Industry > VISOR

5 things I’ve learned since I started working for VISOR

The author reflects on what he has picked up in the past couple of years

This website has been part of the author's daily routine for the past two years. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Our dear website is now five years old. An impressive feat, but it is made possible by all the support of my colleagues, our partners, and of course, our dear readers. Even if I am a relatively new member of the team (having been here for two years), my time with the brand has taught me and opened my eyes to a few things.

The author thinks more people should have the same realization. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

1. There is more to mobility than just cars. I have been a car fanatic since I was a kid. You could say I had a heavy bias toward these four-wheeled boxes of metal that went zoom, and had the privilege of being driven or being shuttled around in private cars and school buses. It was only in college that I had to commute to and from my university—my first real taste of just how hard it can be for the majority of commuters in the Philippines.

From overcrowded trains and buses to walking long distances and hanging off the backs of jeepneys in order to make it to class early, I was beginning to get a feel of what it was like to get around sans cars. Even recently, I learned to ride a bicycle and experienced just how hard and dangerous it is on our roads. Also, I couldn’t forget the countless community posts and messages that we would receive on our social media accounts, all becoming major eye-openers for me and redefining what “mobility” really means.

Sadly, Filipinos have been desensitized to this kind of conditions. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

2. Our infrastructure and roads could be so much better. That leads me to my next point. Being exposed to other parts of the Philippines and the world made me realize that there’s more to just potholes and road closures inside the safety of a vehicle. There’s a reason that our commuters have to endure hellish hours just to be able to get back home and to work—or why going around via bicycle is seen as suicidal by many. Heck, pedestrians on sidewalks are treated as second-rate in most of the cities here. Even responsible drivers and riders are affected by those who know less and the select few who use and abuse their authority and influence to ignore traffic with their own private escorts.

We can be just as good as other countries—so why settle? PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

Being able to go to other countries like Munich, where it seems like the government actually gives a hoot about the people, fills me with both anger and determination knowing that we could do so much better here.

The job has many perks, but we shouldn't go astray from what we are supposed to do in the first place. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

3. The industry is not about the glamour of borrowing cars and traveling. I have been told by my school batchmates that “my job is full of glitz and glamour.” Being invited to private launches and events around the world, being able to borrow and drive cars well beyond the reach of my pay grade, and also receiving food and freebies are all perks of the job, I admit.

But it’s something that hasn’t made me forget what we’re really here to do: to help put together proper news and information about transportation and mobility. There’s a distinct difference between a social media influencer and a journalist. I consider myself to be the latter.

The author has met many colleagues who are just as passionate about their craft. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS, IRA JORNADA, ISAAC ATIENZA, AND ROY ROBLES

Yes, we’re not perfect. To those saying that “we don’t provide enough information like long-term ownership reviews,” we can only do so much. We all have our own pitfalls and biases, but that’s what our colleagues are there for, many of whom I thank for teaching me the past two years I’ve been in this industry. As one mentor said, the best thing we can do with these acquired skills and knowledge is to pass it on.

The author would make fun of these Chinese cars in the past, but now he has constantly been impressed with the rate of improvements. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

4. I’m no longer “just” a car lover. My love for cars was also one of the main reasons I chose to go down this path, admittedly. If it wasn’t obvious enough, I love Japanese cars. Considering that’s what most of our cars were back in the ’90s, and the obvious pop-culture influences (video games and movies) I had, it was either JDM or nothing for me.

Obviously, getting access to other cars broadened my horizons, and validated and erased some of my existing preconceptions of these vehicles. Even I myself used to laugh at Chinese vehicles before, but getting behind the wheel of some showed me just how far Chinese cars have gotten in the electrified era.

Being exposed to other modes of mobility helps you form a deeper understanding of the issues around them. PHOTO BY SAM SURLA

It also allowed me to see and immerse myself in the different car cultures in the country, allowing me to appreciate something that I would’ve made fun of in the past. I’ve even come to appreciate other forms of transportation like motorcycles, bicycles, and even airplanes—things I had zero interest in before.

Just an example of what the community can do. It's amazing, isn't it? SCREENSHOTS FROM FACEBOOK

5. People have the power to change things. I’ve noticed on our Facebook page that some of our community submissions are about infrastructure problems, like dislodged manhole covers, electric posts that are at the halfway point of toppling down, and much more. I used to wonder just how these issues could be ignored by the government, for people to just “deal with it.” But it’s always such a refreshing feeling to see these problems being addressed in hours, all thanks to a passionate community that is being bonded by a common goal.

This is what makes the community the most important part of VISOR, not just the people behind the website. Thank you all for being part of our five-year journey, and we hope that we can keep this up for the years to come.

Sam Surla

Sam is the youngest member of our editorial team. And he is our managing editor (believe it or not). He specializes in photography and videography, but he also happens to like writing about cars a lot.