Ramon Ang’s Ferrari

EYES WIDE OPEN - Iris Gonzales - The Philippine Star

Enzo Ferrari, the legendary Italian race car driver who founded Ferrari, once said, “One cannot describe passion, one can only live it.”

His words could not be more fitting now that the Italian luxury sports car brand has reopened in the Philippines, aptly under the leadership of a business tycoon who is different from all the rest, the passionate supercar enthusiast, billionaire Ramon “RSA” Ang.

Those who have seen RSA up close surely had a glimpse of the high energy he exudes; his voice is booming with certainty and confidence yet not unpleasantly loud; his storytelling puts you on the edge of your seat, listening with bated breath; his narration transports you to the scene, complete with hand gestures to emphasize a point or two, and with vivid details including a curtain’s floral design or locks in a rusty window and, to erase any doubt you might have, he would usually close a sentence with his trademark “I swear!”

His passion indeed is almost tangible and it’s not just when he is talking about something. He is passionate about his businesses; he would go to construction sites and see things for himself. He is passionate about cars and driving – knows every car in his collection like the back of his hand and yes, he is passionate about nation building; he has dreams for this country – just like you and me.

Given this zest for life, his knowledge of cars and his track record in building businesses, it is no surprise that Ferrari officially appointed Velocità Motors Inc. (VMI), a unit under the Ang-led conglomerate San Miguel Corp. (SMC), as its new authorized importer and distributor in the Philippines. The last local partner was Davao-based businessman Dennis Uy.

Ramon Ang’s Ferrari marks a new era in the history of Ferrari in the Philippines, says Dieter Knechtel, president, Ferrari Far East & Middle East.

Important market

“The Philippines is a market that we strongly believe in, one that is important to the future growth of Ferrari in the region. We are very happy to have found a strong local partner in VMI,” Knechtel said during the recent relaunch of Ferrari in the Philippines.

Knechtel is correct. Believe it or not, the Philippines, population 114 million – with nearly a fifth living below the poverty line – is home to some crazy rich Asians.

It’s true, the income inequality gap in the country is among the widest in the world. Forbes even said that the combined wealth of the 50 richest Filipinos in the country has risen to $80 billion this year from $72 billion a year ago (even greater than the GDP of Myanmar, at $60 billion).

But it is what it is; and these rich people love supercars such as the Ferrari.

Ferrari Clubhouse

Knechtel believes that VMI would be able to deliver enhanced ownership experiences to a growing community of passionate Ferrari clients in the Philippines, including the creation of a dedicated space like a Ferrari Clubhouse.

RSA, of course, is thrilled to bring Ferrari to the Philippines.

“This is a partnership we are extremely proud of, and very excited about – becoming the official distributor of the iconic, highly-revered, globally-recognized and well-loved brand, Ferrari,” he said, adding that this would also benefit Filipino workers who will be exposed to the highest levels of engineering, design, etc.

I missed the actual launch last Sept. 1 but SMC Asia Car Distributors Corp. president Spencer Yu was kind enough to give me a tour of the temporary Ferrari showroom along EDSA, which customers can visit every day except Sundays.

An expansive showroom with full-service facilities being built along Connecticut is expected to be operational in the coming months.

The Italian car company could not have chosen a better partner in the Philippines.

RSA, as many know, is a supercar lover.

I know because I once had the rare opportunity to visit one of his garages of vintage cars somewhere in central Luzon and here’s an excerpt of what I wrote back then for my Sept. 22, 2019 column titled Ramon Ang on vintage cars, airports and Philippine Airlines:

Outside, the facility looked just like another giant warehouse.

But once inside, you slip into a somnambulant spell and you wake up in another world, another time. Perhaps this is the 1920s in the French Riviera in the garage of some aristocrat’s sprawling mansion.

Welcome to this Concours d’ Elegance of sorts, a vintage car world filled with the finest queens – strong, sleek and sexy.

Cadillac, Bentley, Mustang, Thunderbird — you name it, it’s here. There’s a cabriolet, a club coupe, a coupe de ville and what-have-you. Yellow ochre, baby pink and classic blue – a spectacle of colors, too.

I was blown away and as I watched RSA inspect his cars, I realized that in this sprawling warehouse, he is home. It’s a wonderland of sorts. He went from one car to another, proudly sharing with me each one’s unique beauty.

With his busy schedule now, does he have time to take his hundreds of cars for a spin?

Yes, he says. And I suddenly realized this must be where he gets his energy to run a giant conglomerate. Perhaps, driving these sexy, shiny and sleek road queens gives him that kind of high – the kind that seeps through your veins, lets you slip into a thin membrane in this chaotic universe and lets you take on the world.

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Email: [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter @eyesgonzales. Column archives at EyesWideOpen on FB.

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