Overcoming the pandemic in bikes, these Filipino ladies defy monsters on the street
“Bago ako sumakay, nagdadasal ako.” (Earlier than I trip, I pray).
That is the ritual of Diana Teofilo, a home-based English instructor and biker from Cainta, Rizal, every time she has to hit the street on her bicycle.
It doesn’t matter if she’s biking to work or to the grocery retailer, or if she’s occurring a protracted trip or only a fast jaunt across the metropolis. She at all times prays for her security — and for different bikers like her to get to their locations unscathed.
“Irrespective of how protected you attempt to be, there are nonetheless exterior elements that may occur. I hope for all of us bikers to be okay, that we get to work and go residence safely,” Diana mentioned talking in a mixture of English and Filipino.
Diana began biking to work simply final January. It could normally take her two to 4 hours commuting from work in Bonifacio International Metropolis, Taguig, to residence to Cainta. Daily, she mentioned, she would discover herself in a rush and her mood hanging by a thread. The every day commute had made her quick-tempered and simply confused.
“It was my husband who influenced me. He’s a BMX biker so he mentioned let’s purchase a motorbike so that you’ll get exercised, too,” Diana mentioned. “Since I began to work, since you’re drained as an alternative of exercising, you simply sleep it by way of,” she mentioned.
Increasingly Filipinos have turned to driving bicycles as a substitute mode of transportation after President Rodrigo Duterte positioned Luzon and different areas on enhanced neighborhood quarantine (ECQ) final March because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The ECQ halted the operation of mass transportation, which left the driving public little option to get to the place they’re going—staff on the frontline of the COVID-19 combat and a few non-public sector staff get shuttles or use their very own automobiles.
Underneath modified ECQ, bikes, bicycles and electrical scooters had already been allowed on the roads which prompted many, out of necessity, to tackle the two-wheeled machine in getting round. In an Inquirer report final Could 17, bike sellers and distributors reported a surge in gross sales throughout the lockdown.
Pre-pandemic, Yvonne, a credit score and assortment staffer, would normally take the UV Specific on her commute to work from Cainta to Mandaluyong.
However when she and her colleagues had been required to report for work greater than three months in the past, she had no alternative however to show to biking.
She had her fears as anticipated. Yvonne mentioned she final rode a motorbike when she was nonetheless in her youth. She mentioned she was involved she may need already forgotten methods to trip one or may need issue in balancing herself. She additionally wasn’t used to biking on the principle roads.
“I used to be pondering, might I deal with it? My mates even informed me, ‘Are you able to do it? Since you would possibly collapse on the street afterward and I mentioned, I don’t actually have a alternative,” Yvonne mentioned in Filipino.
Divine Campos, a mom of two ladies, was additionally compelled to modify to biking amid the pandemic. As a faculty nurse related to public colleges in San Mateo, Rizal, Divine started to fret about how she would get to her work ought to she be required to report bodily after the ECQ.
She initially purchased an e-bike, however twice she tried to make a U-turn on the Marcos Freeway to achieve her vacation spot—and twice she discovered herself unable to do it.
Throughout these moments, Divine mentioned she noticed bicycle riders carrying their bikes on the footbridge and thought: “How lucky are the bikers. They only needed to carry their bikes, no downside.”
For 2 weeks, she contemplated about whether or not she might deal with biking from Pasig to San Mateo. She then got here throughout the Fb web page of MNL Moves, a web-based neighborhood that advocates for the welfare of cyclists and pedestrians in Metro Manila, and located herself interested by folding bikes.
“I offered the e-bike [then] the following day I discovered any person promoting folding bikes,” she mentioned. “That’s after I began [my] biking journey.”
Pinay Bike Commuter
There are completely different Fb communities devoted to Filipina bikers, like Tropang Women Bikers and Padyak Pinay, amongst others. Diana, Divine and Yvonne had been beforehand featured in posts on Padyak Pinay, which recurrently spotlights Filipina bike commuters within the metropolis.
Three months into the quarantine, Jaramia “Geri” Amarnani determined to place up the web page Pinay Bike Commuter on Fb — a web-based protected area devoted to Filipina bike commuters. She additionally established a non-public Fb group, Pinay Bike Commuter Neighborhood, with fellow bike-commuting mates that she met from MNL Moves and Karen Silva-Crisostomo.
In line with Geri, she highlights the tales and testimonies of members of Pinay Bike Commuter Neighborhood on the web page. She additionally shares infographics on biking recommendation primarily based on her expertise as a motorbike commuter and in addition reposts tales from different pages like Padyak Pinay and Mobile in MNL after they function ladies bikers.
“It’s not a contest for me from different pages, I simply need Filipina bike commuters [to] be featured so we will additional encourage different ladies to bike,” Geri informed INQUIRER.net.
“Pandemic got here and plenty of ladies had been, in a manner, compelled to commute by way of bicycle,” she added. “It’s a special take in case you are compelled to do one thing due to sure situations (versus) you need to do it. It’s heavier mentally and in addition bodily.”
The web page at present has over 3,500 followers since its conception final June and has grow to be an enclave for Filipinas, bikers and non-bikers alike, to share their challenges and milestones in bike commuting, and encourage and be inspired to check out biking.
For Geri, it has been virtually six years since she began biking to work. Like Diana, she was impressed by her husband, who used to commute bi-modal. He would bike from residence in Makati and park in Ayala earlier than taking a bus to Parañaque the place he beforehand labored.
“Each time he comes residence, [he] would inform me about this sense of freedom whereas biking. As a girl on maternity depart who’s 24/7 caring for a child and breastfeeding, I longed a lot [for] that feeling,” she mentioned. “So, I informed him I need to bike to work after my maternity depart.”
And he or she did. She has not stopped since.
Undisciplined motorists, lack of motorcycle lanes, harassment
Biking within the metropolis doesn’t come with out dangers. Aside from the shortage of motorcycle lanes in some areas, bikers additionally must cope with unruly and aggressive motorists. For girls bikers, there’s additionally the specter of being sexually harassed and body-shamed.
Simply final Aug. 23, a nurse, Renz Jayson Perez, was driving his bicycle when he was struck by a black pickup truck on the nook of Padre Burgos and Maria Orosa Streets in Manila.
Perez was hurled to the bottom because of the influence and was declared lifeless on arrival on the Philippine Basic Hospital. The motive force of the car on the time fled the scene, though the proprietor of the car had surrendered to authorities final Aug. 28.
Diana informed Inquirer that there have been occasions when she needed to converse up and confront drivers whereas biking, particularly those that are cussed of their unwillingness to share the street.
“Even when I’m within the bike lane, I nonetheless get pinned, so I’ve gotten right into a combat with a driver due to that. Second, the bikes. Normally I don’t have an issue if now we have to share the street, however the issue is bikes like to chop you off,” Diana mentioned.
Instances like these are acquainted among the many ladies, who had their fair proportion of experiences in coping with undisciplined motorists.
“These within the automotive, PUVs and bikes. Majority are good drivers [but] these [who] are dangerous, dangerous are actually dangerous. They shout at you, pin you, drive near you, honk at you, harass you, generally sexually, like catcall you. Principally they don’t care [about] bike commuters or pedestrians,” mentioned Geri.
As a biking advocate, Geri mentioned she believes permanently-protected, top-quality bicycle lanes, like those in Denmark, ought to be put in in cities to make them bike-friendly.
Yvonne herself skilled being honked at by a driver of an SUV as soon as whereas she was biking in Ortigas.
“It was a go sign and the automotive beside me honked at me so loud. I yelled, ‘You’re impolite!’ as a result of I acquired startled. It’s tough after they startle you since you get outbalanced,” mentioned Yvonne.
For Divine, it appears as if motorists don’t respect bikers.
“Even pedestrians will not be revered, how far more bikers?” she mentioned. “They’re imagined to share the street. Simply since you’re in a motorcar doesn’t imply you’re the king of the street.”
Diana additionally shared her expertise of being physique shamed as a giant lady who bikes. There are occasions, she mentioned, when she could be biking and could be met with unwarranted feedback from loiterers on the street.
“Hey, miss, that’s good! You’ll grow to be attractive from biking since you’re enormous’ or ‘Oh, the tire is flat as a result of the rider is heavy.’ When that occurs, I simply ignore them, I don’t combat again, however sadly, that’s how it’s,” mentioned Diana.
Advantages of biking
No matter abuses these Filipina bikers might have skilled on the street, one factor is evident: these will not be sufficient to cease them from biking, particularly when the advantages outweigh the dangerous stuff.
Since she began biking, Diana mentioned she now has extra time for herself, her husband and her pets. She had additionally misplaced weight, turned extra alert and centered, and was ready to save cash that she in any other case would have spent on fares.
Geri mentioned she feels stronger and that her stamina has improved from biking. “I don’t do bike commuting to drop a few pounds however taking a look at my earlier footage, I look higher now,” she mentioned. “It additionally saved me cash. A very powerful factor is time! Extra time for my household. [In] thirty minutes, I’m residence.”
In Divine’s case, her eldest daughter has gotten interested by biking due to her.
“She plans to bike [as well], so she purchased her personal folding bike,” mentioned Divine. “It has grow to be a type of bonding for us each weekend. So long as she doesn’t have work, we bike collectively.”
Yvonne mentioned she not arrives late for work, because of biking. It has additionally carried out wonders for her anxiousness and allowed her to develop higher sleeping habits. She additionally likes that she is ready to look after the atmosphere as a result of biking reduces air pollution.
The uninitiated might discover biking daunting on the floor, however concern, in all issues newly encountered, appears, most of the time, a traditional response.
“All people experiences that, you get scared at first, however as time passes you construct up your confidence,” suggested Divine. “They gained’t know till they fight it out. They’ll begin first on streets of their neighborhood then finally they’ll exit on the street.”
Diana added that ladies on the heavy facet shouldn’t be bothered in the event that they ever get discouraged from attempting out biking.
“That is one good train as a result of I already skilled it, so that is good for our our bodies,” she mentioned. “If they’re informed they’re fats or they’re subjected to body-shaming, so what? Don’t take note of these. Biking is for everyone, biking is open for everyone.” WITH REPORTS FROM KRIXIA SUBINGSUBING AND NIKKA G. VALENZUELA
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