Just as summer was about to end, Ford Philippines decided to fly selected members of the motoring media to a ‘Fun Drive’ in Bohol. Summer is the perfect season to go on a road trip, be it a long or short journey; Ford followed on its ‘Go Further’ slogan by shipping six of their Ford Focus for a journey through scenic roads and sights of Bohol. Having missed the Deep Dive in Krabi, Thailand last year, I was naturally excited to get behind the wheel of the Focus while driving through scenic roads as far away as possible from the work desk.
Upon arrival at Tagbilaran Airport, we were welcomed by three hatchbacks and three sedans in different model trims. Car assignments were raffled off between the twelve participants, who proceeded to their respective cars to head to Ford Bohol, one of Ford’s newest Brand@Retail dealerships established as part of the blue oval marque’s nationwide network expansion. We were greeted by Dealer Principal Brian Chua and Managing Director Lyndon Go; both familiar faces which I’ve met in previous sorties in Cebu. The group was then briefed by Ford Philippines AVP for Communications Anika Salceda-Wycoco that there would be no contests for our drive. It would purely be a drive to experience the cars and pure unadulterated fun with the cars while focusing our attention to the many sights of Bohol.
From the dealership we set out to the next destination – the famous Loboc River, named the cleanest river in the Philippines. We set forth on a short river cruise on one of the floats that doubles as a dining room where we had a buffet lunch consisting of local dishes and delicacies. The cruise was quite tranquil and peaceful despite the downpour that greeted us midway through the cruise. While similar to the river cruise along the Chaopraya River in Thailand, the clean and green Loboc River surrounded by nature provided a an experience that was more in touch with nature.
After lunch, it was time to go back to the cars as we headed to the Philippine Tarsier Conservation Area. The conservation facility was instituted for visitors to see the minute mammals in their natural habitat, while providing a safe habitat for the endangered species.
The next destination was the Chocolate Hills for the customary tourist visiting. The route went through the Mayacabac Man-made Forest, which is composed of scenic and twisty roads carved through a mountain reminiscent of the Quezon National Forest Park in Atimonan, Quezon. The man-made forest was a started in 1958 by planting Mahogany trees to address flooding in Bohol caused by destructive Kaingin farming methods. It has since been one of the popular sights of the province. We were so captivated by it that we had our group photo taken right in the middle of it.
Passing through the twists and turns of the Mayacabac also gave us the opportunity to experience and appreciate the handling capabilities of the Focus. The combination of well-developed independent suspension and rigid chassis engineering with the Torque Vectoring System definitely made driving through the turns at a spirited pace more exciting. The able 170 PS Duratec 2.0-liter engine definitely handled the ups and downs of the mountain pass quite well. The Powershift dual clutch transmission was geared well enough and shifted at the right moments that the SelectShift buttons were more of a decorative feature.
As we reach the world famous Chocolate Hills, everyone quickly pulled out their cameras to snap away at the more than 1286 mounds of grass covered marine limestone formations. Some decided to go up 214 steps up to an observation deck carved out of one of the mounds for a bird’s eye view of the natural wonder.
We then set forth to our last stop, which was the Hinagdanan Caves. A cave on Panglao island with natural formations of stalagmites and stalactites, and a deep pool about 12 feet deep and goes up to about 15 feet at high tide. The cave is like a miniature version of the famous Underground River in Palawan. The drive to the caves had several kilometers of relatively rough limestone-lined roads where we drove the cars through which tested the ride comfort where it did not disappoint.
As with every good journey, a nice destination awaits. After a long day of driving, it was time to head to Blue Water Panglao for our much needed summer relaxing by the sea.
The Focus is a very driver-oriented car, as such, features like a well-supported seat, tilt/telescopic adjustable three spoke wheel, and a nice multi-information meter gives the necessary stuff like fuel range, and fuel consumption. It is even equipped with all the high-tech toys and functions you’d wish every car in its class came with. From the award-winning Ford SYNC, Active Park Assist, Blind Spot Information System (Titanium+ only), and Active City Stop; the car just seems to do all that.
While definitely fun to drive, it would be of interest to note that rear passenger legroom isn’t one of its best qualities especially when compared to similarly sized sedans.