Food and TravelIt's not just a Volkswagen Beetle; it’s a Beetle...

It’s not just a Volkswagen Beetle; it’s a Beetle Limousine


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Getting lost is never great. It takes up time, tests your patience, and the feeling of not knowing where you are is just horrible. But there are instances, rare instances, when getting lost is actually quite an experience. In fact, we got lost in Tagaytay (or was it actually somewhere else in Cavite?)—and it was one of the most memorable experiences ever. Let me start from the start—why we were in Tagaytay in the first place.

Asian Dragon was invited by Volkswagen Philippines to test the beautiful and quirky Volkswagen Beetle and bring it on an adventure to Tagaytay. Normally, you wouldn’t dare go up the hills of Tagaytay in a small car, of all things. But we were on a search for adventure so we went ahead, no worries in our heads.

A nostalgic 1.4-liter TSI Automatic Transmission Tornado Red Beetle we drove from the sleek Volkswagen showroom in Bonifacio Global City, towards C5, along South Luzon Expressway, and finally up and down the hills of Tagaytay. And for quite a small car, we actually felt we were on sky high driving it. The A/T Beetle houses a small 1.4-liter twin-charged engine, which isn’t all that great when you think you’re paying millions for it. But Volkswagen is proud of this same engine, which was awarded World Engine of the Year three years in a row! Such a small engine can actually run on par with a regular 2.0-litre engine, which means double the power for double the savings in fuel!

Going back to our story, the way to Tagaytay was a breather. We were right behind the lead car in a Volkswagen Beetle convoy, turning heads and stopping tracks as we pass by (note: we were four multi-colored Beetle cars driving in a line). Among other tourist attractions, we were even able to visit world-renowned glass sculptor Ramon Orlina, who had an interesting collection of Volkswagen Beetles, too!

Asian Dragon - Volkswagen Beetle in a convoy
Volkswagen Beetle in a convoy (courtesy of Aya Ople)

Parked in Museo Orlina, the sculptor’s curated museum in Tagaytay, were one regular Beetle, a customized Beetle hand-painted by Ben Cab and adorned with pieces by Orlina (two phenomenal artists in one car!), and two Limousine-style Beetles. Hold on, did I say Beetle Limousines? Yes, that’s right.

Asian Dragon - Ben Cab and Ramon Orlina in one Volkswagen Beetle
Ben Cab and Ramon Orlina in one Volkswagen Beetle

Ramon Orlina has been a fan of vintage cars ever since he could remember. One of his ultimate favorites is the Volkswagen Beetle, which he has been collecting ever since he was able to. His Beetle Limousine is actually two Volkswagen Beetles cut in half and put together to make it look longer.

Asian Dragon - Ramon Orlina is a Volkswagen Beetle aficionado
Ramon Orlina is a Volkswagen Beetle aficionado

Inside, the hybrid Beetle is finished with sleek wood and champagne holders, perfectly mimicking the Limousine experience. The black Beetle Limousine actually won Best in Show in a car show where it was first exhibited, while the white Beetle Limousine is frequently rented as a bridal car. Orlina even jokes that he thinks he is constantly asked to be a ninong in weddings so the couple can use the white Beetle Limousine for free.

Asian Dragon - The black Beetle Limousine won a car show
The black Beetle Limousine won a car show
Asian Dragon - The complete Limousine experience
The complete Limousine experience

The cost of customizing the Beetle Limousine was not only thrice or four times the original price of one Beetle. But after putting the hybrid Beetles for rental, Orlina admits that he already recovered his expenses.

Orlina has been constantly offered to put the hybrid Beetles into auction but he is adamant about his decision to keep the cars. He reveals that the hybrid Beetle project has been his dream ever since he first got his hands on a Beetle and he promised himself that he will accomplish the project once he is financially capable. After years of building his craft and his name, Orlina has finally made it into the top and was finally able to fund his dream Beetle Limousine. After all, it is not just an ordinary Limousine. These were the only two of their kind in the world. Who would want to trade that for money?

Asian Dragon - The white Beetle Limousine is used as a bridal car
The white Beetle Limousine is used as a bridal car
Asian Dragon - Ramon Orlina and Klaus Schadewald, chief operating adviser, Volkswagen Philippines
Ramon Orlina and Klaus Schadewald, chief operating adviser of Volkswagen Philippines

The day was exhausting but fun as we roamed around Tagaytay. After a fulfilling day, we were on our way back to Manila—and that’s right about when we went astray. At around 5 p.m., the streets back to Manila were already jammed so our Beetle convoy was constantly cut off by swerving cars. For someone who absolutely had no sense of direction, this is the perfect time to get lost; so we did. We may have missed a turn or might have made more right turns than necessary so we ended up in narrow residential streets, with tricycles and jeeps cutting us off and pedestrians walking around carelessly.

It was an unfamiliar territory, and not the most comfortable situation to be in. The signal’s jammed, too, so Waze did not come to the rescue this time. But I had one takeaway from this experience: if you can’t help but get lost, might as well do so aboard the Volkswagen Beetle.

Three things. One, it’s tremendously comfortable inside the Beetle. Yes, it’s small, it’s short, but it just fits two people snugly inside its doors. The seats are comfortable, the leg room is just right, and the back seats are just perfect for our things.

Two, it’s small so it’s easy to maneuver around the narrow streets. If we were driving an SUV or a pick-up, I might have thrown my hands in the air already and given up. But since we were driving the Beetle, it felt like we can crawl through any space easily.

Three, I loved the attention. The windows of the Beetle are not tinted and it’s such for one reason: you’d want people to know it’s you driving the car. We were turning heads everywhere we go. Pedestrians would literally stop and look at the fierceness of our red car. If I was in their place, I would have done the same thing, too, and stood in awe of the perfect marriage of sporty and antique of the Volkswagen Beetle.

Asian Dragon - Driving around Tagaytay in the Volkswagen Beetle
Driving around Tagaytay in the Volkswagen Beetle

Eventually, after stopping by (a load of times) to ask for directions, we finally found our way back to the toll gates going to SLEX. If I were to get lost again, let it be. I’m definitely looking forward to having another adventure with the Volkswagen Beetle.

Asian Dragon - A beautiful view of Tagaytay from the Museo Orlina copy
A beautiful view of Tagaytay from the Museo Orlina


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