Mobility for all

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Rarely can one escape from monstrous traffic jams, unless you have a screaming wang-wang, a burly Robocop-like police escort with a long, snaking convoy; you’re on a motorcycle or you’re the tycoon with a limo in the sky.

It’s none of the above for me, so last Friday, I got stuck in traffic. But I had predicted my fate long before I left the house, all because I decided to wear an all-white jumpsuit and red heels. “Business Attire,” says the invite. What that really meant for me was I couldn’t just ride a motorcycle—as I sometimes do when I’m in a hurry—because I’d risk getting my dress dirty.

So I traveled by car and there I was, a lady-in-white driver stuck in Friday traffic on the way to Grand Hyatt Manila in Taguig. I arrived 45 minutes late, coming from two cities away and having to share the roads with dozens of trucks, moving at their usual turtle pace.

But at the event, which turned out to be a big, audacious, and momentous occasion, I realized that this might actually be one of the solutions to Metro Manila’s traffic woes and our mobility bottlenecks.

It was Toyota Motor Philippines’ (TMP) unveiling of Toyota Mobility Solutions Philippines Inc. (TMSPH), a new subsidiary that will provide mobility-related services.

You know it’s an important event when the ballroom is packed with people dressed to the nines, listening intently to the roster of VIP speakers led by Trade Secretary Alfredo Pascual and TMP chairman Alfred V. Ty or AVT.

Or when a head of another business conglomerate shows up, as tycoon Ramon “RSA” Ang did.

“I dropped everything to be here!” says the impossibly busy RSA, president and CEO of San Miguel Corp. RSA loves the Toyota brand, he says. His son even competed—and won—in the Toyota Vios Cup, he says with pride.

Or when the other AVT, GT Capital chairman Arthur V. Ty, Alfred’s older brother,—whose appearances in big crowds are as rare as fragments of the moon—is in attendance.

Or when you see the multi-awarded ex-Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas Governor Amando Tetangco Jr. in the crowd.

True enough, it’s certainly no ordinary event.

What’s the big deal? Well, remember how those tech innovations made our life so much easier—from Angkas to Airbnb? This is something similar, but bigger. Way bigger. It’s enabling a better mobility ecosystem.

TMP chairman Alfred Ty sums it well: it’s all about helping create a future with mobility for all.

“The traditional business model of manufacture and ownership of cars is fast changing to a focus on car usership. These two streams compel us to shift from just being a manufacturer and retailer of motor vehicles to being a full-scale mobility solutions provider,” AVT says.

TMSPH president Ma. Cristina Arevalo defines TMP’s concept of ‘new mobility’ as a suite of technology and data-driven lifestyle and business solutions that can address day-to-day challenges of moving people and goods from one point to another.

Think of it as a ‘one-stop’ mobility solutions provider for you or your business’ needs—from on-demand shuttle booking, car sharing or rental services, logistics matching options, and a fleet management platform.

Sounds good, right? It is also the first of its kind among Toyota affiliates in the Southeast Asian region. Big congratulations TMP!

Moving goods and services

The result of this new initiative will be better movement of people, and goods and services around the country, says TMP president Atsuhiro Okamoto.

Secretary Pascual says that indeed, economic and social progress requires mobility.

“People can use it to access goods, services, information, employment, information, markets, as well as getting in touch with family and friends,” he says.

Governor Tetangco, who is one of TMP’s esteemed directors, talks about it, too with passion, far from his usually benign tone. It would lead to an improvement in the quality of life in society, translate to convenience for everyone, and provide better profitability for businesses, he tells me.

Core business

But Toyota fans can rest easy. TMP won’t be leaving automotive manufacturing. It will remain the company’s core business and will continue to serve as a major driver of economic development, says chairman Ty.

At the end of last year, TMP, together with its dealers, suppliers and affiliates provided jobs for approximately 63,000 Filipinos, he says.

Moving on

To be able to move freely is necessary in life—whether it’s chasing dreams or chasing deadlines. COVID-19 took that away from us, crippling our usual day-to-day movement. The world came to a halt and all of a sudden, we just could not move as we pleased. I can’t help but shudder, as if ice cubes are rolling down my spine when I look back at those times—the lockdowns, the mental stress, the uncertainty. Ouch!

Now, as the world reopens, we can look forward to this promise of better mobility, thanks to Toyota. And so hopefully, as we are now able to move about freely again, we can also all help rebuild the economy and our own little worlds, and finally and fully move past the challenges of the past two years—the traumas, the anxiety and the heartbreaks. Fingers crossed.



Iris Gonzales’ email address is [email protected].

Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at eyesgonzales.com


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