When we think of road trips, images of winding roads and highways leading to adventure immediately flood the mind. We often find ourselves reminiscing about times we had the road to ourselves, as we cruised down a national highway toward a fun-filled destination.
Recently, Ford Philippines invited us on a different kind of road trip. Instead of an out-of-town resort, we would drive around the streets of Metro Manila. Wanting to highlight the adventurous nature of the Ford EcoSport, it hoped to give us a taste of what its venerable subcompact SUV can do in the bustling metropolis.
Bleary eyes were on display as we met up in Ford Makati for the take-off. Most of us had to brave rush hour traffic just to make it there on time. We learned that the first challenge was a race to Cubao. It was 9am on a Wednesday. God help us.
We took our white EcoSport through EDSA and it was here, weaving in and out of traffic, that we experienced what makes the SUV an ideal urban explorer. Its engine was a torquey companion, while its nimble handling allowed us to thread into gaps larger vehicles would not dare consider. What's more, our higher driving position gave us a better view of our surroundings, and great lumbar and lateral support kept us comfortable throughout the ride.
We pulled up in Art in Island in Cubao, a one-of-a-kind three-dimensional art exhibit that allows visitors to become part of the pieces on display. This small museum provides you and your barkada with a whole month's worth of Instagram fodder.
We completed our second challenge, which entailed solving some puzzles, then raced to Kapitolyo for the third. Using our car's Ford Sync infotainment control system, we had to play a specific track using a voice command after solving a simple math puzzle. We're frustrated as the system struggled to recognize our voices, while other teams began pulling away. Voice control should help drivers avoid breaking the anti-distracted driving law—provided they can get it to work properly, that is.
Trusting in the magic of Waze, we arrived a whole 30 minutes before the next team. Our stop, Cow & Chicken, served mouth-watering Wagyu cheesesteaks and the best Key Lime Pie I've ever tasted.
Stomachs full, we made our way to Trampoline Manila in the Greenfield District, where we bounced as high as we could on, well, trampolines. Two sprained ankles bring our group back down to earth; we can't remember the last time our writers’ bodies were subjected to such physical exertion. Despite this, the thrill of soaring through the air as we leap from trampoline to trampoline was unlike any other.
Tired, we are given our final challenge: Fit as many soda cans as we can into the compartments of the EcoSport. Officially, it can only fit 24, but thanks to ingenuity (and a burning desire to win), we were able to manhandle a total of 30 into the car before we were told to make our way to our dinner venue.
By now, the theme of the day is clear. Dinner is in another hole-in-the-wall, but this time it's a luxurious one. We pulled up to Toyo, a posh Japanese degustation restaurant where we're served a seven-course Filipino-Japanese fusion meal. Our weary bodies thank us as we fill them with some of the best food Makati has to offer.
At the end of the day, we realized that road trips need not involve hours of winding routes and empty highways. Manila has a lot more to offer than you think—from secret restaurants, to trampolines, to Instagram-friendly museums. There's so much to uncover, and no better vehicle to help discover them than an urban explorer like the Ford EcoSport.