Wisdom > Car Life

I spread good vibes by trading my car parts for food

How to make others happy with stuff you don’t really need

The author had amassed a roomful of car parts. PHOTO BY BOTCHI SANTOS

The unfortunate reality is that the local custom-car scene is highly divided, segmented and filled with lots of bad vibes, ill will, disrespect and elitism. It doesn’t help that misinformation is wantonly spread, whether intentionally or unintentionally, by many. Social media and the Internet have helped propagate these highly undesirable attributes. It’s no wonder that the scene, though vibrant, is suffering as well—with many starting to think that cars are an exclusive endeavor, reserved for the moneyed lot, rather than a straightforward means to freedom, self-expression and even fellowship.

To combat this, a couple of friends and I recently decided to do our own small share in spreading good vibes for fostering camaraderie among car guys (and gals). My former college schoolmate Franklin Lu had posted to the Facebook group How’s Your Project Car, Pare that selling of any form, including car parts, was strictly prohibited. The page meant to bring those struggling with their project cars together, allowing them to learn from each other’s mistakes and successes in building their respective project cars. Now, while selling was prohibited, parts-swapping was allowed and even encouraged. Swapping is designed for people to meet and find that elusive car part. The kicker is that you can swap car parts for food and drinks.

Nothing beats being able to make folks happy. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

I’ve amassed a shedload of car parts in my 20-plus years in the community, thanks to my travels abroad, constantly going through clearance sections of car shops, online shopping and simply asking or begging for car parts from friends who didn’t need them anymore. Space constraints and adulting in my modest home—plus the need to declutter (along with the constantly disappointed look from the missus over all my junk taking up space)—pushed me to finally let go of my parts, which at one point I had considered to be my treasures. So I slowly started taking photos of all my car parts (many of them new, unused and still in their packaging) and uploading them to the above-mentioned Facebook group, announcing them as being available for swapping for food or other car parts. Group members noticed instantly and asked for more pictures. Pretty soon, I found myself swamped with inquiries. I didn’t care for profit or gaining something for my loss. All I wanted was for my accumulated car parts, which were trophies from years of automotive adventures, to find new, happy homes and be put to good use.

I didn’t care for profit. All I wanted was for my car parts to find new, happy homes and be put to good use

So a few weekends ago, people started dropping by, picking up car parts and exchanging them for food or other car parts that I deemed useful and relevant to me, and sharing a few minutes of laughter and stories. Some came from as far as Bulacan and the southern suburbs of Metro Manila. I found myself gorging upon burgers and pizza, much to the chagrin of the wife. My doctor would have slapped me silly had she seen the amount of fast food I had at home.

Why let all your unused stuff waste away just by having it lie around the house? Share ’em. PHOTOS BY BOTCHI SANTOS

From roughly four huge balikbayan boxes, I’m down to one last box of car parts. I’m still waiting for fellow car enthusiasts to pick them up. I couldn’t be happier now: The parts found new owners, folks who were really going to use them, value them, treasure them and get their own project cars running. I got a TRD jacket, an OMP steering wheel, a free bacterial steam-cleaning service and Chinese food. I made new friends, went to some new places to drop off parts, found new contacts for my work and, ultimately, spread some good vibes.

People asked me what my goal was. Did I make money? Was I leaving the country and simply getting rid of my stuff? Was I planning to enter politics with all the goodwill I earned around car circles? Nope, nope, nope. In the end, I just wanted to give back to the community that had given me so much more. And I am so happy I swapped my parts out. Plus, the missus is happy that we freed up a lot of space at home. If only we could all do our part in giving a little back and paying things forward, maybe life would be just a little bit better for everyone.

Botchi Santos

Botchi is your friendly, walking car encyclopedia. He loves helping people choose the right vehicle for themselves as much as he enjoys picking the right one for himself. Expect him to write about car culture, test drives and car-shopping advice. His regular column is called ‘Car Life’.