Sunday, June 15, 2014

Driving (And Eating) North With Chevrolet Spark And Yak Pak Philippines

"Is it a sport utility vehicle?" I inquired over the phone. "And where are we going?"

Melo of, on the other end of the line, replied "No. It's a small car. Ilocos Norte." 

"Oh.", was my only reaction. And it wasn't the 'oh-okay' kind of Oh. It was the 'oh-are-you-out-of-your-mind?!' kind.

North seemed like a good idea. But hey, not when you're driving or riding a subcompact hatchback that's relatively new in the market. The long northward road, well-trodden by all sorts of vehicles, has several parts that are under construction. For the Chevrolet Spark, passing such unpaved thoroughfares is like off-roading.

So, Ilocos Norte? Really?

The Spark made it to Paoay! Photo by roadtrip buddy Michael Sagaran.
Few days after that phone conversation, I found myself ensconced in the backseat of a lemon yellow Chevy Spark. Beside me, the hubby. Beside him, my mom. On my lap, our snoozing three-year-old. Surprisingly, we all comfortably fit. Quite snug, yes, but a cozy snug.

Stopover in Villasis, Pangasinan for just-off-the-grill tupig.
Michael of was behind the wheel and Melo was in the front seat. The two picked us up from The Linden Suites where we stayed for a night, and offered to drop off my family in Tarlac. By that time, our destination was still uncertain.

What we were sure of, the highlands couldn't be an option for the rainy season has made its ingress in Philippine territory.

One of my travel companions for this trip, the Yak Pak Voyager Lunch Bag which kept our tupig warm.

After delivering my family to our home, us bloggers pushed on northwest-bound. As miles were covered, destinations slowly surfaced between random conversations. Destinations in the form of food: Tupig, dinakdakan, bagnet, Vigan longganisa, pinakbet, and Batac empanada. 

 And we wondered, "How will the Spark fare?".

Eye-catching prints. Bold colors. That's New York-based lifestyle brand Yak Pak for you.
Michael was quick to notice its solid handling, a nifty trait when you weave through city traffic. And as expected from a small car, the Chevy Spark is fuel efficient. Also, its brakes performed well, but let's not ask how Michael and Melo were able to test this.

Early morn sunbath at Urbiztondo beach, San Juan, La Union. My Yak Pak bag beside me kept my bottle of water cold.
The Chevy Spark's got a LED-lit dashboard installed on the steering column that's easy to read. Other features: Remote keyless entry, power locks, power mirrors. Quite a number of cubby holes. It's a four-door cabin (five, including the boot) which makes it easy for passengers to climb in.

Snub-nosed. Cute.

Venturing further north.

But it proved to be beast!

First day of our road trip/test, our end point was San Juan, La Union wherein we did bopis, sisig, grilled liempo and laing for dinner at Urbiztondo Grill House and retired in Sebay Surf Central. On the second day, after my sunbath and Michael's quickie dip at Urbiztondo Beach, we resumed our journey.

Vigan Heritage Mansion. Photo by Michael.
Michael breezed through La Union and Ilocos Sur municipalities until we arrived in UNESCO World Heritage Site Vigan, a city I visited (a trip I chose over my graduation march) more than a decade ago. We had late lunch at Kusina Felecitas in Granda's Inn and crossed three items off our itinerary: Bagnet, pinakbet and dinakdakan. When we finished, we proceeded to the street which Vigan is famous for, Calle Crisologo.

Eager to venture further, we only did a quick stroll then jumped back in the car. We soon drove out of the city after passing by a Vigan longganisa and bagnet store where Michael bought pasalubongs.
Late lunch at Kusina Felecitas, Grandpa's Inn (Donato Ancestral Home). Clockwise from top left: Bagnet, pinakbet with bagnet, carrot cake, warek-warek or dinakdakan
Truth be told, I had doubts about reaching Paoay Church — a destination we all agreed on just around noon that same day. Not so much because I had little faith in our teensy ride, but because I knew we were pressed with time for we were also to head back home in the evening.
UNESCO World Heritage Site Paoay Church. We did heed its stentorian call.
Thanks to Michael's skillful driving and Chevy Sparks' capability, not only did we reach the Church of Saint Augustine in Paoay way before sundown, we even had time to visit nearby Batac after. We came for empanada, and empanada we had for early dinner at Lanie's Batac Special Empanada.
Batac's pride, the empanada.
Our drive back to Manila with only one stop was taxing. But the man behind the wheel and our little yellow beast did not falter. Indeed, big things come from small packages. And the Chevy Spark is a testimonial to that.


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Filipina Explorer said...
June 16, 2014 at 7:27 AM

Iced Gem!

I like your job. Where do I apply? LOL. said...
June 16, 2014 at 8:03 AM

But you got the same job :) We just got different "assignments". Hahaha. Iced Gems FTW!

Filipina Explorer said...
June 17, 2014 at 12:14 PM

I like your assignments better. *pouts* Haha. said...
June 22, 2014 at 10:28 AM

According to our 'pilot', more or less 4thou :)

Jana Angela said...
July 5, 2014 at 6:52 PM


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