Insider Trading #11 : 'Botchi' Fitzgerald Santos

By topgear, 20 May 2019

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'If you don’t feel any sort of connection with your car, it’s nothing more than a four-wheeled appliance...'

STORY BY Botchi Santos, Freelance Automotive Journalist

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I’ve always loved cars from even before I could drive. My brother left a copy of'Road & Track’ on my bed back in 1994 with a Porsche, Ferrari, Lamborghini and Corvette on its cover. That teenage memory was my earliest recollection of truly desiring cars.

I grew up in a car-loving family: My Dad loves his Mercs, my older brother is a keen driver and I naturally followed suit. I never had any formal training in writing or journalism, but after 15 years spent writing about cars, I’m sure I must’ve picked up a thing or two by now to stay relevant.

I never started out expecting to be driving fancy cars in exotic destinations, even though my passport is typically full of stamps and visas from far-flung places by the time it needs to be renewed. In reality, I would have been happy driving any sort of car, anywhere, all the time.

Traipsing all over the world has opened up my eyes to the'small’ global village we live in. I still enjoy travelling in and around Asia, because there are enough similarities -; particularly car culture -; to give me comfort in my surroundings, yet enough differences to make me appreciate my own country, as well as the one I am visiting.

I particularly love Japan, followed by Singapore, Malaysia and Taiwan. The respective cultures in these countries are complex, the food is awesome, everything works -; or at least works better than compared to the Philippines -; but crucially, I see in these countries the potential that the Philippines can aspire to achieve if we work hard enough. Working alongside friends and colleagues from Japan, Singapore and Malaysia has forced me to level up, focus and work harder. Passion is good, but a lack of professionalism will always hamper your growth.

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(Botchi with Horacio Pagani... yes of Pagani Automobili fame!)

While high-performance sportscars are awesome to drive, living in a third-world environment has opened my eyes to staying relevant to my readers, so my writing has to be beneficial and useful to others. In the Philippines, a car is in the top three of life’s biggest purchases, so my aim as motoring journalist is to help my countrymen make educated, well-informed decisions when it comes time to buy a car.

However, the written word is only intended to give you a gentle nudge, because I encourage buyers to test drive every single car they are considering, because cars are experiential. A car has to appeal to one’s rational needs, as well as emotional desires; if you don’t feel any sort of connection with your car, it’s nothing more than a four-wheeled appliance.

Despite driving so many cars -; many of which cost more than my home -; I’m always happy to come home to my own cars, because there’s still a charm to be enjoyed from the quirks and idiosyncrasies of my A80 Supra and FJ Cruiser, something sorely lacking in many new cars. They aren’t the best, objectively speaking, but they feel'right’ for me.

Today the automotive landscape is changing, with the impending arrival of advanced electric vehicles and autonomous cars. I am both nervous and excited as to where this will bring us, especially in terms of automotive'petrolhead’ culture. Whatever happens, I hope that by then, I would have saved enough to pull the trigger on a Lava Orange Porsche 911 GT3 RS in all its high-revving naturally-aspirated goodness.

PHOTOS Botchi Santos