“While APEC happened …” I bet a lot of stories out there start with this phrase now. Well, this is our story and it’s one for December—because it was while APEC happened last month that Christmas came early. We had gone to BAIC again, and with their help, we helped some folks who are helping some really special kids. Roundabout you say? Bear with us, read on, you’ll get the drift of why this one’s special.

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Them, Santa’s actual helpers

As it’s done for the past two years, Adonais Mercy House again spearheaded efforts to hold a Christmas party for exceptional children. Since organizing into a charitable community in 2013, Adonais has been doing their bit to bring holiday cheer to children on the Munting Panaginip program of Undying Wishes of Pinoys, Inc. (UWPI)—children with cancer relying on the charitable support of the UWPI foundation for their medication and laboratory expenses. Adonais is a non-profit organization that had sprung up to give form to the charitable intent of friends, a community grounded in their christian faith. Hailing from countries across the globe, Adonais members have a simple goal: to help children stricken with—and impoverished by—cancer. Eventually, they hope to start a midway house for them.

The parties in 2013 and 2014 we’re simple affairs, little more than what you’d expect a kiddie party would be, assembled from a fastfood chain’s cookie-cutter selections, and on a tight budget. But the occasions always came with donated gifts—the apparent draw, that bit of Christmas the kids and their families could take home.

This year, the party had grown bigger. The venue was the Fun Ranch at Tiendesitas in Pasig City, the volunteers came from all walks, from diverse groups including Kiwanis and the Global Pilipino organization of professional chefs. Even bonafide educators and actual in-the-flesh entertainers lent a hand. And the gifts! Those came from all over and promised to swamp the bottom of Christmas trees and spread across supper tables.

On mission

The mission then: collect big precious parcels, get all of these to the party and to the kids and their families who could certainly put these to good use. All these, at the height of APEC week with motorists funneled away from reserved lanes and even entire roads. All these, while carmaggedon threatened.IMG20151117144546

Enter the BAIC MZ40 cargo van. We had driven the MZ40, the passenger van variant, on our very first real world drive back in March (see the story: An Outreach Drive to Dueg with BAIC’s MZ40 WeVan ) and it proved handy in getting some volunteers for an early literacy program up north. So, this time out, we thought, cargo van! And the nice folks at BAIC Philippines obliged us, again.

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These days, closed cargo versions of familiar passenger vans seem to be anachronistic. Why go with a metal-walled, bare, flat-bed cargo bay when you can have a nicely glassed passenger version? After all, with foldable seating now common, you can still turn people movers into haulers of oversized stuff.

Answer: it’s what professionals really ought to use. There’s something eagle-eyed and unflinching about a cargo van. It has purpose, and customers sense this. For instance, there’s no need at all to assert that it’s “for official use only.” It’s clearly on the road for a purpose. And, while APEC happened, we were lucky enough to have purpose, to be out and about hauling precious cargo.

Sleigh bells on a cargo van

Metal walls stamped out of uncut steel sheets makes for excellent security, keeping content discreetly hidden from anyone who has no business knowing … all matter-of-factly too. It’s a closed van, that’s how it rolled off the factor floor, so stuff being hidden from view won’t be seen by the unsavoury sort as a deliberate, anxious act.

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Put it this way: on the job we we’re on, it was prudent to keep stuff from view of the naughty, those of the not nice variety. And, the lack of vestigial windows even kept everything in shade. The MZ40 has AC vents up front and, predictably, it was enough to keep the whole cabin North Pole cool, cargo bay included.

The missing rear windshield could be an issue, making you rely on side mirrors for backing up. But it’s not really a challenge for any pro worth his salt, any guy willing to roll down the window, stick his head out and crane his neck to get some depth perception into play.

Compared to popular multi-cabs that bolt modular rear cabins onto a frame, the MZ40 cargo van’s single-body on a ladder chassis makes for an extremely rigid and robust vessel. Rolling along doesn’t cause a single squeak or creak, the telltales of a rear body flexing separately from the front cabin.

And finally, exactly because closed vans seem anachronistic, there’s this notion of investment in the premium and, well, the ideal. When you see a FedEx cargo plane soaring above, a widebody without windows and devoted entirely to cargo, don’t you get a sense of just how serious they are about the job? The cargo we had, the folks these were meant for, all deserved the best.

Official use

So it was that while the city’s streets turned officious to welcome visiting dignitaries, we were on the job with a cargo van, putting it to uniquely official use.

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With the MZ40 cargo van, the good folks at BAIC Philippines rooting us along, we got a hint of that feeling, of being burdened with glorious purpose—as Norse gods might say. Cargo has a multiplier effect, you see. Like it is with those FedEx planes again: “Hoowee! That sure is a lot of Wilsons on their way to some lucky kids.” Sure, it isn’t people they’re carrying, but can you imagine how many more folk are actually going to be touched, to be helped, by the freight.

On that note: go ahead, spread cheer, and have a merry Christmas, one and all.

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