3 Toyota Fortuner owners, 3 stories of perseverance and survival

From getting one as a first ride to driving one all the way to Zamboanga City from Taguig
Nov 27, 2020
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The sturdy and dependable Toyota Fortuner has a long history with Filipino motorists and families. Whether it’s driving to the old family home for Christmas Eve, enduring the morning rush hour traffic, or going on family road trips for the long weekend, this reliable SUV quickly became a part of our motoring culture in many ways since it was first released in the country back in 2005.

This is certainly true for proud Fortuner owners Jose Villarba, Marlito Bautista, and Gelo Espres, who share their own unique experiences here. From surviving two collisions to driving  all the way from Taguig to Zamboanga City and back, these Fortuners have been part of some interesting adventures, and are a testament to the nameplate’s toughness and dependability.

“[We traveled] from Taguig City to Zamboanga City, and back.”

Using his 2014 Toyota Fortuner, Marlito Bautista drove from Taguig City in Metro Manila all the way to Cabatangan, Zamboanga City—a 30-hour drive—for a special event

Bautista’s route was over 980km one-way, and involved four ferry rides and a long drive through Batangas, Roxas, Bacolod, and Dapitan. The ride back was even longer at 1,800km, due to them taking a longer route including fewer ferry rides. But despite the distance, it was a smooth journey. 

“[My Fortuner] is already about seven years old, but still very reliable,” says Bautista. “The engine was kept running the whole [ferry] ride, sometimes for as long as six hours. We never experienced any trouble—only a comfortable ride. Satisfied Fortuner owner here!”

“My Toyota Fortuner has been directly rear-ended twice—by a delivery van and by a jeepney.”

Jose Villarba’s Fortuner is a testament to the strength and sturdiness of the iconic SUV. It has survived two hard collisions, and protected the Villarba family from injuries.

The first accident occurred in a morning rush hour on Ortigas Avenue. Jose’s son was driving to work when an L300 delivery van collided with the Fortuner from behind. The second accident happened on Sumulong Highway, while Villarba’s two-year-old grandchild was in the backseat. As Villarba slowed down to turn left into Villa Cecilia Subdivision, a jeepney hit the car from the back. Fortunately, in both cases, all members of the family were saved from major injury by the Fortuner’s reliable safety features, as well as its strong body and rear fender.

This is why for the Villarbas, the Fortuner has been a great partner in staying safe on the road. “If you love your family, you will give them a safe and reliable vehicle.”

“Our 2016 ‘Forty’ is a good reminder that... car dreams do come true.”

Gelo Epres’ Fortuner, which he fondly refers to as “Forty,” is also his first car, which he bought after years of taking only public transportation. “My brothers and I always dreamt of owning a car,” Epres says. “As children, the idea of getting around the metro would be to catch public utility vehicles that ply our highways to get from point A to point B. Our mom taught us to be smart commuters.”

Through hard work and determination, Epres and his family were eventually able to purchase their first car. “We considered reliability, safety, style, and comfort as deciding points,” he explains. “The 2016 Toyota Fortuner offered all the deciding points and included cabin space as a bonus to support our ever-growing family.”

Epres’ Fortuner experiences have always been about the family. He bought the car in time for his first-out-of-town trip to Cavite with his family, including his older brother who was an OFW in Dubai. The family drove to Tagaytay City, where they stayed in an Airbnb overlooking Taal Lake and enjoyed the cool weather and beautiful view while sipping on some delicious bulalo.

This Tagaytay trip wouldn’t be the last family vacation they’ve taken with Forty. The reliable SUV has also taken the Epres fam from Eagle’s Point and Palm Beach Resorts in Batangas to Camayan Beach Resort in Subic. “Our ‘Forty’ is a good reminder that with hard work and perseverance, car dreams do come true,” Epres says fondly. “Forty became part of our family and has been in service to our countless happy memories.”

The legacy of the Toyota Fortuner as a car for the Filipino family continues with its 2021 variant. Fitted with a 2.4-liter or 2.8-liter engine, the new Fortuner packs much more power under the hood if you get the bigger powerplant—making it ready to face the challenges of the coming year. It also comes with a sportier look thanks to its two-tone paint job and a sleeker face, and additional safety features such as electronic stability control and side airbags.

If you’re looking for a safe and reliable car for you and your family, visit Toyota Motor Philippines’s official website and Facebook page for more information on the 2021 Fortuner. 

This article is created by Summit Storylabs in partnership with TOYOTA.
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