Roughing it up on a Wildtrak platform

By Jimmy K. Laking

Last Saturday (November 14, 2020) proved like no other experience with Giovanni Flaviano and I taking up the challenge of seeing firsthand what the 6th generation Ford Ranger Wildtrak has to offer.

The plan was simple enough. With this platform as a vehicle, we were to bring boxes of mulberry saplings and cactuses to the Belviz farm some 80 kilometers in Marilog’s barangay Baganihan near the boundary with Bukidnon and North Cotabato.

We picked up the seedlings from the original Belviz farm in Calinan where we were treated to a refreshment of durian and coconut juice.

The farm is named after the pioneering migrant Severino Belviz who is credited for developing the Monthong, Duyaya and Nanam durian variety known for their fleshy, firm and less fibrous qualities.

Veteran journalist Jimmy K. Laking pose with workers of Belviz Farm located at Barangay Wangan, Calinan District after loading mulberry saplings and cactuses on the Ford Wildtrak.

The farm is abuzz with workers doing what they knew best: soil preparation, sorting out variety of seedlings, grafting and bagging. The farm specializes in a variety of fruit trees, durian, cacao, jackfruit among them.

The activity in the three Belviz farms showed that despite the pandemic, agriculture is pretty much alive. The visitors the farms receive on a regular basis also showed that health protocols have not dampened the enthusiasm of tourists from visiting areas that interest them.

But that is getting ahead of the story. The day previously at the Ford’s marketing center in Lanang, we were briefed on how the vehicle’s systems worked.  The plan was for Giovanni to take up the wheels. I was to observe and to write but I also made sure I understand what the platform can do and why it ranks high there in a pedestal all its own.

Sales Consultant Clent John Tano orients Jimmy Laking on the Wildtrak’s engine features at the showroom of Ford Davao in Lanang.

The vehicle’s credentials are impressive: a 2.0 Phantom diesel engine with a 10-speed capability, smart shifter, airbags that would automatically popped out from the sides in case of a collision and an instrument console that had to do with navigation, lighting, audio, air conditioning, wiper among other important features. It also capable on taking on 500 kilos of load on just about any kind of terrain. In short, its builders left nothing to chance.

Jimmy Laking inspects the interior and dashboard console of the Wildtrak as Sales Consultant Clent John Tano looks on

Despite these, Giovanni said the truck’s system were easy to understand it made driving effortless.

On the road uphill that stretched toward the highlands of Marilog, the truck showed no indication of being bothered by its load or even the condition of the road that featured short stretches of muddy and gravelly sections.

Jimmy Laking takes a pose beside the Wildtrak and check its load after negotiating a steep climb to Barangay Epol, Calinan District where the plants were to be distributed to a farm also owned and developed by Belviz Farm.
Workers of Belviz Farm in Barangay Epol unload the plants from the Wildtrak.

The driving looked so effortless that Giovanni and I struck up a conversation that covered almost any topic we could think of.

In more than an hour, we navigated the distance with an even speed that averaged roughly 60 kilometers an hour and arrived at our destination on schedule.

After unloading the seedlings, we settled for a quick lunch and wrapped up the journey with a visit to one of the vegetable farms supplying Davao City its lettuce.

If it was a leisurely climb, the trip downhill on the way back was a breeze. The strange thing about this platform, described as a truck like no other, was a proven versatility and comfort that mask its size and power.

(photos by GIOVANNI A. FLAVIANO)

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