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Nissan Go Anywhere Drive: Demystifying the Island of Siquijor

“Siquijor? What are you going to do in Siquijor?” my deeply superstitious mother asked me when I told her that I’ll be away for three days to go on a media drive with Nissan Philippines, Inc. (NPI). My 80-year-old Mama believes that the manananggal (half-bodied vampires), aswang (shape-shifting evil spirits), mangbabarang (evil spell casters), and bruja (witches) still run rampant in that small Central Visayan island. She’s afraid that something supernaturally evil might happen to me, her 54-year-old Mama’s boy.

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You have to understand that my Mama’s generation believed in supernatural evil spirits because of traditional stories that were handed down by their parents. It was their way of explaining things that were unexplainable. These stories were then made into horror movies which scared my generation for a while, well, until those “behind the scenes” peek into movies made us realize that the ghouls were played by actors, and the stories were just that – stories. With the advent of the internet, science slowly debunked these horrifying myths while modern depictions of vampires in True Blood, zombies in The Walking Dead, those ridiculously funny local Shake, Rattle & Roll horror movies, and the often celebrated Halloween parties made today’s generation less scared of creatures in the dark.

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The Beauty of Nature

To get to Siquijor, we first caught a commercial flight to Dumaguete, and immediately upon arrival, we were then driven in Nissan NV350 passenger vans to the port, where we boarded a catamaran-like boat that took us on an hour’s voyage across the Bohol Sea. When we got to one of the ports at Siquijor Island, we were greeted with a fleet of Nissan vehicles – Navara pickup truck, Terra mid-size sport utility vehicle (SUV), and Patrol Royale full-size luxury SUV – all with 4×4 off-road capabilities.

We were greeted at the Siquijor Island port by a fleet of Nissan LCVs.

Our first car assignment was Car #3, a Brilliant Silver Nissan Navara 4×4.

We drove on smoothly paved highways with breathtaking vistas…

… and over rugged terrain that overlook the blue waters of the surrounding ocean.

My team mates for the three-day event, Ronald delos Reyes and Teejay Genil of Auto Review and Randy Peregrino of Business Mirror, were first assigned to Car #3, a Brilliant Silver Nissan Navara pickup truck that we drove to the Coco Grove Beach Resort, which will be our home for the duration of our stay in the Philippines’ third smallest province. NPI and the team of George Ramirez designed the drive to navigate through some of Siquijor’s most adventurous destinations, including a drive to the quarry, where the colors of the rocks provided a great background and an excellent texture for our photos.

We drove carefully over cliff-side paths to reach the summit…

… to be rewarded with a magnificent view of the sea.

We drove down the gorges of the gigantic pit of the quarry…

… to be rewarded with this really cool “Go Anywhere” group shot.

Go Anywhere Literally

On the morning of the second day, we were assigned to Car #2, the spacious Savanna Orange Nissan Terra mid-size SUV while in the afternoon, we got Car #1, the luxurious and regal Pearl White Nissan Patrol Royale full-size SUV. During the day-long drive, all the participants were posed a challenge: Go Anywhere and reach the most number of kilometers in the country’s third smallest province. George Ramirez and his team plotted a course around paved roads and off-road tracks that made the island look ten times bigger than it actually is.

We went to the San Isidro Labrador or Lazi Convent that was completed in 1891…

… where we can’t resist another group photo with our Nissan vehicles.

A crowd of kibitzers gathered outside to admire our fleet of Nissan LCVs.

Across the road is the San Isidro Labrador church, which was completed in 1884.

With its strong light commercial vehicle (LCV) heritage and Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, navigating the roads of the small island proved to be an easy feat for any of the three Nissan vehicles. “In line with our vision of enabling adventurers to reach their dream destinations, we went to Siquijor Island to conquer it with Nissan’s strong LCV line-up”, said NPI President and Managing Director Atsushi Najima. “We are creating the ultimate ‘Go Anywhere’ experience with our vehicles while exploring the best and most diverse locations across the country.”

NPI President and Managing Director Atsushi Najima strikes a pose at the quarry.

Our Nissan vehicles strike a pose in front of the Lazi convent.

I strike a pose with Car #1, a Pearl White Nissan Patrol Royale…

… and with PDI’s Ardie Lopez and our Voltes V T-shirts that only kids of the ’80s will understand.

Satisfying Upgrade

Our team of Ronald, Randy, Teejay and I found enormous satisfaction with the sequence of our 4×4 vehicle assignments. We started with the Navara pickup truck, which had a comfortable ride despite its tough and capable design. Then, we were “upgraded” into the Terra mid-size SUV and its spacious interior, distinctive design, and equally comfortable ride. Finally, we were “upgraded” yet again into the Patrol full-size SUV with its powerful V8 engine and luxuriously comfortable ride. We felt pampered and spoiled with these Nissan vehicles as we tested the much vaunted Hill Descent Control and Hill Start Assist features powered by Nissan Intelligent Mobility while driving around this mystical island.

While my other media colleagues went to the waterfalls, I went to the 400-year-old Enchanted Balete Tree…

… where I got a foot spa from dozens of little fishes nibbling on my feet…

… followed by larger fishes that suck away dead skin from my feet.

Meanwhile, NPI’s film crew got their feet wet having loads of fun in sand with the Nissan Terra.

On the third day, we had some free time in the morning to go shopping for souvenirs, to go swimming, to drive to nearby destinations, or to just relax and savor the tranquility of Siquijor’s surroundings. I chose to just sit by the beach and contemplate on the adventures and luxuries afforded to me by my job as a motoring journalist. Our test drive around Siquijor demonstrated the features of the Nissan Intelligent Mobility that can enable drivers of the Navara, Terra, and Patrol to Go Anywhere with power, confidence and ease.

As an owner of an older V8-powered American SUV, I was particularly pleased with the Patrol Royale…

… having thoroughly enjoyed the powerful and luxurious drive around scenic roads…

… as I’ve enjoyed the unobstructed view, generous space and luxurious ride from the backseat.

We waved goodbye to our reliable fleet of Nissan LCVs as we sailed away from the island.

The Nissan Go Anywhere Siquijor Drive not only demystified the myths of driving a modern 4×4 off-road capable vehicle, it also demystified the myths surrounding the mystical and mythical island of Siquijor. My Mama need not be worried. After all, besides riding safe and comfy in these three Nissan vehicles, I also learned how to ride a broom stick.

With clear traffic-free roads like these….

… and magnificent views like these (from the Infinity Heights Resort), why do we opt to stay in Metro Manila?

Okay, now that I’m up in the air, how do you steer these things again?