|Photos by Ulysses Ang|
As the 36 or so “Road Trekkers” made their way to the briefing room, the spirit of competition was high: lots of sizing up and goading between teams. This year, I was once again teamed up with Power Wheels’s Ira Panganiban and The Manila Standard Today’s Dino Directo. For a slight change of pace, fellow STAR writer Angel Rivero moved to another team (which, in the end, proved to be highly beneficial) and Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Carlo Mercado took her place. Clearly, our very diverse personalities (we were the only team composed entirely of different publications) should work to our advantage.
This year, Toyota wanted to highlight the capabilities of their entire line-up and thus they had almost the complete line from the Vios all the way to the Alphard. Assigned the Hilux 4x2 MT with the new Variable Nozzle Turbo or VNT-equipped engine, I was the designated driver and thus made myself at home in the driver’s seat even before my team mates even settled in. The convoy rolled out one by one from Toyota Global City to Petron Lakeshore for the pit stop. With traffic snarled at the Buendia flyover, a couple of us backtracked and decided to take C5 instead. The Hilux was responsive and surprisingly maneuverable through traffic, with the new engine providing ample passing power. Even in city traffic, the Hilux was a fuel miser, registering 10.2 km/L and as the city streets turned into highways, that figure rose up to 15 km/L. As the Road Trekkers assembled at the pit stop, it was time to move on to the main event at the Clark International Speedway.
|Toyota Motor Philippines President Mr. Michinobu Sugata welcomes the Road Trekkers.|
|New Toyota Motor Philippines Senior Vice President for Marketing Mr. Jose Ariel Arias is formally introduced to the members of the media.|
After the day’s fun but tiring challenges, each Road Trekker only had some R&R on their mind. With Mr. Sugata finally revealing the final destination as the enchanting province of Coron in Palawan, the participants drove in convoy from Clark to Subic the next day to catch a chartered flight from Subic to Busuanga. From there, it was a 45-minute bus ride and a 45-minute boat ride to the paradise that is Two Seasons on Bulalacao Island in the Calamianes Group of Islands.
At Two Seasons, the eventual result of Road Trek 9 was announced. And though I honestly thought we stood a good chance of winning this year, alas, we didn’t even place in the Top 3. But, Angel’s move to another team (composed of Stoplight TV’s Eggay Quesada and Matt Montoya, and Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Kenneth Del Rosario) brought out a different level of competitiveness and they were eventually crowned as Road Trek 9 Champions.
Road Trek 9 winners or not, staring at the soft orange hue of the mid-summer sunset at Two Seasons made me feel like a winner already. I can’t help but remain in awe at how Toyota can continuously raise the bar with each succeeding Road Trek. This annual event not only offers the motoring beat a chance to compete against each other in friendly camaraderie, but also to relax and see the great wonders of the Philippines. Of course, it also provides an opportunity for Toyota to once again prove that their cars are truly the industry’s best. Only a few days have passed, but I can’t wait to go Road Trekking again next year.