GO EAST! DER BMW CAR CLUB OF THE YEAR.

A scarcely credible collection of 7,107 islands where the western Pacific Ocean meets the South China Sea. A predominantly Catholic population of over 100 million. A tropical and subtropical climate with an average temperature of 26 degrees Celsius. A frequent witness to heavy rainfall and destructive typhoons. Home to 171 different languages and dialects, with English as a widely spoken second language. An exotic travel destination with a thriving tourist industry. The Philippines are all of the above and much more besides. This is a truly extraordinary place, wondrously rich in its diversity and colour.

And at its heart can be found the BMW Club of the Year 2016. This is a very special honour, bestowed once a year upon a club that stands out from all others through the active growth of its membership, sense of social responsibility or a particular initiative advancing the cooperation between BMW clubs and BMW AG.

Tropical white and blue.

2001 – and the still young millennium witnesses the birth of the BMW Car Club of the Philippines, or BMWCCP for short. Its enthusiastic membership are fully committed to the Bavarian brand and all sorts of models are represented, from freshly delivered new cars to cossetted collector’s items dating back decades. If it’s a BMW, it’s welcome here.

In September 2016 the BMWCCP was named BMW Club of the Year, adding a delicious covering of icing to an already excellent cake. The distinction is deserved reward and recognition for the many hours invested by its volunteers, its impressive sense of social engagement and not least its dedication to a brand that inspires joy.

Current Club President and Founding Member Atty. Ericson Ang now presides over a membership around 200 in number and spanning three generations; the youngest is just 25, the most senior a proud 70. The spread of ages is a source of celebration rather than friction, united as they are by a shared enjoyment of collective activities and – needless to say – Sheer Driving Pleasure (or “Fun Drives”, in local BMW parlance). Get-togethers are frequent and there’s a monthly Tech Talk, where the members meet up to chat and relax.

Fun Drives and a Bimmerfest.

Driver training courses are a fixture of club life, as is the annual Bimmerfest. Aficionados travel in from far-flung branches of the island state for one of the highlights of the calendar. Here they have the chance to show off their preened and polished car-of-a-kind against a backdrop of a show stage, competitions and prizes galore. As the BMWCCP reminds us, it is incredible the lengths many owners will go to in an effort to turn their car into a star of stars. This is show ’n’ shine at its finest and every year the event generates a resounding response from the media.

Strong partnerships with large companies are required to pull off events of this ilk, demanding as they do considerable logistical endeavour and substantial financial input. To this end, the BMWCCP has recruited a large number of sponsors who have proved to be open and generous supporters. Their logos also adorn the club shirts, which are professionally redesigned for each new year, available in specific cuts and designs for ladies and men, and worn brimful of pride by all club members. They really are the perfect souvenir.

The old, the new and the many in between.

The BMWCCP is certainly not a vintage car club; indeed, the oldest vehicle on its books is a BMW 2002 turbo. More frequent sights are BMWs from the 1980s and 90s, while the new millennium is also well represented and includes cars from the very latest crop. Convertibles and sports roadsters such as the Z3 and Z4 are very popular, and the muscular likes of the M3, M5 and even X6 can also be spotted.

BMWs are viewed as extremely high-quality and prestigious cars in the Philippines, a battle cry against the everyday mainstream and a celebration of their owners’ knowledge and technophile tendencies. Of course, their high price guarantees a certain detachment; many remain within the reach of collectors only, even as used examples.

One brand, one family.

The BMWCCP is eagerly building relationships with BMW dealers across the three main islands of Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao. By maximising the reach of the network, the aim is to help both drivers and dealers enhance the popularity of the brand. Added to which, the club is also heavily involved in social and environmental projects. One example in 2015 was the WWF campaign focusing on the replacement of harmful oil lamps in poor regions with solar-powered LED lights. The club also provides regular support for the Philippine Red Cross and The Shepherd of the Hills Children’s Foundation, a child protection organisation.

Should this article have whetted your appetite even further for a holiday in the Philippines, you can be sure of finding like-minded people on its islands. The BMW Car Club of the Philippines is delighted to welcome anybody who stops by. And it is clearly proud to have been crowned BMW Club of the Year 2016. Our warmest congratulations.