We love long road trips, and one of the perks of this job is going on long road trips in the latest that the auto brands have to offer. Being the first to stretch the legs of a brand new vehicle is always a privilege.
We got an invitation from Mitsubishi to join them on their CSR activity in the Ifugao province driving their All-New Strada. I jumped at the opportunity as I had missed the last time they invited me to join them there.
We were to head to the village of Batad which was in the Ifugao province, where the world famous Banaue Rice terraces are located. It’s a UNESCO world heritage site. Growing up abroad, I had read from the accounts of foreign travellers to the Philippines that these rice terraces were a sight to behold and I was finally going to get a chance to see for myself. Ignorant as I was, I always thought Banaue was one place where you would go to see these famous rice terraces and it turns out it isn’t as simple as that.
We met up at the Mitsubishi Balintawak dealership early morning for an early breakfast before our briefing and assigned our vehicles for the trip. Teamed up with Jerel and Nic from C! Magazine, we loaded up our gear for the two night trip out of town.
The All-New Strada at first look was definitely bigger than its predecessor and its redesigned interior pleasing to the eye and the ride was comfortable. Its headlights look sharper, a more imposing chrome grille wrap around tail lights on the much larger bed which also has a better bumper with a bigger step board. How much bigger? Its 5280mm long, 165mm longer, 1815mm wide, 15mm wider than its predecessor. The wheelbase at 3000mm and height at 1780mm remain unchanged.
Powering this 5th generation Strada is the same 2.5 liter Variable Geometry Turbo as the last generation that puts out 178Ps and 400Nm in the GLX V, GLS V and the GLS Sport variants. This engine had no trouble on the long stretches of highway, narrow provincial roads and the uphill winding road as we approached our accommodation at the famed Banaue Hotel and Youth Hostel.
Our roughly 360km drive had taken up a good part of the day as we had stopped a few times for bath room breaks and driver changes, oh and we stopped longer for merienda. The ride up on the whole was comfortable, albeit firmer than last generation’s and the NVH was vastly improved as all rotated drivers all fell asleep once transferring to the back seat. By the time we got to our hotel, it was dark and also drizzling.
After dinner we had a briefing with photographer John Chua as to our activities for the next two days.
The next day, we drove roughly 33kms from our hotel on mostly uphill mountain roads that had just recently been constructed and parked carefully on the last few meters of finished road. We then hiked roughly 45 minutes to the community we were to visit. Mitsubishi’s CSR was the main reason for our drive to Batad was to bring in donations to help the local community and supplies to the Batad Elementary School.
For someone like me who is sadly out of shape, I can say that the hike was well worth it, to see the joy in the community and the school kids upon receiving their donations.
Seeing the Banawe Rice Terraces in person was an awesome experience, the drive up in the All New Mitsubishi Strada was pretty cool too.
Words and Photos by Neil Pagulayan