A trip to Northern Mindanao is always a welcome opportunity. And when you talk about this region, Cagayan de Oro City always comes to mind as it is the jump-off point to almost anywhere in the region by land, by sea or on air. CDO, as it is referred to, is the capital of Misamis Oriental and it is the center of trade, education, religion and politics in the region.
My first trip to CDO was in mid-80s when I accompanied agriculture broadcaster Ka Gerry Geronimo to a coffee plantation owned by San Miguel Corporation in Malaybalay, Bukidnon for his TV show, “Ating Alamin.”
My succeeding trips involved organizing the regional eliminations of national Milo marathon. It was at Limketkai Mall area where we set up our start and finish points and our runners warmed the major CDO roads on early mornings of those races in the 90s. On the side, we managed to take a trip to the island province of Camiguin via a roro from Balingoan port, two hours from CDO.
Then, there were the 4x4 off-road driving competitions which we covered for Caltex in early 2000 either in CDO or Bukidnon. Isuzu at one time drove us to one of the largest bamboo plantations in Valencia, Bukidnon.
Last week, I joined friends from Isuzu Philppines Corporation and colleagues in motoring to the city for the last leg of the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground at the Limketkai Parking Lot but the day before the event, we had an exciting drive to Manolo Fortich town in Bukidnon, home of the world’s largest pineapple plantation owned by Del Monte and the new popular destination, the Dahilayan Adventure and Forest Park.
The relatively new Laguindingan Airport outside CDO served as starting point for our three-vehicle convoy of an Isuzu Mu-X and two D-Max pickup trucks. The new boulevard from the airport to roads of other towns were good but as soon as we entered CDO, traffic was tight and slow due to the road widening projects and the city possibly was still recovering from the aftermath of flooding due to heavy rains that visited it only last January this year (the city also suffered loss of hundreds of lives and damage to properties at the height of Typhoon Sendong in December 2011).
In one and a half hour, we were traversing the twisty Mangima Canyon, also known as the Kennon Road of Bukidnon. Our Isuzu convoy easily overtook several delivery trucks and cars on the long uphill climb and soon we were to have lunch at the Del Monte Golf Club, one of the oldest golf courses having been built in 1928. Here we had an unlimited amount of pineapple juice and serving of extra big steak slices.
As I have observed in the past, the steaks tasted naturally sweet and tender as a good part of the cows’ meals come from pineapple extracts.
Del Monte also reminded me of one of our refreshing stops during the Isuzu Battle of Champions fuel economy challenge in August 2007 when we completed over 1,700 kilometers for six days from Manila to Davao. It was extra special as my team topped the Crosswind category.
Then we drove further up still in Manolo Fortich town (named after the first governor of Bukidnon, Don Manolo) to reach the Dahilayan Forest Park which became quite popular in the 2011 movie, “Forever and a Day” which starred KC Concepcion and Sam Milby.
The adventure park situated on the Mt. Kitanglad Mountain Ranges whose summit of 2,938 meters above sea level makes it the third highest peak in the country. Adventures include dual zipline of 850 meters, the longest in the country, luge and ATV driving, bubble ride and tree drops.
After a heavy meal, none of us went on an extreme adventure mode but we simply relished and enjoyed the Baguio-like weather which was a contrast to the heat at lowland CDO.
The gold or “oro”-colored Limketkai Luxe hotel served as our home for the night.
Following a highly successful and much sought-after series of events, the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground, IPC mounted its last and most exciting round at the Limketkai Mall parking lot in CDO.
The three-day event demonstrated the four-wheel driving capabilities of the Isuzu mu-X 4x4 LS-A A/T and Isuzu D-MAX 4x4 LS A/T 3.0-liter variants, the event allowed both off-road driving enthusiasts and mall goers a chance to check out in a fun and thrilling manner how Isuzu vehicles cope at traversing extreme obstacles. Serving as guests’ test-drive vehicles during the weekend event were five units of Isuzu mu-X 4x4 and two units of Isuzu D-MAX 4x4, which took to the specially prepared course that was meant to simulate the type of rugged terrain the vehicles are capable of tackling.
Assembled on this unique track were obstacles designed to test the limits of the vehicles, which included the slipper slope, articulation ramp and the 40-degree transverse-angle ramp. Of course, the 30-foot Thrill Hill, which has proven to be the most popular obstacle in every staging of the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground, again served as the centerpiece of the track.
“While both the Isuzu mu-X and Isuzu D-MAX have sophisticated styling and premium interior features, the fact remains that, especially in their 4x4 specifications, these two models are highly capable off-road machines that are designed to traverse extremely rugged terrain. This is the reason behind the Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground series — we want to communicate to consumers the capabilities of Isuzu models by letting them witness and experience these first-hand in a controlled environment,” said IPC President Hajime Koso during the event’s opening.
During the event, the mu-X 4x4 LS-A impressed guests with its combination of upscale features and off-road driving capabilities. The model is equipped with Isuzu’s 4JJ1-TC (HI) 3.0-liter diesel engine that has common rail direct injection, an intercooler and a Variable Geometry System (VGS) turbocharger, allowing it to produce 163Ps at 3,200rpm and 380Nm of torque at 1,800rpm to 2,200rpm. An available five-speed automatic transmission that boasts of a sequential shift function can be matched to this engine.
For its part, the D-MAX 4x4 LS A/T proved to event participants its rugged looks by ably tackling every obstacle on the track
“We at Isuzu Philippines would like to thank everybody who participated in the series of Isuzu 4x4 Action Playground events. Rest assured the next evolution of this experiential information drive will be more thrilling and relevant to consumers,” Koso said.
As of last count, the CDO leg had the most number of participants who availed of the free off-road ride and vehicle briefing with 2,400 people coming from CDO and the region.
The unique event was first held at BGC in Taguig, in late 2015, then to Mall of Asia in Pasay City, before going to to Cebu, Iloilo and Davao.
Yes, it was good to revisit CDO and Bukidnon as both offer several attractions from various waterfalls, whitewater rafting to museums, old churches and war memorials to adventure drives, rides and trails.