Dominic Ochoa, Kenneth Cobonpue, Matteo Guidicelli race against each other in Tour de Cebu | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

JAY Aldeguer in his 1960 Porsche


JAY Aldeguer in his 1960 Porsche
JAY Aldeguer in his 1960 Porsche




Actor Dominic Ochoa placed second in the four-cylinder category of the recent Tour de Cebu, but the award was nothing compared to taking his sports car, a 1969 MGB, on a 1,000-kilometer ride from Cebu to Negros and back.


He drove the last sports car restored by his father. When the car was ready for the road, the older Ochoa died of cancer in 2013.


A prominent figure in the motor sports industry, the late Jose “Boy” Ochoa Jr. was one of the great racers of his time and a classic (mid- to late-20th century) car collector. The younger Ochoa acquired his father’s passion for old cars, mostly British models, and a 1979 Land Rover.


It all began last year when Jay Aldeguer, a multi-awarded entrepreneur and founding member of the Performance and Classic Enthusiasts (PACE) Club, invited Ochoa to join the Tour de Cebu. It was patterned after the Mille Migilia, a race for classic and vintage cars that spans 1,000 km from Brescia to Rome. The local version is a three-day, 1,000-km round trip from Cebu Business Park to Bacolod via Dumaguete.


For Ochoa, it was time to roll out his father’s 1969 MGB on the road. However, due to a typhoon last year, the Tour de Cebu had cut down its route to 380 km, leaving the drivers with unfinished business.

But last Oct. 3-5, Ochoa was ecstatic about completing the Tour de Cebu with the same car. “I offered this Tour de Cebu in memory of my dad. It was his dream to put up this kind of rally,” he said.


Ruled by time


As in any rally, the owners’ investment in body and engine work of period cars was a modest expense to pay for the chance to use their vehicles as they were meant to be driven.


“We wanted to drive our classic cars,” said international designer Kenneth Cobonpue, also a founding member of the Cebu-based PACE. “We enjoy models older than 1983. What better way to do it than to drive 1,000 km throughout the islands?”


Twenty-eight cars, made in 1972 or older, participated in the event. Aside from Ochoa, other celebrities included Cebuano-Italian racer-model-actor Matteo Guidicelli and Cebu Vice Mayor Red Durano, both of whom drove restored Porsches.


Before the Tour de Cebu, PACE marked its 10th anniversary with the Concours d’Elegance at the Montebello Vista Hotel. Translated as the “Competition of Elegance,” the event pitted classic cars against each other in terms of aesthetics and according to historic (before 1972) and post-historic (1973 to 1989) value.


Aldeguer’s 1964 Porsche 356 won as best in show. Meanwhile, Cobonpue displayed his 1955 Jaguar XK 140, the oldest in his collection.


In keeping with the period spirit, guests came to the lawn party dressed in Great Gatsby attire such as old-fashioned leather jackets, racing gloves, helmets and fancy suits.


Regulated rally


The following day, the participants, still bleary eyed and giddy from the Concours d’Elegance, assembled at the Cebu Business Park for the flag-off.


The Tour de Cebu is the country’s first format-regulated car rally.


“You are given a time frame from one point to another,” said Aldeguer. “If you arrive too early, you will face a heavier penalty than if you arrive late. Our driving has been preset so it’s safer. A technical team ensures safety driving on public roads.”



From Cebu’s central business district, the cars went through the mountainside of Transcentral Highway. They proceeded to Santander in southern Cebu and took the roro (roll-on roll-off ferry) to Dumaguete, Negros Oriental.


On the final leg, the drivers went to Benedicto and San Carlos City and took the roro back to Toledo Port in Cebu.


Enjoy the driving


Driving a 1961 Jaguar E, Cobonpue would stop and take photographs.


“I didn’t care about winning,” he said. “I just wanted to enjoy the driving. You see islands, winding hills shrouded in fog, and go through mountain passes.”


Ochoa was competitive. He and his co-driver/mechanic were leading from Cebu to Dumaguete. On the last day, he took a wrong turn and went off-course, getting delayed by an hour. Moreover, their odometers and speedometers weren’t accurate in computing time and distance.


In the end, Christopher Yu and Dean Bernal were proclaimed overall champions.


“The trophy is just a bonus,” said Ochoa. The event was made memorable by the camaraderie of the participants who shared the same enthusiasm for period cars.


Tour de Cebu is well-organized, replete with a detailed route book that includes motoring speed and time, switchback roads and service stations.


To prepare for technical support, veteran racer Pepon Marave and his team surveyed the routes several times to ensure safety. Whenever a car broke down, a service team would arrive on the spot in five minutes.


At major stops such as Rizal Boulevard in Dumaguete and Bacolod’s provincial plaza, the local crowd assembled to admire the beautifully restored cars, and some sought Ochoa’s autograph.


Negros Representative Jules Ledesma hosted dinner on the last night.


’60s sexiness


The Tour de Cebu raised money for the Emergency Rescue Unit Foundation, the equivalent of 911 in the United States.


Aldeguer said he likes old cars for their simplicity and hardiness. To keep them in top shape, he runs them from his residence in a subdivision to the Transcentral Highway.


Collectors are attracted to old cars because they stand out from the rest of the pack.


“Cars in the ’60s have a certain sexiness,” said Ochoa. He is partial to old British cars because of their temperament. “You’ve got to caress it or have a heart-to-heart talk to get it going,” he intimated.


Cobonpue loves old cars for their nostalgia. “It’s pure driving,” he said. “You are not aided by electronic or power steering. You need to have good driving skills in high speeds and corners. These cars are beautiful because they are made of natural materials—wood, metal and leather. Nothing plastic.”

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