Recently, Wheel Gallery PH, exclusive distributor of the popular Black Rhino aftermarket wheels and Concept One, held a unique press event that saw the usual prim and proper members of the motoring beat getting wet and dirty behind the wheels of an off-road rig.
Held at the mountains of Sierra Madre in Tanay, Rizal, an estimated 17-plus custom-built and modified SUVs and pick-ups were out to conquer the challenging and treacherous terrain of the place off-road enthusiasts refer to as “Jungle base.”
Owned and operated by off-road guru Dennis Javier, the jungle base crew of seasoned off-road drivers acted as guides and instructors to the participants as they got around a plotted route along the mountainous path. Prior to flag off, Kits Aragon, a businessman with a passion for anything off-road, held a short briefing for both the participating media representatives and private owners.
“This is no walk in the park gentlemen, just follow what the instructors say and nobody will get hurt,” he said, as we all geared up for the driving challenge ahead.
Justin Uy, marketing head of Wheel Gallery, said the event was organized to formally announce the partnership between Wheel Gallery and Yokohama PH.
“This event is for us the experience the grip and performance of the Yokohama Geolander MT and to formally announce that Wheel Gallery has added a tire brand into its product line,” he stated. “We are happy with this partnership with Wheel Gallery, a company very popular in the aftermarket industry. With its expansive customer base, I am sure Yokohama’s partnership with Wheel Gallery will be a rousing success,” added Satoshi Miura, president of Yokohama PH. This is Miura’s second posting at Yokohama PH, and he is the designer of the Geolander MT, whose tire features were based on his experience driving on Philippine roads.
After the briefing and formal remarks from Wheel Gallery and Yokohama executives, the participants were split into two groups. One was for the newbies/media, while the other was composed of seasoned veterans. For the first group, the organizers plotted a three-kilometer route that saw our contingent tackling deep river crossings, uphill terrain, and a route that was so challenging, two SUV rigs experienced difficulty traversing the twisty path that had loose rocks and massive tree roots lining up the uphill path.
In one of the river crossings, the driver of the Toyota Fortuner that I was riding miscalculated his driving path and got stuck in soft sand. As an experienced off-roader myself, I told the driver to take his foot off the pedal as the SUV was just sinking more into the soft sand. As the SUV was gradually banking on our left side into deeper waters and water was already sipping inside the cabin, we radioed for “recovery.” Within minutes, the Land Rover Defender of Dennis Javier came to our rescue. The crew of jungle base hooked us up and gradually pulled our vehicle off the treacherous river bed.
The icing on the cake of our off-road “glamping” experience was when lunch was served. To our surprise, at the end of the trail, tents were put up with catered food, waiters, and a roasted pig as the centerpiece of the sumptuous lunch. “This is how we roll,” said Sam Liuson of Black Rhino PH.
Wheel Gallery will offer the Geolander MT and other Yokohama products such as the popular Advan line-up of high performance tires. “We are happy with today’s event and this is the proper venue to test the features of the Geolander MT,” added Shawn Pamintuan, section head, marketing, and business planning of Yomohama PH.
PHOTOS BY DINO RAY V. DIRECTO 3RD