Society and Politics

Poverty on wheels

Gian Franco, Socio-Political Editor | 

The world-renowned British luxury car manufacturer wheeled in Manila and brought a sign that is deemed as the cracking of “Renaissance” in the Philippine economy.  In fact, the Rolls-Royce executives themselves admitted that the Philippines has a “thriving economy and growing interest in luxury cars” which made them decide to expand their dealership of the bespoke brand across the region.

Rolls-Royce is the product of a fusion of two great men in the history of car manufacturing, Charles Rolls and Sir Henry Royce. Rolls, who was on a pursuit to set up a dealership of foreign cars to fund his racing career, found himself on a mission to find a supplier of Britain’s best cars that eventually led him to Sir Royce.

Charles Rolls


With his dedication on perfection of creating and selling the best automobiles, successful engineer Sir Royce made an agreement over a famous lunch in May 1904 with Rolls, who was the pioneer of the car dealerships.  Royce owns a company that builds electrical motors, dynamos and cranes, and by 1903 he began designing his first car model that later roamed the British lanes in 1904.  The excellent marketing strategy and focus on details landed the Rolls-Royce brand on the top list of the world’s luxury cars.

Sir Henry Royce

In 1907, Rolls-Royce came out with its first signature car 40/50 HP or Silver Ghost that remained in the market until 1925.  The auto’s engine was upgraded to 7,428cc in 1909 from its original engine power of 7,036 six-cylinder engine. The RR logo was best-known for its Barker Tourer and the Barker enclosed cabriolet body styles.

It has also served its purpose after the First World War, when the ‘R’ engine that Royce sketched on the sand using his walking stick set a new world air speed record during Britain’s entry in the 1929 Intercontinental Schneider Trophy seaplane contest. Distinguished for its reliable speed, it had powered several allied aircrafts such as the Spitfire and Hurricane.

The highly-personalized and legendary British auto brand made its trip to the Philippines last June 19 wherein, before its prime launch, many expressed their interest on the brand. Willy Tee Ten of British Bespoke Automobiles Inc., executive importer-dealer of Rolls-Royce Cars Manila, recognized at least 20 people who wants to buy a Rolls-Royce, including the Filipino tycoon, Manuel “Manny” V. Pangilinan who serves as a chairman to several companies including PLDT-Smart Communications, Manila Electric Company (Meralco), Maynilad Water Services, Incorporated, and Philex Mining Corporation.

But Manny Pangilinan is not the only living son of God who has millions.

Controversial TV host and Pangilinan’s subordinate, Willie Revillame, bought the Rolls-Royce Ghost worth 33 million pesos immediately, making him the first Filipino elite to buy the top-class British car brand.  He is indeed a powerful man in show business; but does he even care that his fans, especially those who spend their day on the wheels of poverty –– the ‘padyak’ or pedicabs –– dwell under the scorching sunlight?  We saw him in the glaring television show as a man in simple clothes with a warm heart who shares his tears with the audience. He is who you would expect to blend in with the poor people and minimize his spending to justify his claims of being ‘simple’.

It is a Gettysburg War since. The conflict between the elite and common remains unsettled. The moral incapacity of the elites to understand that the commoners are human beings as well, who need compassionate love and caring, is left unsolved.  In a country where materialism is more than a century-old culture, death must not serve as a Sherlock Holmes that could override life’s riddles.

We are now in the age of “super communication” that caused some of the brains to shrink. We have smart phones and a lot other gadgets you can name, yet communication between the two sides is a blur. There’s always a wall between them.

The La Salle-Taft incident can be a perfect example for those who didn’t know. An existing proof that the elites, whoever they are, stick to their ego so much that even someone’s death is deemed insignificant.  The university clinic denied the admission of a dying pedicab driver who had been lying helplessly on the sidewalk when the university guards responded to help.  Thank God, these security guards were not absorbed by the snob environment.  We, those who had read CJ Chanco’s eye witness story, felt the guards’ spirit of giving and love for others.  However, before and after the denial of DLSU’s clinic, passing cars didn’t bother to roll down their windows and offer a seat for the man.  Neither were there calls for an ambulance of those who can afford to spend a mobile load to save a precious life.

There’s something wrong with our society.

Now that the RR arrived, egos will rise as high as the sky. Whether in Rolls-Royce or pedicab, the Philippine society needs quarantine, right now.

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