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Car lover Noynoy ‘deprived’ of favorite pastime

Lamenting that he is “clearly deprived" of one of his pastimes, self-confessed car lover President Benigno “Noynoy" Aquino III nevertheless said his presidential duties will have to take precedence over his passion for driving fast cars. Speaking at the 3rd Philippine International Motor Show, Aquino admitted, however, being able to drive on a few occasions amid his tight schedule. “I must confess: driving peacefully on a smooth, empty highway is one of my favorite luxuries. I did manage to get behind the wheel a few times despite my hectic schedule, much to the horror of my security people," Aquino said. “Nowadays, I am clearly deprived, and I know my passion for driving fast cars will have to take a backseat for now," he added. This made him appreciate being invited by the Chamber of Automotive Manufacturers of the Philippines Inc. (CAMPI) to the motor show, Aquino said, describing the show more as a “fun" event than as part of his official duties. “This is my idea of fun, and this is less a duty than it is a time to unwind and share good times," he said. Aquino was impressed with the array of more than a hundred vehicles from 20 brands on display at the motor show, which included hybrid, electric, and sports cars. “Nakaka-impress naman talaga (This is really impressive.). In fact, nostalgia. There is Lancer, [I think it’s an ‘80s model], that was driven in the Great Lake … rally in Finland, if I am not mistaken. So parang bumata kami (by) 10 years (So it felt like we became younger by 10 years)," he said. The President spent some time ogling and fiddling with some of the cars on display, including a red electric vehicle, a yellow two-door Mercedes Benz and a white Nissan Patrol that he tried twice. He likewise took a picture of his chief photographer Jay Morales, whom he asked to try out the fiberglass seat of a blue hybrid car. Aquino disclosed the last time he drove a car for leisure was last week, but added the experience was “bitin na bitin (too short)." The 50-year-old President revealed that he is adept at using both modes of transmission, saying he goes on automatic when driving in Metro Manila because of the heavy traffic, and shifts to manual on an open road. Aquino also recalled playing with bump cars when he was young, but said the “soap box derby" type was more common back then. “Yung hinuhulog sa hill (The ones you shove from a hill)," he said. Aquino owns a white BMW sports utility vehicle and a Toyota Land Cruiser that he used during his campaign. Known to be meticulous in the maintenance of his cars, Aquino would sometimes even drive his aides back to their hotel after campaign sorties.—JMA/JV, GMANews.TV