With the year about to come to an end, the 365 days of the current local motoring world could simply be told in a telling story in this short narrative. However; unlike the ones that have long past and been forgotten, the drama, this time, seems to have rolled in a special kind of way. Wondrous it has come to be, like that of the tale of newly crowned beauty queen Pia Alonso Wurtzbach.
For her, it was a night of both destiny and disaster, as she became the most stunning face now known throughout the world, or the universe, rather. That defining moment, truly, was she the perfect epitome of charm, wit, and beauty, ever so regal. News — Filipinos have not heard of for ages.
This fairy tale of a story, however, came, not without a sea of controversy as the pageant’s biggest gaffe in its history arose when its host, Steve Harvey, first called the wrong winner, and then returned to apologize in front of live TV audience worldwide, leaving our very own bet awash in emotions before she claimed the title of Miss Universe 2015, which was rightfully hers.
That brief moment was captured by eyes everywhere. And, undeniably, without uttering a single word, her response to it all will be remembered by millions, perhaps, beyond our lifetime. Classic, indeed, this will ever be.
Inspired by her travails, this scribe believes that her profound facial reactions during the pageant can also be used to best describe how the year 2015 went for us petrol heads.
January – Inspired and optimistic
The start of the year was earmarked by Pope Francis’s inspirational visit to the Philippines, which was then followed by the inauguration of Mitsubishi Motors Philippines Corp.’s newfound home in Santa Rosa, Laguna.
This 21-hectare, P701-million manufacturing plant will serve to reinforce business in the country as a core market following Thailand and Indonesia.
The month also saw Ford Philippines giving credit to the industry’s deserving journalists in its 14th annual Henry Ford Awards.
Together with the other events listed this month, January gave many a reason to look forward to a bright 2015.
February – Feisty and determined
The month of hearts and romance supposedly would have been sure bliss for the industry, except for the fact that it had to muster its grit and composure to withstand the year’s first wave of global competition.
Thousands of students from Asia Pacific, the Middle East, and Africa were at the Luneta Park when the epic 2015 Shell Ecomarathon was staged on the streets of Manila for the second time around. Fellow Filipinos found glory when De La Salle University-Taft and team UP made the country proud.
The country, too, experienced the world’s best during the Porsche World Road Show in Clark International Speedway in Pampanga.
March – Hopeful and aspiring
The industry was hopeful and positive with a few endeavors lined up. First, Nissan aspired to seek raw Filipino talent at the grassroots level with the first-ever GT Academy program.
March also saw the launches of the Toyota Vios Cup Season 2 and the all-new Mitsubishi Strada.
Chinese automaker BYD also invited renowned motivational speaker Francis Kong to mold the minds and fuel the hungry spirits of BYD owners and guests alike.
By this time, a report of the Chamber of Automobile Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. and the Truck Manufacturers Association showed sales in the first quarter surge by 22 percent to 62,882 units, from 51,722 units, in the same period in 2014.
April – Poised
With its strong performance the month before, the industry launched the new Kia Grand Carnival and Sorento, the Ford Mustang, Hyundai Tucson, and i20 Cross sport, and the Honda Mobilio.
The 2015 Manila International Auto Show was also staged, while Isuzu Philippines Corp. introduced Hajime Koso, who replaced Nobuo Izumina as president.
May – Spirited and playful
With the sun out and about, May probably was the busiest month for the industry. Notable activities were the Mitsubishi Mirage Metro Challenge, Honda CR-V, Mitsubishi, and BMW 2 series Active Tourer test-drives, Ford Everest launch, the Toyota Road Trek in Cebu, the Volkswagen Fuel Economy drive and Suzuki East Avenue grand opening.
June – Ms. Bright-side
By midyear, typhoons started tormenting the country but they did not stop Nissan from introducing the all-new Urvan, Honda from launching the HR-V, and Volkswagen from creating road-safety awareness among the young.
July – Grace under pressure
In July Toyota Motor Philippines announced that the company had crossed the 1-million-unit sales mark in the Philippines since it began operations in 1989. With this, it decided to commemorate the feat by launching a special-edition Toyota Innova. Launched also was its all-new Toyota Hilux. Again, the automaker was pressured to be No. 1 in its segment.
August – Warm and sincere
Nissan offered its hand to help the less fortunate by traveling to Samar in order to assist Habitat for Humanity in building new homes, while Toyota recognized the new graduates of its technology school in Laguna.
A heartfelt treat, too, came courtesy of Suzuki and Mazda, when they offered topnotch cars at very affordable prizes.
September – Confidently beautiful
September was the month when Manila’s elite realized that they could be their very own “James Bond” with the opening of Aston Martin’s first showroom. BYD, meanwhile, took pride in its second year in business, which it marked with an anniversary celebration.
October – Resilient
Typhoon Lando came and practically shut down Luzon, affecting 268,877 families in the process. However, this never slowed down the industry, as Foton still came up with its “Big Show”, Nissan with its Juke and Isuzu with its updated D-Max and mu-X.
November – Utter disbelief
November was plagued by allegations of the Mitsubishi Montero’s alleged Sudden Unintended Acceleration circulating on the Internet. It was a big PR nightmare for the automaker. The Department of Trade and Industry, on the other hand, had ruled a “no recall” for the said model.
Meanwhile, to compensate for the tragedy, there was good news for Nissan and Mazda, which captured the Truck and Car of the Year titles with their Navara pickup and Mazda 2, respectively. This coincided with the first-ever success of the Automotorama held at the Fontana Convention Center in Pampanga.
December – Fulfilled
With the year almost at an end, Hyundai engaged in a photo-finish unveiling of its new Elantra, Subaru with their much-anticipated Levorg, Ferrari held the 488 GTB preview, while Toyota handed young Andres Calma the Vios Cup Season 2 trophy after he topped 50 other drivers in the series.
The industry, meanwhile, seems to be on the right path to fulfilling its sales target goals this year with more than 320,000 units eyed for 2015.
In the meantime, let us take pride in the fact that a Filipina has ended a 42-year drought in the realm of beauty.
In an interview, the 26-year old Wurtzbach said: “Winning Miss Universe is my Christmas gift to all Filipinos.”
And perhaps, one of the best gifts, indeed, it was. Enough even to probably fuel the local automakers, as Faustus was to Troy’s Helen, to worship her marvelous image to a point that would make them launch a thousand ships…or, cars next year.