bless the lonely road

City streets are the epit­ome of city stress, so recharge your bat­ter­ies by hit­ting these five open roads.

Scout - - CONTENTS - By ROMEO MORAN Il­lus­tra­tion by TER­ENCE ED­UARTE

1 When you need to get lost in a dream


Have you ever heard of high­way hyp­no­sis? It’s a phe­nom­e­non when you stare at the road ahead for so long that you start to run on what is pretty much au­topi­lot, do­ing all the things a re­spon­si­ble mo­torist would do but never remembering any of them af­ter­ward.

It is pos­si­ble to be hyp­no­tized by the seem­ingly-end­less Su­bic-Clark-Tar­lac Ex­press­way. This is, hands down, the best place to lit­er­ally lose your­self in. The 93.77-kilo­me­ter ex­press­way stretches on and on, into the hori­zon and be­yond it, a lonely road cut­ting through the mi­nor hills and rice elds of cen­turies-old ha­cien­das. You can travel to ei­ther Su­bic (on the south­ern­most end) or to Tar­lac (the north­ern­most end) to take it all in, but the best re­sults, I’ve found, are from when you take it to and from Tar­lac.

Of­ten­times, you will never nd another car trav­el­ing with you. There are hardly any po­lice to ag you down when you give in to the temp­ta­tion of let­ting loose and burn­ing through your tires. The road is all yours, should you ever fancy a sce­nario in which you’re run­ning away from some­thing.

2 When you need some thrill


Let’s come right out with it: Kennon Road is dan­ger­ous as fuck. Peo­ple die on the road when it’s rain­ing and wet and prone to land­slides, and I’ve never trusted the lit­tle stone bar­ri­ers that sep­a­rate you and the ravine. It might also be cursed—hun­dreds of the work­ers who built it at the turn of the last cen­tury died ei­ther from malaria or fall­ing.

Kennon Road, watched over by the gi­ant lion’s head sit­ting on the out­skirts of the city, does not look fa­vor­ably upon in­ex­pe­ri­enced driv­ers. It can be taken fast. It has to be taken fast, be­cause you are shar­ing the two-lane road with cars who want to go up to and down from Baguio as much as you do.

That’s the beauty of it: you have to both run it and be safe, and not let any of your fears get to you. There is no room for hes­i­ta­tion, only the mil­lisec­onds-long win­dow to tap the brake be­fore you at­tack a blind cor­ner or a switch­back. If you’re slow, you’re en­dan­ger­ing the driver be­hind you by tempt­ing him to over­take. You have to set your mind com­pletely to the as­cen­sion vic­tory.

3 When you need con­trol


You’ve never lived, I be­lieve, un­til you’ve own like the wind through an empty, un­lit stretch of road in the mid­dle of the night. If that sounds dan­ger­ous, you’re ac­tu­ally right; Gover­nor’s Drive is dan­ger, a stand­ing tes­ta­ment to the gap­ing in­con­sis­ten­cies of pro­vin­cial gov­er­nance in the Philip­pines. There are hardly any street­lights, any bar­ri­ers sep­a­rat­ing lanes (and you from the coun­try­side), and any sort of con­sis­tent po­lice pres­ence. It’s ex­actly the kind of place where the news nds mo­torists who meet death at the hands of an on­com­ing truck.

But let­ting the en­gine rip through its long, hardly-con­gested (and smooth!) stretches and nav­i­gat­ing its sidewind­ing snakes like you’re some Gran Tur­ismo driver in the Car­mona to Das­mar­iñas part of the 58.3-kilo­me­ter high­way is an oddly calm­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. Driv­ing through it, I’ve found, is the right mix of zen and con­trol, ideal for when your life is start­ing to spi­ral out of your hands. Take it back, wheel in your grip, and let the miles run through your mind.

4 When you need to cool down


There are three ways go­ing in and out of Tagay­tay, all meet­ing at the city’s cold heart of a ro­tonda. Two of them carve a twist­ing trail along the sides of the 600-foot high ridge the city rests on, but the last one is an 11.9-kilo­me­ter straight drive go­ing up and down the gen­tlest of slopes.

If the steeper roads only com­pletely re­veal the city once you as­cend to the top of the ridge, then the Aguinaldo High­way un­rav­els its bound­aries to you lit­tle by lit­tle with each kilo­me­ter you travel. If the weather’s get­ting too damn hot and you don’t have the time or lux­ury to ven­ture all the way up north to go to Baguio or any of the moun­tains in the Cordilleras, just head south. You can start rolling the win­dows down when you’re go­ing up from Silang, as the roads will be sparse and the moun­tain wind al­ready blow­ing at the bot­tom.

This ac­tu­ally ap­plies to any of the roads in and around Tagay­tay, but the city’s boom (at least two new malls de­vel­oped in the past few years) means more traf­fic clog­ging what was once a sooth­ing moun­tain drive. There’s more free­dom on the Aguinaldo High­way, at least.

5 When you need some dis­cov­ery


The is­land of Luzon is an in­ter­con­nected net­work of, shall we say, pretty ad­vanced set­tle­ments. Once you hit the open road in al­most any di­rec­tion, you’re likely to pass through places that are rough and ru­ral, but drive on fur­ther and you’ll even­tu­ally hit a big city or town on the other end, with ho­tels and McDon­ald’s and Jol­libees for your weary, trav­eled soul. Luzon is de­vel­oped like that. Cebu, how­ever, is more rugged. The Natalio B. Ba­calso South Na­tional High­way, span­ning the sword­like main is­land, is a time ma­chine. Leave the con­fines of Metro Cebu (which hon­estly looks no dif­fer­ent from Makati) and lit­tle by lit­tle, the city gives way to the coun­try. Ev­ery kilo­me­ter of the 196-km is­land you cross is a grad­ual turn­ing back of time’s dial, un­til you ar­rive at the proud ru­ins of a Span­ish balu­arte in the town of Os­lob, where the falls are hid­den and the whale sharks play with the sher­men. Chances are you’ve never seen any of these (un­less you live in Cebu) so here’s an ad­ven­ture you can lose your­self in.

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