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Overcoming the pandemic in bikes, these Filipino women defy monsters on the road

Overcoming the pandemic in bikes, these Filipino girls defy monsters on the highway

Clockwise, from prime left: Diana Teofilo, Jaramia “Geri” Amarnani, Yvonne and Divine Campos.

“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 highway on her bicycle.

It doesn’t matter if she’s biking to work or to the grocery retailer, or if she’s occurring an extended 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 secure 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.

Picture from Diana Teofilo

Diana began biking to work simply final January. It might normally take her two to 4 hours commuting from work in Bonifacio World Metropolis, Taguig, to house to Cainta. Each day, she mentioned, she would discover herself in a rush and her mood hanging by a thread. The each day commute had made her quick-tempered and simply careworn.

“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.

Increasingly more Filipinos have turned to driving bicycles in its place mode of transportation after President Rodrigo Duterte positioned Luzon and different areas on enhanced group quarantine (ECQ) final March as a result of 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 autos.

Below 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 Might 17, bike sellers and distributors reported a surge in gross sales through 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.

Picture from Yvonne

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 may need already forgotten find out how to journey one or may need problem in balancing herself. She additionally wasn’t used to biking on the primary roads.

“I used to be considering, might I deal with it? My mates even instructed me, ‘Are you able to do it? Since you would possibly collapse on the highway in a while 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 change 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.

Picture from Divine Campos

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 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 group that advocates for the welfare of cyclists and pedestrians in Metro Manila, and located herself eager about folding bikes.

“I bought the e-bike [then] the subsequent day I discovered any individual promoting folding bikes,” she mentioned. “That’s after 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 commonly 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 secure 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 based mostly on her expertise as a motorcycle commuter and likewise reposts tales from different pages like Padyak Pinay and Mobile in MNL after they function girls bikers.

“It’s not a contest for me from different pages, I simply need Filipina bike commuters [to] be featured so we are able to additional encourage different girls to bike,” Geri instructed

“Pandemic got here and loads of girls have been, in a manner, compelled to commute through bicycle,” she added. “It’s a distinct 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 likewise bodily.”

Picture from Jaramia “Geri” Amarnani

The web page presently 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 instructed him I need to bike to work after my maternity go away.”

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. Other than the shortage of motorcycle lanes in some areas, bikers additionally must 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 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 as a result of influence and was declared lifeless on arrival on the Philippine Common Hospital. The driving force of the automobile on the time fled the scene, though the proprietor of the automobile had surrendered to authorities final Aug. 28.

Diana instructed 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 highway.

“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. Often I don’t have an issue if now we have to share the highway, however the issue is bikes like to chop you off,” Diana mentioned.

Circumstances like these are acquainted among the many girls, who had their justifiable share 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, typically 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 bought 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 highway. Simply since you’re in a motor vehicle doesn’t imply you’re the king of the highway.”

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 horny 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 highway, one factor is evident: these aren’t 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, grew to become extra alert and centered, and was ready to economize 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 shed extra pounds however taking a look at my earlier photos, 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 house.”

In Divine’s case, her eldest daughter has gotten eager about 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 might discover biking daunting on the floor, however worry, in all issues newly encountered, appears, as a rule, a standard 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 struggle it out. They will begin first on streets of their neighborhood then finally they’ll exit on the highway.”

Diana added that ladies on the heavy facet 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 instructed 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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