the company that started the Volkswagens in the Philippines.
Mr Domingo S. Guevara, Jr. has generously answered my questions on the history of Volkswagens in the Philippines.
Here are the details:
On DMG, the Company
Wilfred T. Ruiz: Who were the founding fathers?
Domingo S. Guevara, Jr: The founder of DMG Inc. is Mr. Domingo M. Guevara Sr.
WTR: What date was the VW operations of the DMG (Group of Companies) established?
DSG: The company was incorporated in 1955. Although the actual operations of the Volkswagen business started only in
1958. The original meaning of DMG was DIESEL MOTORS OF GERMANY. Its initial representation in the Philippines was that of
Henschel and Hanomag diesel engines and trucks. It was only in 1958 that DMG started its assembly of COMMERCIAL vehicles or
KOMBI. The BEETLE or VW 113 was eventually assembled in mid 1959.
WTR: Where was the corporate office located?
DSG: The corporate headquarters of DMG was initially housed at 53 Tanduay St., Quiapo, Manila. The first Service shop
was located on Mendoza St., Quiapo, Manila.The corporate HQ was eventually transferred to the VW HOUSE corner T.M. Kalaw and
Florida Str., Ermita, Manila in 1967. The assembly plant was located at the DMG-RW Compound along Libertad St., Mandaluyong
City. The assembly plant was transferred to the former Ysmael Compound at 333 Rodriguez Ave., Quezon City from 1974 to 1981.
WTR: Were there foreign partners?
DSG: There were no foreign partners. Some of the minority partners in DMG Inc. were the ALVENDIA, TUASON, & SIBAL
WTR: What was the business structure relationship of DMG and VW Germany?
DSG: The business relationship between DMG and VW AG. was based on an EXCLUSIVE IMPORTER-DISTRIBUTOR & ASSEMBLER
WTR: Were there German advisers or executives?
DSG: The first German Technical man to be assigned in the Philippines was Herr. Manfred Rullman, who helped set-up
the assembly plant. The second one was Herr. Leonard Ober, who set up the service and parts operations.
On the Assembly Plant
WTR: Where were the assembly plants located?
DSG: The assembly plant was originally located in a 7 ha. property along Libertad St., Mandaluyong City and then transferred
to the former Ysmael Compound along E. Rodriguez Ave. QC, from 1957 to 1974 and 1974 to 1981 respectively.
WTR: Who were the government, business and famous personalities that attended the inauguration?
DSG: The late President Diosdado Macapagal was present during the inaguration of the Libertad assembly plant.
WTR: When did the first VW roll out of the assembly line?
DSG: The first Kombi rolled out in 1957. The first BEETLE rolled out in 1959.
WTR: What was the total production for the first few months of operation?
DSG: The first 48 units of KOMBIs were assembled in the first two months of operation. The first 120 BEETLES were also
assembled in two months in 1959.
WTR: What were the types of VW’s assembled here?
DSG: The types assembled were: TYPE 1 (beetles) Type 11 (kombis,single & double cabs, pick-ups and Vans, Type 111
Sedans and Variants, Brazilian Beetles, Kombis, and Passats, and our own SAKBAYANS (THE FIRST REAL FILIPINO DESIGNED AND FABRICATED
WTR: What was the total (yearly) production at its peak? What year was it?
DSG: The best year was 1970 when we built a total of 6100 vehicles and became #1 in the Philippines market.
WTR: How many workers were employed?
DSG: During our peak period, we had only about 250 employees. This was because we were purely assembling CKD units.
It was only in 1975 that the Progressive Car Manufacturing Program became fully operational, thus forcing the assemblers to
go into parts manufacturing or develop vendor parts manufacturers.
WTR: What VW was last assembled here?
DSG: The last models to be assembled were the Brazilian Beetle, Brazilia Sedan, Kombi and the Passat.
WTR: Where was the first dealership located? When did it open?
DSG: The first dealership was opened in Manila. It was called Radiowealth Trading Corp. and had its main office at
430 Tanduay St., Quiapo, Manila. It opened in 1957 and sold the first 48 units of KOMBIs. Unfortunately, we have no recollection
of the first customer.
WTR: What VW’s that were not assembled here, were ordered through DMG?
DSG: We were selling TAX FREE VW Beetles, Kharman Ghias, MIcro Buses and even Campers, mostly to Americans and foreign
Embassy personnel thru our DIRECT SHIPMENT ORDER (DSO) or thru TOURIST DELIVERY program.
WTR: At its peak, how many dealerships were there?
DSG: There were basically only two dealers in Metro Manila and eight independent provincial dealers.
WTR: What companies ordered the VW’s as their fleet vehicles?
DSG: The bulk of our fleet users were the major PHARMACEUTICAL companies, TRANSNATIONAL and MULTINATIONAL companies.
The "biggies" then were the ZUELLIG GROUP, CIBA-GEIGY, MARSMAN, CALTEX, GOODYEAR, GOODRICH, and UNITED LAB.
On Service Centers
WTR: Where was the first service center located?
DSG: The first service center was in Mendoza St., Quiapo, Manila
WTR: At its peak, how many service centers were there?
DSG: (Twenty Three: They are:) P.Tamo (Makati),Magsaysay Blvd.(Sta. Mesa), J.Abad Santos (Manila), Shaw Blvd. (Mandaluyong),P.
Casal (Quiapo), Marikina, Baguio City, Cabanatuan City, Dagupan City, Naga City, San Fernando, Pampanga, San Pablo City. In
the Visayas, we were in Cebu City, Ormoc, Bacolod City, and Iloilo City. In Mindanao, we were in Cagayan de Oro, Iligan City,
Gen. Santos, Cotabato City, Butuan City, Davao and Zamboanga Cities.
WTR: Are there VW prototypes? What were they? Whatever happened to them?
DSG: There were a number of prototypes made. There were five (5)different TOROS. I still see one of them parked along
Kamagong St. in Makati.It is parked infront of an "ihaw-ihaw" joint, a few meters away from the AQUA VIDA outlet.I had a BEETLE-IN-BARONG
TAGALOG. I left it in DMG when the company was taken over by First Manila Mgt.
On Research & Development
WTR: Who headed or manned the Research & Development Dept? Where was that department located? Where are they now?
DSG: The R & D was directly under me and my main designer was Rey (?)with the help of one carpenter, a tinsmith,
a painter and an all around "go-for". It was located on the ground floor of the then admin bldg. at the DMG compound in Libertad
St.The TOROS, SAKBAYAN, and TRAKBAYAN were all products of that R & D. The "go-for" at that time was Joe Lanuza, who operates
a VW shop somewhere nearby. Either in Libertad or Samat St.
WTR: What car rallies, drag races, slaloms, circuit races, etc did DMG field an entry / entries? Who were the drivers?
What awards did it won?
DSG: I started the Racing team in 1962. Our main activity then was DRAG RACING and SLALOM. I have numerous trophies
to show specially since I held the title of LITTLE ELIMINATOR for many racing season. We joined Rallyes in 1966 and became
oveall CHAMPION in 1969. The team was headed by Henry Dyliaco and Louie del Moral. I also won the FIRST MANILA GRAN PRIX held
in 1970 at the Luneta.The BEETLE won the overall championship in the 1969 Rally and I drove a Formula V when I won the Gran
Prix. Our most notable driver in VW racing was Pocholo Ramirez. The two biggest motoring event we did was the TURISMO PILIPINO
and THE LONDON-MANILA EXPRESS IN 1969 and 1970 respectively. The first was run in 104 hours (Zamboanga to Manila) and the
latter in 79 days from London to Manila.In both instances, I was with the group and used SAKBAYANS and BEETLES. The late Ronnie
Pasola was with me during the two events.Some of the guys with me then were: Loy Martinez, Willy Ingles, Freddie Masigan,
the late Tony Siddayao,Tirso Aguilar, and the late Ramon Hachero.
On the present set-up of DMG with VW
WTR: What is the present set-up connection between DMG Motors Group, SM ACA and VW Germany?
DSG: DMG Motors Group is a franchise dealer for VWs & AUDIs for Metro Manila of Proton Motors. DMG MOTORS GROUP
Inc. is a joint venture between the SM Group and Mr. Domingo S. Guevara Jr. There is no direct relationship between VW Germany
and DMG Inc. today.
WTR: What are your future plans for VW?
DSG: To continue the dealership operations.
On VW Accessories:
WTR: Which dealerships sold EMPI accessories for VW's?
DSG: All dealers of DMG inc. sold EMPI accessories
WTR: Which local advertising agency handles your account? Who are the account executives involved? For print ads? For
TV and Film commercials?
DSG: Link Advertising.The Pres./GM was Loy Martinez assisted by Noel Trinidad, Frankie Lacambra, Ramon dela Rosa, Ariel
Ureta and Sluggo Rigor.