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Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands

Marinduque Mainland from Tres Reyes Islands
View of Mainland Marinduque from Tres Reyes Islands-Click on Photo to link to Marinduque Awaits You

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hyundai Goes Marinduque

Hyundai Genesis Coupe
The following article was published in today's issue ( 4/27/2010) of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. It was filed under, Travel, Tourism, Business and Finance Section of the newspaper. I am so excited and proud that Hyundai executives did their test drives to my island Paradise this year. I hope this article will help in making Marinduque, a tourist destination worldwide, not only on Easter Week but also whole year round.

"WHAT WERE THE FOLKS AT Hyundai Asia Resources, Inc. (HARI) thinking when they decided to invite 30 motoring journalists to drive to Marinduque island? Unlike Boracay or CamSur, Marinduque isn’t exactly promoted as a top destination for foreign and local tourists alike.

Maybe HARI chose Marinduque precisely for that reason: to boost the less-known island’s media mileage. To give back to the cause of road-less-taken domestic tourism after recently gaining third place in the Philippine automotive industry’s over-all sales ranking, even as Hyundai Motor’s global vehicle sales jumped 26 percent in the first quarter so that quarterly net profit surged to 1.127 trillion South Korean won ($1 billion) from 225 billion won in 2009.

HARI had another good reason to pick Marinduque: getting there requires at least three hours of non-stop driving from Alabang through Laguna and Batangas to Lucena, Quezon via the Southern Luzon Expressway, two-lane provincial highways and congested, narrow streets of towns like Tiaong, Candelaria and Sariaya. The variety of road and traffic conditions going to Lucena and coming back to Manila tested the mettle of the 15 all-new 2010 Hyundai vehicles provided by HARI for the three-day sojourn: one Genesis coupe, two Santa Fe units, a Grand Starex Limousine, a Sonata sedan just released by Customs, and 10 Tucson petrol and common rail diesel units.

Day 1

The Hyundai vehicles were rotated daily among the participating journalists. On Day 1, a Tucson Theta II compact SUV was assigned to the Inquirer team consisting of motoring editor Jong Arcano, photog Edwin Bacasmas and me. I took the wheel for the 105.2-km Alabang-Lucena leg of the trip that did not require following a convoy or a speed limit. Thus, there were times when we were traveling at 160 kph, a velocity that hardly strained the Tucson’s 2.0-liter, DOHC, 166 ps gasoline engine.

An interlude from driving occurred after the vehicles boarded at Dalahican port the roro (roll-on, roll-off) ferry, which takes three hours to cross the Sibuyan Sea to Marinduque. Squeezing the Hyundai vehicles into the crowded cargo hold of the ferry together with big delivery vans and trucks demands good parking ability, so I was glad that Jong was driving at that time.

After disembarking at Balanacan Port in Marinduque, we discovered that the 55.20 km drive to Buenavista via Boac, the capital, and Gasan municipality begins with well-paved, winding mountain roads. The scenery was more beautiful once we exited the populated urban areas and caught glimpses of the sea while driving along the coastline and of the majestic dormant volcano, Mount Malindig, when we negotiated the mountain roads.

Tested

The road to Lipata Wharf—where we were to board speedboats for the five-minute transfer to Bellarocca Island Resort and Spa—tested the stability of the Hyundai vehicles as there were slippery, dusty gravel sections. But all units, including the low-slung Genesis sports car and the Sonata sedan, passed this test easily.

Bellarocca, a stunningly beautiful six-star resort hotel perched atop the rolling peaks of Elefante Island overlooking the teal blue Sibuyan Sea, is often compared to Santorini, Greece overlooking the Mediterranean. Bellarocca’s luxurious, relaxing amenities were most welcome after the nearly eight-hour trip from Manila and it revitalized us for the motoring adventures of Day 2.

On Day 2, the Inquirer team was assigned another Tucson Theta II for the morning activities and a diesel-fed Tucson R e-VGT (electronic Variable Geometry Turbo) for the afternoon. HARI implemented photo and travelogue contests on this day whereby the media would take photos of selected Hyundai vehicles at tourist attractions like the centuries-old Sta. Cruz Church, the Marinduque Provincial Capitol where natives in Moriones costumes posed, the old houses of Boac and Mt Malindig in Torrijos.

Enhancement

The photo entries were submitted at 7 p.m., two hours after our return to Bellarocca, ditto the entries for the travelogue contest. The brutal deadline required fast-track enhancement of photo entries via Photoshop and other gizmos and quick writing of an essay on Marinduque, Editor Jong bagged the first runner-up trophy and cash prize for his inspired travelogue while Edwin won the Media’s Choice award for his unenhanced photo of the Genesis coupe parked beside a “No Parking” sign in the old section of Boac.

Although I only won a travelogue contest consolation prize, I look back at Hyundai’s Marinduque adventure as an enjoyable experience—discovering the wonders of the island astride a future-inspired, technologically advanced, stylish Hyundai car. My only regret is that neither the Genesis coupe nor the Sonata was assigned to me for the long haul back to Alabang from Lucena. Perhaps next time, Paeng ?

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