Once a year, something seemingly miraculous happens in the Philippines that triggers a Pavlovian response in the glands of local classic car enthusiasts. The phenomenon of Tour de Cebu (TdC) occurs, during the last vestiges of the country’s wet season. The 1,000-kilometer historic rally has its courageous participants and their desirable vintage automobiles congregate in Cebu to utilize the ferry system in unlocking the meandering provincial roads of the Visayan Islands… With the support of dedicated organizers, marshals, sponsors, local government coordination, friends, and family.
After boasting 33 entrants in 2016, the number increased to more than 45 for the 2017 edition with a couple of international teams joining in on the fun. Starting from Cebu, the rolling exhibit was easily appreciated in one fell swoop as the drivers loaded their four-wheeled treasures onto the FastCat transporter for the watery crossing to Bohol.
On the island of “Chocolate Hills”, tropical beaches, and forested mountains, they piloted their nostalgic vehicles for three full days of endurance driving through rain or shine. The competitors braved the elements and a variety of terrain for the liberating driving experience, far from the encroaching traffic jams of city living… And for the love of raw machinery, visceral challenges, and forged fellowship.
For this story, we interviewed one of these motorists-gone-wild: Willie Torres. Hailing from Davao City at 62 years old, he’s the President of the University of Mindanao by profession and a race car driver by passion — who completed the recently concluded 4th annual TdC with co-driver Joseph Ng. Together, they carved the winding roads of Bohol in a 1972 MG MGB. Here are his thoughts on what is probably the best motoring event the Philippines currently has to offer.
Q: How would you describe yourself as a car guy?
A: I am a car-crazy guy — a car collector, car restorer, and a car racer. I have a car addiction and must go to a rehab.
Q: Why do you choose to not only preserve your vintage car, but also put it through its paces?
A: I believe classic cars should be made to run rather than be displayed in car shows and other car events.
Q: What about the hobby is appealing or valuable, when compared to driving modern vehicles?
A: It revives the feeling of driving the car 30, 40, 50 or 60 years ago. It’s like going back in time.
Q: These cars don’t just sit pretty, they have to run well and survive the weekend. What are some of the most important things to remember when prepping the car before the journey?
A: The car must be mechanically sound to withstand 1,000 km and 3 days of driving on flat and mountain roads. In my case, I make sure the engine runs well. Months before TdC, I made preparations to: tune the car; check the brakes; check the suspension; check the steering assembly; and check the tires.
Q: Describe the physical endurance aspect of the rally. Is it taxing, challenging, or easily ignored due to the fun and adrenaline?
A: Yes it's physically taxing especially if your car does not have power steering. You have to be physically ready. Running the TdC brings out an adrenaline rush which makes you tireless during the rally. It gives you a natural high afterwards.
Q: What has been your reaction to the torrential rain, road work, and uncontrollable factors — such as the trucks, underbone riders, pedestrians, and animals crossing the road?
A: The rain, the wind, the heat, road work, and the tricycles, trucks, buses, etc give out a different challenge and character to the TdC. This made it more exciting. On Day 2, a tree branch landed on our windshield before the coastal road because of the winds. Luckily it hit the wiper arm which cushioned the impact, otherwise our windshield would have been broken. At TdC, you just have to drive safely and conservatively to avoid car trouble or any mishaps.
Q: During the week after TdC, what did you find yourself thinking about?
A: Immediately after, I already thought about preparing the MGB for the 2018 TdC. I also thought about the mistakes my co-driver and I made which knocked us out of contention on Day 3.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about Tour de Cebu? Do you attend any other motorsport events? What makes TdC stand out?
A: Its the fun, excitement, and adventure. Nothing compares to Tour de Cebu in all the rallies and races I've joined. Of course, the camaraderie among the organizers, race marshals, and participants was absolutely amazing. I am an active racer in the Philippine GT Car Championship in Clark and BRC, running in the GT300 class. I skipped the October 21-22 final Leg 6 of the PGTC to join the TdC. The TdC is more fun and exciting for me. Also, I was already enrolled at the Harvard Kennedy School in Massachusetts USA for an October 20, 2017 executive program. I postponed and moved it to February 5, 2018 because of the TdC. That's how much I loved Tour de Cebu.
The 2017 Tour de Cebu Grand Champion was returning winner Martin Aguilar with teammate Camille Aguilar in their 1956 Porsche 356A. Second place was awarded to Jay Aldeguer in his 1964 Porsche 356C, while third place went to Jason Lemberg and his wife Sarah in their 1972 Porsche 914/6.
The 4th annual Tour de Cebu historic rally was held from October 20 to 23, 2017 — presented by Pirelli, with co-presenters Chopard and BE Grand Resort. The event was organized by Tradeshow International Inc. (TSI), Performance and Classics Enthusiasts of Cebu (Pace), and Manila Sports Car Club (MSCC).
Sponsors and partners included Petron, Liqui Moly, Nissan, Michel Motorsport, Y101 FM, and Montebello Vista Hotel. Dynamic Management Inc. served as the rally technical team. Funds were also raised for Cebu’s Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation.