Text and photos by Aries B. Espinosa

NISSAN PHILIPPINES, INC. (NPI) has made the #GoAnywhere statement stick to its big three LCVs (light commercial vehicles): the Terra midsize SUV, the Navara pickup, and the Patrol SUV.

To prove its point, NPI planned out a three-day ride-and-drive of its three vehicles on an unlikely location — Siquijor Island — last Oct. 7 to 9. But, it also made a lot of sense. Siquijor, an island-province in Central Visayas with a land area of a mere 327 square kilometers, making it the third smallest province in the country, is predominantly hilly, its road network narrow. In many places, the road clung precipitously on cliffs between the mountains and the sea, offering majestic vistas. In short, Siquijor presented a valid challenge to Nissan’s #GoAnywhere battle cry.

NPI President and Managing Director Atsushi Najima said, “In line with our vision of enabling adventurers to reach their dream destinations, we are now in Siquijor Island, to conquer the country’s third smallest province with Nissan’s strong LCV lineup. We are creating the ultimate ‘Go Anywhere’ experience with the Nissan Patrol, Nissan Terra and Nissan Navara, by exploring the best and most diverse locations across the country.”

There is more to Siquijor than meets the eye, however. The island-province has cemented its place in local lore as an “island of mystery,” where all the Pinoy creatures of myth and legend and the mystic traditions converge.

That should have given us the creeps. But upon setting foot (and tires) on the island, we felt nothing but good vibes, saw nothing but welcoming smiles, and incredible tourist spots. It would seem that the locals have taken the superstitious beliefs associated to Siquijor all in good humor, seeing that mysticism and the supernatural have also somehow increased tourism to the province, and spooking people out can turn in quite a profit. Some roadside stores here openly sell voodoo dolls and potions. One interesting roadside stop makes visitors pose riding on a broomstick.

Despite Siquijor being one of the country’s smallest island-provinces, three days of driving in the island still wasn’t enough to cover all of its attractions. We were able to visit the 400-year-old Balete tree and the fish spa at the foot of it, as well as the Hapitanan Cafe and Restaurant for that “broomstick ride” photo-op. Another stop was the Lazi Convent and Church, opened in 1884 and has been declared a National Cultural Treasure by the National Museum. And then we trekked down to the multi-tiered Cambugahay Falls. The 135-steep steps led us to the falls, as well as to the happy shrieks of kids (and adults) who tried out the swing into the cold water.

There were a lot more places in Siquijor to visit, such as the pristine beaches, cliff diving spots, caves and waterfalls. But that would have to wait until our next visit.

These three days were the time the Terra, Navara and Patrol would showcase their ride and drive capabilities on the island’s narrow roadways. Siquijor’s road networks were originally designed for motorbikes, trikes, multicabs and small 6-seater jeepneys, but that was no problem at all for the agile LCVs. Nissan Intelligent Mobility’s signature Around View Monitor (AVM) were also useful in this regard. The AVM helps drivers park or navigate more easily by making them actually see their vehicle’s immediate surroundings through a virtual 360-degree bird’s-eye view from above the vehicle. The AVM helps the driver visually confirm the vehicle’s position relative to the lines around parking spaces and adjacent objects, allowing the driver to maneuver in and out of tight spots with more ease.

NPI said that because of Siquijor’s reputation as one of the most challenging islands to access in the Philippines, it became the perfect getaway for a #GoAnywhere ride-and-drive event and showcase the capabilities of all three vehicles. With its strong LCV heritage and Nissan Intelligent Mobility features, the Terra, Navara, and Patrol navigated their way easily, making the drivers and passengers focus more on enjoying what Siquijor had to offer.

The 2020 Terra’s new Nissan Connect Renault-Nissan AIVI was also highlighted in this drive. It now has a bigger, 8-inch monitor compared to the old 7-inch AV system, and the rear monitor integration at the back passenger rows can play videos via HDMI while the driver can still use his or her navigation guides up front. Offline maps are also available for the 4WD Terra VL.