|My Beetle with my daughter|
The first car I owned was a red Volkswagen Beetle I got in 1979 for PHP13,000. That price was a lot of money back then. I didn’t even know how to drive. I did not take a driving course. This was how I learned. A distant relative who works as a professional driver taught me by sitting with me as I drove. He gave no orientation on traffic laws, no one ever gave him that either. I wondered for years, if red means stop and green means go, what’s yellow for?
I drove daily to work in Makati City from Imus, Cavite via the old Parañaque road. The coastal road was still under construction. That humble Beetle with tiny tail lights gave me empowerment. Holding that steering wheel made me feel I have come into my own.
A number of turbulent years followed. I had to sell the car, the house, moved twice until finally life stabilized. I bought a pre-owned, what was called box type, 1990 Nissan Sentra. I got it a taxi franchise, taxi top lights and painted on the sides the logo “Camino Transport”. I let it run 24 hours per driver with two drivers alternating. That car cost me PHP150,000 in 1993. I sold it with the taxi franchise for the same amount two years later. I used the money to put a down of PHP50,000 each for brand new 1995 Nissan Sentra Series III, Toyota Corolla and Mitsubishi Lancer, all white. I got the three units a taxi franchise each. I paid the monthly car loans with the taxi earning. This was when the Philippines started the “color coding law” which means there’s a day for every car that it can’t run in Metro Manila. On those color code days, I drove the car to my Bible studies inside gated communities not affected by the color code. Otherwise, I went out of Metro Manila to swim in Los Baños hot springs, Laguna or Tagaytay, Batangas.
A few years later, I found out the banks had warehouses along South Super Highway where they kept repossessed cars being sold at a bargain. There, I found me a red two door 1995 Daewoo Racer. Its stick shift goes to five speeds! It wasn't called racer for nothing. I named it Sutra. Sutra was not for taxi, it was for me, at least until I sold it for a profit. It marked the end of my taxi operator days and the start of my car buy and sell days. Next, I bought another 1995 Daewoo Racer. This time, it was white with four doors. I called it Kim, because it felt so Korean. I enjoyed Kim till I sold it. Kim was my last car in the Philippines.