Behind the Wheel Driving for Blue Skies! Inside the Laguna Technopark - A Honda Philippines Plant Tour, The 1'M Blue Campaign and a Proudly Pinoy-Made City Experience!

I was ecstatic to learn that I was going on a car plant tour. It's unexplored territory after all and a man's world out there haha. In fact, I was the only female present hahaha. More importantly, I wanted to get a few tips from the 1'M Blue Campaign on how to drive for blue skies and the future generation. When in Manila, driving a car or riding one is the way to go around freely at least in my opinion (I find it easier and safer than commuting around the metro and you can even reach Bicol, Ilocos and other places not easily accessible by public transportation). It's nice to know that there are ways we can all do to reduce our emissions while waiting for the age of the super environmental-friendly cars of the future. So for this adventure, I got to see the inside of Laguna Technopark too and went on an a la Megafactories tour at the Honda Philippines plant! I was impressed by their efforts to respond to the Philippine market's demand for cars while being responsible when it comes to reducing and converting their chemical waste. Now, let me take you there and give you some tips along the way if you want to go on a Honda plant tour (available by request) =) There's my slick red Honda car! Hehe. 


We were fetched from Manila to the Laguna Technopark for this tour - a Honda car and security driver at our service =) All the while during the ride, I was talking about my idea of cars with my mates Peter (we meet again!, one of my GK readers), Francis (a Honda super fan) and Ara haha. I'm not sure if it was just me, but I have a very simplistic mindset when it comes to cars. I was laughing about the advantage of being a woman selecting a car or driving behind the wheel, e.g. when your car breaks down, a very helpful kuya or manong will most likely take pity on you and you don't really have to know how to change a tire and complicate your life hahaha. But I was really curious on how I can improve my (amateur) driving. Francis said something about the accelerator and I asked what it was. Major laugh trip - he meant the "go" of the "go" and "stop" pedal for me. LOL. They talked to Kuya who drove us - something about the Hybrid sports car Honda CRZ that was about to be launched and my first question was "What does a Hybrid car mean?" I honestly thought it was a car that ran on water.. Well, too bad they said we haven't reached that age yet for the "car that runs on water" to be mass produced haha. The simplest explanation I got - the engine switches off or to battery when the car is idle and it reduces the impact on the environment.


I wondered how this day would turn out without me looking like a complete idiot about cars in front of all these guys. Hahaha. I wished they wouldn't be super technical, speak in layman's terms and teach me more practical stuff like the 1'M Blue Campaign tips (and the experience was actually not bad and pretty inclusive to anyone who wants to know more about cars). I couldn't even tell the difference with the Honda car that we were on and the one in front and I got something.. Either way, this day would be interesting and insightful. It was very surprising that we got to the Laguna Technopark in around 40 minutes from Makati. Time to face all this!


After strict security, we were ushered into the main receiving hall. I actually knew about the 1'M Blue Campaign first before the Honda initiative.


We were welcomed by none other than the President and General Manager of Honda Cars Philippines Tatsuya Natsume-san


He talked about wanting Blue Skies for our children and Honda's continued drive to contribute to that since the 1970s. Aside from producing motorcycles and cars that are up to the standards of the US Clean Air Act, the 1'M Blue Campaign for the Philippines was launched last year to get the support of 1 Million Filipino driversThere have been programs implemented nationwide as part of this campaign to guide the public about the proper maintenance of cars and eco-safe driving tips


This was yummy Japanese lunch by the way - in a reusable bento box =)  


Welcome to the Laguna Technopark plant of Honda Cars Philippines! If you go to this plant, you'll notice how even their toilet lights are off when not in use. It makes you conscious to the little things that you take for granted and actually encourages you to follow their eco-conscious ways. 


The Honda Group of Companies produces bikes, cars, machines, robots and even jets now!


This particular plant employs locals and produces the Honda City cars (all Pinoy made).


I was not aware of the dress code but apparently, clothes and footwear that show a bit of skin is not allowed (for safety because of sparks and anything you might step on). Thanks for my lifesavers for letting me borrow a shawl and shoes hahaha. We were given hats and masks as protective gear.


Jewelry, metals, sharp objects and touching anything are also not allowed. You scratch it, you buy it - that sort of thing.


Recording equipment, cameras and mobile phones are not allowed. They have highly flammable areas.


And you are only to walk in the designated safe areas and green walkways in the tour.


12:45 p.m. The plant is huge. No pictures from this point on so just my words hehe. They said 12:45 p.m. is the best time for the tour because that's when the process begins. We were first shown the assembling and welding area where able-bodied men assemble the Citys one by one. They could make around 35 cars a day and the whole process of a car from nothing (to painting and many other steps) to the test driving takes around 5 days (or was it 7 days..). Does that make sense? Haha. Talk about manual labor. Maybe that's why cars cost a lot! We were shown the engine assembly (dust-free) room next. Here, the engine is built by Pinoy hands too =) Then the engine is installed along with the radio, dashboard and all. We skipped the painting room because only the painting crew are allowed there. We were then shown a series of machines that each car go through - rainy day water leak check, headlight check, tire check, under chassis check, etc. Finally, a car or two zoomed past us for the outside track test. It was just surreal - the MegaFactory shock!


We were then shown the technology/operation side. Their control room controls the electricity, safety and all other panels for monitoring their consumption and safety standards. An employee said that if ever their department forgets to turn off a light, they would get a memo the next morning for wasting energy. Basically, they could see in real-time any over-consumption and anomalies in the plant. We were brought to the universal carbonizer next - where they burn their hazardous waste from the car-making process and turn them into charcoal (which will be used by another company). Then there's the waste water treatment facility which turns liquid waste from the plant into Class C water (used to water their plants and maybe wash their cars).


2:45 p.m. They've arranged for us to test drive the cars after hehe. I was partly nervous because of the waiver haha. Of course, there's that clause that you pay for something you break. Everybody was really into driving the Hybrid car Honda Insight.. 


There goes Peter!


I was content to be a backseat driver first hahaha. The car I picked, although not a hybrid, was very spacious from the back.


We went out the Technopark and went all the way to Nuvali! There's the 3 other Honda cars for the test drive. It felt so good to go somewhere on a road trip, no matter how short.


This was my first glance of the wake-boarding facility in Nuvali. It wasn't here yet a couple of years ago..


3:10 p.m. There's my choice of car to drive =) The Pinoy-made Honda City! Admit it - you'd choose a made in somewhere car over a made in the Philippines car! Well, it looked like any other new Honda car from here and somehow, after I've seen it made at the Honda plant, I chose it over the other cars because it was all Pinoy. I asked the Honda experts what Honda car they think suited women drivers and they kept telling me it was the Jazz. Well, with my simplistic mindset again, I like the normal-car shape like the City vs. the egg-shaped Jazz haha. Plus the red City looks hotter than the orange Jazz..


I haven't driven in months, but I had a license. I told the others that I enjoyed driving before because I had a context - The joy of driving came from driving for other people. On this day, I was inspired. I promised everybody in that car with me that I'd get them back to the plant safely.


I found myself concentrated on the road and enjoying every moment. I was also evaluating the car vs. the car I'm used to driving. The City had a higher seat (perfect for vertically-challenged people) and I could see the dashboard very well because of the shape of the hood (compared to the car I drive). Somehow, it felt light and easy to maneuver but I wasn't sure if it was because of the tire pressure or steering wheel or the City is really like that.


There are two things that I wasn't used to though with this City. The "break" / stop pad is small and I found myself looking down all the time to look for it (but the expert beside me said it can be customized). Then when I hit the breaks, it slows down gradually (very slow) first before completely stopping (means I need to step on the breaks deeper / when I am still far from the stopping point I want). But I guess the latter will teach me to "drive smoothly" like what the 1'M Blue Campaign is saying hehe.


Well, the important thing was: I didn't break any rules, I didn't get distracted by my gadgets and I took my time. FYI, I took a wrong turn somewhere, made a U and went from first to go to last to arrive. I couldn't even find the button to open the trunk and opened the hood instead hahahaha. I had fun. This was not the Amazing Race after all. I'd definitely let J drive that one =D


3:45 p.m. Back to the board room! The 1'M Blue Campaign seeks to address the lowest part and more inclusive part of the UNEP Driving Clean Strategy pyramid. That is, to influence proper maintenance and driver behavior of Pinoys all over the country. We are still a long way towards the Zero-Emitting Vehicles using Renewable Fuels and we can leave that to the experts for now. 


While we are waiting for them to perfect the technology, they said hybrid cars are in the market to somehow bridge that gap. Have you seen the Honda CR Z they just launched this week yet? Well, the cars I saw below were a Honda Civic Hybrid and a Honda Insight so they've been toying with the idea/technology and tweaking it. I've just never heard about it since I'm busy with traveling hahahaha.

P1500286 P1500287

I'd like to thank the Honda Philippines Team for the invite. It was worth going on a trip to Laguna for! I had super fun!


Finally, some tips from this experience and the 1'M Blue Campaign! Do check out and join us the 1M Blue Facebook Page for more tips and videos!

Take-home practical tips:
- Plan your journey - Combine small trips and errands instead of going in circles or repeating the loop.
- Drive smoothly - Accelerate and decelerate smoothly to avoid unnecessary braking. Agressive breaking decreases fuel efficiency by 5% in city driving.
- Gas up wisely. - Buy gasoline at the coolest time of the day. Early morning is best.
- Drive your vehicle to warm it up. - Your vehicle will reach its optimum operating temperature much faster when you are driving rather than idling.
- Maintain a constant speed. - Keep rolling and avoid unnecessary stops as it takes more energy to move a stopped vehicle than keep it moving.
- Get rid of all extra weight. Ehem haha.
- Tire pressure - Add plus 2 to the PSI because the number indicated there is the cold tire pressure. You need +2 to compensate for the hot tire pressure.

Finally, from Kuya and Francis on my dilemma haha 
- Airconditioning - Put to #2, then leave dial at 5 like below. Remove the A/C so that if you're still cold so that only the fan is used and not the Freon.