Why Mazda is such a hit

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The officers of the Mazda 3  Skyactiv PH Club together with Mazda Philippines president Steven Tan.

The officers of the Mazda 3 Skyactiv PH Club together with Mazda Philippines president Steven Tan.

Many car clubs in the country are brand-specific groups that have model-specific subgroups.

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But the Mazda3 Skyactiv PH club makes it very clear that if you want in, you need to be behind the wheel of a Skyactiv-engined Mazda3, the third generation of the compact sedan tha was launched locally in April 2014. Club president and co-founder Ritz Marcelino said the club was formed in October 2014.

“I was trying to find a group solely for the Mazda3 Skyactiv at the time,” he said. “But I didn’t find any, so I told three of my friends who also bought Mazda3 Skyactivs that we should create one. So we started out with four members.”

Marcelino said other people who bought the car were also looking for a group and saw their club on Facebook. He said they received 10 requests a week for people to join.

“That was when we decided to hold our first EB [eyeball],” he said. “Berjaya Auto Philippines [which manages Mazda in the country]joined that event and as with every EB, there was a group photo at the end, which I didn’t know was sent to Top Gear Philippines. That photo went viral and we started getting hundreds of requests from people who wanted to join the club.”

Marcelino said the club’s membership boomed after that and now has 250 bonafide members and 20 guest members nationwide. He said the latter are invited by bonafide members that the club approves for special membership.

VIP status at Mazda dealerships, exclusive mods
To join, Marcelino said one has to send a request to their Facebook group where he and club vice president Norvin Gomez screen candidates. He said they will send guidelines to the candidate, which includes a picture of him or her with the car.

Once accepted, Marcelino said new members must pay within 30 days of joining a one-time registration fee of P1,000 that pays for the club shirt and the club sticker with their serial number. He said this gives the new member and the club time to get to know each other. Gomez said new members must attend at least two EBs before getting a shirt so they could interact more with the club.

Gomez also said the perks of being a bonafide member include access to club merchandise, as well as discounts at various auto shops, service stations and establishments owned by other club members. He likewise said members immediately become preferred clients at all Mazda dealerships. In addition, club treasurer Gilbert Chan said only club members have exclusive access to the modifications that he imports for the Mazda3 Skyactiv, ranging from body kits to performance upgrades.

Gomez said members get access to a wide network of connections related to their car, as well as emergency roadside assistance anywhere in the country from club members in the area.

Fun runs, charity events
Lunel Dy, one of the club’s north coordinators, said aside from EBs, the club has small gatherings where they hang out that they call “TBBs,” which stand for “two-bottle boys or two-bucket boys.” He also said they have “fun runs” to faraway places like Batangas, Bataan, Rizal and Pampanga.

Gomez said the group also has tie-up activities with other Mazda clubs where they meet to exchange ideas and appreciate each other’s cars. He also said the club does outreach programs, with one it recently did with Kara David at Porac in Pampanga, where it handed out school supplies to kids in Aeta communities.

Strong Mazda PH backing
While most car clubs get official recognition from their mother brands, Berjaya Auto Philippines president and Chief Executive Officer Steven Tan said the company goes a step further by having a dedicated relationship manager, Sherlyn Co, who manages relations between Mazda and the various car clubs. He said the company provides both financial and emotional support for the clubs they work with.

“We believe these car clubs are very important because they bring together people of similar values.” Tan said. “They are the soul of the brand. And that is why we want real people to listen to and address their problems.”

Charity tie-ups, grand EB
This year, Marcelino said the club plans to have its summer outing in May, tentatively in Baler, Aurora. He also said the club is looking to focus its charity work, at the request of Mazda Philippines, on children with disabilities. He said the club is currently looking for sponsors and charities that it could tie up with.

Besides this, the club also has its annual parties and the grand EB, where all Mazda clubs meet in one place. In all, the members said the Mazda3 Skyactiv PH club is one big family that, much like the car that brings them together, is both exciting and “nakakabata” [can make one feel young].

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