Auto Focus: going the distance in a constantly changing landscape

When we think of long-running shows on Philippine television, a number of shows will surely be on top of your mind. Some of us would be quick to point out Ang Probinsyano since it’s one of the most recent series that had a long stay on TV, totalling 7 years. It dwarfed the previous record set by ABS-CBN’s original Mara Clara (with Judy Ann Santos and Gladys Reyes) that aired for a little more than 4 years. Eat Bulaga is another cannot-miss answer because it’s been here since 1979. Millennials would include the comedy gag show Bubble Gang, primetime news program TV Patrol, and morning news show Unang Hirit as they literally grew up with these shows from their (our) elementary days.  

Motoring also has its own contribution to that list. No, it’s not a YouTube channel, or any of those common mediums nowadays with vertical videos. It’s a TV show that started even before the country was connected to the internet. This show literally started a motoring news beat here in the Philippines and paved the way for many of us to get closer to our love for cars and all the lifestyle that surrounds it. They’re running for 37 years this 2024 and currently airs on Solar Sports. I’m talking about Auto Focus.

Auto Focus is the second automotive show from its creator, Sunshine Television Ventures (STV), coming just over a decade after the debut of Motoring Today. The latter show first aired on June 7, 1987 on state television network PTV 4, hosted by Ray Butch Gamboa. It’s phenomenal how such a motoring TV show lasted that long considering the many hurdles and challenges that any TV program faces during production. Such a phenomenal run is the result of dedicated people going the extra mile to showcase the lifestyle they’re passionate about.

Since its first episode, Motoring Today has gone a long way, and has defined the standards of what a Filipino motoring TV show should be. It provided comprehensive reviews of the latest cars in the market, gave useful and helpful tips on how to take care of your car and drive safely, and it delivered coverage of the biggest racing events in the country and abroad. 

Gamboa and STV then launched their new show Auto Focus in 1998. While Motoring Today includes news and features about transportation, traffic management, and racing events, Auto Focus is mainly focused on new car launches and car reviews. Both shows are adapting to the trends in the Philippine scene in the digital age. Aside from their TV shows in Solar Sports, their content can be seen in the most prominent social media platforms with the same quality as their counterpart in the cable TV. The sibling shows even survived a global pandemic.

A continuing drive

It is without a doubt that both Auto Focus and Motoring Today has shaped the Philippine motoring industry and the motoring public with its showcase of everything about the country’s motoring lifestyle. 

Both shows have helped the government develop policies for the industry as well as for traffic management and road safety. The Tv programs have worked with agencies such as the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC), the Land Transportation Office (LTO), the Land Transport Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) in providing the public with essential information on road safety, transport policy and regulations, improvements in public transport and other government programs related to transportation.

More importantly, the Filipino public had a better view of the motoring industry and the overall state of motoring and mobility in the country through these TV programs. The TV shows’ different corporate social responsibility programs have ingrained road safety knowledge and skills to thousands of future Filipino drivers, which will help make our streets safer, not just for motorists but for all street users.

Auto Focus Test Drive Festival

Watching and reading car reviews will certainly help you decide on your next car purchase. However, nothing beats experiencing the car in person. This is why in 2014, Auto Focus started the Test Drive Festival. Here, multiple brands bring their cars and the general public can experience driving them either in a small course or on the streets near the venue. It’s especially crucial nowadays since electrified cars are becoming more and more prevalent in the industry. Here, you can get firsthand experience and see for yourself how they differ from the conventional cars.

This 2024, the Auto Focus Test Drive Festival is back in SM Mall of Asia Concert Grounds from May 9 – 12, 2024. BYD, Changan, Dongfeng, Ford, GAC, Geely, GWM, Honda, Hyundai, Isuzu, Jetour, Kia, MG, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki, and Toyota will be there to showcase their latest offerings. If the car you’re aiming for is carried by any of the mentioned brands, it’s best to head on to the Test Drive Festival this weekend.

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