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Ciaz in focus

A closer look at Suzuki Ciaz.

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To be blunt, the first time I “encountered” Suzuki Ciaz was through an ad – there, the model unit was tan-colored (apparently they refer to this shade as “Prime Dignity Brown”) that, at any other time, may look okay, but didn’t do it for me because the shade reminded me of (sorry to say this) poop. So it was with abated breath that I waited for the unit to drive test to arrive (at my tita’s place in BF Resort Village in Las Piñas). A white unit (they call the shade “Pearl Snow White”) arrived, and I was pleasantly surprised that it didn’t look “wedding-y”; it was actually a pretty car (it isn’t drop-dead gorgeous, yes; but it’s not ugly at all).

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And so I was exposed to Suzuki Philippines’ entry in the sub-compact sedan segment, the Ciaz.

Ciaz – said to be an acronym for “Comfort-Intelligence-Attitude-Zeal”, and which actually replaces Suzuki’s SX4 sedan – is, to my surprise, a nice looking car, with no out-of-place parts.

On the outside, the car is elegant – e.g. there are no lines out of place/un-sexy edges (making it look even sleek/sporty), unnecessarily large grills (as if calling for attention), unsightly headlights (as if they’re too big for the model; this one has projector-type headlamps), et cetera. Particularly when considered front-facing (complete with the signature Suzuki “S” logo in front), Ciaz looks like an executive sedan.

Inside, the Ciaz continues to be not bad. Some features worth highlighting:

  1. Start with the all-black interior. Some may find this boring, but you know, black=class, at least most of the time. An issue for me here, though, is how easy it is to leave marks on… just about everything. I placed Baliwag chicken (inside a plastic bag inside a supot/paper bag) beside me, and upon removal, the mark left didn’t come off easily (no stains; but removing the mark was tedious).
  2. The gear stick is “supported” by the dashboard – i.e. you can see what gear you’re on right on the dashboard, as opposed to other cars that: A) relies on you “knowing” your car enough to trust your shifting; or B) somewhat forces you to look at the light that appears beside the gear. The somewhat tricky part here is when you’re turning (and may have to change gears), and the dashboard is covered by the steering wheel.
  3. The enhanced leg, head and shoulder room for all occupants (and I mean all). Ciaz claims to be the longest car in its class, measuring 4,490 mm (length), 1,730 mm (width) x 1,475 mm (height), with the car getting an extended wheelbase of 2,650 mm. Particularly when you check the back seats, the space is impressive – it ought to seat three, but four (admittedly slimmer) friends didn’t find the back tight at all. There are minute details worth mentioning – e.g. rear headrests don’t adjust – though these become trivial/appear like we’re nitpicking, considering that the back also has an armrest (as needed).
  4. A keyless push start system – i.e. “Look, ma, no keys!”.
  5. An Android OS-based multimedia system with mirror-link capability and GPS navigation (As a friend said, “It’s like having a tablet there.”). It’s not iPad-fast (or since it’s Android, Samsung-like); but considering that other at-par cars aren’t even touchscreen equipped, can’t complain on this one.
  6. The trunk space isn’t bad – e.g. I carried three sacks of gravel (over 15 kilos per bag) alright; and another time, a bicycle (with the wheels removed) fitted inside nicely (plus some bags). Forget trunk space flexibility, nonetheless, since the rear seats don’t fold in any way.
  7. Equipped with dual SRS airbags and ABS with EBD (on all variants).
  8. It even has a heater – sorta (initially) out of place in a tropical country, though coming in handy when heading to places like Tagaytay or Baguio City.

Ciaz is powered by Suzuki’s K14B 1.4-liter 4-cylinder engine, and come with VVT (variable valve timing; with the VVT emblazoned at the side of the car) to generate up to 92 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 130 Nm of torque at 4,000 rpm. Obviously depending on the variant, the engine can be mated to either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic.

But for me, more than the nimble performance, Ciaz also fares well because it offers a quiet(er) and smooth(er) ride. If you’re heading to Las Piñas coming from Pasay/Baclaran via Coastal, and turn right at BF Resort Drive at Casimiro/Alabang-Zapote, you’d encounter oh-so-many humps (not to mention potholes). Braving these (humps and potholes) didn’t bother me (and my passengers) at all. Turns aren’t problematic either (stable and quite sharp).

It’s this quietness that I also remember even in longer drives (e.g. Tagaytay) – though as my cousin (who also tried the unit) said, “this calm is tricky” as it “could cocoon you into a false sense of being secured”. More than once, I got a sense that Ciaz is a lightweight car (curb weight is 1,010-1,040 kilograms) because I could “feel” big (e.g. trucks) or speeding (e.g. jeepneys driven by barumbado drivers) vehicles “pushing” me, so that I had to cut speed (then at 80kph). And you know that oft-repeated stories about smaller cars, that when you reach a certain speed, your control over it lessens faster, too? I had some moments like those in Ciaz, too…

Fuel use isn’t fixed. In ideal (and I’d say often city driving) conditions, just as when I received the unit, the dashboard boasted that consumption is at 8.8L/100 km. Driving around the city (e.g. from Las Piñas to Quezon City), this went to 8.1L/100 km. And on the way to Tagaytay, this went up to 9.1L/100 km. I’d say more than acceptable…

To sum up, this isn’t gonna be on everyone’s must-have car (particularly with cars fast mimicking tech goods, with newer units released before you can say “HELLO!”). There’s bound to be a model (or two, or three – depending on needs and budgets) that one would want to get hold of. But having said this, Ciaz is not at all a bad car particularly in its category. Sleek (even sexy), not-a-bad performer, no voracious gas guzzling, et cetera, it’s not surprising for Ciaz to be noticed. And so, yes, I do see you Ciaz…

The Suzuki Ciaz is available in five colors (Pearl Snow White, Metallic Star Silver, Metallic Mineral Grey, Pearl Super Black, and Prime Dignity Brown), and sell for P738,000 (GL M/T), P773,000 (GL A/T), and P888,000 (GLX A/T).

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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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Introducing Taco Bell’s ‘Cupid’s Choice Valentine’s Special Combo’

Make every moment count with 1 Crunchy Taco Supreme, 1 Burrito Shawarma, 1 serving of Oreo Chocodilla, a side of Nachos Sprinkle, and 2 servings of Ruby Fruity Freeze for dine-in or 2 12oz. servings of soda for delivery, all for just P499!

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This season of love, Taco Bell has cooked up an irresistible offer to help you show how much you adore that special someone! You’ll be love-struck like never before with the Cupid’s Choice Valentine’s Special Combo, available for a limited only!

Make every moment count with 1 Crunchy Taco Supreme, 1 Burrito Shawarma, 1 serving of Oreo Chocodilla, a side of Nachos Sprinkle, and 2 servings of Ruby Fruity Freeze for dine-in or 2 12oz. servings of soda for delivery, all for just P499!

Enjoy an all-time Taco Bell classic with the Crunchy Taco Supreme, made with a crunchy taco shell that’s filled to the brim with perfectly seasoned Mexican-style ground beef, topped with a special sauce, and then garnished with shredded fresh lettuce, diced tomatoes, and grated cheddar cheese.

Indulge in the Middle Eastern inspired Shawarma Burrito, made with Mexican-style ground beef topped with diced onions, tomatoes, and cucumber, and generously drizzled with Taco Bell’s rich and creamy garlic sauce, all encased in a soft and tender tortilla wrap.

Stay refreshed with sips of your Ruby Fruity Fizz or soda, and munch on some Nachos Sprinkle between each bite.

Finally, satisfy your sweet tooth with 2 slices of Oreo Chocodilla, a delectable treat made with gooey, melted dark chocolate, chewy marshmallows, and chunks of crushed Oreo cookies, all nestled in a lightly grilled tortilla wrap.

The Cupid’s Choice Valentine’s Special Combo will be available until February 29, 2024 only, so make sure to order today if you don’t want to miss this offer!

.Get it together with your other favorites from Taco Bell by visiting your nearest branch for dine-in and take out orders, or by calling the 8911-1111 hotline for delivery. You can also order through Taco Bell’s official delivery partners GrabFood, foodpanda, and Pickaroo (prices may vary). Never miss the latest news, offers, and deals from Taco Bell by following and giving the brand a like on Facebook, X (formerly Twitter), and Instagram.

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Victoria Court reveals secrets on popular themed suites for Valentine’s Day

Anyone who’s been inside these themed suites can attest that the beauty is in the details. From the Red Light, Green Light guns to the MRT train hand railings and color schemes, the rooms are designed accurately. Maybe too accurately.

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Love motels are an open secret to us, and over the years, Victoria Court has been unveiling one themed room after another. You may have heard of their Squid Room suite at the height of the show’s popularity (pandemic doom, we feel you) or their juicy and sweaty nudge to Filipino daily commute (and JAV chikan) with their MRT-inspired room.

Anyone who’s been inside these themed suites can attest that the beauty is in the details. From the Red Light, Green Light guns to the MRT train hand railings and color schemes, the rooms are designed accurately. Maybe too accurately.

After all, aren’t guests the ‘main character’ of their fantasies?

Speaking of getting into your main character era, who isn’t planning a spicy, steamy experience this Valentine’s Day? Whether we hide it or not, it’s been a long-standing tradition for Victoria Court to create an adult playground for love and intimacy this time of the year.

Victoria Court Owner Atticus King weighs in on how they’ve turned the drive-in motel chain’s themed suites from ideas into guests’ short-lived realities: “I had a professor once say, a room is a room is a room. With that in mind, we thought about how important it is to go beyond that, we wanted to give them an experience they couldn’t just get anywhere and that would make a mental mark and become a core memory. “Remember that time we went to VC…”

Yes, how could one forget a rendezvous night spent with their partner trying to live happily ever after? Victoria Court’s Ever After room in Pasig can do just the trick. The room’s jacuzzi is their biggest one yet, and you can literally float on it without touching the sides of the tub. Talk about real happy endings, right?

You’d also be surprised to know which themed rooms are well-suited to the Filipino taste. “We have the most number of suites in our Panorama Branch in Pasig. There, our top 10 busiest rooms are CLOY, Chips, Squid Room, Oval Office, Venice, Bachelor’s Pad, Moulin Rouge, Cirque, 50 Shades, and yes, Princess Jasmine,” Chief Operating Officer Sam Pineda reveals.

We’re not here to gatekeep on other steamy perks these rooms have to offer. “Aside from custom-built jacuzzis, we have rooms with playful additions like places to strap folks in. Our Homerun and Casting Couch rooms in Pasig are good examples,” Pineda adds.

Of course, behind each themed room is a story of how it came to be. “It’s a combination of looking at what is trending, what is underserved, and what we think looks fun. When we built the Oval Office room, my father [the late Archie King] said I’d end up losing my visa because it was a replica of the Oval Office but my selling point was how often can you say I’ve partied in the Oval Office? The room was a hit when we launched it and I didn’t lose my visa,” King explains, laughing.

But how exactly does the motel chain decide which fandom or Netflix show will turn into the next themed suite? “We have several recipes but to be honest, sometimes themes we think will be a big hit just do okay and others that are okay do exceptionally well. We always listen to our guests and we try to design themes to make their crazy fantasies real,” King says.

Even then, Victoria Court has moved away from its public perception of being a mere ‘biglang-liko’ or place for illicit affairs to a hotel chain that hosts (wholesome) parties and offers an award-winning food menu.

“The bigger suites are typically what end up hosting parties (and some couple stays). For couple stays, we find that while some regulars have a favorite room, others prefer not to use a room they’ve already seen – and that’s what’s beautiful about it,” Pineda explains. “You can choose or you can just go for any and be (pleasantly) surprised!”

Guests, despite being discreet, aren’t shy to offer a thought or two about these rooms. “We’ve received great feedback from either camp, with some loving the variety, while others have a favorite jacuzzi, enjoying the special effects, the tantra chair, or even something as simple as preferring rooms with more mirrors.” Pineda says.

Not all themed rooms are here to stay, though. But some rooms are classics and crowd-favorites that guests will always come back to now and then. “When we see a certain theme starting to look dated, we decide whether to reinvest to upgrade it or what we fondly like to call belo and make it fresh again or we take a vote on what new theme we can reintroduce.”

But more than rooms to play out fantasies is a vision to create an adult Disney experience for King: “I think our product will continue to evolve to serve couples looking for an experience that will bring them right to the edge of their comfort zone and inject that feeling of adventure.”

Well, folks, it’s time to head over to the nearest Victoria Court branch this Valentine’s Day and see their themed suites for yourself. You’ll never know what you’ll find there–a newfound fantasy or a tantalizing experience that will keep you on your toes, craving for more.

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Coffee with cookies? Here’s a delicious combo from two well-loved brands

Great Taste Cream-O is a delicious collaboration between two well-loved brands: Great Taste offers its signature “aromanamnam” taste, while Cream-O adds a layer of deliciousness with its real cookie crumbles. It is a unique coffee-cookie mix that’s great for those who are looking for a delicious drink to enjoy during their break time.

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Great things can come out of great collaborations. We’ve seen this in how talented artists worked together to create the songs and movies that we love. In the realm of fashion, brands also introduce unexpected collaborations to bring something new and interesting to customers.

Collaborations are just as important in our studies and jobs. When we work together, not only do we get things done faster, we motivate each other to come up with creative ideas. Of course, you should also take a break in between tasks. One way you can make this free time more enjoyable is with a new coffee blend, like Great Taste Cream-O.

Great Taste Cream-O is a delicious collaboration between two well-loved brands: Great Taste offers its signature “aromanamnam” taste, while Cream-O adds a layer of deliciousness with its real cookie crumbles. It is a unique coffee-cookie mix that’s great for those who are looking for a delicious drink to enjoy during their break time.

Great Taste Cream-O comes in a compact twin sachet pack, for only P15.00 (SRP), so you can carry a pack with you and quickly whip up a delicious drink to enjoy your break times with your classmates or colleagues.

University students enjoy breaks with Great Taste Cream-O

To give students an enjoyable experience at school, Great Taste shared its newest coffee blend to select universities in Manila. Its first stop was at the Mapua University Manila last January 23, 2024, where Great Taste Cream-O set up an exciting booth with a 360-degree photo and video booth they could visit in between classes, and make memories while enjoying Great Taste Cream-O with their blockmates. Making the moment even more enjoyable for the students, the brand collaborated with one of the University’s dance groups, and a guest influencer, to entertain guests with an energetic dance number.

For students looking to add flavor-sarap to their coffee and make their breaktimes more enjoyable, this is your chance to get your Great Taste Cream-O fix. Watch out as Great Taste might make a stop at your university in the coming weeks. Be sure to follow Great Taste Coffee on Facebook for more updates and information.

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