Because the Philippine team harvested four medals from the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the identity of a sports fanatic in the auto industry has been revealed.
Rommel Sytin, president of United Asia Automotive Group, Inc. (UAAGI), the distributor of the Foton and Chery brands, was the first auto industry leader to pledge a brand-new motor vehicle, a 13-seater Foton Transvan, for Olympic gold medalist Hidilyn Diaz.
Sytin followed this up by personally handing over two more vehicles – a Chery Tiggo 2 crossover and a 13-seater Foton Gratour MPV — to silver medalists Nesthy Petecio and Carlo Paalam at the turnover ceremony last August 18. Bronze medalist Eumir Marcial received P300,000 in cash.
But the personal donation of motor vehicles to the Olympic medalists is in no way the only support that Sytin, through UAAGI, has been giving to Philippine sports. UAAGI has embarked on various campaigns supporting sports, both local and national, especially in the fields of volleyball and basketball.
SUPPORTING VOLLEYBALL. Circa 2014, the Foton Tornadoes volleyball team debuted as participants at the Philippine Super Liga (PSL) during the Grand Prix.
In 2015, the Foton Tornadoes won the PSL Grand Prix Championship, then resurfaced as the Chery Tiggo Crossovers volleyball team when UAAGI officially acquired the distributorship badge of Chery in the Philippines.
Recently, the Cherry Tiggo Crossovers scored a marketing coup for the brand when they captured the first-ever professional championship under the Inaugural Premier Volleyball League.
ACTIVE IN BASKETBALL. On another level, UAAGI organized the Pampanga Foton Toplanders basketball team in 2015. The Foton assembly plant is located in the Clark Freeport Zone, Pampanga. The team garnered the 2015 Filsports Basketball Association championship.
“UAAGI, together with its brands Foton and Chery, continuously supports diverse NGOs and regularly implements different Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) campaigns and activities,” Sytin disclosed in an online interview.
UAAGI also extends its means to provide utmost reinforcement for the Gilas Pilipinas team when they qualify for the World Cup, he added. In 2019, Foton PH signed up as the official vehicle partner of Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Basketball World Cup and gifted the team with two units of the 16-seater Foton Traveler van to transport the players to and from various training destinations.
TRIATHLON PARTICIPANTS. Sytin maintains his interest in Track and Field which dates back to his younger days when he was active in the sport. He now sits as a board member of the Philippine Athletics Track and Field Association (PATAFA). UAAGI has organized select employees, their friends and families, to participate in Track and Field as the Cheryauto.ph Triathlon Team.
A GOLFER AND BIKER. As one of the trim CEOs in the auto industry, Sytin keeps fit by indulging in outdoor sports.
He loves to play golf: “It’s a fun and healthy way of maintaining a sport as there are so many benefits we get by playing by games rules – healthy social interactions and mental focus. Golfing especially with family and friends keeps me engaged, although I would go to courses not as often as before due to the pandemic.”
He has also stayed active in biking. “I tag along select family and friends to go on a cycle and trail with me twice a week. It’s an easy fit for my weekly routine and a top-notch cardio exercise.”
PROUDLY FILIPINO. Going back to the Tokyo Olympics, Sytin recounts that he was one with the nation in watching “that remarkable moment when Hidilyn Diaz lifted the 224kg weights. Victorious as it was, every ounce of me was so proud of her as any Filipino out there waving the Pinoy flag.”
Immediately, he rang Congressman Bembol Tolentino, the president of the Philippine Olympic Committee, and pledged a Foton Transvan. “Hidilyn Diaz has imprinted a historical milestone and deserves all the pledges given to her,” he says.
He gave the three Olympic medalists the privilege to choose their vehicles fit for their lifestyle and needs. “Hidilyn Diaz liked the 13-seater Foton Transvan as she has a big family and it will allow them to go to places together,” Sytin recalls. “Carlo Paalam chose the 16-seater Foton Gratour MPV as a gift to his father in Cagayan de Oro. Nesthy Petacio chose the Chery Tiggo 2 as she has always dreamed of owning a car.”
Whatever they chose, Sytin says that “Either Foton or Chery, I am certain that the vehicles will bring them and their families and loved ones the mobility to travel around. I am already happy to know that our vehicles will empower them as athletes, as family members, and as a member of a community.”
Looking forward to the SEAGames and Asian Games, Sytin says: “UAAGI, as a responsible corporate brand that is always rallying for sports, will most certainly support the Philippine team, with medals or not, in any means possible – perhaps a need for transportation, sponsorship support — or once another historic event comes into play, then a new Foton or Chery vehicle for them.”
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.