Overcoming the pandemic on bikes, these Filipino girls defy monsters on the street
“Bago ako sumakay, nagdadasal ako.” (Earlier than I journey, I pray).
That is the ritual of Diana Teofilo, a home-based English trainer 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 journey 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.
“Regardless 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 house 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 World Metropolis, Taguig, to house to Cainta. Every single day, 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 burdened.
“It was my husband who influenced me. He’s a BMX biker so he mentioned let’s purchase a motorcycle so that you’ll get exercised, too,” Diana mentioned. “Since I began to work, since you’re drained as a substitute of exercising, you simply sleep it by way of,” she mentioned.
An increasing number of Filipinos have turned to using bicycles instead 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 using public little option to get to the place they’re going—staff on the frontline of the COVID-19 struggle and a few personal sector staff get shuttles or use their very own autos.
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 have 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 motorcycle when she was nonetheless in her youth. She mentioned she was involved she might need already forgotten how one can journey one or might 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 associates even advised 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 women, was additionally compelled to change to biking amid the pandemic. As a college nurse related to public faculties 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 simply needed to carry their bikes, no drawback.”
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 considering folding bikes.
“I bought the e-bike [then] the subsequent day I discovered any person promoting folding bikes,” she mentioned. “That’s once I began [my] biking journey.”
Pinay Bike Commuter
There are totally different Fb communities devoted to Filipina bikers, like Tropang Women Bikers and Padyak Pinay, amongst others. Diana, Divine and Yvonne have been beforehand featured in posts on Padyak Pinay, which often 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 personal Fb group, Pinay Bike Commuter Neighborhood, with fellow bike-commuting associates that she met from MNL Moves and Karen Silva-Crisostomo.
In response to 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 motorcycle commuter and likewise reposts tales from different pages like Padyak Pinay and Mobile in MNL after they characteristic girls 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 girls to bike,” Geri advised INQUIRER.net.
“Pandemic got here and lots of girls have been, in a approach, pressured to commute by way of bicycle,” she added. “It’s a distinct take if you’re pressured to do one thing due to sure situations (versus) you wish to do it. It’s heavier mentally and likewise bodily.”
The web page at present has over 3,500 followers since its conception final June and has change into 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 nearly 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 house in Makati and park in Ayala earlier than taking a bus to Parañaque the place he beforehand labored.
“Each time he comes house, [he] would inform me about this sense of freedom whereas biking. As a girl on maternity go away who’s 24/7 caring for a child and breastfeeding, I longed a lot [for] that feeling,” she mentioned. “So, I advised him I wish to bike to work after my maternity go away.”
And she or he did. She has not stopped since.
Undisciplined motorists, lack of motorbike lanes, harassment
Biking within the metropolis doesn’t come with out dangers. Other than the shortage of motorbike lanes in some areas, bikers additionally should take care of unruly and aggressive motorists. For ladies bikers, there may be additionally the specter of being sexually harassed and body-shamed.
Simply final Aug. 23, a nurse, Renz Jayson Perez, was using 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 impression and was declared lifeless on arrival on the Philippine Basic Hospital. The motive force of the automobile on the time fled the scene, though the proprietor of the automobile had surrendered to authorities final Aug. 28.
Diana advised 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 struggle with a driver due to that. Second, the bikes. Often I don’t have an issue if we have now to share the street, however the issue is bikes like to chop you off,” Diana mentioned.
Instances like these are acquainted among the many girls, 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 unhealthy, are actually unhealthy. They shout at you, pin you, drive near you, honk at you, harass you, generally sexually, like catcall you. Mainly 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, must 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 obtained 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 aren’t revered, how way more bikers?” she mentioned. “They’re presupposed 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 girl 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 change into 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 struggle again, however sadly, that’s how it’s,” mentioned Diana.
Advantages of biking
No matter abuses these Filipina bikers could have skilled on the street, one factor is evident: these aren’t sufficient to cease them from biking, particularly when the advantages outweigh the unhealthy stuff.
Since she began biking, Diana mentioned she now has extra time for herself, her husband and her pets. She had additionally misplaced weight, grew to become extra alert and centered, and was in a position 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 some pounds however my earlier footage, I look higher now,” she mentioned. “It additionally saved me cash. An important factor is time! Extra time for my household. [In] thirty minutes, I’m house.”
In Divine’s case, her eldest daughter has gotten considering biking due to her.
“She plans to bike [as well], so she purchased her personal folding bike,” mentioned Divine. “It has change into a type of bonding for us each weekend. So long as she doesn’t have work, we bike collectively.”
Yvonne mentioned she now not arrives late for work, because of biking. It has additionally finished 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 could discover biking daunting on the floor, however worry, in all issues newly encountered, appears, most of the time, a standard response.
“Everyone experiences that, you get scared at first, however as time passes you construct up your confidence,” suggested Divine. “They received’t know till they fight it out. They will begin first on streets of their neighborhood then finally they’ll exit on the street.”
Diana added that ladies on the heavy aspect shouldn’t be bothered in the event that they ever get discouraged from making an attempt 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 advised 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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