Many stories have been told about this island Paradise. It is one of the few remaining places on earth where time seems to move at a much slower pace. Batanes is practically undisturbed by commercialism, and its people still practice old school values, with the local townsfolk always courteous and flashing a welcome smile.
Upon touching down at the airport, our group of urban young professionals was greeted by the majestic sight of Mt. Iraya and a welcome salute from Palermo “Boying” Soriano, Jr., Columbian Autocar’s Marketing Service Manager who exclaimed, “Welcome to paradise everybody!”
From the airport, we proceeded to Fundacion Pacita, a hill top hotel which used to function as a rest house of renowned artist Pacita Abad. It was in this beautiful hotel where Pacita spent her last remaining years while battling with cancer. The Abad family renovated and converted it into a hotel with a commanding view of the coastlines and the South China Sea.
Most of us who are city slickers were breathless with the amazing view, which reminded me of Scotland, as the cold breeze brushed through my hair. It was a prelude of things to come.
Day 2 of our Batanes sojourn started early to maximize our working tour of the island. With a theme “Kia beats in Batanes”, the event aims to highlight the features of its full line up of vehicles. Event organizers gave each participating team keys to a Kia variant. I was assigned to “Team Valugan” with I as the designated driver, Kris Lim of the Business Mirror as my navigator, plus the husband and wife tandem of Popong and Tet Andolong, section editors at the Business Mirror acting as our team leaders. Our goal was to go around Batanes, amazing race style with pit stops in strategic and scenic locations throughout a pre-planned route. The trick is to clock in at each pit stop in a specified order and take photos of our Kia Sorento vehicle with the assigned location as back drop.
From the entrance of Fundacion Pacita, our first pit stop was at the Basco Lighthouse located in Naidi Hills, Barangay San Antonio. This six-storey structure is functional and is one of the island’s best tourist attractions. Kia allotted 10 pit stops for the driving event, with the 10 media teams crisscrossing the island rushing from one stop to another. The roads were generally paved, with bits of off road driving getting to Rolling and Marlboro Hills which were postcard perfect destinations. Both of these locations offer a breath taking view of the open sea and lush greeneries with cattle grazing all around. It was simply an amazing place to visit for city folks who often see concrete buildings.
Throughout the journey, the Kia Sorento proved its mettle as we drove through gravel roads and steep uphill climbs with relative ease. The ride is comfortable enough for our rear passengers to catch a wink or two and has enough excitement under the hood during straight line cruising.
Kia really pulled out all the stops for this event. We not only enjoyed their vehicles, Kia provided us with an opportunity to experience the beauty of this island Paradise.