To make a memorable driving experience, you need three things: a great destination, a proper vehicle and good company. In the recent Manila Leg of the Subaru XV Suburban Drive, Motor Image Pilipinas took us on a journey through Philippine history, taking us back to an era more than a century ago with their best selling compact crossover.
The first stop was Kuppa Roastery & Café in Bonifacio Global City (BGC), where we had a sumptuous breakfast and a cup of their ‘Ben’s Cap’. Of course, BGC was once part of Fort Andres Bonifacio, named after the Filipino revolutionary in 1957. The café itself is owned by a Bacolod-based family that has been rooted in the coffee roasting business for more than sixty years.
Our next destination was the Aguinaldo Shrine in Kawit, Cavite. The site itself is significant in many ways. The shrine is the ancestral home of General Emilio Aguinaldo, the first President of the Republic of the Philippines. It was also where the original Philippine declaration of independence took place on June 12, 1898, after more than four centuries of being subjects of Spain. It was also where the Philippine flag was first waved to the public.
The preserved mansion is now a historical museum which gives a glimpse into the life of the country’s first President.
After a brief tour of the museum, we then set forth to Intramuros in Manila, otherwise known as the ‘Walled City’ for lunch at Illustrado. The restaurant was named after the Spanish term for ‘enlightened’, referring to Filipinos like Graciano Lopez Jaena, Marcelo H. del Pilar, Mariano Ponce, Antonio Luna, Juan Luna, and Jose Rizal, all of which sought reforms during the Spanish rule.
We then proceeded to the now famous ‘Walk This Way’ walking tours of Intramuros by theater actor turned tour guide and activist Carlos Celdran, who gave a colorful tour through Philippine history within Fort Santiago.
Fort Santiago was the final prison of National Hero Jose Rizal before he was executed on December 30, 1896.
The drive was capped off with dinner at The Legarda Mansion, one of the Manila’s first ‘Art Deco’ houses built in 1937, surviving even World War II. The house is located in the San Miguel District of Manila along with the Malacañan Palace. In it is ‘La Cocina de Tita Moning’, a dining experience where we relived the stately dinners hosted by Don Alejandro Legarda and Doña Ramona Hernandez (Tita Moning).
The whole day experience gave us an in-depth view into Philippine history more than all my primary school field trips added together.
Driving to Cavite involves going through the scenic 14-kilometer Manila-Cavite Expressway (CAVITEx), also known as ‘Coastal Road’ due to its proximity to Manila Bay. While the road isn’t as fun as a winding road, it does offer a nice view of the bay and perhaps the closest Metro Manila folks can get to experiencing a coastal highway.
The Subaru XV proved itself well on the highway with just the right amount of power to cruise on. The nimble crossover also managed to navigate through urban jungle with ease with the occasional bumps and ruts of Philippine roads. The edgy styling is targeted towards youthful buyers and the young at heart, making it a welcome replacement to the Impreza hatchback for the Philippine market.
Like the experience, the XV is a compact package of many things in one – modern styling, technology, versatility and practical use.