The Tour De Cebu 2022


James Deakin

The world is spinning faster than any other time in human history. Not literally, of course, but in terms of information, expectations, and in many ways, the dehumanization through digital applications, there’s little doubt that we are living in an exponential era right now.

For the analog generation, like myself, the urge to wind back the clock, grows stronger and stronger with every TikTok. Pun intended. And it makes me wonder, if only life had a pause button, it would probably look a lot like the Tour De Cebu logo.

For the uninitiated, the Tour De Cebu may seem like just another fun run for the boys with their toys. But to those that have been participating over the last nine years, it’s a chance to go back in time, when life was much simpler, to celebrate a passion that has only become deeper as the world has become shallower.

The event, which first flagged off in 2013, has become recognized as one of the most prestigious motoring events and historical rallies not just in the country, but internationally as well, rivaling the famed Rally Nippon across Japan and the recently revived Mille Miglia that traverses through some of the most beautiful cities of Italy.

This year’s event kicked off with a breathtaking vintage car show at the Nustar Hotel in Cebu, followed by a ceremonial drive across the stunning new CCLEX Bridge, over to the port of Cebu to load the cars on a ferry to arrive at the official starting line at the Tubigon Port in Bohol, where the 1,000-kilometer tour would begin. There were 37 official entries ranging from a 1955 Porsche 550 Spyder, like the one James Dean famously owned, to a 1983 Mercedes Benz 280SL.

The competition is open to cars 1972 and older, but allows for some of the “newer” cars, like the 1983 280SL and a few 1974 Porsches to join for the experience and the special category awards. I was lucky enough to have been loaned a 1963 Kougar (which is a racing edition of the fabled E-Type Jaguar) by Grand Benedicto, who also owns the Be Grand resort, one of the main sponsors of the event.

The goal of the rally is not speed, but precision. It is a race against yourself, and one where you have no mechanical advantage. Participants are given a time card and must arrive at each of the checkpoints at a pre-prescribed time based on average speed. This places most of the pressure on the navigator or co-driver, as it is their job to make sure that all these calculations are exact — which becomes increasingly difficult if the driver makes a wrong turn or the vintage driving instruments are off.

Personally, I chose not to compete as I was there to cover the event for CNN Philippines, but more importantly, so that I could truly soak up the experience of seeing the beautiful island of Bohol through the windshield of the past while hitting the brakes on a future that is trying to come at us at warp speed. For me, it was time to reflect on what truly matters; a time to ponder on the few values that have transcended across time, like relearning to find the joy in the simplest things, like the wind in your hair, the smiles per mile, and knowing that with all the pressure the world is placing on those trying to keep up just to fit in, being yourself is what will truly make you stand out.