A love affair to keep

TOKYO, Japan—I have just barely recovered from jet lag after my recent trip to San Francisco-New York.  But here I am again, heeding my winged feet’s call last weekend to bring me here in the land of the so-called rising sun.  Again.

This journey isn’t just a repetition of similar trips to geisha country.  It has practically become a ritual already as I’d been doing this, regularly, since 1993.  Regularly because this has become a refrain once every two years the past 26 years.  That long, fellas.

No, it’s not a trip of fancy but rather, a commitment to do replicate the journey without end, for as long as I am able.  I am a sucker of emotional attachments, you know?

More nostalgia?

The once-every-two-years trip to Japan began when Mel Dizon, the legendary guru of the automotive industry formerly from Mitsubishi Motors Philippines, invited me to cover the Tokyo Motor Show, the iconic exhibition of concept cars and other futuristic thrusts on mobility beginning in 1954.

After Mel’s invite in 1993, I was never the same again.

I am a sportswriter first and foremost but in 1991, Eggie Apostol, the inimitable Inquirer founder, appointed me the full-time editor of the Inquirer Motoring Section.  I was also then the paper’s assistant sports editor and was writing a sports column three times a week, as well.

The 1993 Tokyo Motor Show opened motoring vistas to me that struck the heart and stuck in the mind.  I said to myself then:  And I thought I knew everything already about cars.

Thus, when Nissan invited me next to the 1995 Tokyo Motor Show, I readily grabbed it.  Then it was Honda’s turn in 1997.  But after Vince Socco got me included in the Toyota delegation for the 1999 edition of the TMS, it signaled a radical overhaul of my stints to the biennial affair.

For reasons known only to Toyota Motor Philippines, the car giant invited me again in the 2001 event. It broke tradition: Car companies love to rotate their invites to motoring journalists covering the Tokyo Motor Show.

But, suddenly, not Toyota.  So that Toyota’s bigwigs, for reasons again known only to them, reinvited me anew in 2003.  And in 2005.  And in 2007.  The invite kept coming back so that since 1999 up to this year, I have become a Toyota fixture.  Overall, I have now covered the Tokyo Motor Show 11 uninterrupted times from 1999.

Seemingly, it has become a love affair so enduring that the Samson-Delilah romance could pale in comparison.

Who said there’s no forever?

THAT’S IT  While motorsports like the Formula 1 and Nascar races are virtual exclusive domains of sports, they command special space in the motoring pages, as well—simply because those events offer limitless studies of a car’s engine, chassis and fuel.  Thus, I write about those events every now and then in my motoring column here, “Full Tank,” the weekly piece I had done 15 straight years at the Inquirer before transporting it here in 2007.


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