It was June 7, 1987, a Sunday at 3 o'clock in the afternoon when the first episode of the TV show Motoring Today was aired overChannel 4 on the People's Television Network-that was thirty years ago and the same show is still very much alive today.
Hosted by myself and the late Pocholo Ramirez, who was then known as the country's "racing living legend" that maiden airing had as guests motor sports personality and IT expert and now AAP (Automobile Association Philippines) president, Gus Lagman joined by another motor sports personality and original Cam Wreckers member, Billy Martinez.
The show was very much the same as it is now-dealing with motor sports, transportation and traffic management, driving tips, vehicle maintenance and repair, road safety, the motoring industry, and other facets of motoring.
The show was conceived right after our country's media got back its freedom after years of very strict and suffocating censorship under the dictatorship. It became open season for fresh ideas to explicitly feed the minds of the populace. Motoring Today was to serve as a public service for motor sports enthusiasts, car aficionados and the general motoring public by providing all the needed information to keep them up to date on the latest developments on these various facets of motoring. There was a vacuum then.
As a proud alumnus of pre-martial law ABS-CBN, I felt I had enough broadcast (radio-TV) announcing, hosting, production, newsgathering and marketing know how and experience to get the show together and get it off the ground.
Actually long before I decided on hosting and producing the show the motor sports bug had bitten me when I started joining in the mid70s quite a number of mini Sampaguita Rally competitions then organized by TMSC (Toyota Motor Sports Club). What really got me locked in was when I ventured to produce the "live" TV coverage of the 2nd Philippine Grand Prix that was held in the Ortigas Business Center, which was then almost empty except for the imposing Ortigas Building.
Deciding on the show's co-host was a no brainer. Considering that motor sports was then a greater part of the TV program who's better to get than someone who had the credibility and the respect of the motor sports community and local car buffs but the"racing living legend" himself. Besides Pocholo and I were not at all strangers as we had been spending hours and hours sharing our passion for playing 'Game of the Generals' even long before we got together in the show. And that's aside from him being the godfather of my daughter, 'DJ Suzy'.
Because of Pocholo's legendary passion for motor sports, it was no hard task for me to get him join the ride. And similarly for my then business partner, Tony Sulit, who was at that time very deep into the marketing of the PBA. His thinking was, and rightfully so, basketball and motor sports share almost the same market and packaging the two shows could be a breeze-and indeed it was. And as the old cliché would say, "The rest is history."
Motoring Today in itself as a show has enjoyed some easy financial sailing even long after we have stopped packaging it with basketball and long after my business partner had decided to go on his own. I only hit an "air pocket" when I decided to produce another show-Business & Leisure. It unexpectedly suffered birthing pains, something that Motoring Today never experienced at all.
I guess that's when the faith in me of the people who matter counted most-their faith in my passion and dedication in what I do.
First there was my wife, Babes who assured me that I could dip into our family's limited coffers anytime should there be a need for a financial lifeline for my shows' survival-which I did.
And then there were my loyal people who helped me run the show who were all willing to accept only half of their usual take just to keep the company afloat for as long as it would take. And they were confident that it would not take long knowing that I myself would not give up-if that's not faith and belief I don't know what is.
Considering that we are still around and very much alive, we obviously made it. And by the way, those loyal people are still very much around. Like me, Motoring Today is their life.
Aside from being the longest running motoring program inPhilippine television, Motoring Today has some milestones to speak of, some of which include having the "first" local TV coverage of a Formula 1 Race. This was whenPocholo and I covered the Australian Formula One Grand Prix when it was still held in Adelaide in the late 80s. But that was actually after we covered the Macao Grand Prix earlier, another "first". Of course TV technology then only allowed us to tape the coverage and interviews and then air these delayed on our show when we come back from the trip.
But then for a quite some time, until the advent of cable TV and "live" overseas TV coverage, local motor sports buffs who follow Formula One and the World Rally Championship could only rely on Motoring Today to watch their favorite international motor sports events. At that time airing rights were not in vogue or strictly imposed and Pocholo's late son, Kookie Ramirez, who was then staying in the US would regularly send us tapes of these races, which we aired freely on our show.
Having run continuously for thirty years,Motoring Today has had a number of "déjà vu"seeing things happen all over again, and vividly at that.
Take solutions for traffic problems or poised stricter implementation of traffic rules as examples. A lot of these have been discussed with us in various TV interviews with those in power and a lot of these attempts have been made only to go to naught. And these are happening almost every time there's a change of administration. We have seen sincere efforts as well as lip service for on camera purposes. We have seen well-studied measures and those sans serious thinking. Whatever, the show's covenant to the motoring public is to keep the information flowing. Have we seen them all or shall we keep on seeing them?
As we find ourselves on our 31st year of serving the general motoring public we refuse to sit on our distinction. Instead we have decided to go with the times by going online to continue with our advocacy.
And lately we have gone deeper into the digital world. Aside from having an online counterpart ( www.motoringtoday.ph) we have gone further by streaming our entire weekly episode on our website. Should you miss watching it on cable you can conveniently watch the show in its entirety online. And this includes past episodes.
No, we refuse to die of old age. We shall remain relevant and survive for more decades of public service.
Happy birthday, Motoring Today!!!
The public polls for this year's Auto Focus People's Choice Awards have gone more public than just having the voting online-you can now also vote in the malls.
This Saturday and Sunday you can get a free drink as you cast your vote for your favorite automobile models and a chance to bring home other valuable giveaways at the Robinson's Galleria located along EDSA corner Ortigas Ave. specifically at Level 1, near Watsons and Handyman Exhibit facing the Activity Area.
Come, vote and win prizes!
For comments & inquiries (email) firstname.lastname@example.org
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
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)