25 Years of Honda Prestige Traders, Inc.

Those who were young enough to have lived through the ‘90s would probably remember 1997 as a momentous time in history, both in the Philippines and in a global sense.

NASA’s Pathfinder space probe first landed on the surface of Mars, while the first successfully cloned mammal, Dolly the sheep, was introduced by the Roslyn Institute. At $261 billion, Microsoft also became the world’s most valuable company, while Tiger Woods became the world’s youngest golfer to win the Masters in the same year. On the other hand, Chess Grand Master Gary Kasparov faced a defeat against IBM’s Deep Blue chess-playing computer – a milestone in the computer industry and technology.

In the Philippines, Las Piñas and Kabankalan (Negros) were both declared as cities in 1997. Agila 2, the country’s first satellite not acquired while in orbit, was launched into space and employed into service. Then President Fidel V. Ramos also signed the Indigenous People’s Rights Act, or Republic Act 8371, into law, which led to the creation of the National Commission on Indigenous People.

For the local motorcycle industry, a certain milestone also etched a name in the history books. Honda Prestige Traders, Inc. (HPTI) commenced its operations and opened the doors to its first store in Cainta, Rizal. Backed by the expertise and experience of the Ongtenco Group in motorcycle dealerships, led by its Founder and Chairman Emeritus Vicente N. Ongtenco, HPTI was created to cater to the needs of discerning Filipino motorcycle riders.

As motorcycle ownership evolved from commercial and business use to the current lifestyle-defining hobby, HPTI has slowly and strategically opened more stores across Luzon and Visayas. The company’s Palawan dealership is the biggest and highest-selling of its dealership lineup.

After 25 years, HPTI now has 33 dealers nationwide, continuously bringing excellent customer service experience – both to the customers who visit the physical stores and those who opt to go through online digital platforms. In partnership with Honda Philippines, Inc., HPTI promises more innovative, high-quality, and value-for-money motorcycle products and services.

HPTI marks its 25th-year milestone in a celebratory event at Motortrade’s headquarters in Mandaluyong City. Several executives from Honda Philippines, Inc. were in attendance, namely President Susumu Mitsuishi, Vice President Jomel Jerezo, and AVP Adviser – MC Sales and SCM Takamoto Iijima.

HPTI executives also graced the event, including Chairman Thomas C. Ongtenco, President Ramon B. Manzana, Vice President Victor C. Ongtenco, and Board Member Paulino C. Ongtenco.

Also present in the event were two of the most important motorcycles in Honda’s lineup that made its mark in the hearts of Filipino riders – the TMX 155 and the Super Cub.

The TMX155 present in the event was not just any TMX you’ll see on the road. It’s the 959,293rd unit produced by Honda, the last of the original TMX’s production line that ended in 2014. It came with a gold and chrome livery that truly stood out.

The TMX series, or Tricycle Model Xtreme, is a line of business-oriented motorbikes manufactured by Honda. Powering that TMX155 is a 155.3 cc four-stroke, OH, air-cooled engine intended for heavy-duty tricycle use. It has a 4-down manual transmission and a primary Kickstarter, as well as a magneto AC-CDI ignition. Keeping bumps at bay is a setup of telescopic fork front suspension and twin rear suspension.

Meanwhile, the Super Cub was a classic motorcycle produced by Honda in 1958. It’s an underbone motorcycle with a four-stroke single-cylinder engine ranging in displacement from 49 to 124 cc., weighing 55-90 kg with front and rear drum brakes. The particular unit present in the event was given by Honda Philippines Inc. as its appreciation to Motortrade for being the top motorcycle dealer in the Philippines.

We also sat down with HPTI President, Mr. Manzana, and asked him a few questions in connection to the silver anniversary of Honda Prestige Traders, Inc. and its role in providing accessible mobility through its 25 years of existence, as well as a sneak peek into the future.

First of all, congratulations on reaching 25 years of Honda Prestige. In the span of two and a half decades, whats the companys biggest achievement so far? 

Thank you. Twenty-five years ago, motorcycles in our country were mainly used for tricycles. There was a strong perception that motorcycles were unsafe as a personal means of transportation. Only a few aspire of owning one. We were one of the pioneers in changing that perception – promoting motorcycles as a practical and “cool” way to travel. I think the traffic landscape today is an attestation to our success.

How has Honda Prestige coped with the ongoing pandemic? Did the limited mobility during the early months of the pandemic affect the business?

It was difficult of course but thank God we were able to adjust, thanks to the dedication of our people. It also helped that driving one’s own motorcycle is a natural way of ‘social distancing.

How did Honda Prestige help those who aspired to own a Honda motorcycle during the health crisis?

We worked doubly hard in pushing our business partners, Bank of Makati and BMI Finance, in particular, to offer low downpayment installment schemes. We offered used motorcycles as well as alternatives to brand-new models.

What one, single piece of advice can you give to aspiring Honda motorcycle owners?

My advice would be: to enroll in one of our “Learn to Ride Safely” programs.

Whats Honda Prestiges plan for the next 5-10 years given the increasing popularity of motorcycles, both for private and commercial use?

We will continue to strengthen our partnership with Honda Philippines and open more stores.

Should electric Honda motorcycles become available in the near future, will Honda Prestige adapt to the trend and offer battery-powered bikes to its customers?

The prospect of selling ‘electric bikes’ is exciting to us. We are committed to delighting our customers and continuing to innovate and transform our operations to improve customer experience and deliver value. At HPTI we believe electric bikes are the future of ‘solo rides.

Clearly, Mr. Manzana has the future in his sight without forgetting the humble roots of HPTI. The challenges the company had to go through during the early stages of the current health crisis were made easier, thanks to the commitment and dedication of its employees.

HPTI did not end the celebration without thanking its employees who continue to live out the company’s corporate values of integrity, concern, positive attitude, and teamwork. To honor its employees, HPTI also celebrated its best-performing branches and specific employees. After all, a company is only as strong as the people behind it.

With these laid out, we can expect more fruitful years for HPTI and the growth of the business, with continuous support to its current and future patrons.

“This year marks a very special year for Honda Prestige Traders Incorporated or HPTI. We are extremely proud to be celebrating this significant milestone – our 25th anniversary. It is particularly satisfying and fulfilling to celebrate, considering the many challenges brought about by the Covid pandemic these last two and a half years. I would, in fact, like to congratulate us all for the fortitude and hard work that allowed us to overcome and bring us into our 25th year – strong and raring to go! The future of the motorcycle industry looks bright! And we are committed to maintaining our place amongst the top dealers in the Philippines,” Manzana said.

“Again, to all our customers, employees, stakeholders, and friends, I thank you for your continued commitment to HPTI. And to those who are not able to join us today, we hope to be able to share with you our 25th-anniversary celebration in one of the many planned activities for the rest of the year.”

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