Sep 092014

Since I started covering motoring events and developments for almost three decades now, first with the TV show, Motoring Today and immediately after with this column, which started in a now defunct broadsheet, the traffic problem in Metro Manila has always been on top of all metro management agendas. 

The main culprit at that time was the infamous lack of discipline of our drivers, which was immediately followed by the sheer volume of vehicles that travel the metro’s streets. And during that time the number of vehicles sold yearly was not even half of what are being sold now.

To address the problem of drivers’ discipline or sheer lack of it, the government would come up with regular crackdowns on traffic violators, which would immediately fizzle down when the drivers’ organizations would threaten, just threaten to stage a transport strike.

Then the colorum issue was like a song that kept on coming back—an “oldie but goodie”. Some top traffic official would launch a no nonsense anti-colorum campaign and then after a few vehicles were impounded, they would vanish from the impounding area and back to the streets due to “a couple of hundreds of thousands of reasons” as many would speculate.

But then the unnecessary presence of the growing number of provincial buses, most of them of the humongous types, had also been pinpointed as a major contributor of traffic congestion in the metro, which can be helped. At that time, the traffic mangers have already been suggesting not allowing these buses inside the metro or even their terminals, but instead coming up with provincial bus terminals in the four corridors of Metro Manila—north, south, east and west. 

Many motorists heaved a sigh of relief when the present administration made an announcement, one of its initial major infrastructure moves, that it would put up mega bus terminals of the world-class type in these corridors to alleviate traffic congestion in the metro and to ensure provincial commuters of comfortable and convenient travel.

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Many motorists are now asking, “Are we ever going to see the fruition of this promise?”

My answer, “Only when the present administration would continue to put of paramount interest that of the general motoring public.”

In the name of friendship

I broke my own rule that governed my mike-handling career since my long-time co-host, the late Pocholo Ramirez and I started the TV show Motoring Today way back in 1987.

My rule was not to accept hosting jobs or personal endorsements from any of the competing automotive companies, especially those that were our sponsors. I just felt that doing so could create a perception of being bias one way or another. Saying yes to one and failing to do so for another for some reason other than just not wanting to, can cause a lot of problems. Pinoys can be a little emotional when it comes to friendship. And friendship and sincerity have been the basis of my relationship with the entire auto industry, which may have really made me stay where I am right now for almost three decades. There were tempting innuendoes in the past but somehow I was able to “nip them in the bud” by pricing myself out of the market.

But when my good friend, Danny “Sir John” Isla, president of Lexus-Manila called to invite me to host their launch of the Lexus NX, my comfort zone collapsed. I immediately came up with a litany of names that I knew were very capable for the job and when he said they wanted me, I could only blurt out, “Why, are they all out of town for a trip or something? Why me?”

Well, “Sir John” was honest enough to admit that they have tried inviting two other beautiful and popular TV hosts but one was not available and the other had contract commitments not to host public events. And according to the motoring media’s well-loved auto industry executive, “This led us, including Lexus-Manila’s chairman, Alfred Ty, to emphasize on credibility instead of a pair of beautiful and shapely legs for the Lexus NX launch.” And mind you, Mr. Isla is an icon in the art of salesmanship.

After making him agree to one particular strict condition for me to host the event, Sir John and I shook hands on the phone. And the rest is history.

The Lexus NX was launched right at the elegant showroom of Lexus-Manila at the Bonifacio Global City. The launched was hinged on a TV talk show format featuring interviews with a formidable panel composed of a top executive of Lexus Asia Pacific, Paul Carrol, Lexus-Manila president, Daniel Isla, Toyota Motor Philippines’ “rocker of a president” Michinobu Sugata and Lexus-Manila’s “ever youthful-looking” chairman, Alfred Ty.

The idea was not only to have an entertaining launch with the usual song and dance repertoire but elegantly infused with the classical touch of the music of John Lesaca’s intimate strings and capped with a cascade of information from the panel of resource speakers centering on the global and local auto industry, the SUV market in this part of the world and where the Lexus brand is, in all of these.

And to complete the highly informative scenario was the presence of Takeaki Kato, no less than the chief engineer himself of the Lexus NX. Flying in from Japan specifically for the NX’s launch, the chief engineer said “The NX was developed as a Premium SUV having high performance, numerous functions, packaged with alluring exterior and interior design, creating a sense of desire for acquisition”.

Lexus-Manila president, Danny “Sir John” Isla couldn’t hide his excitement about this all-new Lexus model that they are offering when he commented, “Apart from the luxury touches, the NX was designed to complement daily life while also being capable of supporting an active lifestyle on the weekend.”

The NX has been touted as designed to provide a feeling of agility not usually associated with an SUV while also being suitable for urban use. It embodies an aggressive form in order to make functionality and performance as “Sports Gear” evident at a glance.

The Lexus NX comes in two variants; the Hybrid NX 300h, with a 2.5-liter Atkinson cycle hybrid gasoline engine, which is the largest in the NX line-up and comes in all- wheel drive and the NX 200t with the new Lexus 2.0-liters turbo gasoline engine.

Readily available is the Hybrid variant; the Lexus NX 300h while the NX 200t can be had by January 2015.

You can drop by the Lexus-Manila showroom for an “up close and personal” look at the Lexus NX. And truth to tell, they serve very good coffee, free.

As for Danny “Sir John” Isla, Al “Sir Paul” Mendoza and the rest of the other “pasaways” of the motoring media—we have a whole case of JW “blue label” for us every time I get together with you guys.   

An exciting drive with a lot of Jazz

With invited motoring journalists in tow, Honda Cars Philippines, Inc. (HCPI) recently conducted a fun drive to Infanta, Quezon with the All New Jazz. Presentd by Honda as the vehicle that started the hatchback segment, the All New Jazz has been dubbed as “The One” with the objective of further strengthening the perceived benchmark the Jazz has set since 2004.

One of aims of the fun drive is for the media to experience the all-new Jazz’s much larger cabin space with substantial increase in passenger space, shoulder and rear leg room and cargo space.

Also highlighted during the drive and ride is its driving performance and fuel efficiency as the all-new Jazz is equipped with a 1.5 liter i-VTEC engine that delivers maximum power output of 120 ps at 6600 rpm. The 1.5 liter i-VTEC engine is mated to either an improved 5-speed Manual Transmission or a new Continuously Variable Transmission (CVT) developed under the Earth Dreams Technology. To further help in realizing improved fuel efficiency, Honda has also equipped the All New Jazz with the ECO Assist system; which consists of the ECON mode that controls the engine, drive-by-wire, transmission, and air conditioning performance to improve fuel consumption.

All the invited journalists were one in giving the all-new Honda Jazz a “thumbs up”.

Did you play in this year’s STV Golf Cup?

The 3rd STV Invitational Golf Cup was held in early May and after more than three months of procrastination due to the seemingly endless auto industry events we finally aired the other week the highlights of this yearly event exclusive to auto industry supporters and friends of Sunshine TV on the TV show Auto Focus (Thursdays, 10pm, Sky Cable, Channel 13).

But if you played in this fun golf tournament, the only regular golf tournament of the local auto industry that has made its mark as an institutional event, and you missed the TV special featuring its highlights, you can still catch your trademark swing or long putts by logging on to Auto Focus ONLINE (, the first and only “all video” auto online magazine. This is where you can also see all the past episodes of the TV show, Auto Focus.

Happy Motoring!!!

For comments email / sunshine.television@yahoo,com.

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