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Star City fire sparks motor show memories

Road Sense

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A crowd of enthusiasts at the recent TransSportShow.

Did you know that a car show born on the spot of Star City was the beginning of many car shows that are still gathering crowds of car enthusiasts today?

It all started at the Philcite at the CCP Complex, which opened in the late 70s and became part of Star City in 1991. Unfortunately, Star City was razed by a 14-hour fire last Oct. 2. After the fire, many posted their memories of Philcite and the theme park on Facebook.

In the early 80s, Philcite was the venue for fairs and exhibitions. There, many merchandize brands, food stores, crafts, and specialized events made their debut. All year round, a variety of fairs were mounted there, some of them branching out into more specific interests. Among those were fairs on cars, toys and gifts, home, building and construction, food and drinks, woodworking and metals.

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From left: Sophie de los Santos and Marissa Nallana.

As a reporter, the CCP Complex was my beat and I had covered many Philcite events. I remember at least five women at the Philcite, who later became very good friends, who had “mothered” specially themed fairs — Marisa Nallana, Haydee Malicdem, Sophie de los Santos, Agnes Hechnova Escalante and Elaine Blancaflor Quadra.

Marisa started the car show fairs with the Transport International (Transhow) in 1981. Sophie later joined her team, and when Marie left, she took over the Transhow in 1989 and developed it until 1991.

It was under Marisa’s adventurous spirit that the car show went to Cebu in 1987 as the Transhow International Cebu. It brought the excitement of motoring to the Queen City of the South where the main Osmena Boulevard was closed to give way to a “Cebu Kart Prix” and a sky jump landing was made at the corner of Fuente Osmena Blvd., Marisa said.

After Philcite, Marisa started Motorshow International Manila and Cebu, both large events that had established a quite following among car clubs and car restorers. The Motorshow Manila continued to gather car enthusiasts until 2005, while the Cebu show continued until 2010.

Sophie took the car show into more special avenues, gathering the enthusiasts and collectors along the way. When she went on her own in 1992, she staged the TransSportShow — which is still being held annually until today.

Today she is known for many successful and prestigious car shows, among them the Sport Truck Show, Gathering of Porsche Classics, Tour de Cebu Historic Rally, Manila Auto Salon, Custom Car Show, and the Philippine Vintage Sports Car Racing event. She has also staged events related to cars, among them the Sports Cars for a Cause, Phil. Arena Motoring Festival, and IASCA Car Audio Nationals.

Sophie, who has staged about a dozen car shows, is now a well-known and well-respected personality in the motoring and racing scene, and has been affiliated with the Manila Sports Car Club since 1992.

In 2005, also somewhere at the CCP Complex near where Philcite used to stand, another motor show was born — the Manila International Auto Show (MIAS).

What made the MIAS extraordinary was that it was a concept pursued by motoring journalists — Jason K. Ang, Ulysses K. Ang, and Alvin Uy — who partnered with Joseph Ang, chairman of Worldbex Services International.

About a year or two later, according to sources, CAMPI staged their own show, which is known as the Philippine International Motor Show (PIMS), which is still a biennial event today. PIMS is staged at the World Trade Center-Manila, which is in the vicinity of Philcite.

Today, PIMS has become a major event as auto manufacturers mount spectacular exhibits following the concept of international motor shows. In the recent years, concept cars, formula race cars, and specialized vehicles have been brought in by the manufacturers just to be displayed at their booths, like in international motor shows.

Car shows, though, started long before the Transhow in 1981, according to Sophie.  “The first ever car concours was actually held at the Philamlife lobby on UN Avenue. Then there was also the Quad Car Park show by Jiggers Alejandrino in 1976, called ‘Carrevolution’,” she said.

From decades ago to today, the Pinoys’ affection for the car continues.

By Pinky Concha Colmenares

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