A trip up North with Royal Enfield Pilipinas

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The Royal Enfield Motorcycle traces its roots all the way to the turn of the 20th century. The brand stood through the test of time, and looking forward to emulate it, the REAPERs (Royal Enfield Association of the Philippines) held their official inaugural ride coinciding with the 2nd Annual Vigan Invitational Ride that transpired last November 2015. I can’t thank them enough, specially Jimmy Barinaga and Spike Maguigad of Royal Enfield Pilipinas – the distributor of Royal Enfield Motorcycles in the Philippines, for letting me tag along with the group’s historical first ride (and a long one, too).

Day 1

The group met a few hours before sunrise at a gas station in Balintawak, just before entering the North Luzon Expressway and a backup pick-up truck was provided by Royal Enfield Pilipinas. Pilot Captain Felipe Timola Jr. led the prayers for a safe and blissful journey and off we galloped for Vigan, Ilocos Sur. The journey through the three expressways was uneventful, just long straight roads with quite a few travelers before dawn. We caught first light as we exited TPLEx and had our hearty breakfast at Rosario, La Union. Then not two hours after we found ourselves on a little stopover somewhere in Ilocos Sur for a taste of sinanglao (an Ilocano soup dish), well actually it should’ve been a cigarette break for some until Jojo “Repa” Sanvictores started to order sinanglao and everyone soon followed. Having a full tummy, we set off again for our destination – The Heritage City of Vigan.

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Shortly after arriving at the beach house that the group rented, we immediately changed our riding gears to DGR (Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride) outfit to attend Congressman Ronald Singson’s birthday lunch 20 kilometers back at the historic Quirino Bridge. These fine gentlemen stood out from the crowd as we (yes that includes me) had lunch with the riders from various groups sporting our long sleeves, waistcoat and neck ties. We then joined the rest of the riders like a pack of wolves for a motorcade heading back to Vigan and it was Toto Villanueva riding a BMW R1200 GS that led the pack. Our day ended with the Congressman’s birthday celebration at Plaza Burgos.

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Day 2

Our second day was a little more relaxed and the group just toured around town. We went back to the

historic Plaza Burgos to sample an authentic sinanglao and empanada for breakfast. Director Raul Ona, who’s also Toto Villanueva’s friend from their off road days, was invited, along with the group for a merienda (afternoon snack) at the Villanueva’s ancestral home. We then went to the famous Bantay Church to pray for guidance and for some photo-ops; you know the usual tourist stuff. Then at around noon, we went to Vigan Airport for additional photo ops and feasted like kings at the nearby Hidden Garden of Vigan Restaurant. We then headed to the Villanueva’s home and Toto’s sister, Ms. Mylene, gave the boys a quick tour around their beautiful home before having a sumptuous merienda.

The sinanglao again stood out, cooked by the family’s cook, Ate Aiza. After the “mandatory class picture” (group picture), we bade goodbye and headed back to the beach house for the boy’s

hour. The beach had perfect sand dunes to play with, and that’s exactly what these boys did with their lovely Royal Enfields as they had fun riding up and down these dunes until sunset. The boys ended the day with a hearty seafood dinner alongside a karaoke concert. Even Peter Maxwell, one of the expats, couldn’t resist taking the microphone and sang a Tagalog song by Freestyle to cap the night off.

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Day 3

It was a Sunday and the REAPERs had to head back to Manila. We went out to the open highway before dawn but not after saying our prayers first for a safe journey back home. The journey was uneventful and we were all home safe and sound before sundown. Not to mention that Spike, his wife Chen, and me had a quick bite of Beef Pares at Paranaque before splitting. The Royal Enfield Classic 350 that I used was very fuel efficient, sipping fuel to last from La Union to my home in Bacoor and finally back to the Royal Enfield Makati Showroom with plenty to spare.

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These fine gentlemen are family bonded by the brand that is more than a century strong and I’m grateful to have been a part of their inaugural ride. Again, I wish to thank my REAPER brothers President Felipe Timola Jr., Raul Ona, Allan Vallejo, Joemer De Leon, Peds Faytaren; the four expats Peter Maxwell, Tom Luther, Kannan Sreedevi and Marvin Burrows; Jason De Jesus, Mon Astillero, Peewee Dela Rosa, Vic Samson, Bong Diaz and his wife Yannah, Chen Hizon, Jojo Sanvictores, Charly Española, the Royal Enfield Pilipinas showroom boys, and finally Jimmy Barinaga and Spike Maguigad of Royal Enfield Pilipinas. Let’s ride again, brothers!