Across the Country Van Adventure Part 1: Bringing Home a Champ

This recounts the across the country van adventure we took in November of 2016 from Manila to Davao, Philippines with a driving distance of approx. 1,746 kms. We were on a mission to bring home May’s (the other half of this duo) over 20 year old L-300 Mitsubishi van. It took 6 days to complete the mission, with a 2-day pit stop at Biri Island of Samar, famous for its sprawling rock formations.

Joey (the van) was left behind in Quezon City when May’s family moved back to Davao 17 years ago. It has clearly seen better days (oh, the stories it could tell of young love and heartaches, of late night sneak outs and coverups, of stupid dares and silly escapades, of drunken rants and vomits, and many more tales of friendships forged on booze and all nighter conversations). That notwithstanding, May was keen on bringing Joey home for obvious sentimental reasons. It also makes for a good excuse to drive across the country on a “mission”. 

After two days of tuning up and minor repairs, we were off on our first van adventure. I was tasked to document the whole trip because I don’t drive, I can’t tell which tools are what to save my life, and I can’t navigate; so, they gave me a GoPro instead.

Day 1

We officially started at exactly 12NN (we spent the whole morning at a doctor’s office but that’s an entirely differently story) with high hopes of reaching Naga (a mere 400km away) at 8pm. After an hour of plying the express highway at 80kph Joey sputtered and spewed hot water, a sobering reminder that we were driving a very old vehicle fresh off years of hibernation. Joey made it easy for us though, we were only 50m away from a newly opened petrol station when it happened. After about an hour of cool engine showers and much coaxing (call us crazy but it works), we were back on the road.

The hours dragged on  at 30-50kph punctuated by heavy traffic along the narrow highways of south Luzon and periodic stops to check on Joey for minor repairs.


After 14 hours on the road, half of which was spent playing patintero (lit. try to cross my line without letting me touch or catch you) with massive trucks on breakneck speeds along broken and pitted roads, we finally arrived safely in Naga! Sham, our friend who volunteered to host us for the night, was her usual perky and animated self at 2 o’clock in the morning. We hit the sack and the snoring frenzy turned full throttle in an instant.


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