Philippine Ventures & Destinations

Read about business opportunities and interesting travel destinations in the Philippines. Learn from the experiences of seasoned Filipino entrepreneurs and business executives. Explore places where you can listen to music, watch cultural performances, and simply have hours of fun. Check out where and what to eat while in Metro Manila, on the road or in the provinces. The following essays contain personal insights on Philippine culture and life particularly in the provinces.

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Location: Philippines

A statistics major, Leticia Subang spent the first 10 years of her professional career as an economic reporter covering for the Philippines' leading business paper. She later opted to become a free lance writer while working for her Masters Degree in Development Management. In the next ten years, she worked for a number of leading government agencies - the National Power Corporation, Public Estates Authority, Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Labor and Employment, and Energy.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

A Legacy of Innovations

An innovator in multi-purpose, affordable vehicles, the Norkis Group shares the dream of every Filipino to have a vehicle of his own so he can be the master of his own time.

This vision led Norberto Quisumbing Jr., the man behind the success of Cebu’s leading motor vehicle assembler, to develop the tricycle in the early 1960s, the Multicabs in the 1990s and recently, the Legacy First line of compact cars.

With the increasing cost of fuel and worsening traffic conditions in the urban areas coupled with the greater mobility and changing lifestyles of the Filipinos, the Legacy First has the potential of becoming a real “people’s car” just like the Beetle was in the and 1960s and 70s.

“The Legacy First is designed to put the ordinary Filipino on the move,” says NQJr adding that this innovative vehicle which combines style with practicality and durability is emerging as a popular alternative for motorists.

Monthly sales have been increasing since the Legacy First was launched in Cebu in August last year, says NQJr. By the end of 2004, the compact car was introduced in Manila and the surrounding provinces where sales surpassed expectations. Sales are expected to pick up even more as the vehicle becomes more visible on the road and in the Norkis showrooms.

The Legacy First is a personal and business vehicle for private and commercial uses. The car is also a pick-up mini-truck with manual or automatic transmission. It uses a 660cc 3-cyliner engine and can carry a maximum load of 350 kilograms.

Buyers would often be amazed when they are given Legacy’s price quotation. Managing head for Legacy-Luzon retail financial operations Manuel Canilao relates that buyers would immediately ask: “Is that the downpayment?” The car that can run 15 kilometers on a liter of fuel is even made more affordable through Norkis in-house financing packages.

Based on the Japanese Suzuki and Daihatsu design, it is a fully rebuilt vehicle using genuine Japanese parts. The Legacy First’s body is expanded for increased density and is oven-baked and repainted. For a smooth ride, modified coil springs are installed in the rear suspension. A compact car, the Legacy First is easy to park and drive even through the crowded thoroughfares of Cebu, Metro Manila and key urban centers.

And just like Norkis other motor vehicles - the Yamaha motorcycles and the Multicab – the Legacy First is backed by Norkis’ expert after-sales and support services through its extensive national network of branches and dealers.

Every dealer, called Accredited Display Center (ADC) has its own service center equipped with sufficient inventory of parts and trained mechanics who provide quality service and quick response to every technical problem that may arise.

“The units released are monitored by our customer relations officers and service mechanics,” assures Melchor Mata, Legacy First Marketing Head for Mindanao.


The Legacy First, just like the vehicles that came before it, is a product of NQJr’s highly innovative mind.

When Norkis clinched the exclusive distributorship of Yamaha motorcycles in 1962, NQJr transformed the local motorcycle market with the introduction of the tricycle – a popular mode of transportation he himself designed in 1963.

At that time, the pedicabs, which connoted slave labor, were banned in Manila. Tinkering with his motorcycles in Dagupan, NQJr. attached a Yamaha YGI 80cc to a pedicab and created an instant winner. The concept became popular that soon the volume of YGI 80cc sales soared. The tricycle became the source of livelihood for as many as 4 to 5 million Filipinos throughout the country. Norkis has assembled over a million Yamaha motorcycles.

But market preferences change. The solo riders now account for as much as 80% of total motorcycle sales. In the past, the market was almost evenly distributed between the tricycle and solo markets.

In response to inevitable phase out of the tricycles, Norkis developed its own four-wheeled vehicles, the Multicabs, in the 1990s as an alternative. When Norkis pilot-tested the newly developed Multicab in Mandaue City, the tricycle drivers plying the area were wary.

“Tricycle operators and drivers associations (TODAs) in the vicinity first saw the Multicab as a threat to their livelihood and they would throw stones at the Multicabs,” recalls Buen Delfin, Group Managing Head for Multicab.

But eventually, the operators could not resist the added benefits of the Multicabs over their old tricycles, adds Buddy, as Buen is popularly called. Depending on the model, the vehicle could accommodate 10 to 14 passengers and operators who shifted to Multicabs have realized they could earn twice as much as they used to on their three-wheelers. Its trendy lines and colors also offered better aesthetic appeal and its compact size is well suited to the narrow local streets.

Norkis gained the confidence of transport cooperatives, a sector it has served well for over four decades. Today, the Multicab is a familiar and welcome sight among commuters as over 200,000 units are running all over the country. Many backyard fabricators have copied it.

With the wide range of models available, the Multicabs are now being used as ambulances in the regions, delivery trucks by many entrepreneurs, service vehicles in golf courses, and roving security vehicles by local government units.

“We can live with the competition,” NQ Jr. says. Norkis’ Multicab offers more than just a product that is superior in quality. Its professional after-sales support and services ensure every purchase is a valued investment. The objective is to build customer confidence in every way.

Like the Legacy First, the Multicab meets the requirements of many ordinary Filipinos for an affordable four-wheeled vehicle that is versatile and environment friendly. It can carry a load of up to 600 kilograms.

Every component in the vehicles has been carefully reengineered and assembled under Norkis’ 4R process of reengineering, reprocessing, redesigning, and rebuilding. By following its long established and stringent safety and durability guidelines, the Legacy First and Multicab are as good as brand new vehicles the moment these go out of the assembly lines.

“We hope that the Legacy First, just like the Multicab, will become a symbol of improving standards of living, particularly in the regions,” says NQJr whose company was named Most Outstanding Countryside Investor in 2002 by the Philippine Chamber of Commerce and Industry. “A great many of our buyers are our unsung heroes – the overseas Filipino workers – for the use of their families,” he says.

Norkis Group’s Porta Coeli Industrial Co., which produces the Legacy First and Multicab, is the only manufacturer classified under the four-wheel light vehicle category by the Board of Investments, which oversees the country’s Motor Vehicle Development Program.

As Norkis’ compact vehicles continue to make waves in the local market, the man behind them has realized these have bigger market potentials. “We are looking at the possibility of exporting, particularly to other developing countries,” NQJr says.

Indeed, the drive to innovate is what keeps the Norkis Group ahead of the pack.

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