September 29, 2020 - Tuesday
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Davao City, Philippines

The drive to drive

February 07, 2020 - Friday 6:02 PM by Jon Joaquin

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Friends always ask me why I don’t drive, and my standard answer is that I don’t like the hassle that comes with it. I actually know how to drive and at one point in my life was driving regularly. But as an overthinker I got stressed with the many problems a driver faces: Where do I park when I get to my destination? What if I encounter an uphill road in heavy traffic? What if I get in a tight spot and don’t know how to get out? Eventually I decided driving wasn’t for me and I gradually let my wife and son do most of it.

The Ford Ranger Raptor, Wildtrak, and XLT

So when my good friend EJ Francisco, who is Ford Motor Company’s AVP for Communications, asked me to participate in a test drive for the three variants of the Ford Ranger, I said I couldn’t possibly be of any use. “We want to get your opinion on the pickups from a passenger point of view,” he replied, and I couldn’t say no to that. So on the morning of December 4 I strapped myself in the backseat of a Ranger Wildtrak at Ford Lanang and headed off to some of the iconic destinations of Davao City.

Journalists and bloggers get ready to roll from Ford Lanang.

Our first stop was Eden Nature Park in Toril about 27 kilometers from downtown Davao, and as we neared the place it began to rain a bit. No worries because the Wildtrak handled the road well, and according to bloggers Josef Cagas (not to be confused with the Digos City mayor of the same exact name) and Janina Gantuangco who took turns driving, it was smooth all the way. As passenger I couldn’t agree more: I was trusting these two people I had literally met a couple of hours earlier with my life, but I did not feel the least bit worried. Both the Wildtrak and the drivers were up to the challenge.

Stopover at the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos.

After a hearty lunch at Eden we drove to the Philippine Eagle Center in Malagos, a longer drive of about 48 kilometers but which was navigated quickly by Josef and Janina, this time driving a Ranger Raptor. Now I understand from the enthusiasm of the participating drivers that the Raptor is the top of the Ranger line, and I could feel its power as we drove down the winding, up-and-down road to our destination. We also passed through some challenging terrain and even through a shallow river — the Raptor ate up everything thrown at it.

After doing some cacao planting and heavy lifting.

At the Philippine Eagle Center, EJ made Ford’s ceremonial donation of a paver for the continued survival of the national bird, marking the company’s commitment to preserving the environment for future generations. Then we were off to the next destination, this time taking the XLT off for a spin.

Wit Holganza has been making a name for herself for her line of chocolate and other cacao products, and it was a great experience to see how it is all done at her Gran Verde Farm in Calinan. Here cacao is planted, cultivated, pruned, and allowed to bear fruit in the most natural of ways. The farm also has its own processing facility for the various products Wit offers: tablea, cacao nibs, granola, and chocolate bars.

Loading up a Ford Ranger with cacao pods.

This was where we tested the Rangers’ mettle, loading up the pickups with cacao seedlings, pods, and other materials for a short trip. The hilly slope of the farm (and the Calinan area in general) was no match for the vehicles, which handled the extra heavy load with ease.

Our last stop was the Malagos Garden Resort where we had a well-deserved rest from the day-long drive. As I mused on the day’s activities I almost wished I could return to driving: Josef and Janina, as well as the other participating drivers, all had a great time handling the Wildtrak, Raptor, and XLT. Maybe soon I’ll find the drive to drive, so to speak, so that be next year’s Ford media drive I’ll be the one behind the wheel.