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Not all cars—test drives—are created equal. To test a vehicle’s mettle, it must be put to a punishing drive and taken to the max after it rolls out of the showroom.

And taking it to the max we did to the new Maxus G50 MPV at a proverbial journey of a thousand miles in southern Luzon across the quintessential province of Quezon and beyond during the Christmas break.

Launched in the third quarter of 2020, the 8-seater multi-purpose vehicle made a splash with its state-of-the-art features designed for a comfy and seamless long haul. 

With a keyless entry and push start, this automatic 1.5L turbocharged gasoline MPV has a 4-cylinder EFI with a 7-speed dual clutch transmission for a fuel efficient and safe drive. Splendid form and function, and spacious interiors are among the qualities family travelers look for, and where Maxus G50 won’t disappoint.

And when you combine the MPV’s quick runs and Quezon’s quaint character, you know that you’re in not just for a test drive, but an odyssey of epic proportions.

Pit Stop 1: Tiaong. About 100 kms south of Manila is this boundary town’s postcard-pretty provincial welcome arch which announces your arrival in the expansive territory by the foot of mystic Mt. Banahaw. 

It is home to Villa Escudero Plantations and Resort, which is known for its carabao cart ride, lunch by a man-made dam waterfall, bamboo rafting, a museum teeming with ecclesiastical antiques, and farm activities for guests. 

The hometown of eminent statesman Claro Recto, Tiaong also takes pride in Earthkeepers’ Garden & Restaurant, Sunshine Farm, and Ugu Bigyan Potter’s Garden, which produces artisanal potteries and has a cozy bed and breakfast at the interior village of Lusacan.

Francesca De Banahaw Resort

Pit Stop 2: Sariaya. This urbanizing highway town is noted for its powdery gray beaches, the St. Francis of Assisi Church, and the Gala–Rodriguez Art Deco heritage house which you can’t miss in the población.

Tucked 3 kms inwards at the Kamagong Road is Francesca De Banahaw Resort, a family resthouse-turned-farm lodge which this columnist had the honor of christening for business registration.

The one-hectare farm property takes guests to rural living, albeit with modified enhanced amenities for travelers looking for hotel-like comfort. Overnight visitors can wake up to the gentle breeze, the verdant surroundings, the towering Mt. Banahaw, and a hearty breakfast prepared by veteran guide Tina Decal who curates specialty tours through her Kulinarya Tagala outfit.

Pit Stop 3: Tayabas. Quezon’s second city, it was the province’s old name being its former capital town. This interior municipality is a hub of commerce, provincial heritage, tourism, as well as scenic roads which bypasses the bottleneck. 

At its heart is Casa Comunidad de Tayabas, the country’s biggest Spanish-style stone house, the massive Minor Basilica of Saint Michael the Archangel, Hermanong Pule monument, and Malagonlong Bridge, a remnant of the colonial-era road system.

Visitors can swing around the novel tourist establishments such as Kamayan sa Palaisdaan, Air Summit Gourmet, Nawawalang Paraiso, and 3A Nature Farm Serenity which offers the kawa hot bath.

A one-stop family getaway is Graceland Estates and Country Club (shown in main photo), a recreational enclave with its boating lagoon, restaurants, campsite, driving range, native deer herd, green trails, vintage US military jeep collection,among others. Moreover, its European-themed which make a perfect Maxus G50 background.

Pit Stop 3: Lucban. Deeper into the undulating roads is this town which is sought-after for the colorful Pahiyas Festival, one of the country’s oldest harvest traditional festivities.  

It is touted as the summer and art capital because of its cool weather and the profusion of home-grown visual artists who were inspired by the late Oscar de Zalameda’s colorful depiction of Filipino genre.

You need not wait for summer to visit its rural retreats—Kamay Ni Hesus Shrine, Batis Aramin Resort, and Natagpuang Paraiso Paradise Resort. At the sprawling Bukid Amara, you can stop and smell the flowers by the wayside and awaken your green thumb while looking for the most Instagrammable spot.

Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort

Hit the sack at Samkara Restaurant and Garden Resort, an intimate, low-density nipa hut-themed accommodation with a mesmerizing vista of green fields and the ubiquitous Mt. Banahaw. Dip at the rejuvenating spring-fed swimming pools as you gaze at the mountainscape.

A Hindu phrase which means good deeds and inner harmony, Samkara radiates wholeness and healing with nature’s vibe and the staff’s warm hospitality. 

It is also dining haunt with succulent specialties such as Lucban longanisa, pancit habhab, crispy pata and hardinera, and local desserts and beverages at a cozy setting with free-flowing mountain breeze. 

If you’re a plantito, you will have a field day with the diverse endemic flower and plant species you can load on Maxus G50s spacious compartment.

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