Sitting on the roof of jeepneys is part of the mountain-climbing experience. Just ask your trekking-loving friends. I've always taken public transportation to get to and from mountain-climbing trips, because who wouldn't? I pity anyone who has to drive back down after scaling a mountain.
Recently, Isuzu Philippines Corporation invited select media participants to climb Mt. Pulag using its 3.0-liter D-Max. While taking public transportation during climbs has its advantages, bringing a mighty Japanese pickup truck also has its perks.
1. It can haul all your necessary hiking equipment. The tents, the cooler, the 30kg camping bags. Aside from the expansive cabin space, the pickup bed can carry pretty much everything you need to survive in the wild. A good aftermarket cover will weatherproof your gear on the way to your mountain jump-off.
2. It's a comfortable pickup for giddy passengers. If you've never driven to Ambuklao by way of Bokod-Kabayan Road, you should immediately add this route to your road-trip musts. Members of our party gamely rode on the bed of the pickup to take in the epic view along this road. Aside from the equipment loaded, there was enough space for three or more passengers to comfortably and firmly sit in the back of the D-Max.
3. You can load your vegetable loot. Farming is one of the livelihoods of the locals in Pulag. On the way to the trail, you'll see farm areas around the mountain. It's almost impossible not to buy vegetables when you're already there. After our climb, we got the chance to harvest carrots. Some media participants even bought kilos of it to bring back down to Manila. The harvest was loaded securely on the bed of the D-Max with the rest of our equipment.
4. It can handle off-road misadventures. On our way down to the DENR office of Ambangeg after descending Pulag, our 2.5-liter D-Max 4x2 and the 3.0-liter D-Max 4x4 behind us got cut off from the convoy. We took a wrong turn and ended up lost. We had to ask the locals if the road we took would lead us to Baguio. Before answering, they crouched and took a good look at the ground clearance of our vehicles--then shrugged. "The road is unpaved and in poor condition," they said. "But your vehicles will definitely make it." The unfamiliar road was narrow, and majority of the areas we passed were uninhabited. But true enough, after some hair-pulling and nail-biting moments, we were met by a MU-X from our convoy.
5. The dirt makes it look even more handsome. We once took a Jeep Wrangler to Zambales for an off-road shoot. After tackling the road less traveled, we went to a fast-food chain for lunch. The security guard shook his head upon seeing our ride. "Gwapo sana po, pero ang dumi lang," he said. But siiir, that's the point! Just like the Isuzu D-Max, some cars--the muscular ones, especially--look sexier and better with mud and dirt. Battle scars, if you will. By the time we parked our D-Max for late lunch at Soul Cafe at the end of Kennon Road, it looked as if our workhorse had many adventure stories to tell.
Photos by Mikko David