Viva Vitara
By Bernard L Supetran
Philippine Daily Inquirer
December 1, 2019 at 5:00 am

Viva Vitara(First of two parts)

It isn’t difficult to comprehend why Cebu—the City and the province—are among the country’s top-of-mind destinations for local and foreign travelers alike. Voted time again as among the world’s best islands, Cebu is actually an enchanting archipelago of about 167 islands spread out in 4,945 sq.km of land and sea.

With Spanish-era churches, gorgeous beaches, delectable food, and splendid four-lane roads all around its coast, the province is an irresistible drive for road trippers who want to enjoy its charm.

An exciting vehicle which can take on Cebu’s meandering highways and byways is the New Vitara of Suzuki Philippines. With hundreds of kilometers extending from north to south on both paved roads and rugged terrain, the Vitara offers a ride that can handle all the conditions.

Distributed in Cebu by Sakura Autoworld Inc., the New Vitara is available in GL, GL+ and GLX 6-speed automatic transmission variants, and is among the most-sought after models down south. The award-winning dealership also boasts of an extensive network of showrooms across key points in the Visayas.

Over the past week, we had the chance to test the mettle of this new beauty to discover why it handily bagged the 2019-2020 Auto Focus Media’s Choice Awards’ Compact SUV of the Year: Best Value for Money.

Below is our three-day odyssey in northern Cebu, away from the madding crowd of the Queen City of the South.

Viva Vitara

The New Vitara in front of Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church in Danao City

Pit Stop 1: Liloan. This boomtown 22 km north of Cebu may yet be the next city of the province with its rapid urbanization and property development. Famed for the century-old parola (lighthouse), rosquillos cookies, and the San Fernando Rey Church, the town is teeming with home-grown restaurants, coffee shops, boutique hotels and resorts.

A roadside attraction is Papa Kit’s Marina and Fishing Lagoon, a sprawling resort by Silot Bay which is an adventure park, restaurant, and aqua sports recreational colony rolled into one. It has an outdoor wall, zipline, skybike, inflatable island and pool, saltwater swimming pool, stand-up paddle, kayaks, floating cottages, to name a few, which will keep guests occupied.

It also has comfy lodgings with a view of the fishing lagoon on both sides for a rejuvenating stay.

Pit Stop 2: Danao City. Known for its “paltik” gunsmith industry, it is earning a name for itself as a progressive commercial and fish port center. In the heart of the city is the Sidlak Danao landmark where locals and motorists pull over for a snapshot with the bay and Camotes Islands in the background.

The Spanish-era Sto. Tomas de Villanueva Church provided a stunning backdrop for the shining, shimmering New Vitara unit where the upgrades in the exterior—newly- designed grills, lower bumpers and new rear combination lamps—stood out.

A 27 km uphill drive took us to the Danasan Eco Adventure Park which offers a variety of activities such as zipline, horseback riding, waterfalls rappelling, caving, wakeboarding, all-terrain vehicle, and a high ropes course. Situated at the Cebu Central Protected Landscape at 529 meters above sea level, the New Vitara displayed the stuff it is made of, as it seamlessly negotiated the long and winding concrete and unpaved road.

Viva Vitara

Kawa Hot Bath at Danasan Eco Adventure Park

Pit Stop 3: Carmen. This quiet town next to Danao has been luring tourists with the Cebu Safari Adventure Park, 9 km upland in Barangay Toril. Nearby is Alhibe Farms, a back-to-nature farmhouse where we hit the sack. A Visayan word which means water collection reservoir, Alhibe is tucked in the interiors of Sac-on passing through a 2-km unlit dirt road and a creek overflow.

The search for the sanctuary in pitch darkness was a breeze with the New Vitara’s stylish suede seats, cluster meter and premium-feel cabin.

The one-hectare farmhouse is a reservations-only accommodation, and shuts you out from the outside world as cellphone signal is limited. Perfect for moments of solitude and communing with Mother Nature and the Almighty Creator, the cozy payag cabana is one of the few places you can have unto yourself.

Pit Stop 4: Daanbantayan. Cebu’s northernmost town, this resort town is famous for Malapascua, a beach and scuba diving island which is home to the rare thresher shark. But for those who don’t dive, the mainland is a good alternative if it’s only the powdery sand they’re after.

Close to the town’s tip is Golden Sands Destination Resorts, a new 7-hectare property which takes pride in its 500-m long beachfront, star-rated garden and lagoon villas, and good food to boot. A unique feature is the brackish lagoon where you can kayak or do stand-up paddling, fishing, and gaze at the fishes below. Across the lagoon are man-made islands connected by bridges up to the beachfront, which make for an Instagrammable shot. The resort, which is still on its pre-grand opening stage, offers island-hopping and will soon open scuba diving tours.

A few minutes away is Kandaya Resort, a luxe hideaway every step of the way—in its bespoke villas, restaurant and recreational facilities. Named in homage to ancient tribal chieftain Datu Daya, it has an exclusive beachfront where a seaplane from Cebu used to land a few months back.

Viva Vitara

Alhibe Farm in Carmen

Sadly, the fast air service have ceased, but the 131-km journey from Cebu will be a fascinating joyride with the sleek New Vitara.

(To be continued)

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