Five years of rallying through the tropical islands of the Philippines
The late Steve Jobs once famously said, "You can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backward. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future." Tour De Cebu actually didn’t start out to be what online motoring site Petrolicious would dub as "the best tropical rally you haven't heard of" with epic vivid photography by Autoindustriya’s amazing photo doyen Jenna Genio.
Tour De Cebu was never expected to become what it is today. Initially, it really was just meant as an activity to celebrate 10 years of existence for our Cebu-based car club Performance and Classics Enthusiasts or better known as PACE. PACE was a small club that was formed upon the prodding of the Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC) who saw in the similarly like-minded enthusiasts the potential to be a serious candidate for a sister club.
They saw in what was then just a group of friends who enjoyed driving fast and then had the nascent seed for interest in vintage and classic sports cars. MSCC then was mounting unforgettable drives literally across the whole archipelago of the Philippines in what was then considered unthinkable much more undoable, driving vintage and classic sports cars across the islands, in a road trip aptly entitled, the Nautical Run. They were then also discretely looking for like-minded individuals as well as clubs to affiliate with as well as to develop and nurture. Legendary car enthusiasts as well as famous restorers like Michael Aguilar, Oscar Medalla, Lito Ignacio, and Jorge See saw in the young group of friends similar passions and encouraged, almost to the point of demanding the forming of what would become PACE.
The young and impressionable PACE members were initially stupefied of how this group of hardcore enthusiasts was traversing the islands invaluable classic sixties sports cars like Jaguar E Types as well as Chevy Corvettes. The close up first-hand experience with the cars and their drivers left a lasting effect that deeply ingrained itself in the psyche of the impressionable members of the young club.
PACE’s love affair with restoring classic and vintage sports cars as well as driving them spiritedly; soon exploded. The club has not looked back since. Soon the search for projects as well as Concours condition classic and vintage cars began, and eventually avalanched into almost a mad frenzy of acquisition and restoration, with multiple repeat cycles. PACE soon gained notoriety in the whispered circles of hardcore enthusiasts nationally, as a pleasant but unusual anomaly; A newly formed club of young members who were extremely passionate about not just restoring and collecting but actually aggressively driving older cars. What caused the whispers to rise wasn’t just the frenzied chaos of collecting but the rising frequency of inter-island drives that were mounted, often with open invitations to MSCC to join.
Soon, PACE began to grow both in membership and reputation. The inter-island drives soon became a basic staple of the yearly activities of the club. In 2013, one of the founders, Jay Aldeguer brought out the idea of mounting a touristic style rally that showcases the love of PACE for driving classic and vintage sports cars on inter-island tours as part of the commemoration of the tenth year 2015 anniversary of the existence of PACE. Hence the idea of the initial Tour De Cebu, was really to celebrate the decade as well as renew kinships with the MSCC.
The first Tour De Cebu in 2014 was actually meant to be a dry run, mounted a year before the actual decade celebration. The route began in Cebu, thru the mountain passes of the Trans central then crossing over to Negros and back. And in true MSCC spirit, the key members from the original Nautical Run shipped valuable classic and vintage sports cars and keenly participated. Unfortunately, there was an uninvited guest, a super typhoon which prevented the participants from crossing over to the island of Negros for day 2 and 3 of TDC 1.
TDC 2 celebrated the 10 years of PACE and completed the whole 1000km route from Cebu to Dumaguete, Negros and Back. It was a huge success with participants from MSCC once again participating. TDC 2 opened the eyes of everyone on the potential as well as the possibilities of a tropical rally run to an international standard. Planning began almost immediately after, with the island of Bohol in mind.
Bohol was perfect for hosting an international standard historic rally as the island boasts an interesting variety of quality roads from coastal highways to very technical mountain passes all enveloped by picturesque countryside and an extremely friendly populace. It also helped that the home for the next three years of TDC was the newly opened BE Grand Resort in Panglao which incidentally was also owned by a PACE member, Grand Benedicto.
TDC 3 and 4 saw huge leaps in participation both locally and even internationally, as participants came from the North and South of the Philippines from Pampanga and Davao to guests from Spain, the United States, and even an RHD Jaguar XK140 Coupe from Singapore. But It was TDC 4 that caught the imagination of an international audience and broke the ceiling of expectations as almost 50 participants joined as well as prestigious brands such as Chopard and Pirelli joined institutional sponsors such as Petron, Liquimoly, Montebello and BE Grand Resort came into a partnership with TDC. Chopard added a unique touch by creating a limited edition TDC watch (30 pieces) based on their Mille Miglia timepiece. Italian tire brand and Formula 1 sponsor Pirelli also for the first time became a presenter, adding tremendous prestige to the event.
Petron presents Tour De Cebu 5. It was only fitting that Petron was the presenter for the 5th edition as they have been with TDC since year 1. CARambla is very fortunate to have 2 first-time participants to TDC tell their stories, with very interesting contrasts.
Watch out for their stories in the coming weeks.