Nov 16, 2016

Ford's good turn for Philippine tourism

With all due respect to our tourism managers and promoters, may I let it be known that without government intervention and initiative, we are presently enjoying some "no hard sell" travel promotions, which may yet prove to be equally if not much more effective in selling our country than present tourism campaigns or those still in the pipeline-and we have to thank Ford for it.

Started in Clark, Pampanga last Thursday was the Ford SUV Experience, which could effectively serve as a showcase of some of what our country offers in terms of sights, culinary experience, culture and world-renowned warm hospitality.

The Ford SUV Experience is a 2-day event that is segmented into 4-drives where journalists get to try out Ford SUVs in 4 different locations.

Ford invited a total of 96 automotive journalists from 10 countries to join our local motoring media in 3 waves: Wave 1 (November 10 - 11), Philippines, South Korea and Vietnam, Wave 2 (November 14 - 15), China, Thailand and Malaysia, Wave 3 (November 17 - 18), Taiwan, India, Australia and New Zealand for an exciting and informative test drive experience.

The four SUVs that were offered for hands-on experience in different lifestyle scenarios and situations included the Everest, which was assigned to take the route to the lahar beds of Mt. Pinatubo.

According to a Ford release, "An extraordinary terrain requires an extraordinary vehicle. With the Everest's off-road capability, journalists get to traverse the unpredictable path of Mt. Pinatubo Lahar beds with ease. Once in the location, drivers started with a dry and sandy path, followed by a muddy trail, and a couple of rocky streams--wherein Everest's water-wading capability was put to the test."

The EcoSport's drive was to San Fernando City and Angeles City. And according to Ford, "If you can name one vehicle that truly belongs to the city, it's definitely the EcoSport. For this segment, participants tried out different city activities, starting with a lantern-making workshop in the lantern capital of the Philippines, San Fernando. It was then followed by a quick stop at Susie's Cuisine, where guests created their own halo-halo. To cap everything off, drivers were challenged to a scavenger hunt in Nepo Mart, one of Angeles' oldest retail buildings."

The journalists aboard the Escape were directed to The Lakeshore, Mexico, Pampanga and Ford explains, "Specifically built for families, the Escape run is pretty straightforward. For half a day, various activities like boardgames, biking, fishing, and kayaking were made available for the participants to try."

And finally the Explorer's drive was to Green Canyon, Tarlac and Ford describes, "Ford's executive SUV was put to a different kind of test during its run--a perfect embodiment of what Explorer is all about: Luxury and Toughness combined. Participants got to try out the off-road capacity of Explorer while they drive around Green Canyon, the first eco art resort in the Philippines."

During my on-cam interview with Ford Asia-Pacific Product Communication Manager for SUV, Martin Gunsberg said, "The drive has been specifically crafted to highlight the lifestyle part of driving and owning an SUV. Ford would like to highlight that for every lifestyle and activity, there is always a Ford SUV perfect for each situation."

We also learned that this is the first time that the Ford SUV Experience is being held in the Philippines after past staging in other parts of Asia-Pacific. And the good news is, liking what they are seeing and experiencing, Ford executives see more of it being held here.

The downside is actually trivial, which is that the local motoring media wouldn't be going abroad for this-indeed a small price to pay for the tourism millage we could be getting from this group of foreign print, broadcast and online journalists.

"Test-drive it, before you buy it!"

That's the battle cry for a more informed decision-making process prior to purchasing a vehicle. There is no substitute to having a test drive to be able to really get "up close and personal" to an automobile, which you intend to buy. It allows you to actually have a hands-on feel of how it rides, runs, maneuvers and stops and to a certain extent an indescribable emotional attachment to something, which you hope to share your life with for a long time.

And this convenient opportunity starts tomorrow, Thursday until Sunday that's November 17 to20 at the concert grounds of the SM Mall of Asia during the staging of the Auto Focus Pre Christmas Multi-brand Test Drive Festival.

All the major automobile manufacturers, importers and distributors, namely; BMW, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Lexus, Mahindra, Mazda, Mitsubishi, SsangYong, Suzuki and Toyota shall parade their brand new models for the public to scrutinize and test drive. No more moving from one dealership to another, suffering through horrendous traffic in the metro just to compare a car model to another. And where do you drive to actually test how it works. All the best cars available in the market are in one convenient, very accessible venue and you can test drive them in the test-drive course located right within the venue. And by the way, admission is free.

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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)