AC Motors president Antonio “Toti” Zara spends his weekends playing golf and taking long drives with his wife and daughter while searching for dining destinations
Antonio “Toti” Zara re-entered the Philippine automotive scene as a game-changing player last October when he accepted the Ayala Group’s offer to head its mobility arm, AC Motors, as president.
A car wars veteran for over 30 years, most of which were spent with General Motors in South Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia, Zara’s last job before AC Motors was as general manager of GT Capital Auto Dealership Holdings, of which Toyota Motor PH Corp. is a subsidiary.
AC Motors manages the distribution operations for the Kia, Volkswagen and Maxus brands, their dealership operations, plus the largest dealership networks for the Honda and Isuzu brands. Heading AC Motors therefore entails a lot of work, pressure and challenges, especially during the country’s lockdown economy prolonged by the COVID-19 pandemic and its multiple mutations worldwide.
So how does the president of AC Motors decompress during the weekend?
Zara, 54, replied that it’s mostly about playing golf “since it’s such a time-consuming sport. I’ve been playing for 45 years and currently maintain a 4 handicap. I live near the golf course in Alabang, so I just take my cart from home to the course. Saturday morning is dedicated to practice to prepare myself for my once-a-week Sunday morning round with the boys, some of whom I’ve been playing with since we were young boys.”
He added that after a hot day of golf during weekends, he jumps into the swimming pool at home. When he was living in Thailand and Indonesia, Zara used to play tennis weekly “but injuries to my Achilles tendon, elbow, and wrist reminded me that this is the sport for the young ONCE,” he joked.
RUNNING. Aside from playing golf on weekends, Zara runs on weekdays. “I started running during quarantine,” he recounted. “I remember I began by walking around the perimeter of the house for an hour at the height of quarantine. I later started walking around our village. I now run that route in half the time. Since I mostly work from home, I save one hour of travel time in the morning. This allows me to run two or three times a week.”
When asked about practicing relaxation techniques like yoga, meditation, music or art therapy, Zara said running and swimming are “my form of meditation. You are alone with the environment, whether on land or in water. I’m able to think during this time and my best ideas may have come while running or swimming. I sometimes find myself writing down notes immediately after.”
Regarding music therapy, Zara answered: “When I’m not in meetings and find myself working alone, my go-to default music lately has been Starbucks compilations or classical music. I guess it helps me think better. This does not mean I don’t enjoy other genres, but that’s for different occasions like when I run, when driving, or time with friends and family.”
Speaking of friends and family, Zara said that “Like everyone else, I miss socializing with friends and family. Our family gatherings are controlled even if everyone lives in Alabang since my parents are over 80 years old.”
FAMILY. But on weekends, aside from playing golf and swimming, he spends time with his wife and daughter. “My wife, daughter and I love trying new restaurants, enjoying all types of cuisines. I guess we became adventurous in food, moving around different cities for years. This has changed to trying my wife and daughter’s cooking – they told me to tell you it’s been excellent so far!”
He wife calls him the “grill master” from a popular YouTube channel because he loves meat and would throw anything on the griller. Grilled meat for dinner is always good, especially with a glass or two of wine, Zara said. While he doesn’t follow a diet, he controls his sugar intake by avoiding rice.
Instead of watching Netflix with his family on weekends (“I’m lucky I’ve not caught the Netflix virus”), Zara said “we enjoy long drives. Lately, our preferred destination has been Tagaytay, especially during the cool months until February — sometimes to play golf or simply for an early breakfast. We normally leave early to enjoy the cool morning breeze while having breakfast. My daughter recently picked up the game of golf. It’s nice to have someone to share my passion for the game.”
Spoken like a 4 handicap golfer!
Aida Sevilla Mendoza is fascinated by everything about cars: their power, styling, design, technology, craftmanship, exciting history of motor sport through the years, and the ever-evolving industry that creates them. But above all, she enjoys driving, especially on a traffic-free expressway where she feels the connection bonding her and the car.