In a race to become Volvo’s Big East Fan

Miggy Gutierrez test-drives the S60.

By Cristina DC Pastor

Miguel Gutierrez is almost there, he can almost smell the Volvo S60 — Caspian Blue model for him, please. But if by some stroke of fate he does not become Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East, Miggy will be fine.

“I understand that the world is what it is,” the 23-year-old shrugged with a smile. “You just keep living your life one moment at a time.”

Nearing the homestretch, Miggy, who is representing Villanova University in Philadelphia, is among the top of the 16 alumni from various American universities competing for the social media & networking contest sponsored by Volvo. But with a little hitch: He will be one of four finalists left standing next week.

Miggy, an Australia-born FilAm, is the only Asian candidate. He came to New York at the age of 2.

Although a go-getter by nature, Miggy is also a pragmatist and a good sport. He knows life is not always a hit and that sometimes, one’s misses may usher in valuable teachable moments.

“Sometimes God gives you what you want and sometimes, not,” is a philosophy he lives by.

Miggy recalled how he landed a sports show on the university television network with nothing but youthful exuberance, a love of sports and a bold concept.

“I went up to the president of the network and pitched my idea,” he said.

Thus was born “Miggy-Flavored Sports Show,” a Stephen Colbert-type sports program that had commentary, news and satire running through 30 minutes every week. The popular show, which had a local chicken wings joint advertising, ran for the duration of two years until his graduation.

“As a kid, we used to tell him that whatever Americans can do, we can do too,” his mother Myrna, a programmer, told The FilAm. “The color of our skin may not be white but that does not mean we are any less.”

To this day, two years after he left Villanova, he remains very popular in school “even among freshmen students,” he said with a chuckle. It’s because Miggy is some kind of a campus legend known to be a friend to everyone, a big brother to those who seek his advice, and a funnyman.

Miggy has shown the same tenacity in his quest to be this year’s Volvo’s Biggest Fan of the Big East. Who knows why? Maybe because the contest is a challenge he wants to conquer next. Maybe because he is having fun meeting all the people he’s connected with during the campaign. Maybe because he has no car and needs one.

For five months since he was invited to represent Villanova, Miggy has been talking about Big East in his blog, on YouTube, Twitter and Facebook inviting people to vote for him.

“There are many stories of friends and even strangers I would run into, calling me nicknames like ‘Mr. Big East,’ ‘A Miggy-Flavored Big East’ chanting my name at parties I’m not even the recipient of, or just wanting to talk to me about the competition, about Villanova,” he writes in his blog. One friend who was applying for a job made a pitch for Miggy after the job interview. The hiring manager asked for the site so she and her family could vote.

“Yes, people help for the sake of helping,” said Miggy. “It’s a lost art.”

The social media campaign does not consign Miggy to a life in front of a laptop or a mobile phone, blogging, sending email blasts and offering giveaways.

“We also have our other ways to rally support spending time outside the house. From watching games in Madison Square Garden, to local gamewatches, to hitting up bars, high school reunions, grammar school reunions, the pickup game at the park, the always awkward elevator pitch, even during business meetings, I would have to justify every excursion by making a full-fledged pitch about the contest, the prize and my involvement in the competition, all while wearing the Volvo Big East hat around,” he recounts in his blog.

The Big East “literally became my job, my identity, my life for the past few months,” he writes.

During the interview, he adds, “I have represented more than myself, Villanova, Big East and Volvo at this point, but as the first Asian American in the contest, I am representing the pride of all of Asia — The Far East meets the Big East?”

One of the perks of being a contestant is being able to test-drive the “trophy.” One January weekend, Miggy and a friend drove the S60 from New York (his home) to Philly (his school). Not yet quite confident of his driving skills, he felt more than safe with Volvo’s unique features: the Rear and Front Parking Camera, which guides the driver as he tries to park and tells him how much space is available; the Blind Spot Indicator; the Lane Departure Warning, which is triggered when the car is swerving off the lane; and the Collision Detector, which alerts the driver when the car is too close to an oncoming vehicle or an unseen pedestrian.

“It’s one thing to know these features are there, it’s another to actually experience them,” he said.

Through it all, the contest has been a thrill of a ride for Miggy – with and without the Volvo.

But just as important, the experience has taught him a great deal about the ‘bayanihan’ spirit, the Filipino tradition of coming together as a village to make things happen. Who knew Volvo could do that too?

To follow Miggy throughout his campaign, go to

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    Ms. Pastor has written an inspiring story about a young Filipino American in his quest to win a college social media and networking competition sponsored by Volvo, the automaker.

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