May 25, 2021 By C! Magazine Staff Words by Joey Bernardez Photos by Carl S. Cunanan

Grief and Loss in the Manila Car Enthusiast Community

Boy Cordova passed away yesterday. Not many know who he was. Even I hardly knew him.

Mang Boy was the proprietor of an automotive muffler and electrical shop – ExManila Trading in Paco, Manila. I had been hearing of this shop since the 80’s but I had only started having work done there since the mid 2000s. Supposedly, the shop was composed of technicians and mechanics from the old Ford dealer, Mantrade (Manila Trading.) Hence the name, ExManila Trading.

The shop was an old house that had been converted into an auto shop and it didn’t look like much. But the work they did was absolutely top notch. Every time that I’d go there, there would always be interesting cars in the garage. An old Porsche, a vintage BMW M, a Rolls-Royce… it was a demonstration of the kind of car enthusiasts who patronized and trusted the shop.

A few months ago, a friend and I dropped by to have a mid-pipe made for an NC Miata. Normally, when you go to a shop these days they try to upsell you. You’re welcomed with a barrage of sales talk to get you to buy something that you don’t need. At ExManila, the people there hardly talk. You go in there and tell them what you want done and they do it.

Three guys worked on the car. They took down the exhaust system, looked at the space they had to work with, then proceeded to create a new mid-pipe in stainless-steel. No measurements were taken. Hardly a word was spoken between the three technicians. Yet, the job was finished in a couple of hours and the mid-pipe was perfect! Just like all the other times I visited the shop, the job was done and done well.

Mang Boy lived in a building across the street and he had quite a collection of nice cars himself. I would only see him when it came time to pay up. And he didn’t say much either. He’d take a look at the car that you have, mention other guys with similar cars that go to his shop and you’d shoot the breeze talking about cars and fellows in the car enthusiast community.

I’m sure most if not all the most discriminating car enthusiasts in Metro Manila know of this shop. I know of guys with project cars where cost was no object for their builds, these fellows could import brand new branded exhaust systems and OEM electrical components for their cars. But they would prefer to have them done at ExManila.

This is the kind of shop that Mang Boy had created. ExManila is one of the last of a dying breed of car shops. I hope it survives the passing of Mang Boy.

Sometimes, we’re made to think that the people who matter in this world are those who are famous, fabulously wealthy, or immensely powerful. People who appear on the news, on TV, or in movies.

Mang Boy wasn’t famous, nor fabulously wealthy, nor powerful, but he touched our lives with what he created and the people he’d put together.

God bless and Godspeed Mang Boy. And thank you!

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