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Exploring Tagaytay after the eruption

By Alvin Uy Philippine Daily Inquirer February 19,2020

Time for a mini picnic, the Ford Explorer makes a perfect outdoor travel companion.

The recent Valentine’s weekend and the weeks leading to it was supposed to be the start of peak season for the hotels and restaurants in Tagaytay City.

But the eruption last Jan. 12 threw a monkey wrench that caused so much havoc, fear, disruption and devastation to include the nearby towns and municipalities within 20 kilometers from Taal Volcano.

With the alert level of Taal Volcano already lowered to level 2, the city of Tagaytay is showing signs of life and semblance of normalcy.

My wife and I drove up last weekend and the drive up from Manila was relatively easy, minus the bottleneck along SLEX in Alabang area. It was a payday weekend as well, so we expected traffic to be heavy. However, we were surprised to see the drive up was relatively smooth and shorter than expected. The popular restaurants last weekend were almost full but one can easily walk in and get a table, a far cry from the long beelines of pre-eruption days. The weekend respite was a welcome one, since Tagaytay’s cool February weather and the not-so-touristy vibe made it once again a nice place to recharge and have a quick weekend getaway. But in the coming weeks, as the public is now less wary in venturing Tagaytay and less afraid of the Covid-19, we would see a much busier Tagaytay soon.

We almost failed to get a room at Escala Hotel, now among the ridge’s most popular destination as the hotel was shy of one or two rooms to being fully booked when we confirmed. The hotel is a popular choice among locals and visiting balikbayans, and also for families and friends attending weddings. The hotel now has a convention center good for corporate events and wedding receptions.

The Explorer has a number of conveniently located pockets and cup holders within easy reach.

The vehicle of choice we used was a topline Ford Explorer 3.5 EcoBoost Sport AWD model and this variant is one of two in Ford’s current lineup and comes complete with all the bells and whistles including the more powerful 3.5 V6 EcoBoost engine, a sport tuned suspension and an intelligent all-wheel-drive system inspired from Land Rover. With the flick of a switch, it gives the driver various terrain management options depending on the road (and off-road) driving conditions. Rated to produce a maximum 365 horsepower and 475 Nm of torque, it can ably out-sprint most vehicles on the highway, and its sport-tuned suspension will give you the necessary road grip and agility when negotiating the twisty backroads of Alfonso, Cavite.

The Explorer’s other goodies that were considered a perfect fit for road trips is its twin panel moon-roof, rear seat entertainment specially if you have kids, and its Powerfold 3rd row seat makes it very easy to fold away or stow the 3rd row seats for that added cargo space. The Explorer also has a number of conveniently located pockets and cup holders within easy reach.

The well-paved and twisty backroads are one of Alfonso’s best-kept secrets it is always a joy to drive back home using this route. On the way back we visited a friend’s newly built leisure farmhouse / workshop located along one of backroads of Alfonso.

The rear seat entertainment is very useful for travel, specially if you have kids.

Its sprawling and tranquil natural terrain was the perfect place to set up a mini picnic and the weak cellular signal made the place even more serene. One can easily hear the gushing stream and mini waterfall nearby, and we really had a treat savoring the local “turon” (fried banana fritters). The area was lush and full of greenery with little signs of ashfall. Residents say that because the winds were facing the other direction, this part of town was not so affected by the ashfall.

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