May 17, 2017

Subic was hot but the auto rally was hotter

The flag off of this year'sSTV Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (ARCC) last Saturday in Subic was done in scourging heat but the actual rally was a lot "hotter", what with a route stretching a distance of more than a hundred kilometers that was designed to keep each member of the rally crew from the driver, route navigator to the time navigator at their toes all the time lest a checkpoint is missed for an automatic 300 demerits-a virtual "kiss goodbye" to the championship trophy.

The impressively flashy starting grid saw a total of 37 latest models of car brands Audi, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Lexus, MINI, Nissan, SsangYong, Subaru and Tata manned by a total of 110 rally enthusiasts composed of drivers, route pilots and time navigators.

Although quite a number of teams decided to check in the night before to promptly answer the early call time of the event (with or without a hangover), those that decided to just leave early to come all the way from the metro just couldn't make on time due to a twin of traffic-halting accidents in the tollways, which caused an almost standstill for nearly an hour. In fairness to those affected by the uncontrollable situation the flag off ceremonies was moved to start at around half past 10 o'clock in the morning-at that time the sun was almost blistering.

From the flag off, done with the assistance ofMr. Bong Eisma, representing SBMA (Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority) administrator Atty. Wilma Eisma, which was at the vast parking area of the Harbor Point Mall, the rally route designed by the tandem of veteran rally and race driverGeorges Ramirez (of the legendaryRamirez Racing Clan) with wife Caroline and IT expertPatrick Chua brought the elite group of "on time, all the time" rally enthusiasts all the way up to scenic Mount Samat in Bataan.

This year's Sampaguita Rally was the longest yet. It made past Lexus-Manila president, Danny "Sir John" Isla waiting in bated breath together with SsangYong Philippines managing director, Dave "Mr. Mac" Macasadia joined by the acknowledged captain of the Lexus Rally Team, syndicated sports columnist and motoring writer,Al 'Sir Paul" Mendoza and motoring writer,Vernon Sarne with nerves soothed by bottles of 'single malts' while eagerly anticipating the return of their respective rally teams.

And when the rally crews finally started to tickle in for the much-deserved late launch unending stories of exciting experiences of miscues, remarkable time calculations and intuitive route navigation began to unfold. This is the other exciting half of the rally-the sharing of experiences, newfound knowledge and the like.

Revelation time comes next week during the much-awaitedAwards Night-the moment of truth-did you make it "on time, all the time?"

Happy Motoring!!!

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Ray Butch Gamboa graduated from the College of Arts and Letters of the University of Sto. Tomas. It was a course that should have been preparatory to a law degree, but the call of broadcasting aborted his plans.

At the age of 16, while still a student, Butch tried his hand at disc jockeying, landing a job at Mareco Broadcasting Network’s AM stations DZBM and DZLM. From there, Butch moved on with his illustrious career as a popular disc jockey, riding the airwaves of Bob Stewart’s middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBN’s DZYL and DZQL.

From there, he stayed on with ABS-CBN, covering live the proceedings at the Manila Stock Exchange and eventually entered into the world of television sales as an account manager for the premier channel of ABS-CBN Channel 2.

In the early 70’s, at the outbreak of Martial Law, Butch was one of the thousands of professionals who woke up jobless when then President Marcos declared the new status of the nation. With the closure of ABS-CBN, Butch ventured into different fields outside of broadcast. He tried his hand and with ease and success at export (Costume jewelry), real estate (brokerage), and restaurants (fast food).

In 1987, after the revolution, with the broadcast industry back to its free state, and with its irresistible call ringing in his ears, Butch made his inevitable comeback and pioneered in a local motoring show, producing Motoring Today on Channel 4 and co-hosting with local motor sports’ living legend Pocholo Ramirez.

After 4 years, he ventured into another pioneering format by producing and hosting Business & Leisure, which was originally aired on ABS-CBN’s Channel 2. The format eventually espoused similar ones in other different channels. But the clones in due course faded away leaving the original staying on airing on Channel 4 and eventually on Shop TV on Sky Cable’s Channel 13.

The following year, the pioneering spirit in Butch spurred him to produce another TV show, Race Weekend, also on Channel 4, covering circuit racing at the Subic International Raceway after the motor sport’s hiatus of 17 years. But when similar shows with duplicated formats sprouted, he decided to give way and ended the program after a year, although still enjoying unparalleled viewership.

In 1998, when the local automotive industry was in a slump, Butch contributed his share to help the ailing industry by producing another popular motoring-related show, this time exclusive to the automobile and its industry—Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industry’s latest technological developments.

In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Star’s business columnist to co-produce and co-host the TV show Breaking Barriers on Channel 13. It is a talk show that features guests who are in the news and in the middle of controversies. The program ventures to draw deeper insights into current issues to learn how they impact to our daily lives.

Today, Motoring Today on its 28th year of service to the general motoring public still enjoys its unprecedented loyal vierwership nationwide while Auto Focus, after 16 years has firmly established its niche viewership among automobile enthusiasts and on the other hand Business & Leisure is on its 24th year dishing out current business issues and lifestyle features.

Today, aside from writing weekly columns for the Philippine Star (Motoring Today on Wednesdays and Business & Leisure on Saturdays) and executive producer / host of weekly TV shows (Motoring Today, airs Sundays on Solar Sports Channel 70, Business & Leisure, airs Tuesdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13 and Auto Focus airs Thursdays on Shop TV, Sky Cable Channel 13, Ray Butch Gamboa is currently the Chairman and CEO of Sunshine Television Production and Marketing Services Corp., President of Gamcor Management and Development Corp., Chairman of Asia-Pacific Realty Corporation, President and Chairman of Socio-Communication Foundation for Asia and Founding Chairman of the Society of Phil. Motoring Journalists (SPMJ)