Missing Toyota Road Trek; bye Pareng Louie


THE pandemic’s greed for destructio­n has killed so many allimporta­nt events, appointmen­ts and iconic occasions, many of which already institutio­nalized. The motoring industry is no exception to this wholesale swath of virus savagery. Launches of new models have been reduced to virtual shows the past two years or so.

Press conference­s are now done via zoom, which are very impersonal proceeding­s.

Luncheon/dinner dates require virus tests at the entrance, sometimes creating hassles too irritating to deal with. Test-drives are no longer the normal, run-of-the-mill stuff. Sales agents contacts/chats and showroom visits have become as rare as fireflies in the big city.

Trips overseas to motor shows, Formula One races and assembly visits got scrapped in bundles due to stringent travel restrictio­ns.

Tokyo Motor Show

AND will the biennial Tokyo Motor Show this year that is usually scheduled October-november also in danger of getting canceled? Most probably, yes.

The only remaining window for it to survive the virus-inflicted cull is if and when the Tokyo Olympics will push through as scheduled this July—a long shot.

Should the Tokyo Motor Show get scuttled this year, my streak of 14 straight TMS trips beginning in 1993 will be snapped. And to appease the wounded heart and to likewise heal the clipped winged feet, I will find solace in the saying, “All things must pass, inciuding the good ones.”

Oh, well, even on the local scene, already snuffed out by Covid-19 last year was the Toyota Road Trek, the iconic motoring event that made yearly trips to scenic, mostly picturesqu­e spots that are more than your usual tourist destinatio­ns around the country.

I miss most

IT is the local motoring event I miss most, two years in the running now since the virus had viciously sideswiped it last year.

Launched in 2005 with the terrific tandem of Ariel de Jesus (now Wurth’s country manager here) and Elijah-won Marcial (now Toyota’s Senior Vice President) as spearheads, the TRT had its baptism of fire from Manila to Iloilo to Boracay via Roxas City.

Because of its innovative features, it would quickly become the country’s most awaited summer spectacle on wheels and, not for long, stand out as a must-attend for a fledgling industry pen-wielder to earn the glorious badge as a full-fledged motoring journo.

I covered all but one of the 15 Toyota Road Treks—the Leyte-samarcebu leg in 2011—all because of a pressing family affair. To me, family always comes first, no matter what’s at stake.

There were other Road Treks that conflicted with family schedule. But, gladly, they were all resolved through compromise­s to the satisfacti­on of all, especially the missus.

One such event was the 2012 Manila-bohol-cebu joust.

Beatles classic

I ALMOST missed it because of a court hearing for a dear family member that required my presence for, what else but, moral support.

We had met halfway. I’d miss the Bohol part and fly directly to Cebu in a place called Bantayan, a small, bucolic island reachable by a motorboat in 30 minutes or so.

With me in this historic trip was Danny “Sir John” Isla, then president of Lexus Manila. I had but a tiny John Lennon black bag bought in Saitama City, Japan; stuffed it with one underwear and one T-shirt.

Sir John and I arrived in Bantayan after several hours by car at past noon, took a shower and repaired at a table by the seaside drinking beer while watching bancas sail by gingerly, lazily.

During that night’s traditiona­l awards presentati­on, I did my usual stuff, grabbing the mike from the band’s lead singer and, in my typical unadultera­ted yearly ritual, belted out the Beatles classic, “Why Don’t We Do It On The Road?” I don’t know how long the song lasted but after I was done singing—no, shouting—i found myself in my room lying in bed at 2 a.m.

The phone rang.

“The hearing is at 1 p.m. today,” said the missus. “We need you here.”

Jing & Shawin Show

JING ATIENZA and Shawin Chualim smuggled me out at 5 a.m. for the 10 a.m. Cebu-manila flight. Dramatical­ly, I caught it in the nick of time. Jing and Shawin had arranged for me to skip airport routine and to toss me straight into my assigned seat—make that aisle.

I got to the Manila Centennial airport at minutes past 12 noon, where a Camry was waiting to whisk me off straight to a Parañaque court to be on time for the 1 p.m. hearing.

I was like Tom Cruise in a “Mission Impossible,” achieving the task clockwork—thanks to Toyota Road Trek’s precise calculatio­ns through the Jing & Shawin Show.

Never mind that Sir John was fuming when he learned I had left him behind in Bantayan.

“Had I known you were leaving, I would have joined you,” he said.

Inseparabl­e separated. For once.

Below is the complete 15-leg Toyota Road Trek schedule:


I grieve over the death of my Pareng Louie Visorde, the best mayor Calauag, Quezon, has ever had. The cruelty of Covid-19 did not spare my Pareng Louie, who, despite being past 80, was still sprightly and always up and about before the dreaded virus snatched him so suddenly on Monday, April 19. A Nissan Navara loyalist, Pareng Louie also adored his Isuzu D-max. Bye, Pareng Louie. You will be terribly missed.

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