Touring Subic with the Foton Toano
Ask any grizzled road warrior about his favorite getaways, and chances are Subic is one of them. Not only does it boast of the most seamless travel across three tollways, this industrial and tourism enclave also combines a unique blend of leisure, nature, and adventure. Then there’s the no-nonsense enforcement of road discipline which eliminates the incident of encountering the proverbial “kamote” drivers.
And road trips become a consummate experience with family and friends on board a vehicle built for comfort and an unobstructed view of the countryside.
A cool, sleek vehicle to take you on this journey is the Foton Toano which can be your best option for some fun on the road next to a tourist bus.
Whether it is the 15-seater or the 11-seater version, Foton Toano can bring a family or a big group to places like Subic with the promise of not just riding comfort but safety because of its high roof and spacious interior. The Toano’s 2.8-liter Cummins engine with a maximum output of 130 hp and 360 Nm of torque mated to a 6-speed manual transmission is powerful enough to carry a heavy load of passengers to locations at high altitude.
With our penchant for “the more, the merrier” motto and taking along hordes of stuff for travel, not to mention the pasalubong shopping, the spacious van is just tops for a road odyssey.
And for conventions, visits of luxury cruise ships and special events which often take place in Subic, the Foton Toano is ideal for ferrying guests because of its seating capacity and extra space for a few standing passengers. This Chinese-made, fuel-efficient van is also perfect for sight-seeing tours with its ample legroom and headroom where the tour guide can recite his spiel.
Below are some of the must-sees where this wonder van can take you in style and comfort.
Pit Stop 1: Vasco’s Maritime Museum. Often missed out in the excitement of the journey is Subic’s rich heritage as a major maritime naval hub since the 1800s, because of the galleons and merchant ships that have sought shelter in its tranquil bay.
This checkered history is chronicled at Vasco’s Maritime Museum along Argonaut Road which has a remarkable collection of ancient Chinese jars, Spanish cannons, World War 2 weapons and other relics from sunken ships. Pull up for coffee, and marvel as you tour an amazing surprise hiding from plain sight.
Meticulously put together by Australian scuba diver Brian Homan, a pioneer locator when the former American base was converted into a freeport in 1992, the place has an adjacent restaurant, bar and a no-frills hotel.
As you cruise along, you may want to check out the latest sale of quality and competitively-priced utility vehicles or light trucks at United Auctioneers, the biggest of its kind in the country.
Pit Stop 2: Go Sailing at Lighthouse Resort. Embraced by a scenic calm bay, engaging in watersports is a must-do. And since Subic Bay takes pride in its maritime history, you might as well try sailing to get a feel of the ancient seafaring experience.
Subic Sailing Club based at the Lighthouse Marina Resort offers basic sailing lessons on dinghy sailboats for children and adults alike, which is pretty easy when you get into the groove after a series of twists and turns. According to club director Zed Avecilla, the group hopes to breed the next generation of sailors who will represent the Philippines in international contests and continue our legacy as a maritime nation.
The Club holds regular friendly regattas and sailing clinics to be an added tourist attraction, and develop public interest in the sport by being participants, and not mere spectators. Check out www.subicsailing.com for the schedule of regattas so you can time your visit to the event.
The nautical-themed boutique hotel also offers cruises around Subic Bay and outlying coves aboard its Selma Star yacht which can fit all the Foton Toano passengers.
Pit Stop 3: Casa San Miguel. Situated about an hour outside the Freeport, this art colony in San Antonio town has somehow become an intrinsic part of Subic as its guests would often swing here. Founded by renowned violinist Alfonso “Coke” Bolipata from the ashes of Mt. Pinatubo, this enclave in the midst of a mango orchard is a community center for visual art and music where young children of farmers and fishermen learn string instruments for a chamber orchestra.
The heart of Casa San Miguel is the Victorian-style building which houses an intimate concert hall, a café, a mini-museum, and a cluster of landscaped gardens and galleries with exhibits of paintings, sculptures, mixed media, and installation art.
For a complete immersion into the arts, its resident string ensemble, Pundaquit Virtuosi can perform well-loved classics and popular tunes with prior arrangement.
Pit Stop 4: Acea Subic Bay Resort. When it’s time to settle down, this new family-friendly amenity-laden hotel is the hands-down choice. Nestled on a secluded palm-lined cove of the former Dungaree Beach away from the usual crowd, this is a self-contained recreational complex with its three swimming pools, a children’s playpen, a fitness gym, a game room, a billiards hall, and two videoke rooms where you can sing the night away.
Over dinner, you can feast on the culinary delights at the seaside Salt Restaurant, and share small talk on the day that was, and the cruising experience, aboard the Foton Toano.
Acea also has a wide range complete range of water sports equipment so you can pump up the adrenaline, or simply frolic in the powdery sand and clear water in the bay’s most scenic cove.
On the way home, you can use the old Olongapo-Gapan Road which will take you back to the exciting zigzag road at the Roosevelt National Park which the van can skillfully maneuver. This almost forgotten road since the opening of the SCTEx is ideal for shopping of local delicacies, assorted knick-knacks, or even agricultural produce along the Bataan and Pampanga portions of the highway. With lots of space, Foton Toano will surely have room for your all-important pasalubong.
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