MANILA -- The Shell Eco-marathon (SEM) Asia, the biggest competition on smarter mobility and fuel-efficiency, is finally here in the Philippines.
The four-day eco-marathon, which will start on February 6 in Luneta, is designed for future technologies aimed at fuel efficiency and transportation performance.
At least 113 student teams from 15 Asian and Middle Eastern countries will showcase their vehicles aimed at going the farthest distance while using the least amount of energy.
Making the case for the Philippines as the next host for the eco-marathon is no easy feat. Pilipinas Shell Petroleum Corp. and the Department of Tourism had to lobby aggressively to bring the prestigious marathon to Manila street circuits.
“We literally jumped at the opportunity for the Philippines to be associated with a modern, highly relevant festival – which is how I would describe Shell Eco-marathon,” Tourism Secretary Ramon Jimenez said.
The Philippines will be hosting SEM also in 2015 and 2016.
Jimenez noted that holding the SEM in the capital is also a good reminder that Manila is an important travel destination, too.
“We are already world-famous for a lot of other traditional colorful festivals and now this is an opportunity to show our support to something more environmentally relevant and technologically driven,” he said.
Jimenez noted that this is also a perfect time to host the event. “Any activity of this nature increases awareness. I cannot overstate the value of this activity because ecological correctness is not just a subject for the Philippines,” he said.
While the Philippines only “accounts for less than 0.1% of all the pollution in the world, the country gets roughly around 50% of the after effect,” according to the tourism chief.
Jimenez lauded the private sector in pushing the Philippines’ green tourism agenda.
“Tourism and the private sector are totally compatible because the DOT is not responsible for tourism per se. DOT simply provides encouragement and tries as much as it can to set internal standards for its conduct but as I have said, tourism is the people’s business, and is therefore a largely private activity – driven by nothing more than everyone’s need to get away once in a while from the humdrum of their everyday existence,” he said.
According to Shell, SEM began in 1939 at a Shell research laboratory in the United States. Scientists made a friendly wager to see who could get the most miles per gallon of fuel.
This spawned more organized marathons, with the Asian leg setting camp at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia for four years beginning 2010.
Although the marathon will already begin on Thursday, the flag-off ceremony will be on February 7 to be officiated by President Benigno Aquino III.
Besides Jimenez and Aquino, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada and Vice Mayor Isko Moreno will also join the event.
Based on a traffic advisory issued by the Manila Police District, the north and southbound lanes of Roxas Boulevard will be closed to traffic from Katigbak Drive to TM Kalaw beginning Monday until February 14 at midnight.
The Independence Road from the South Drive to Katigbak Drive will also be closed to traffic from 5 a.m. to midnight of February 12 to 14.
The traffic unit said vehicles coming from the pier zone intending to use the southbound lane of Roxas Blvd. can turn left to P. Burgos, right to Ma. Orosa, right to TM Kalaw, then left to Roxas Blvd.
Meanwhile, vehicles from the southern part of Manila intending to utilize the northbound lane of Roxas Blvd. can turn right to TM Kalaw, left to Ma. Orosa, left to P. Burgos, and then right to Bonifacio Drive.