Picture this: a convoy of 10 Toyota Revo, a large fully-inflated rubber boat tied on its roof, driving a bunch of motoring journalists from the airport of Cagayan de Oro to the river where the White Water Rafting adventure starts.
I was in that convoy, with Team Manila Bulletin composed of Aris Ilagan, Anjo Perez, Chris Datol, and me. We were participants in the Toyota Road Trek 2 — and we were off to a wonderful day doing the things we’ve not done before — riding the white water rapids, jumping from a large rock formation, swimming with the current to catch pingpong balls, and riding the zipline to drop eggs on a target below.
The year before that, for Road Trek 1, we had driven across Panay Island — doing things that were extraordinary — transferring by hand a batch of live bangus from one pail to the other, and later, making an Ati-Atihan costume from pieces of wood and cloth and of course, charcoal for our make-up.
That was 15 years ago.
What was once a small corporate event for the motoring media has turned into an iconic happening with the Toyota Road Trek running its 15th event last week.
Almost 40 motoring journalists joined the Road Trek from May 9 to 11 in Palawan, where all the Toyota passenger cars available in the local market — the Camry, Fortuner, RAV4, Wigo, Altis, Innova, Alphard and Grandia — were there for them to drive through the many challenges.
The drive and the Road Trek fun started at Puerto Princesa, running through the well-paved highways of Palawan to Taytay town where we took a boat to Apulit Island.
Trust the Road Trek people to come up with fun challenges to make the drive interesting: from riddles to slogans to a very physical tic-tac-toe and a very creative pass-the-ball game.
The Road Trek will not get to its 15th year if not for all the creative ways to define fun to a group of motoring journalists whose usual work station is behind the wheel.
Many of the participants there had attended at least 10 of the past Road Treks. I have missed at most three of those events and had even been given an award during Road Trek 10 that was then rumored as the last Road Trek.
It was a privilege for me to have been at the earliest Road Treks, where the challenges were more physical and involved some sort of adventure skills.
Through the years, the Toyota Road Trek had built a certain aura. Getting an invitation to join it was considered an honor and a validation of one’s status in the motoring media.
It was not only the fun challenges that built that image. It was the R&R part of the event that made it THE Road Trek — a full day of leisure where there is no scheduled interview or activity, just the freedom to be somewhere around a beautiful resort.
In Road Trek 15, the R&R was at Apulit Island, a beautiful resort off the coast of Taytay town, where pretty cottages stood on the water, and a private balcony allowed the guest to sit and watch the sunset.
Or, join old friends from Toyota Motor Corp. for long conversations. Even if our cottages were so very comfortable, we took the long walk to the club house anyway to have the pleasure of their company: Satoru Suzuki, TMP president; Kei Mizuguchi, executive vice president; Tini Arevalo, 1st VP for Brands; Sherwin Chua-Lim, 1st VP for vehicle sales; Atty. Rommel Guitierrez, 1st VP for corporate and government affairs; Raymund Rodriguez, president of Lexus Manila; Elijah Marcial, VP Marketing; and Carlo Ablaza, AVP marketing.
But grabbing center stage of Road Trek 15 was the launch of the new Avanza which was presented at the first stop in Puerto Princesa.
The 2019 Toyota Avanza – the smart MPV with a stylish ride – combined the best value with modern style with a sporty look and a redesigned dashboard with a new infoinment system and safety features. It comes equipped with a 6.8-inch Capacitive Touch Panel Display infoinment system that can also be found inside premium Toyota models like the RAV4 and the Camry.
The Avanza is available in six variants starting with the 1.3 J manual transmission up to the high-end 1.5 Veloz automatic. The entry level model is priced at P731,000 while the 1.5 Velous AT is at P1,065,000.
By Pinky Concha Colmenares