see the first 10 years of your life, you can say, ‘Yes, I’m madly in love,’ and the next day, suddenly, you choose not to and that’s happened in different experiences. I think every day is a new day and you just take it one step at a time, one day at a time and choose to love your partner, if that is your choice.”

Megan: “Yeah, I would say the pandemic has opened up my eyes to what kind of person we both are and what kind of people we want to be for each other in the future, more than anything. I’m happy that I get to see a different side of Mikael and I’m happy that he gets to see a different side of me. It has definitely given us a different perspective to our relationship and how we want to move forward with things more so parang ‘I married the right partner.’ I like that I’m able to see different sides of my husband.”

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