Nov 30, 2016

The gods of motor sports wouldn't allow it

It was raining last Saturday morning in Subic. And I was saying that since we first successfully revived theSampaguita Rally in 2001, this year would be the first time that rains would ruin the traditional start of the Sunshine TV Auto Rally Corporate Challenge (STV-ARCC).

But just before we could decide where inside the Ayala Harbor Point Mall, the flag off venue, we could at least conduct the Oath of Sportsmanship before flagging off soaking wet, the skies cleared and the rains stopped-the gods of motor sports just wouldn't allow it and it turned out to be another perfect day for an auto rally.

Due to the frenzy of activities in the rapidly developing local auto industry the decision to reduce the already established biennial staging of this "on time, all the time" auto rally back again to just a yearly spectacle was painfully made to give the most number of car companies the chance to participate in the only motor sport contest where they openly compete against each other.

If you are clueless as to why car brands do not mind competing against each other in the STV-ARCC, let me explain that it's simply because automobile performance is never at stake here. To begin with, it is not a race. It requires traversing given distances within prescribed precise travel time. In this kind of motor sport as long as you have a car that runs, it's the collective efforts of the driver-navigators crew that would really count. The only way to lose in this rally is not to join it-you lose out in not having so much fun as those who join.

Being exclusive to the auto industry, it is during the staging of the STV-ARCC when keenly competing automobile manufacturers and importers bond together in camaraderie while taking the opportunity to showcase their brand new car models alongside those from the other major players in the market.

The starting grid of the 2016 STV-ARCC, which is presented as a major road safety advocacy project bySunshine TV and Socio Com Foundation in cooperation with Petron Blaze andAyala Harbor Point Mall and supported by Segara Hotel Suites and Villas together withSBMA saw a total of 47 brand new car models of the country's top brands namely; (in alphabetical order)Audi, Chevrolet, Ford, Honda, Isuzu, Jeep, Lexus, Mazda, MINI, Peugeot, Porsche, Ssangyong, Subaru, Tata, and Toyota from 14 Corporate Rally Teams manned by 136 drivers, route and time navigators. The different rally teams' crew were a mixture of motoring journalists, car club members, car dealers, participating brands' car owners, etc.

Mayor Rolen Paulino of Olongapo City officially flagged off the rally. Himself a motor sport enthusiast, being an internationally licensed racing COC (Clerk of Course) and once part of the highly professional group of the late racing legend Pocholo Ramirez that ran the Subic International Raceway, Olongapo constituents' well-loved second termer Mayor Rolen expressed his elation for again having the STV-ARCC being held in Subic. He however reminded the participants to observe the highest level of road safety and discipline during the competition not only because they will be driving within the country's most renowned road disciplined site but also the rules of the rally call for maximum penalties if not an outright disqualification for any traffic law infringement.

It was another exciting scenic rally route that Rally Chief Steward Georges Ramirez and wife Caroline together with IT expert Patrick Chua designed. It was agonizing for some; especially those that missed some strategically located checkpoints that similarly happened to the veterans as well as the newbies.

The morning route brought the rally enthusiasts from the Subic Central Business District to Cubi Point, airport, the once Subic International Raceway area, Tree Top and the APEC Villas and then back all the way to Harbor Point Mall for lunch.

While the longer afternoon stage exited Subic through Kalayaan, the zig zag roads toward Dinalupihan, off to Floridablanca thru the back roads than to Lubao's by-pass road and onto the national highway back to Dinalupihan then to the old Tipo road entrance and all the way back to the Harbor Point Mall.

Through the years of staging the STV-ARCC some traditions have been born, different from each rally team. A common tradition among most of the teams is to have a briefing cum dinner with all the team members the night before the rally.

For the Lexus Rally Team aside from the "eve of the rally dinner" there's still the succeeding"single malt night cap" tradition that have been established by Lexus-Manila President and Team ManagerDanny "Sir John" Isla in tandem with the officially designated (with supporting written documents) Team Captain Al "Sir Paul" Mendoza, motoring columnist of the Business Mirror.

And part of the Lexus Rally Team tradition is to invite me, if not for dinner at least for the "single malt night cap", with the team saying in jest that I may be able to share some tips to the team as to the route for next morning's rally. Of course they know that even if I wanted to give them any kind of tip, I can't because I make it a point not to ask route details from expert route plotter Georges Ramirez, precisely not to be able to share them with anybody, deliberately or not.

As of this writing we still don't have the complete final and official results of the rally, however the awarding ceremonies are scheduled tomorrow evening.

Next week we shall have the complete list of winners and a brief history of the successful revival of the Sampaguita "on time, all the time" Rally.

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)