Fast Times talks to Club Mazda PH about growing alongside the Japanese marque
Mazda has undergone one of the most dramatic transformations among the Japanese car brands in the Philippines over the past two or so decades.
From making dreadful cars like the 626 and the MPV in the 1990s, it is now among the carmakers that are at the forefront of automotive design and technology, with innovations like its striking ‘Kodo’ design language and its excellent Skyactiv petrol and diesel technology. Indeed, officers of Club Mazda PH said that when the company brought out the first-generation Mazda3 over 10 years ago, it really was a game-changer.
“When I was trying to avail of my first car, Mazda wasn’t actually one of my options,” club secretary Rendell Silvestre said. “But when a financing company offered me a Mazda3, I immediately fell in love with it. I look at the engineering and handling in a car and Mazdas are really my cup of tea.”
Started with shared passion
Grace Chan, wife of club president Robert Chan, said the club was formed in 2005 among a group of friends that all owned the first-generation Mazda3. Silvestre said from less than 10 members, the group now has around 1,800 members online that include 80 to 90 bona fide members. Surprisingly for a brand-based club, Silvestre said the group doesn’t have any subgroups.
Silvestre also said that to join the club, an aspiring member must send a request on Club Mazda PH’s Facebook page that includes a picture of the member with his or her Mazda that has a visible license plate. After this, the officers will screen the request and let the aspiring member into the group on probationary status once he or she makes the cut.
Grace said for a probationary member applying for bona fide membership, he or she must attend at least three eyeballs (EBs), pay a ₱1,500 membership fee and present a photocopy of the car’s original receipt and certificate of registration. “If the vehicle isn’t under your name, you need to present either a deed of sale if it was purchased recently or, if the car belongs to someone like your parent, a certification letter from the registered owner,” she said.
Although bona fide members get most of the perks, such as club merchandise and discounts at Mazda Philippines and partner companies, Silvestre said even the probationary members are made welcome in the club.
“Even if you’re not a bona fide member, we would still help you out like if you break down,” he said. “One other thing that is valuable about being a member of Club Mazda PH is that you are treated like family. Our members can go from just part of a car club to being close friends.”
For Robert, a veteran car salesman (see sidebar below), he considers Mazda as a challenging but fulfilling brand.
“They say Mazdas are difficult to modify and get parts for,” he said. “But I’ve found that running one is no more difficult than maintaining a Honda or a Toyota. I drive a lot of cars in my work, but Mazdas just feel nicer.”
Indeed, Silvestre said the members of Club Mazda PH fully exploit the driving capabilities of their cars with quarterly fun runs to unite members from the North and the South. In addition, Robert said the club makes sure to hold monthly EBs and participate in charity events.
“Our goal is to unite people who have the same passion for the Mazda brand,” Silvestre said. “We come together to share ideas like solutions to mechanical problems to modifications for our cars.”
The club likewise has an official partnership with Mazda Philippines, which taps the club for events and projects, and likewise participates in the company’s inter-club basketball tournament.
“As with all our clubs, Club Mazda PH is invited to all of our events,” said Mazda Philippines relationship manager Sherlyn Co. “We make sure that they all participate and, in return, we make sure to support them in their activities. We also provide our clubs with media mileage by scheduling interviews, which would help people become more aware of the clubs and encourage them to join.”
In addition to the regular monthly EBs, Grace said the club plans to hold a charity event in August to benefit either children or cancer patients. Meanwhile, Robert said the club’s biggest event will be the anniversary in November, followed by the Christmas party in December.