TAKING THE HIGH ROAD
The Philippine Star
03/14/2017

The Philippine motoring industry has quietly been contributing its share of do-good deeds for Filipinos. As the president of the Society of Philippine Motoring Journalists, Pinky Concha-Colmenares, says: “Unknown to most, the automotive companies for so many years have been giving back to communities that are as small as a village and as large as a forest.”

This is the reason why SPMJ, which was founded by my brother, Ray Butch Gamboa, came up with the idea of recognizing automotive companies through Driven to Serve, an awards program that focuses on their corporate social responsibility projects.

Butch, a veteran motoring journalist of more than 25 years, had captained the SPMJ in 2002 together with a handful of colleagues that aspired to make the organization count in more fruitful ways, and serve not only the industry but the larger community as well.

Composed of motoring editors, columnists, TV hosts, and broadcast and online journalists, the SPMJ came up with its very first project – that of becoming a vehicle for promoting road safety in the Philippines.

Together with the University of the Philippines’ National Center for Transportation Studies, SPMJ helped create a teaching module that would serve as a teachers’ tool in imparting to grade school and high school students the rudiments of responsible road usage and road safety.

The beneficiaries of countless and well-crafted inter-active seminar-workshops have multiplied exponentially over the years as the students spread the message of road safety not only to their families but to their immediate communities as well.


Spotlight on industry’s CSR projects

Last year, the SPMJ embarked on Driven to Share that aimed to shine the spotlight on the automotive industries’ corporate social responsibility endeavors. These reflected a wide range of interests involving the environment, education, livelihood, and skills development.

The response from the industry was very positive. Almost all of the members of the local automotive industry sent in entries in the four awards categories: road safety, education, environment, and community development.

Six judges sat down to vet the entries, and their choices reflected the stature that each held in their respective fields. Millie Dizon is currently the local chairperson of the International Public Relations Association, a UK-based organization. Rodrigo Franco is the president and CEO of Metro Pacific Tollways Corp. Msgr. Pedro Quitoria is co-anchor in Veritas Pilipinas and editor of various CBCP publications. Dr. Cristina Padolina is the president and chief academic officer of Centro Escolar University. Sergio Ortiz-Luis Jr. represents the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry as honorary chairman and treasurer. And Edgardo Lacson is the chairman of the Employers Confederation of the Philippines.

The impact of the all the initiatives of the automotive industry and the SPMJ, when taken together, has reached hundreds of thousands of Filipinos. Quite impressive, indeed.


Road safety

In the road safety category, Ford Philippines’ Driving Skills for Life campaign won top (Platinum) recognition. Over 18,000 drivers of private (Ford customers, fleet partners, students) and public utility vehicles (jeepney, bus and taxi drivers) have gone through classroom and hands-on sessions since 2008.

Honda Cars Philippines 1’M Blue Eco-Safe Driving Campaign won the Gold for its aspiration of educating one million Pinoy drivers on eco-safe driving through seminars and videos. Started in 2010, the initiative has reached out to over 43,000 participants already.


Education

In the education category, the Platinum award went to Toyota Motor Philippines’ Toyota Motor Philippines School of Technology (TMP Tech) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna, which provides quality technical education using an advanced curriculum and supervised by highly-trained instructors using modern equipment that allows hands-on learning for each student.

More than 400 students have graduated from the school since it started operations in 2013. Many have gone on to join Toyota’s extensive dealer network locally and abroad, and those who pursued further training according to the Chisholm Institute have been employed in Commonwealth countries.

Receiving the Gold award is PGA Cars, Inc. for its Porsche Training and Recruitment Center Asia (PTRCA). Established in 2008, it is the first training facility of Porsche outside of Germany that provides world-class training and education for underprivileged Filipino youth to become “mechatronics” or elite technical specialists for Porsche vehicles.

The program was later expanded to sister brands Audi and Volkswagen for the Middle East region, and has provided jobs to over 250 scholars.


Environment

In the environment category, Toyota’s Philippine Peñablanca Sustainable Reforestation Project won the gold. Utilizing a $3-million donation by Toyota Motor Corp. in 2007, Toyota Philippines volunteers planted indigenous trees with residents of Peñablanca in Cagayan province over 1,212 hectares from 2007 to 2010.

In the second phase of the project, 588 hectares were developed for watershed rehabilitation and biodiversity protection from 2010 to 2013. The local community was also trained in seedling production to manage 10 seedling nurseries.

Receiving the silver award was Mitsubishi Motor Philippines Corp.’s restoration project of the Batad Rice Terraces deep in Ifugao province, which was listed as an endangered heritage site by the UNESCO since 2001.

After further damages from a series of typhoons in 2011, Mitsubishi and media volunteers gathered at the site in February 2012, and side by side with locals, restored the damaged portions.


Community

In the community category, Toyota took the Platinum award for its donation of P20 million for the construction of houses in Barangay Pulong Sta. Cruz in Santa Rosa where the Japanese auto company’s local plant is located.

The City of Santo Rosa donated an 8,000-sqm property where, in Gawad Kalinga (GK) fashion, housing beneficiaries – together with local and foreign volunteers – built their units as part of their equity for the project.

The village, known as Toyota-City of Santa Rosa-GK Village, has its own P4-million multi-purpose hall, built and funded by Toyota from a separate fund-raising project.

Receiving the Silver award is Ford Philippines’ Operation Better World that inspires community service from employees and dealership staff focused on bringing clean water, providing medical and dental services, and assisting families build their houses. Started in 2013, the project has helped deliver clean water to 700 families in badly hit villages of Ormoc and Tanauan in Leyte by super typhoon Yolanda as well as other GK communities in the island.

Ford volunteers have also contributed their “sweat equity” to GK communities in Muntinlupa, Cavite, Laguna and Batangas during the last five years.

Butch hopes that SPMJ’s Driven to Serve initiative will inspire other companies outside of the automotive industry to also take the high road in projects that will give back to communities and society.


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