Twenty-nine years ago yesterday, to be precise June 7, 1987 marked the initial telecast of Motoring Today, the country’s longest running motoring TV program further establishing its distinction of being indeed an institution on Philippine television.
It was on PTV-4 where the show’s first episode was aired. There were several factors that actually helped the show gain immediate popularity, some by luck, some by deliberate design.
Luck played its part when Motoring Today was given the 3 o’clock Sunday afternoon slot, which was immediately before the coverage of PBA games. Those in their homes or in public places like restaurants were first introduced to the show while waiting for the games to start.
By deliberate design the show had all the facets of motoring like motor sports, the automotive industry, transportation, traffic management, car maintenance, driving tips and whatever similar available materials for television.
At the start it was only in Motoring Today that one can watch Formula One races or the World Rally Championship series, unless you had a tall antenna to access the FEN TV broadcast emanating from Clark. It was the only TV show that covered local motor sports events. And interviewing local racers helped widen its viewership with relatives and friends of these drivers eagerly waiting to see them on TV only via Motoring Today.
Nineteen years ago when the show reached its ten-year mark, I was asked as the show’s creator, producer and host what could be the secret of its success and staying power and I could only candidly say that there was really no secret. I just love what I was doing and as the proven old saying goes, “Look for something you love to do and you’ll never work for the rest of your life.” And from the day I conceived, produced and hosted the show that was something I never did since then—work.
But then I was also so fortunate to have chosen and worked with the Philippines’ widely recognized and revered “motorsports legend”, the late Jose “Pocholo” Ramirez, the show’s co-host until his untimely death in 2009. His stature had given much credence to the show especially during its advent not to mention his dedication to motor sports that helped credibly sustain that particular major facet of the weekly TV program. It was also with Pocholo that Motoring Today had the distinction of being the first local TV show to cover the highlights of prestigious international racing events. First it was the Macau Grand Prix followed by our trip to Australia to cover the Australian Grand Prix in its last year in Adelaide.
It also helped that I was working with a partner then who was a wizard in TV sales in the person of Tony Sulit. His unprecedented success in selling the TV coverage of the PBA games helped a great deal in introducing Motoring Today to many advertisers.
The almost three decades of the show’s existence was really not that all rosy. They say that any TV show’s first year is the hardest. But once hurdled it would more often than not indicate its success. In the case of Motoring Today, we easily breezed through our maiden years. It was on our fourth or fifth year when its financial survival was threatened. But my ever-supportive wife, Babes, had so much faith on my dedication to my craft that she readily went along with my plan to bankroll the show with our limited family coffers for as long as it takes to keep it on the air and back to a healthy financial standing.
But what viewers see on the TV screens is miniscule compared to the amount of work that’s being done behind the cameras. Work that’s tirelessly done week after week with a singular aim of coming up with a show that should be better produced than the last one that was just aired. For this we are fortunate to have the best TV crew, cameramen, production assistants, segment producers and supervising producers most of them counting the best years of their lives doing this for Motoring Today. They are so ably headed by our long-time production manager, Jenny Bleza, who fresh out of college joined us barely a year after we first aired and have unarguably contributed greatly to our growth.
When PTV-4 decided to play its role to the hilt as the government’s propaganda arm more than a decade ago thereby showing the door to almost all block-timers like Motoring Today, we decided to go from free TV to cable. It was a forced move for us at that time, which proved to be right and timely considering that the target market of the show belongs to the economic strata of cable TV subscribers. Solar Sports was happy to have us as part of their program content as we were thankful to them for having given us a new home.
A lot of things have changed in the world since 29 years ago when we started with the TV show, Motoring Today. But the role the show plays in the medium it has been all these years seems to remain effective considering the continuing recognition the show receives from the auto industry it helps and supports and the patronage from the public it serves. But then with the advent of the extensive use of cyberspace, Motoring Today has decided to go with the times by coming up with its online version with the distinction of being the country’s first all-video website dedicated to motoring. When you click on motoringtoday.ph, you’ll be treated to everything that the TV show offers. The only difference is that whatever is online, stays online—whatever time of the day you click it.
Nowadays meeting young professionals who claim to have spent many of their younger years watching Motoring Today has become commonplace that I already have a ready answer for them, which is, “I started with the show when I was 15 years old,” lest they do the math and figure my age.
Happy 29th anniversary to Motoring Today…and still counting we all hope. As my good friend and co-host, Pocholo assured everyone when he was still very much alive hosting the show, “We will be around even if we had to appear in our wheel chairs.” And he actually made good his promise. He last appeared on the show on a wheel chair, just a few days before he finally departed to race in the high heavens.
Old and new members of the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists (SPMJ) are ecstatic over the way its latest project, the ‘Driven to Serve Awards’ is shaping to be.
Aimed at giving the deserved recognition to local automobile manufacturers and importers that have the most meaningful Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) projects in the fields of Community Development & Environment, Education and Road Safety, the project has presently a list of thirteen (13) automotive companies that submitted their project data in time for its May 31 deadline, namely; BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Kia, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, PGA Cars, Toyota and Volkswagen.
After the long process of carefully determining to what category the CSR project aptly belongs, collating, affirming and further assessing the impact and sustainability of the submitted projects, SPMJ is going to line up a list of distinguished members of the academe and other specialized sectors that have something to do with the aforementioned categories, to actually come up with the short list of awardees. The Recognition Night is slated for early January of next year.
With this venture, SPMJ has actually confirmed that indeed, most of our local auto companies are responsible corporate citizens. We eagerly look forward to have all of them, without exception, as such very soon in the future.
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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 Networkâ€™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 Stewartâ€™s middle-of-the-road music at DZXX, and ending his disc jockeying career at ABS-CBNâ€™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 70â€™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 sportsâ€™ 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-CBNâ€™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 Cableâ€™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 sportâ€™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 industryâ€”Auto Focus, which became a vehicle for local automotive assemblers and importers to showcase their products and dwell on the industryâ€™s latest technological developments.
In 2003, Butch teamed up with his brother, Rey Gamboa who was a former Shell executive and presently one Philippine Starâ€™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)