Chevrolet owners are having some fun on Thursdays at McDonald's by driving through and getting the free designated breakfast set for every passenger in the vehicle (maximum of four).
The Covenant Car Company, Inc., exclusive distributors of Chevrolet in the Philippines, lent me a Spark to avail of the free breakfast treat. I arranged to bring four children from an urban poor community in our neighborhood.
Meet James, Princess, Alyssa, and Angelo. Except for James, who's now 11 years old, all others are one year younger. James goes to Cubao Elementary School and is graduating from 6th grade this year. The other three go to Eulogio Rodriguez Elementary School, and are now in Grade 5.
We started the trip to the nearest McDonald's drive-thru with the most basic vehicle-riding rule: buckling up with safety belts. One of them at the rear seating couldn't connect the buckle, and the warning light came up.
These kids may not be able to see the same detail of safety in other cars that they may be using or riding in future, but it sure had left them a good impression of how a car as small as the Spark could be committed to keeping its passengers safe.
Using Waze, we tracked our route to McDonald's Kamias. Queuing up at the drivethru lane were a few other Chevrolet vehicles ahead.
Running on its third week of a scheduled five until Feb. 7, the drive-thru attendant admitted that Thursday mornings were getting busy with more Chevrolet owners passing through.
We ordered for four breakfast sets, with pineapple juice to match for the children. The substituted four coffee cups were going to definitely perk up my day.
Instead of downing the McSausage with Egg sandwiches, hashbrown and juice in the car, we laid claim to a table inside the fastfood branch. This way, my guests and I got to know each other a bit.
Princess wants to be a stewardess when she grows up. Tall for her age and pretty, she could be what she aspires for—except that she has already fallen one year behind in her studies, having had to take care of her baby sister when they recently lost their dad.
Alyssa hopes to be a doctor. Unlike Princess, she still has not lost count of how many days she has missed class. When I remind her of how much school work she will have to put in to become a doctor, she thinks she could be a teacher instead.
Angelo and James both want to be engineers. Like Princess, Angelo also can't remember how many days he has not reported for class.
James is the smart one, just as all his older brothers were. But growing up in an underprivileged environment is no guarantee that he will succeed in his aspirations; his elder siblings likely did not, having stopped schooling for one reason or another.
Do they like to own a car when they grow up? Yes, they reply. I tell them how much a simple car like the Spark costs, and it just glosses over them.
For now, James is more engrossed in upgrading the Cherry Mobile his dad gave him with a tablet. The girls talk about crushes and repeat what their elders perhaps time and again remind them: not to take boys seriously.
Will they remember this one hour when they had breakfast at McDo and rode in this mint green Chevy Spark, and my pleas to take their studies more seriously?
They look forward to this printed article. I hope they keep it as a reminder of how a spark can change their lives.
It has been awhile since I drove a small car, having first graduated to an AUV to fit my growing family, and later, to a pickup for the family's big errands.
With pillows stacked on the driver's seat propping me up, navigating the Spark on Metro Manila's streets where some of the government's huge road projects were ongoing seemed less daunting. In fact, the drive was quite a joy.
I had forgotten how easy it was to weave around trucks and SUVs confined to less space when navigating the clogged roads. Going through diversionary side streets to get ahead of those stuck in traffic was also a cinch.
For around P850,000, this top-of-the-line Spark is pricey as a starter car for a college graduate. But its has some really good features to make one appreciate the higher cost.
The Spark has two airbags, sweptback projectortype headlamps with LED daytime running lights, electric power steering, antilock braking system, traction and stability control, as well as anti-theft alarm and immobilizer.
Its newest smart feature unveiled during the Manila International Auto Show in 2017 was the heated and powerfolding side mirrors and the keyless entry.
Navigating San Juan's uphill roads, the dual overhead camshaft 16-valve 1.4-liter Ecotec four-cylinder motor expected needed a spurt of additional power to climb, even with just a driver inside. But hey, this is a small car grinding out 99 hp and 128 Nm of torque.
It's surprisingly stable when navigating the tight city streets, enough to make you look at it a second time.