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If you get caught between Bohol and Cebu City

If you get caught between Bohol and Cebu City

Bernard Supetran
Vintage cars at the Catigbian Municipal Hall

On a typical Sunday where oldies but goodies rule the airwaves, chances are you’re gonna hear “Best That You Can Do,” the 1981 Oscar Best Original Song from the movie “Arthur” which starred Dudley Moore and Liza Minelli.

Best known for its refrain “If you get caught between the moon and New York City,” this Christopher Cross hit is a cool mood music for long drives, particularly in the Central Visayas where you can get caught between two irresistible islands.

For several years now, participants of the Tour De Cebu (TDC) Historic Sports Car Rally have been caught between Bohol and Cebu City as they drive a 1,000-km journey across panoramic countryside onboard vintage head-turners.

And when caught in such a situation, “Arthur’s” theme says: “the best that you can do is fall in love.” But that’s getting ahead of the story. TDC regulars have fallen in love with Bohol for its gorgeous sceneries, laid-back atmosphere, spider web-like road network, friendly populace, and supportive local officials.

Back in Cebu City, vintage sports car owners displayed their wares at the spanking luxury NUSTAR Resort before hitting the ground running for another grueling but exciting ride of a lifetime.

The Queen City of the South after whom the epic ride is named after, is the starting and endpoint of the event, being its birthplace in 2014. After a hyped-up flag off at NUSTAR led by Cebu City Mayor Michael Rama, cars made a quick loop drive around the 8.9-km Cebu Cordova Link Expressway, the country’s longest bridge and the area’s newest iconic landmark.

The cars then boarded the classy Fast Cat catamaran ferry at Pier 3 for a 90-minute smooth voyage to Tubigon, western Bohol’s shipping gateway and the TDC’s traditional entry point.

Flag-off at BE Grand Resort in Panglao

Stage 1. Upon docking at Tubigon port, cars were immediately lined up near the town plaza for the initial run, and were flagged off by municipal councilor Gail Jao, herself a motoring enthusiast.

Townsfolk were able to admire the glitzy vehicles up close and personal, including those in the touring class led by world-class interior designer Kenneth Cobonpue who brought his 1974 Ferrari Dino 246 GTS. The latter group, as its name suggests, can plot its own route, and stop, and literally smell the roses by the wayside if they wish to.

Under searing heat of the afternoon sun, the Cebu-based duo of Michael and Michael James Lhuillier drew first blood and ruled the 225-km leg across the western coastal and inland municipalities, and wound up at the posh BE Grand Resort in Panglao Island, the home of the race for the sixth time.

Michael, the president and CEO of the M Lhuillier Financial Services, also chairs the Performance and Classics Enthusiasts of Cebu (PACE) which conceptualized the unique race in cooperation with the Manila Sports Car Club to promote drive tourism in the country’s central archipelago.

Stage 2. After a hearty breakfast, racers were cheered to a rousing send off for another challenging 227-km day trip across Bohol’s central tourist highway where Baclayon Church, Loboc River, Bilar Man-made Forest, and Chocolate Hills lie in wait.

The route made a long cut to the northern towns before ending in Catigbian where participants were welcomed by vice mayor Esteban Angilan Jr. for lunch at the Spanish-style municipal hall.

The Lhuillier father-and-son tandem reprised their championship form and bagged the second leg to lead in the rest of the pack.

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Stage 3. After the hearty meal in the perennial stopover, the group roared to a 237-km drive, traversing the northern towns of Trinidad and Ubay, before heading down to the equally-charming roads less traveled in the east—Alicia, Pilar, Sierra Bullones and Jagna.

PACE club’s father and son team of Lui and Anton Alvarez, and their 1973 Datsun 240Z surmounted the challenges and won the penultimate and longest leg.

Riders were rewarded by the spectacular sunset view framed by the new Clarin Bridge, Loboc River, and Bohol Sea, which made everyone flash that winner’s smile.

Stage 4. The final and shortest leg is a 141-km loop from the Be Grand home base and back, passing through the western upland municipalities and eight checkpoints.

Manila Sports Car Club’s Bai Burila and Jelou Cabuga saved their best for last and topped the TDC’s closing episode on board their 1959 MGA deluxe Le Mans, arguably the most Instagrammable entry this year.

After the smoke of the battle had literally cleared, Michael and Michael James Lhuillier emerged as the 2023 Grand Champions, along with the PACE Chairman Class and Best Period Dressed Team awards.

As Tour De Cebu gears for its epic 10th anniversary ride next year, they very well know the best that they can do when caught between Bohol and Cebu City.