The day I asked Ms. Timmy Naval of Isuzu Philippines Corporation (IPC) for a test drive unit of the 2004 Crosswind, little did I knew that I would be in for a surprise, a surprise that enabled me to leave all others behind for a weekend trip en route to Palawan. Yes, the so-called last ecological frontier of the Philippines will be the rendezvous of my reunion with the Crosswind.
Having given the chance to experience the Crosswind a multitude of times over various road and driving conditions, I have developed an affinity for it. Just like a typical soap opera, the Crosswind's casts keep on growing. Episode per episode, I was lucky to witness the developments one by one. The impressive transformation of the Crosswind, from its simple, unassuming lines, to its robust, macho looks today has led Isuzu to staging an event just for the Crosswind's evolution, aptly titled as "The Isuzu Crosswind Evolution in Palawan".
So, tagging along with other motoring media guys and gals, we are then guided towards the Crosswind convoy the moment we arrived at the Puerto Princesa airport via Flight PR 195; the vehicles were ferried over to the island beforehand by Sulpicio Lines. Starting off the Crosswind convoy was a white Crosswind XTO, and then followed by the Sonic Yellow Crosswind XUV (a mainstay of Isuzu events), Ms. Timmy Naval's Carribean Gold Crosswind XUVi, followed by the 2004 Crosswinds XTRM, XUV, and XUVi. Official fuel and oil for this event was Caltex Power Diesel and Delo Sports, respectively. The 2004 Crosswinds showcased new features such as front seat back massager, new design polished mag wheels, turn-activated fog lamps, 3rd brake lamps, chrome exhaust finisher, and many more. These features are on top of new and exciting colors.
After early lunch, a document called "itinerary" dictated that we were to proceed to the old capital of Taytay after five hours of countryside driving. But that doesn't mean cruising over smooth, winding coastline roads. Being a very remote province of the Philippines, Palawan also had its share of rough, unpaved roads, which was almost synonymous to zero fun factor. But, some of the designated drivers, who were sober and relaxed on the smooth, winding coastal roads, found delight when the rough, unpaved road sections commenced, transforming them into "Palawan Rallye" drivers. It's good that the 4JA1 engines of the Crosswind were always up for these stints, providing ample torque to fine tune those loose gravels. The high ground clearance and wider tires were also indispensable during these unholy times.
After almost drifting all the way towards the old capital of Taytay, we eventually arrive at the Spanish-inspired Fort Isabelle, where a boat to Club Noah Isabelle was waiting for us. Club Noah Isabelle, a very posh resort situated in nearby Apulit Island was our retreat ground for the night, but not after dinner by the beach and a very cool cultural presentation.
As soon as sunrise the next day, Club Noah Isabelle was very cordial in treating its guests into its distinct perks. The early birds went fishing for breakfast, while some went diving and snorkeling, whereas the others just enjoyed the tranquil and relaxing scenery. Our paradise experience ended when it's time for us to return to Puerto Princesa to meet up with some city officials, particularly Vice Mayor Lucilo Bayron and City Councilor Dr. Rudolph "Pogi" Baladad.
Isuzu has indeed added another set of kilometers to their trip meters. True to their slogan to "Go Farther!" we may not be surprised one day that Isuzu will explore everything our beautiful country offers, way faster than any other presidential candidate could do this year!