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Our love for long drives was what brought us together. Whenever our schedules permit, my wife and I would make plans to go to our favorite places in Batangas, Pangasinan, and Baguio. And for as long as any trip would allow us to return home before midnight to feed our pet dogs and cats, you bet we’d be hitting the road in no time.

When we were deciding where to go on Valentine’s Day, my wife came across a Facebook post of the Philippine Animal Welfare Society or PAWS about a fundraiser on Feb. 12 and 13 for 55 horses that survived the Taal Volcano eruption. Called the “PAWS Furst Date Taal Edition,” the event was going to be held in the compound of the Department of Agriculture (DA) in Lipa, Batangas, where the horses were being temporarily sheltered. Without thinking twice we signed up and prepared for the trip to Lipa.

Author feeding a horse

Somehow, I knew this would be a one-of-a-kind Valentine’s date because we would be able to spend our time for a worthy cause. An added bonus to our date was what Volkswagen Philippines asked me to drive: a Lamando whose Misano Red color was apt for Valentine’s.

Volkswagen’s Lamando offers its own German-flavored take on understated elegance. With a coupé-like roofline and clean lines that flow smoothly from front to rear, this sedan looks classy without being flashy.

Here in the Philippines, the Lamando is Volkswagen’s flagship sedan. At P1.7 million for it’s top of the line SEL variant, it offers executive car-level amenities: high resolution digital gauge cluster equipped with an Active Info Display that changes according to the driver’s needs, plush leather sports seats with an electronically adjustable seat for the driver, dual-zone air-conditioning system, adaptive cruise control, and panoramic sunroof, among other impressive amenities. The plastic materials blend well with Lamando’s luxurious interior trimmings. In short, it delivers that unique German make expected of a Volkswagen.

Powered by a 1.4-liter turbocharged gasoline engine, the Lamando also features a “Start/Stop” technology that automatically switches off the engine when the vehicle comes to a full stop, and then starts again when the driver steps on the gas, cutting exhaust emissions and saving gasoline in the process.

Impressive, too, is the Lamando’s NVH (noise, vibration, and harshness) suppression. Closing the vehicle’s door creates a sonorous solid thunk and its sound insulation feature makes for a quiet cabin that contributes to a relaxing drive.

Floor the accelerator and the turbo spools up, working in tandem with the 7-speed DSG dual automatic transmission that rockets the car forward rather quickly. This setup is most appreciated in highways, which makes it a fantastically accomplished long-distance cruiser. The ride is never jarring even when going over bumps and road imperfections. It is very secure even on sharp turns.

The 50-kilometer trip from Las Piñas to Lipa also afforded us a chance to familiarize ourselves with the sedan’s 9.2-inch infotainment system (8.0-inch on the SE variant). Since it’s compatible with our iPhones, we were able to play our ‘80s music collection and successfully activate the Waze app that helped us reach our destination without a hitch.

We arrived on time for the PAWS event in the Lipa DA. For almost a whole day, my wife and I were able to bond with the rescued horses and it was a memorable experience. Learning about their plight was heartbreaking but with PAWS’ efforts in helping these animals, we know that soon they will be able to find their “forever homes.”

Thanks to the horses and the Lamando, it was a Valentine’s date to remember.

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