Mar 04, 2017

Last week, I wrote about the Philippine Ice Hockey Team's participation in the Sapporo Winter Games and the warm send-off they got from the Federation of Ice Hockey Leagues of the Philippines together with the Philippine Olympic Committee. Hopes were high that the national team would do well as they have been practicing on ice (at the SM Ice Skating Rink) four to five days a week since July of last year. Well, they did !! The team got bronze. And it was the first ever for a team that is coming from a tropical country to reach the semi-finals in this division, the feat made even more amazing when one considers that this is a very young team.

Federation of Ice Hockey Leagues in the Philippines' presidentChris Sy (the Godfather of Ice Hockey in the country) broke the good news to me, but shared some other stories on the side lines as well. Like many international sports competitions, the Sapporo Winter Games was not lacking in controversies, and while the Philippine Team was happy with their bronze win, they lodged a formal complaint with the organizers based on what they perceived as unfair competition from some sectors. Under the present rules, foreigners may play for another country for as long as they are residents of that country. It seems that some countries (which I will not prematurely name here) fielded foreign players who are not nationals or residents of these countries, and the officials of the Philippine Team were reportedly able to secure documents to prove their claim. If the allegations will be proven by the Philippine Team, we may end up not only with the silver but the gold medal in the division that the team played in. Let's all watch out for the developments here while the official investigation is ongoing. Our national pride is at stake.

New field in the automotive industry

I had the pleasure of meeting the new president ofVolkswagen Philippines,Arthur Tan who took over from JP Orbeta who has since resumed his multiple corporate duties at Ayala Corporation after successfully re-introducing the Volkswagen brand here. In the 70's, this brand was easily the most popular in the Philippines, with the VW Beetle dominating Philippine roads. It was indeed the people's car, but with its departure from the Philippine scene, the brand slowly got eclipsed by other foreign brands, most notably the Japanese vehicles.

Art has been with Ayala Corporation for 15 years now, involved with the manufacturing side of the business, more specifically at Ayala's Integrated Microelectronics Inc. (IMI). He is an Electrical Engineer from Mapua and worked in the Mid West for several years. In fact, he is credited with designing the chips that now run the digital speedometer for General Motors cars.

Unknown to many of us, IMI has been a very profitable venture of Ayala Corporation and half of its revenue amounting to some US$400 million is attributed to manufacturing parts for automobiles. This explains why he is the mother company's logical choice to head its VW business in the Philippines. IMI manufactures in several different countries, and the company has a total of fourteen factories across the globe.

Speaking from an Ayala Corporation perspective, the management decided to consolidate their interests in the automotive business, both in the manufacturing side and on the dealer distribution side. The company has decided to put more focus on developing the Volkswagen brand in the Philippines, bringing in more models in the market. But more than that, from the manufacturing side, they see great value in producing the electronic components for the current and next generation vehicles. Integrated Microelectronics Incorporated is only one of the few companies in the world that manufactures front end camera systems that are currently used in advance driver assistance systems (ADAS) or self-driving cars. Some of those self-driving cars that we see on the road are actually equipped by products built by IMI here in the Philippines.

"We see the trend where the car itself is going through significant amount of disruption-the mechanical car transforming itself into an electrical one or a hybrid one. As of 2014, 35% of the value of a car is already attributed to the electric component, and we anticipate this to go up to 70% in 2025…when we actually go to full electric or self-driven cars," declared Art. According to him, Ayala Corporation sees an opportunity where the landscape of producing cars in the infrastructure that we have, which is now imbedded in Thailand and Indonesia for producing mechanical cars, is now disrupted. With this disruption, the mother company sees this as an opportunity in the Philippines for next generation vehicles which will be more towards electricity-driven vehicles. Because of their extensive background in IMI where they produced critical parts for safety systems and chassis control, the company has the chance of being a major player in this new and exciting market.

That is the vision that the company has for the Philippines-to make it as a gateway for the ASEAN market.

I remarked to Art that the VW brand does not resonate with the present millennial generation of vehicle buyers. According to Art, it is because of the current market situation where the Philippines has been unable to establish a free trade agreement with European brands, resulting in an uneven playing field brought about by high tariffs and duties for European vehicles. Other car manufacturers are able to bring in their vehicles into the country at much lower tariffs. VW Philippines is now holding talks on a possible free trade agreement with the European Union, and Art expressed hopes that the benefits of this FTA, should the talks be fruitful, will trickle down to the Filipino consumers.

But because the brand is an old and reliable German brand, Art said, it continues to be strong even in the Philippine market. They are able to do this because of the common platform known as MBQ, a manufacturing process that they share with other prestigious European brands like Audi and Porsche. The next generation models that VW will open up in the Philippines will be attuned to the consumer market that we have, added Art.

Mabuhay!!! Be proud to be a Filipino.

For comments & inquiries (email) sunshine.television@yahoo.com


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)