Hyundai Asia Resources Inc. (HARI), the Philippine distributor of Hyundai, recently discovered new possibilities that baffled even the local government officials of Siargao Island when they decided to do a driving event at the ‘surfing’ capital of the Philippines.
The decision to visit the 437 square-kilometer island actually just came as a whim to marketing executives of HARI when they were looking for a new destination for the Santa Fe, Hyundai’s mid-sized sports utility vehicle. Unusually, it was merely a happy accident that the island also had a town that shared the same name.
As we arrived at the newly built Siargao Domestic Airport, we were greeted by the Roadwise Motoring Foundation team led by Philippine Rally legend Vip ‘The Coach’ Isada who prepared the route with his group of veteran rally drivers and navigators. Our group of thirty-two journalists drove with eight units of the Sante Fe GLS e-VGT through the rather sleepy island where brand new vehicles are not a common sight.
We were billeted at the Dedon Island resort, a destination labelled as an ‘Outdoor Living Lab’, sharing a similar philosophy with the Hyundai brand. The resort serves as a functional showroom for the world-renowned outdoor furniture company of the same name, blending traditional architecture from early settlers of the island with new world, modern minimalist furniture pieces penned by contemporary designers like Jean-Marie Massaud and Philippe Starck.
The resort was a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of daily city life as you bask in the quiet escape of the island living. Mobile phone reception was rather dodgy and there was patchy broadband internet connection that made sure we were still in contact with the world. Nevertheless, this place is all about appreciating the finer things in life – nature.
We took the Santa Fe fleet through the many twists and turns of the scenic island, given its wide variety terrain of concrete roads to under-repair roads filled with limestone rocks for a well-planned route of two days to experience the capabilities of the rather-able Santa Fe.
As we previously reviewed it on the urban roads of Metro Manila, the Santa Fe handled quite well with a 2.2-liter common rail diesel with variable geometry turbo mated to a 6-speed automatic propelled it with ease. In the semi-rural roads of Siargao, the comfort level was on the firm side but not jarring despite being shod with 18-inch wheels and 235/60R18 tires.
The Santa Fe is equipped more to the level of the premium brands. It comes with cruise control, electronic stability program, hill start assist, hill descent control, electronic parking brakes, auto vehicle hold, xenon headlamps, 4.3-inch LCD display, rear camera, and comfort access key with push button start/stop functions.
Surfing Cloud 9
One of the prescribed activities was to visit the famous Cloud 9, known as having one of the best surfing waves in the world. The right-breaking reef wave is home to the Siargao Cup, an annual gathering of International and local surfers sponsored by the provincial government.
Apart from our recreational and relaxing activities, we did our share of giving back to nature with a mangrove planting activity at the Dedon Island resort complex. It was a good way of promoting sustainable living with the mangroves.
Like all good stories, an ending always comes at some point. It was definitely an unforgettable experience exploring the beautiful island of Siargao in an equally striking vehicle like the Hyundai Santa Fe.