Discovering Pampanga with the Chery Tiggo 8

By Bernard L Supetran Philippine Daily Inquirer January 08,2020

The Chery Tiggo 8 sloshing through the Candaba Bird Sanctuary

Photos by Bernard L. Supetran

The New Year always brings a host of resolutions and bucket lists for people who love to hit the road with their cars of choice. Those in the know are always on the prowl for new models that would tickle their fancy.

A new vehicle worth checking out is Tiggo 8, a 7-seater mid-size crossover SUV of Chery Automobile Co. which staged a grand re-entry to the market last year with an unparalleled offer of a 5-year bumper to bumper warranty, and a 10-year engine warranty or 1 million kms. Isn’t that like driving to the moon and back, and circumnavigating the country’s entire road network afterwards?

Its superb features such as turbocharged 1.5-L engine with 145 PS and 210 Nm mated to a 6-speed dual clutch transmission can inject excitement to your usual road trip.

And speaking of bucket list, the province of Pampanga is one complete hideaway where you can flex this dream car and lose yourself on food, farms, fairways, family fun places, and everything in between.

Pit Stop 1: San Fernando. This capital city is a vital commercial and residential center in the north with its unprecedented infrastructure growth, far more than the giant lanterns it is known for.

A new lifestyle getaway is the Orchid Gardens Resort Complex, a 4-hectare spot for family recreation, entertainment, special events and a little bit of business. It boasts of The Tavern Hotel, a boutique accommodation with villas, two huge events places, a wave pool, a classy motor lodge, and a mini commercial center.

Like an oasis in the heart of the city, this tastefully-designed complex is a place to be seen with its green landscapes, elegant lounges, and wide array of activities.

For a culinary journey, it has Imang Nene Kapampangan Cuisine for traditional mouth-watering dishes with the trademark local flair—sizzling sisig, fried hito, seafood kare-kare, crispy lechon kawali begukan, lagat puso ning saging, and a bevy of desserts such as tibuk-tibuk, ale ube, and turon ala mode.

Chery Tiggo 8 will be a classy ride for jetsetters who zip into the city and drive off to nearby hideaways in a jiffy, with their travel gear, golf sets and other paraphernalia at its 892L-1930L trunk.

Ready for action at Pradera Verde Golf and Country Club

Pit Stop 2: Bacolor. Known for the fabled San Guillermo Church which was half-submerged by lahar, it also takes pride for being home to Apag Marangle, a native-themed restaurant situated in the middle of a fish pond. Guests feast on delicacies at nipa huts on stilts, or at the bamboo raft which glides slowly at the pond.

The popular dining destination along the Olongapo-Gapan Road also has an organic garden where it sources its ingredients and a store for souvenirs, delicacies, potteries, and cozy nooks for lazing and the all-important snapshots.

Pit Stop 3: Lubao. Home to two former Philippine presidents, this once laid-back municipality near the highway boundary with Bataan is rapidly-urbanizing and an emerging hub for green living.

This healthy lifestyle is espoused by Pradera Verde Villas, a sprawling master-planned enclave on generous open spaces to imbibe a close-to-nature residential feel. It claims to be “Everybody’s Playground” for the family with its diverse facilities—a golf and country club with an 18-hole and 9-hole course, a water park for swimming, and a wake park for wakeboarding and kayaking.

True to its character of being a green village, biking is the main mode within the Villas compound to promote physical fitness among guests and reduce vehicular emissions.

At Pampanga’s new lifestyle getaway Orchid Gardens

Come summer, Pradera Verde will host once more than the Lubao International Balloon and Music Festival which will see amazing hot air balloons take to the skies in an event-filled and star-studded extravaganza. On these days, the Chery Tiggo 8 will be a cool vehicle to strut around close to the launch site and activity area.

Another must-see in town is the Bamboo Hub and Eco Village, a man-made eco-park by the riverbanks with close to 500 fully-grown bamboo clumps. Opened during former president Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time as a soil erosion control project, it has evolved into an inexpensive excursion place for its canopies, picnic tables, bicycle lanes, fish spa, nipa hut pavilions, and pedal boats.

Managed by the municipal government, it also has a workshop for educational tours and showroom for finished products sold as souvenirs.

Pit Stop 4: Porac. Situated in a dune-like landscape, this interior town has been the choice of Ayala Land to put up Alviera, a mixed-use township estate whose sought-after public recreational facility is SandBox. It has the Giant Swing, the country’s tallest swing; the Aerial Walk Challenge, Avatar One, the Philippines’ first roller coaster zipline, the 5-storey Adventure Tower, ATV rides, a themed kiddie playground with picnic areas, mini-golf, camping sites, a courtyard and sports field.

For outdoors enthusiasts, Porac is a frontier with Puning Hot Spring and unexplored natural attractions like lagoons and waterfalls where the Chery Tiggo 8’s offroad capabilities can be put to the test.

Apag Marangle in Bacolor

Pit Stop 5: Angeles. Often associated with Clark, this city has maintained its Old World charm particularly at the Sto. Rosario downtown area which has been designated as a heritage zone with the Holy Rosary Cathedral, Museo Ning Angeles, Pamintuan Mansion Museum of Philippine Social History, and repurposed Spanish-era ancestral homes.

It is also a foodie’s haven with the infinite choices of international and fusion dishes, cafes, bars, watering holes, and the signature sisig which lured the late globe-trotting celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

With its cosmopolitan way of life, Angeles has become like a slice of Manila where symbols of status like the Chery Tiggo 8 will be a head-turner.

Pit Stop 6: Candaba. Towards dusk, the best place to be in Pampanga is Candaba Swamp, Luzon’s biggest wetland ecosystem and haven for migratory birds escaping winter in the northern hemisphere. Tucked in the interior plains of the province, the bird sanctuary can be accessed through a so-called pilapil or a 3-km narrow farm road monikered Rubythroat Ave. which forks from the Candaba-Baliuag Road.

Kapampangan delicacies at Imang Nene

With the kaleidoscopic sunset and the majestic Mt. Arayat in the background, the dirt road is a challenging drive where we tested the mettle of Chery Tiggo 8’s suspension and admire its tiger-crouching front face as its halogen automatic headlamp cuts through the dark.

Its front MacPherson and rear multi-link suspension provided us precision steering and excellent tracking at an area where we had to do a balancing act, quite literally. Its Honeywell turbocharger, BergWarner DVVT and Bosch 10-in-1 ESP9.3 features enabled us to enjoy dynamic driving in the only rough road we’ve encountered.

Upon reaching the main thoroughfare, it was back to delightful cruising with its ergonomic H-type seat design and anti-pinch function panoramic sunroof.

Chery Tiggo 8 at Angeles Cathedral

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