Automotive

A virtual bike ride with the Galaxy S21 Ultra

Its cameras made me miss it even more

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While I already knew how to ride a simple bike when I was in fifth grade (2008), I became interested in biking just recently — February 2021 to be exact. From my first ride up until I purchased my own bike, the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra witnessed all of those precious memories.

At first, I thought I wanted to document my slow weight loss journey by capturing series of mirror selfies each day with the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra, but the smartphone deserves more than that. Little did I know, I became used to the phone’s cameras that I had to stop in a middle of a ride just to capture eye-catching subjects I saw along the way.

As of this writing, the Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t with me anymore. The nature of phone reviews most people don’t realize is that we don’t even keep the phones with us permanently — no matter how bad we want them.

However, in order to relive the memories (just like how I badly miss the pre-pandemic life), I’m compiling dozens of my favorite shots so you can see that the Galaxy S21 Ultra takes astounding photos even if there are newer flagship phones around.

Canlubang

Let’s start with my current location. As someone who’s less known in this team, I’m not really sensitive when it comes to disclosing some information about myself. While I wasn’t born here, this is the town where I actually grew up.

While there’s nothing super interesting about my current location, it’s actually home to industrial parks or big factories including the Jollibee food factory and other notable brands such as Samsung, Toshiba, Suzuki, among others. Also, it’s the biggest barangay of our city — Calamba to be specific.

Canlubang is also home to one of the biggest golf courses around. Thanks to the S21 Ultra, I was able to squeeze in more details in the shot.

Here are shots of the rainbow I was lucky to see and shoot up close with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. This is a friendly life reminder that there is rainbow always after the rain. We shouldn’t always sulk to the gloomy weather we’re used to having every now and then.

And while we’re at it, here’s how it looks like whenever I go home from a late afternoon ride. In the eyes of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, night time needs more tuning using Night Mode — and it works wonders.

Nuvali (Canlubang area)

This is actually my go-to place when biking. One of the perks of living in this town is that it’s also home to other exclusive residential areas with less traffic — which gives me the reason to bike even more.

Not only the roads are well-managed, the air is cleaner and less-polluted too. Most of all, the views are all breathtaking. From the peak of Tagaytay to the silhouettes of the volcanoes Mt. Makiling and Mt. Banahaw in Quezon, I just can’t get enough.

With the camera prowess of the Galaxy S21 Ultra, I was able to take the shots above using its telephoto lenses.

These zoomed photos show how close an area is in the eyes of many, even if they’re not in real life.

People say shooting gradient skies and sunsets is an introvert trait. Maybe they’re right all along 🥴

Solenad, Nuvali (Santa Rosa area)

Solenad is still part of the growing community of Nuvali, but it’s located in another city in Laguna called ‘Santa Rosa’ — more on that later.

Let me just talk about how peaceful and quiet it is here. The man-made lake sure knows how to make me calm after a quick ride from Nuvali.

But with the ongoing lockdown restrictions, hanging out around this place is prohibited. But hey, here’s a dark chocolate cranberry cookie to cheer myself up a li’l bit.

If ever it’s possible to stay in this place again, I surely wouldn’t miss another sunset — even if the Galaxy S21 Ultra isn’t with me anymore 😭.

Marcos Twin Mansion

First bike ride memories using an ultra-wide lens plus its selfie shooter

This is actually where it all started. I was persuaded to start biking by my friend, Ange (who did the amazing artworks in our virtual assistants turned into animé characters piece by the way). I just asked her if the old and unused mountain bike would be enough. She, together with her younger brother, told me it’d suffice and asked me to join them in their future bike rides.

Ultra-wide, zoomed, and wide lenses of the Galaxy S21 Ultra all performed great

Since it was my first time going out of the village (my last bike ride was in high school, and that wasn’t even far), I thought biking there would be easy-peasy. Oh boy, I was wrong. The steep, uphill part is hard especially if you don’t know how to shift gears when using a mountain bike. I just carried my bike with me while walking along that hilly road.

But once you reach the higher part, you’ll be greeted by the old Twin Mansion of the late Ferdinand Marcos — a dictator who held power as the Philippine president for 20 years.

After several tries and rides, I was able to reach this part with less body and leg strain. But this was just the beginning.

Kambal Ahon

I wasn’t joking when I told you there are more steep rides going up the hill. After that mansion, you simply wouldn’t miss going to Kambal Ahon. In a rough English translation, you’ll need to “ascend twice” before you reach the peak.

Before uphill, after ascending, 3x + 10x overlooking shots of NCR

And with the powerful cameras of the S21 Ultra, I was able to capture both 3x and 10x zoomed photos that show the overlooking of Metro Manila (I suppose a part of Alabang) even if the location was several kilometers away from the heart of the Philippines.

RevPal – Tagaytay

If one surpasses the bloody, uphill rides of the Kambal Ahon in Casile, your next destination would be RevPal (Reverse/Palace) — or that peak of Tagaytay you see from afar.

Not only it’s my first time to reach RevPal, I was also able to see People’s Park in the Sky up close for the first time, too.

More overlooking = more fun

Admittedly, this has got to be one of (if not) the most memorable bike rides ever. A day after we went here, the government announced another lockdown due to the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases last March 2021. Also, don’t be like me, but I went here energized even if I barely had any sleep.

To make it even better, it was cold and gloomy — a weather I like so much. I even had some time to pass by Tagaytay City proper and reach as far as Sky Ranch — a theme park in Tagaytay.

RevPal from afar, SkyRanch Tagaytay, Taal Volcano overlooking

This is, by far, the highest bike ride I’ve ever achieved. It also best represents our life: While the process in-between is long and hard to achieve, you’ll be happy to see the result once you reach the peak.

Santa Rosa, Laguna

If you go down South of Tagaytay, the municipality of Santa Rosa in the province of Laguna greets you (which is also popular not just because of Nuvali, but also because of the theme park Enchanted Kingdom).

I usually pass by this area going to and from several places but there’s this one time I wanted to check out a new coffee shop and a Korean street food place that I had to go to by myself.

It was an unlocked achievement for me as I managed to brace the wreckless Filipino drivers as well as heavy traffic. To make it worse, heavy rains poured but the food was all worth it.

Cabuyao, Laguna

In the southern part of Santa Rosa is none other than the city of Cabuyao.

My college alma mater, and an old bridge where I usually pass by before going to school

Not only is this where my college alma mater is located, this is also where my friend lives — so I usually pass by the area if ever she wants me to go to their house first before we initiate a bike ride. I’m not complaining though. That’s more calories burned for me.

Calamba, Laguna

If you pass by the barangay of Mamatid in Cabuyao, you’ll successfully reach Calamba City in no time through Barangay San Cristobal and Uwisan.

This city has a good blend of urban areas as well as fields. It’s also here where you’ll see a clearer view of Mt. Makiling.

Just some boring #HistoryFact, this city was derived from “Kalan-Banga” which is that big clay jar. Back then, a Spanish soldier asked for the name of the place but the woman thought it was about her belongings. She said the latter part.

What makes Calamba more interesting is that, it’s where the actual house of Philippine National Hero José P. Rizal is located. Other than that, there’s also a coliseum (still under construction) named after him.

Pagsanjan, Laguna

At the farther part of Laguna is Pagsanjan — home to the popular Pagsanjan Falls. While I wasn’t able to reach that place, I’m happy enough to shoot a photo with this old Pagsanjan Arch that was built as early as 1878. That’s more than a century ago!

Lumban, Laguna

If you go on a bike from Pagsanjan, you should take the left road to be able to go to this area. Your area of landmark is the Church of Pagsanjan.

Don’t bike with full ease. The roads are actually going uphill — just a slow and steady one (banayad) so that you can feel the pain as you approach it.

Other than seeing the beautiful, naturesque views of the province, you also get to see Laguna de Bay (or Laguna Lake) on the side. For the record, that’s the biggest natural lake in the entire Philippines.

Biñan, Laguna

Going back to the northern part of Laguna is Biñan City. While this isn’t the town proper, we usually go to Southwoods instead for clearer and wider roads meant for a lot of bikers.

It’s several kilometers away from where I live (six expressway exits to be exact for better measure) but there are instances that I go here just to get a good bike race record with my friend that I barely do in uphill areas around our barangay.

I’ve managed to take more gradient sunset photos with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. I honestly love the photo that looked like it was taken out of Stranger Things — just waiting for the Demogorgon to appear.

Muntinlupa

Muntinlupa is just one town away from Biñan, just between them is San Pedro, Laguna.

Other than also being a city located near Laguna Lake, it’s also home to New Bilibid Prison, one of the biggest prison camps in the Philippines. The Jamboree Lake pictured above is actually found inside the area of Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) — or that one agency under the Department of Justice (DoJ) for security and reformation purposes. As if the Philippines has enough justice system for the actual criminals.

It wouldn’t be a bike ride without trying more food. This time, it’s the famous Taiyaki (鯛焼き) or the fish-shaped cakes filled with either red bean paste, custard or chocolate filling. If you pass by Muntinlupa, this is definitely a must try since it’s as authentic as its original Japanese owner.

Alabang

This location is currently my farthest bike ride up north. It was in May 2021 when we went here after visiting our friend who lives around the area.

For people who barely know Philippine geography, it’s actually more of a prestigious and exclusive barangay in Muntinlupa City. It’s like the gateway of South Luzon towards Metro Manila — thus, the existence of larger and taller business and retail spaces. And if you were reading earlier, this was the part I shot from the overlooking of Kambal Ahon.

Daang Hari — Evia

Daang Hari and Evia are more of the pass-throughs between Muntinlupa, Laguna, and Cavite.

Unlike zoomed photos in the previous sections, I opted to use its Ultra-Wide this time to emphasize how wide the skies are.

I even let my friend take a photo of me in this openly-wide and vast Evia Football Field.

If you’re into pretty Starbucks shops, Starbucks Evia is your next place to visit. Not only does it have this European vibe, it also has a drive-thru.

Dasmariñas, Cavite

If you go past Evia and down south of Bacoor City, you’ll then pass by the City of Dasmariñas, now in Cavite again.

I honestly can’t believe the shots above were taken with the Galaxy S21 Ultra. Not only do they have this particular Depth of Field (DoF) or background blur, they’re also sharp in detail.

Even if you apply certain photo filters, the cameras still delivered excellent levels of shadow all throughout.

Carmona, Cavite

If you turn left and are not thinking of going to Tagaytay, Carmona City is where you’ll end up.

Carmona is the bridge between Cavite and Laguna through the City of Biñan. This is one of Cavite’s less-populated towns which makes it more peaceful and quiet.

Santo Tomas, Batangas

This is where I held my third ride. It’s also where the famous St. Padre Pio Shrine is found. While this isn’t the last ride I’ve had with the phone, this goes last as it’s beyond my usual biking route.

Before going home, we tried their take on Lomi Batangas, but instead of crispy pork rind, they serve a healthier lomi with mushroom in it. Another yum on my biking bucket list!

BONUS: Celestial bodies

Some subjects I find astonishing to shoot whenever I’m having my bike rides are both the Sun and the moon.

I shot this moon as early as four in the morning just before my usual early ride. It’s surprising how sharp the 10x photo was that the 30x failed to achieve.

I also captured and preserved the lunar eclipse event last May 26, 2021. That’s thanks to the phone’s night and zoom capabilities.

While this looked like it was shot at night, I actually captured the Sun just hours before sunset. At first I thought it was just a dead camera pixel. Upon closer inspection, they’re a series of sunspots. Those are unusual to see especially with the naked eye.

All photos were taken using the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra and were post-processed using Adobe Lightroom and VSCO.


Quick note

Social distancing and health protocols such as wearing face masks were still followed when biking. The author also dislikes big crowds and always went with his close contacts for better safety and peace of mind.

Apps

Nissan Assist app launched in Philippines

All-in-one service app

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Nissan Assist app

Nissan Philippines is digitizing their customer service by launching Nissan Assist, its first customer-dedicated app which will be available both on the Google Play Store and App Store.

This new app will provide a fully digital end-to-end customer service experience for customers nationwide, as part of the company’s continuing digital transformation.

This also means customers will now have a one-stop shop to access all Nissan services, including the following:

  • Access to vehicle information
  • Request a quote
  • Book a test drive
  • Track vehicle sales orders
  • Roadside assistance
  • Dealership locator

There will also be news on model launches, as well as sales campaigns and promo updates.

For existing owners, it would also be even easier to book services and take note of one’s maintenance history as the records will also be included in the app.

Lastly, a loyalty program and exclusive deals will also come with the app. Users can earn and track points which they can use to redeem Nissan merchandise, services, and other offers.

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Accessories

New Xiaomi AIoT products include TV, Scooter, Smart Pet Feeder

There’s also a Smart Pet Fountain

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Xiaomi AIoT

A new range of Xiaomi AIoT products have been announced to be available in the Philippines later this month, including a brand-new TV, smart doorbell, electric scooter, smart pet feeder, and even a smart pet fountain.

Here’s a quick rundown of the new products which shall be available starting on August 20, 2022 on Xiaomi concept stores, Shopee, and Lazada:

  • Mi TV P1E 65”
  • Xiaomi Conference TapCast
  • Xiaomi Smart Doorbell 3
  • Xiaomi Electric Scooter 4 Pro
  • Xiaomi Smart Pet Feeder
  • Xiaomi Smart Pet Fountain
  • Xiaomi Air Purifier 4 Compact

Better productivity

The Conference Tapcast is a plug-and-play device that can be connected to TVs, projects, and monitors for a wireless screencast. It will available for PhP 5,499 with a free Bluetooth speaker worth PhP 899 for early bird buyers.

Speaking of TVs, the Mi TV P1E 65” serves as a 4K HDR10 display with 60Hz MEMC technology for smooth visuals and great connectivity.

The TV features Dolby Vision and Dolby Audio support, and comes with Android TV 2 for endless content. It also has Chromecast built-in for direct streaming from other devices. It is priced at PhP 33,999 and comes with a PhP 1,000 discount from August 20 to 21.

Safer, cleaner homes

For home security, the Smart Doorbell 3 comes with a built-in 2K camera and infrared lights for clear video even in the dark. The camera offers multiple views such as ultra-wide and diagonal 180 degrees, plus AI motion detection.

The doorbell also has an intercom for visitors. The device runs on a 5,200mAh built-in battery that is rechargeable via USB. It will be available for PhP 5,199 with a free Mi motion-activated night light 2 until supplies last.

The new Smart Air Purifier 4 Compact filters up to 99.97 percent of small particles with its 3-in-1 layer-by-layer filtration system. It also has real-time air quality monitoring, while adjusting settings is a breeze with its control buttons and indicator light.

The air purifier will sell for PhP 4,799 and will come with a free filter worth PhP 1,299.

Smart solutions for fur babies

For families with pets, Xiaomi also released the Smart Pet Food Feeder and Smart Pet Fountain, which feature 24-hour automatic pet feeding and healthy water housekeeping.

The Smart Pet Feeder comes with a six-grid dispensing structure. It can be controlled wirelessly using the Mi Home or Xiaomi Home app. Owners can set the time or quantity of food it dispenses.

On the other hand, the Smart Pet Fountain provides clean running water to pets, thanks to its four-stage deep filtering. Like the pet feeder, the fountain can be paired with either app.

The Smart Pet Feeder will retail for PhP 5,199 while the Smart Pet Fountain is priced at PhP 3,299. As an introductory deal, customers may also get a free Mi 360 camera (1080P) worth PhP 1,799 with a purchase of each item.

Xiaomi Electric Scooter 4 Pro

Rounding out Xiaomi’s newly-released products is the Electric Scooter 4 Pro which comes with more power and speed than its predecessor. It features a dual-braking system, self-sealing tire, energy recovery, and a magnetic charging port.

The electric scooter with an aluminum alloy body can go for a maximum speed of 25 kph and can take you up to 55 kilometers on a full charge. It can be bought for PhP 35,999 with a free Mi Commuter Helmet for early bird purchases.

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Automotive

Celebrating spesh occasions with the Ford Territory

Friends, blue skies, and creature comforts for a cozy drive down south

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I can still remember the first time I rode the Ford Territory. I was astounded by the vehicle’s creature comforts that gave drivers and passengers a cozy experience.

We traversed between cities, looking for good food. Despite the hellish traffic that comes with driving in Metro Manila, we were entertained by the technology packed inside the automobile.

More than a year later, the Ford Territory found its way to my garage. It’s like a gift of adventure, in time for my birthday.

Day 1

9:00 am. south kids, ready to go.

July 23. It was a Saturday morning when I received a call from my best friend, Mark, asking me to get ready. They arrived shortly and tried to wind down watching Netflix at home while I prepare everything we need for the trip.

The last time I celebrated my birthday was three years ago. When the pandemic robbed us of time and moments to be with the people we love, I found it difficult to find joy in glamorizing my day. As the world eases up, I knew I had to take this chance to get out and be fabulous.

Before we set off for an adventure down south, we took a photo in front of the Territory.

It was only the three of us who are going for a ride, though. Two of my friends, Oliver and Marlon, weren’t able to join my momentous occasion due to a conflict in the schedule but they decided to stop by and greet me.

10:00 am. navigator at your service.

We were headed to pick up the parents of my godson along Santana Grove in Parañaque. Of course, I wasn’t the driver. I took on the shotgun to be the navigator and the DJ. And so I can always look at myself in the side mirror.

The first half of the trip consisted of exploring the Territory’s technology. A drive isn’t complete without good music, so we used Apple CarPlay in its infotainment system to connect our iPhones. Plenty of devices can get in the way of easily connecting your iPhone to the vehicle, but it’s still easy to pair.

READ: 13 Reasons Why I keep coming back to an iPhone

What we found troublesome was using both Maps and Spotify. The music gets interrupted whenever Maps prompts with a new direction to take. Since music is more important to us, I used my Android phone to use Maps and have a separate, dedicated navigation tool.

If you have a car mount like Moshi’s SnapTo Universal Car Mount, you can clip it so it’ll hold your smartphone.

11:30 am. blue skies.

Our destination for the weekend was Calatagan. That means we have to pass through Tagaytay, which is horrible on the weekends. We took several detours and long cuts just so we have to make it to our favorite stop, Mahogany, in time to meet our other friends driving their sedan.

Finally seeing good weather, we blasted ‘Teenage Dream’ by Katy Perry and opened the windows, as well as the sunroof, while traversing CALAX.

I was already having a good time, and it was just the morning.

1:00 pm. time for bulalô.

Our mood went down; energies depleted. We finally encountered Tagaytay’s unbearable traffic on the weekends. It took us at least half an hour to arrive at Mahogany Beer Market, and we even struggled with finding a parking slot.

When we found a space to park, I loved how the Ford Territory assisted us, thanks to its Ford Co-Pilot 360, an advanced suite of standard driver-assist technologies. Parking in reverse — parallel even — allows the screen to provide a simulated aerial view of the Territory’s surroundings on the screen.

The Mahogany Beef Market is popular for serving fresh meat such as beef, chicken, and pork. On the second floor of the beef market, you can find a slew of food stalls serving Bulalô — a Filipino soup dish made from beef leg bones and marrow.

Mahogany wasn’t fancy in any way, but the food is overwhelmingly delicious and they serve it at a cheaper price compared to restaurants found in Tagaytay. The place is also nostalgic. I remember my drunken nights from Papa Doms, stopping over at Mahogany so I can get sober.

READ: 24 Hours in Tagaytay

3:00 pm. safe drives in the rain.

It took us more than an hour to reach Calatagan coming from Tagaytay. The drive was filled with chill OPM blasting through its speakers. We weren’t able to use the sunroof since we encountered heavy rains and thunderstorms when passing through Nasugbu.

The infotainment system came in handy when I was adjusting the vehicle’s air-conditioning system, the ambient lighting, and sometimes, the seat’s heater. My friend kept increasing my seat’s heater while I try to take a nap, which annoyed me since my butt’s getting really warm.

On another note, my friend was able to keep his eyes on the road and take control of the vehicle’s settings even if we were all asleep, thanks to the easily reachable buttons in and around the steering wheel.

4:00 pm. hello, calatagan.

By four in the afternoon, we were able to arrive at our destination called The Beach along Lucsuhin-Hukay Rd. There are military checkpoints along the way, so be sure to stop when they tell you to do so — even if you’re obstructing the traffic. They’re pretty angsty if you’re considerate of other vehicles.

Nevertheless, the staff at The Beach greeted us with a welcoming smile when we arrived. Even in the lobby, the staff were polite, courteous, and accommodating. When we got the keys to our room, we were served refreshments while we bask at the sound of the waves crashing down the shores, along with the murmurs of friends and families chatting and having fun.

We tried to settle in and change our clothes so we can relax.

6:00 pm. dillydallying at the beach.

As the sun sets, we were vibing, dancing to the beat, and drinking beer, while gawking at the scenery unraveling before us.

When the night came, we ate our freshly-served dinner and I blew the candles from the cake my friends surprised me with. It’s funny how they stole the Instax films I have at home as my cake’s topper to make it really about me.

My birthday night ended with moments of revelry, alcohol, music, and good companionship. I couldn’t ask for more.

Day 2

07:00 am. mornings by the beach.

The Beach, home to aesthetically-pleasing sets and decors, looked immaculate when I went out to enjoy the rising sun. The sea was calm, the breeze was cool, and there are happy vibes all over the place.

The resort offers a freshly-brewed Kapeng Barako, a coffee varietal grown in Batangas province coming from the Coffea Liberica species. There’s also a complimentary breakfast for the guests.

The Beach had an Instagrammable dining area by the sea, and we opted to eat our breakfast there.

9:00 am. laughter and splashes.

Making the most out of our stay, we decided to head to the beach. We weren’t thrilled with the kayak, and instead, we swam up to the inflatable which proved to be challenging for almost everyone trying to make their way up.

We took several photos, had fun splashing around, and enjoyed swimming.

Moments later, we decided to try the Infinity pool. Of course, we still had our photos taken.

12:00 pm. it’s time to go.

Check-out is at 12 noon. We dressed up because we were a little extra. We took group photos in several parts of the resort to commemorate the celebration.

Of course, we all posed in front of the Ford Territory. Rising pop-rock sensation, Noela, and her boyfriend stood out of the sunroof. If this was a 7-seater, we would’ve really enjoyed using only one vehicle, and our drives may have been filled with waves of laughter and stories.

2:00 pm. wind in my hair, i was there.

We were on the way home, and there were only three of us inside the Territory since the couple we picked up before were joining my friend in another vehicle. We were taking separate ways after eating our lunch at Tagaytay, again.

 

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I took this moment to sing along to my favorite songs, as I open the sunroof. We were savoring the cool breeze despite the blazing heat of the sun. It was literally a Taylor Swift moment of “Wind in my hair, I was there” because I remember it all too well.

4:00 pm. do you have oat milk?

Like on ‘Death By A Thousand Cuts’, we took a long way home. But no, we didn’t ask the traffic lights if it’ll be alright. We passed by Amadeo, the coffee capital of the Philippines. We stopped over by Kaffe Belardo so my friends can buy their coffee beans.

I bought a ready-to-go beverage, taking a sip of their cold brew mixed with almond and oat milk. It’s rare to see local cafes offering milk options, especially for those allergic to regular, fresh milk.

With the scent of coffee and the cool breeze thanks to a lineup of trees surrounding the highway, Amadeo is a good place to drive when you just want to get away from it all. I wish I went here when I was losing myself before.

9:00 pm. singing in the car, getting lost upstate.

The Sunday traffic was arguably hellish, especially if you’re down south. The full tank was almost depleted after over a hundred-kilometer drive, which made us giddy since we didn’t have to stop over at gas stations to refuel while we were on our way. It made the trip efficient, and our planned schedule was followed — even with bumper-to-bumper traffic.

The Ford Territory offers a cozy experience — whether you’re a driver or a passenger. It makes being on the road fun and comfortable, thanks to its creature comforts that are easily accessible to anyone. Moreover, the technology infused in the vehicle makes everyone feel safe.

I never pegged the Territory as a long-drive companion, but it proved that it can handle city drives and road trips excellently, more than what we asked for.

To know more about the latest offers, visit ford.com.ph/shopping/latest-offer/ or any Ford dealership nearest you.

SEE ALSO: Ford Territory: Feel at ease while traveling in style | Ford Territory: A techie finds his dream car

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