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Defining ‘tough’ with Suzuki’s Grand Vitara

Zest Magazine takes a closer look at Suzuki’s Grand Vitara 2.4L A/T.



And to think I already thought Suzuki’s Jimny was (somewhat) rugged (in a nice kind of way). But then came along the Grand Vitara, a somewhat mean-looking/performing vehicle, and, well… I’ll have to do some reconsidering.

On the outside, the car actually looks… Spartan (if not – to be very blunt – common).

Yes, I’d say that just as expected from Suzuki, this one is also not boxy, and its curves give it a sporty appearance. This is “helped” by the car’s 188mm ground clearance (thank you 17-inch alloy wheels!) that give one that (driver’s) feeling of being an overlord (i.e. that “I’m taller than you all!” feeling). But there’s nothing… memorable on the outside of the Grand Vitara for me, even if it has an extra pair of fog lamps, third break light, silver accents to the car’s side and up top for the roof rails, signal repeaters installed on the side mirrors, and (at the rear) a coy pair of tail lights on the opposite sides of the 5th door (where the cover for the spare tire and door handle have the same shade as the body).

Some say it’s “minimalist”; and that it’s not “calling attention to itself” (unlike, say, Jeep’s Wrangler, or even Suzuki’s Swift). I’d still say… “usual”.

It is in the inside where, for me, the Grand Vitara starts to become somewhat more… ostentatious.

The seats are fabric upholstered; but unlike, say, Ertiga, this one (from the get go) seems to say it’s okay being messed with, with its dark-colored everything (dark seats, and black leather with pale trimmings on the doors). Akin to Ciaz, the stereo controls are embedded on the tilting/telescoping steering wheel. The (I have to say somewhat big, particularly when you first see it) dashboard is segmented into three “parts” to show the tachometer, speedometer and fuel/temperature gauges. There are also stats for real-time fuel mileage, average fuel consumption, and distance showing an estimate of how many kms the car can still cover before you run out of juice. There’s a touchscreen Android-run player (again, similar to Ciaz), connectivity ports stuffed inside the glove compartment (these don’t work, though, if that radio’s turned off), and dual 12V sockets.

The legroom was great for both front and back; but the headroom’s not that great at the back (surprising considering the car IS big inside).

The fifth door at the back reveals the luggage space. This isn’t big; but it suffices…

BTW, from the driver’s seat, I have one “issue”. The overall feel of the car is “sturdy”, with everything seemingly constructed firmly/thickly. This is – generally speaking – A-OK for me; but while driving, this “thickness” was also troublesome for me as it had that tendency to cover up my line of vision, particularly as far as approaching vehicles at my left are concerned…

Performance-wise, the Grand Vitara more than sufficed for me, thanks I should say to its 2.4-liter engine (the 16-valve DOHC engine also comes with variable valve timing or VVT).

For instance, I drove the car to:

  1. Cape Santiago in Batangas, where – while heading there – one wrong turn means needing to brave rocky roads. Though the car felt “big”, it fit even tight spots (e.g. that “bridge” from the main road going to Cape Santiago’s lighthouse). It was also able to tackle unpaved roads there…
  2. Lake Pandin in San Pablo, Laguna, a somewhat new tourist attraction that doesn’t have the best roads (yet). Similar to the Cape Santiago experience, the Grand Vitara survived the trip.
  3. Lucena City from Tagaytay via Talisay-Tanauan Road. If you’re familiar with this route, you’d know that driving here means braving very STEEP and very NARROW roads. Grand Vitara didn’t choke (not even once) climbing or going downhill…
  4. Luisiana, Laguna (to buy the famed bibingka), where the car was able to survive numerous turns, twists and bumps.

There are two issues I encountered re Grand Vitara that are worth mentioning.

On the one hand, it’s a bit of greedy with fuel consumption (in my experience, just 325kms from full tank to nil), averaging around 8km/L fuel consumption (for combined city and out-of-town driving).

On the other hand, while the Grand Vitara had no issues accelerating (even when climbing steep slopes), it did have issues with turning corners. If you’re familiar with the way many roads are expanded in smaller towns/provinces, you’d know that some of these expansions are done STUPIDLY – i.e. the roads are widened, but the electric poles, giant trees, et cetera are retained right in the middle of the expanded parts. When in these roads, therefore, overtaking may mean hitting a pole in the middle of the road. And with the Grand Vitara’s issue re cornering, this (for me) proved challenging…

All in all, for those looking for a “sturdy” car sans any of the dramas (e.g. “sexy”, “butch”, and so on), then the Grand Vitara is definitely worth considering. This one can make one confident while being on the road…

The Suzuki Grand Vitara comes in: Superior White, Silky Silver Metallic, Quasar Grey Metallic, Bluish Black Pearl and Bison Brown Pearl Metallic. It is available in two variants: Grand Vitara 2.4L – A/T, which sells for P1,160,000; and Special Edition 2.4L – A/T, which sells for P1,210,000.

M.D. dela Cruz Tan is the founder of Zest Magazine. And no, the initials (i.e. M.D.) do not make him a "medical doctor" (as many have erroneously thought in the past); he is actually a graduate of Bachelor of Arts (Communication Studies) of the University of Newcastle in New South Wales Australia (just don't ask when, he says). He can: photograph, do artworks with mixed media, write (of course), shoot flicks, community-organize, facilitate, lecture, research (with pioneering studies under his belt)... this one's a multi-tasker, who is even conversant in Filipino Sign Language. Cross his path is the dare (read: It won't be boring).

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Fight against smoking continues with Nicorette

Over the years, the Philippine government in partnership with private organizations have been working together to reduce tobacco use through awareness and education programs.



According to the Philippine Statistics Authority, twenty eight percent (28%) or 17.3 million Filipinos are smokers. Today, the Philippines still has one of the highest per capita levels of tobacco consumption among the ASEAN countries, and this poses a major public health problem in the country.

Over the years, the Philippine government in partnership with private organizations have been working together to reduce tobacco use through awareness and education programs.

Ending the Habit

At Johnson & Johnson Philippines, we walk the talk when it comes to enforcing good, healthy habits, in order to quit smoking. Through a series of posters strategically displayed around the J&J Philippines campus, employees are reminded how Nicorette can help them break free from smoking. Nicorette is Nicotine Polacrilex, a type of nicotine replacement therapy that can help quitters reduce their cravings in as fast as 15 minutes. Quit smoking for a week with the help of Nicorette and be 9x more likely to quit for good.

“As part of our J&J credo, it is our responsibility to give our employees a healthier and safer environment in the office and at home. This is just one of our initiatives in making sure we help put a stop to smoking. Our work does not just start and end with promoting Nicorette to our consumers, but we would also like our employees to be reminded of the threats of smoking”, says Patricia Rodriguez, brand manager for self-care, Johnson & Johnson Philippines.

Quit Smoking with Nicorette

Apart from activities within the Johnson & Johnson Philippines campus, we are also making strides in advancing our goal in reducing tobacco usage in the country. Last year, in celebration of World No Tobacco Day, Johnson & Johnson Philippines introduced Nicorette to encourage more Filipino smokers to #JoinTheQuitters. Nicorette held an online event anchored on the World Health Organization’s campaign “Commit to Quit” to motivate Filipinos to permanently quit for good.  The event was streamed through Facebook live and was attended by over 700 people nationwide. Some participants were “quitters” who shared their quitting journeys and smokers who pledged to a healthier lifestyle.

  • Since then, Nicorette has worked non-stop in advocating to end smoking in the Philippines. We continued to raise awareness of the difficulties in quitting smoking with the help of our ‘quit ambassadors’. This year, in commemoration of No Smoking Month, Nicorette invited the media to participate in a roundtable discussion on the hazards of smoking. The event was attended by John Matthew Uy, a Nicorette user and successful quitter, and pulmonologist Dr. Leni Fernandez ho enlightened guests about the threats of smoking.  Apart from that, we also sought the help of “quitters” to share their quitting journey online. Our ambassadors talked about the challenges of quitting, the importance of having a strong support system in their journey and having an effective and trusted product like Nicorette that can help them through withdrawals and in stopping their cravings.

The Answer to Quit Smoking for Good

There is no excuse in being unable to quit smoking now that Nicorette is available in leading supermarkets and drugstores nationwide. Nicorette is available in your nearest drugstores like Mercury Drug, Watsons, Southstar Drug, and more, and is also available on both Shopee and Lazada for your convenience.

​​For more information about Nicorette, visit or  follow our social media accounts at and @nicoretteph on Instagram. Get special deals and promos to finally break that habit by purchasing Nicorette on official Johnson & Johnson Philippines accounts, both on Shopee and Lazada.

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Manulife makes its insurance products more accessible through partnership

Manulife has partnered with, an online insurance marketplace that serves thousands of customers, to make insurance accessible to more Filipinos through its HealthFlex, FutureBoost and Horizons plans, helping them financially secure their future.



Manulife has partnered with, an online insurance marketplace that serves thousands of customers, to make insurance accessible to more Filipinos through its HealthFlex, FutureBoost and Horizons plans, helping them financially secure their future.

In a recent Manulife study, “The Modern Filipino Family: Exploring family dynamics and digitalization in the new normal,” 41% of Filipino Gen Zs surveyed intend to buy life insurance online in the next 12 months. In addition, 33% of Filipino millennials and 25% of Gen Xs actually bought insurance in the last 12 months, among those surveyed. Manulife aims to address Filipinos’ increased appetite for digitally enabled insurance and investments by making protection more accessible online.

“As the first global life insurance brand on, and the only insurer to offer variable-linked insurance products that rewards you with bonuses like FutureBoost on the platform to secure every stage of your life, we are focused on making our products more digitally accessible to meet their evolving priorities and expectations,” said Neil Bowyer, Chief Partnership Distribution Officer, Manulife Philippines. “This is just one more way we’re delivering on our mission to make decisions easier and lives better through digital, customer-centric experiences for Filipinos across the country.

Hamilton Angluben, Chief Executive Officer,, added: “By working with Manulife, one of the leading and most trusted insurance brands in the country, we look forward to leveraging our most valuable technologies so Filipinos can get access to best-in-class and relevant insurance solutions that can help them better prepare for the future. This, in turn, can help us achieve our goal of bridging the insurance gap in the country, and make getting insured easy and reliable for all Filipinos.”

Manulife’s products that will be available on offer customers access to customizable insurance plans that give them life and health protection coverage based on their needs, priorities, and budget, and enjoy various add-on benefits like investments.

  • Manulife FutureBoost, an affordable life insurance plan with no premium charges, gives Filipinos potential income from bonuses ranging from 0.5% to 5%, plus access to expertly managed global and local investment funds.
  • Manulife HealthFlex, a health insurance plan that allows customers to pay only for the health coverage they need, has four base plans covering up to 112 critical illnesses at any age until 100.
  • Manulife Horizons, one of insurer’s most affordable investment-linked insurance plans, provides comprehensive coverage for their families, and offers investment opportunities that allow them to grow their funds.

FutureBoost, HealthFlex, and Horizons are now available on’s online marketplace. Interested customers may inquire via live chat or set an appointment with a financial advisor. Enrolled customers may sign up and transact via Manulife Online so they can manage their policies digitally. Premium payments can also be completed via credit card or e-wallets.

For more information about Manulife’s products and services, visit to learn more.

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Keep loved ones ready and protected with MediCard’s RxER

MediCard, a leading health maintenance organization (HMO) in the Philippines, brings you MediCard RxER so you can ensure that your loved ones are prepared for any unexpected situations while savoring the joy of the festive season.



The holidays are here! Finally, it is the time of the year to relax, unwind, and enjoy all the festive activities with your family and friends. And perhaps, you are now busy listing all the possible gifts that would spark joy in your loved ones, regardless of whether they have been naughty or nice.  

As everyone is eager to celebrate this season, keep in mind that it can be a risky time as well. The holidays frequently attract unwanted guests, such as illnesses and accidents ranging from road accidents to fireworks injuries. 

A January 2022 report by the Department of Health (DOH) revealed there were 85 cases of fireworks-related injuries as the country celebrated the 2022 New Year. While the numbers continue to decrease each year, it pays off to be ready always for unforeseen emergencies that can steal your holiday celebrations. 

MediCard RxER: The best gift you can give this season 

To help you put one of the best gifts under the Christmas tree, MediCard, a leading health maintenance organization (HMO) in the Philippines, brings you MediCard RxER so you can ensure that your loved ones are prepared for any unexpected situations while savoring the joy of the festive season. 

The RxER provides a brand-new, specialized healthcare maintenance service that includes emergency, preventative, and outpatient treatment and is created to give members of all ages the maximum value and convenience. 

In hospitals recognized by MediCard, the overall cap for patients requiring emergency trauma care is PhP20,000. ER costs, professional fees, and urgent drugs connected to the condition of accidents, burns, animal bites, and accidental chemical poisoning are also included in emergency care charges if it is within six hours from the time of the incident.  

Emergency diagnostic procedures and lab tests up to PhP5,000, including MRI, CT scan, and ultrasound, are also covered. Additionally, coverage will be provided for tetanus toxoid, anti-tetanus serum, and current rabies vaccination. Regular casting and splint are also included. 

Is it a one-time-use thing? No. Members may use emergency services more than once for the said circumstances if the limit has not yet been reached. 

The gift that keeps on giving 

Members of the RxER card are also entitled to an annual physical exam in any MediCard free-standing clinic and Uro Industrial Clinic (UROIC). This includes a complete blood count, a chest X-ray, a urinalysis, a fecalysis, and a general check-up for the entire year. 

In addition, members get unlimited access to outpatient consultations with primary care physicians, including general practitioners, general surgeons on a clinic-to-clinic basis, obstetricians for non-maternity-related check-ups, pediatricians, family medicine physicians, and medical internists. For other specialists and sub-specialists, on the other hand, the RxER covers a flat rate of PhP350 for consultations. 

Other benefits of RxER include a 30% discount on outpatient laboratory and diagnostic tests, outpatient surgeries and other services, and procedures at the Skin & Body Clinic. It also gives its members dental services, such as one-time oral prophylaxis, dental consultations, and a 30% discount on dental procedures. 

All these may be availed of at any MediCard free-standing clinic in key cities nationwide  

There is no time to lose! Gift your loved ones these wonderful benefits now for only PhP1,998 with no age limit and no medical check-up required, available on MediCard’s websiteShopeeLazada, Medicard free-standing clinics, Maria Health, and more. 

MediCard is a leading HMO founded and managed by doctors. Over the years, it has provided the most comprehensive and innovative healthcare programs and fitness activities to help people achieve healthier lives.  

To learn more about MediCard Philippines, visit its website at  

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