When it’s about the journey, not just the destination

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I’ve always been tepid about that cliche on the journey being the destination. It is a frequent travel bromide on Instagram, often posted by the very people who ultimately share fantastic photos of their destinations.

Surely the journey and the destination make for the whole travel experience. with one literally leading to the other. I always thought people consoled themselves with the phrase after encountering disappointments upon reaching the place. Man, that place sucked but at least we had fun getting there.

As for me, wake me up when we’re at the destination, thank you very much.

And then the COVID-19 crisis came. For months the world sheltered at home, ruining travel plans. As with many families, ours barely ventured outside the gate, save for essential errands like buying food and groceries.

ROADSIDE MARKET. We bought sweet corn and marang from these stalls along the national highway in Compostela town.
ROADSIDE MARKET. We bought sweet corn and marang from these stalls along the national highway in Compostela town.

Trying out the Ford Ranger Wildtrak

When I got invited to try out a Ford Ranger Wildtrak, I immediately said yes. We just needed to wait until Cebu City graduated from ECQ or enhanced community quarantine to be allowed in its borders and claim the unit.

On Aug 8, we got the unit from the Ford dealership in Nivel Hills in Cebu City. The Ranger Wildtrak exudes power and invites adventure without being out of place on a city street.

As with many modern vehicles, the Ford Ranger Wildtrak uses a keyless entry and push button start system. It senses if you are near via the key fob and you don’t have to take your keys out to unlock it. Being a bit OC, I always check the car doors after locking it but somehow the Ranger Wildtrak senses my proximity and lets me in. I had to leave the keys inside the house and go out to check on the unit to satisfy my OC self it was indeed locked.

Luxurious, spacious

The immediate impression one gets while going behind the wheel is how luxurious and spacious the interior of the Ranger Wildtrak is. The leather dashboard and steering wheel covers gives a plushy and comfortable feel.

The wide touchscreen for controls and entertainment enhances the driving experience. Not only are controls easy for such things as controlling temperature but also simplified in pairing with your phone. Back in the caught-in-traffic days before the pandemic, I listened to podcasts or audiobooks to make the time on the road bearable. With the Ranger Wildtrak, not only is that easy to set up – pairing the phone to the dashboard is a cinch – it’s also a wonderful aural experience with the unit’s sound system.

CORDONED OFF. We couldn’t get near the replica of global landmarks in the Sands Gateway Mall in Danao City.
CORDONED OFF. We couldn’t get near the replica of global landmarks in the Sands Gateway Mall in Danao City.
CORDONED OFF. We couldn’t get near the replica of global landmarks in the Sands Gateway Mall in Danao City.

Assigned the Ranger Wildtrak for the weekend, we made plans to go all over Cebu. I wanted to go to the Transcentral Highway, a scenic and winding passage meandering through the mountains of Cebu City and Balamban.

Entrance to the Transcentral Highway is the steep way up Nivel Hills.

While going down Nivel Hills on our way to pick up the kids at home we encountered a quarantine checkpoint. There was a long line as soldiers checked each car and asked for quarantine passes. When it got to my turn, I saw how they scrutinized the vehicle and the pass. No way we could pass the strict quarantine with our kids. Transcentral Highway was a no-go, we told ourselves.

On the road with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak

Superior driving experience

As we headed home to pick up our sons, the superior driving experience of the Ranger Wildtrak was readily apparent. Powerful and smooth – I looked back at the road up to Transcentral Highway with deep regret.

Day one and we had to scratch off one destination. We decided to head to northern Cebu, our planned Day 2 route, because we lived in Lapu-Lapu City and won’t have to pass strict quarantine points heading there.

NORTHERN CEBU. Cutting across northern Cebu to Tabuelan and back.
NORTHERN CEBU. Cutting across northern Cebu to Tabuelan and back.

We decided to check out a coffee shop near a subdivision in Liloan that a friend of Marlen’s recommended. We eventually found our way to the place after driving our way through a labyrinthine warren of side streets and dirt road with the help of the Ranger Wildtrak’s navigation system.

I wanted to be in a scenic coffee shop, take some time drinking a mug with the family, and maybe take a drone photo for the blog. Instead we got an unscheduled test of the Ranger Wildtrak’s excellent off-road navigation to a cafe that wasn’t ready to serve us yet.

Navigation assist

McDonald’s then for late lunch, we decided. The nearest branch was in Consolacion. Using the vehicle’s navigation system, we went out to the highway, passing really bad roads that were being repaired. I wondered if the marketing team had orchestrated our bad luck to show off the Ranger Wildtrak’s handling.

We ordered via drive-through and ate in the vehicle on our way to Danao City. We wanted to check out a religious park in Compostela. Having been turned away from Transcentral Highway, I was determined to head to any mountain.

LARGE DISPLAY. Whether to control such things as the temperature inside the car, navigate to a place or to play your Spotify list or, as in this case, a podcast episode, Ford’s large dashboard display makes it enjoyable and easy.
LARGE DISPLAY. Whether to control such things as the temperature inside the car, navigate to a place or to play your Spotify list or, as in this case, a podcast episode, Ford’s large dashboard display makes it enjoyable and easy.

We arrived at the Sands Gateway Mall in Danao City and stopped by for a road break. I parked near the area where the shopping strip put up replicas of global landmarks. Parking the Ranger Wildtrak is easy with its Active Park Assist. The dashboard screen guides you in backing to your parking slot. The driver assist technology extends to proximity warnings and lane alerts.

I prepared my drone and camera to take images of the replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Statue of Liberty, Taj Mahal, Leaning Tower of Pisa, and the Big Ben built near the sea. My heart sank when I got there, the entire area was cordoned off with police tape with several No Entry signs. But somehow, we were able to maneuver to have our photos taken without crossing the police tape.

Through rough roads

After a few minutes in the area, we decided to head to QPark, a religious park in Compostela. While driving there the car’s audio system was playing my Long Drive Spotify playlist of mostly Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Nina Simone, and Leonard Cohen songs.

We drove through the Compostela town center and to a diversion road, pockmarked all over, that led to the park. After passing through narrow junctions with ease, we reached the part where we had to turn toward the entrance of the park.

The Ranger Wildtrak really stands out in rough roads and steep inclines and the entrance to the park was steep. Heading to the gate we were met by a bemused solitary guard. He waved us off. The park was still closed, he explained.

And since the road to the park entrance could only accommodate a single vehicle without space for backing, I had to reverse all the way out to the main road. With the Ranger Wildtrak’s navigation assist system, it was an easy drive.

With dusk approaching, we decided to head home. Nearing the Compostela town center, we passed by a small market of vegetables and fruits set up by the roadside. We stopped by and bought a few sweet corn and marang. It was all we could show for Day 1 – fruits and a wonderful driving experience.

BEACH IS CLOSED. For the Ford Ranger Wildtrak test drive weekend, the journey was indeed the destination.
BEACH IS CLOSED. For the Ford Ranger Wildtrak test drive weekend, the journey was indeed the destination.

To the beach!

We headed out for Day 2 intending to visit a beach in Tabuelan. By this time, there were reports of the slow reopening of some tourism destinations. Driving in Cebu makes for a scenic experience, especially when you get to the coastal areas. On the Ranger Wildtrak, it was doubly enjoyable with the smooth and comfortable ride, even through bad roads. The pickup is very responsive to your driving.

As we headed to Tabuelan by cutting across the northern tip of Cebu, we passed by beautiful mountainous areas and lush highways. We emerged, excited for the beach, in Tabuelan.

Somehow we missed the road to the beach and, making a u-turn, immediately realized why. What had been the entrance was closed off with the sign that the beach was closed.

We never got around to realizing our plans for the different destinations. But we had a fun weekend, nevertheless. In our case and with the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, the journey was indeed the destination.

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If you want to test drive the Ford Ranger Wildtrak, you may reach the Ford Cebu dealership via the contact details below:

Contact Person: Ivy Castro
Designation: General Sales Manager
Contact Number: 0917 314 4090

By Max Limpag

Max Limpag is a journalist, blogger, and developer based in Cebu. He started as a reporter covering City Hall in 1996. He has written on technology for various print and digital publications since 1999 and twice won the Philippine Blog Awards for technology and sports. He co-founded the new media start-up InnoPub Media.