Welcome to Inquirer Mobility

By Jodee A. Ag­oncillo

Street sweeper Rodora Dones walked a kilo­me­ter from her home in Don Galo, Parañaque City, to get to work in Barangay Tambo dur­ing the en­hanced com­mu­nity quar­an­tine.

Then she walked home dur­ing her break to care for and pre­pare meals for her two chil­dren. That done, she walked back to her “beat.”

Two days be­fore her birth­day last month, Dones re­ceived a gift from “Bikeyani­han,” a group rais­ing funds to pro­vide bi­cy­cles for Filipinos “walk­ing long distances to work” due to the COVID-19 pan­demic. She was one of 15 ben­e­fi­cia­ries.

The bike has al­lowed her to “save time and ef­fort in go­ing to my work­place,” Dones told the In­quirer, adding that a friend of her nephew had pushed her to send the group a mes­sage for help.

Bikeyani­han was set up last June by a group of present and for­mer stu­dents of De La Salle-col­lege of St. Be­nilde in Manila who are con­vinced that bik­ing is an in­ex­pen­sive way of pro­mot­ing a healthy life­style.

In an online in­ter­view, Mar­ley Al­con­era, one of the founders and a graphic de­signer based in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emi­rates, talked about Bikeyani­han’s search for ben­e­fi­cia­ries with in­spir­ing sto­ries.

“We wanted to help peo­ple keep go­ing,” she said. “We sup­port them, give them an ex­tra push, [so they can] reach their des­ti­na­tions de­spite the chal­lenges of this pan­demic.”

‘Tatay’ Carlo, etc.

Al­con­era said they were in­spired by bi­cy­cle shop owner Fe Caran­dang, who gave a bike to Carlo Sa­monte, a candy ven­dor who used to walk from Ni­chols in Pasay to Makati daily.

“Tatay” Carlo, 87, had been fre­quent­ing the shop morn­ing and evening since May 15, hop­ing to per­suade Caran­dang to sell him a P4,800 bike at P2,000. Caran­dang re­lented on June 3 and gave him the bike for free.

An­other Bikeyani­han ben­e­fi­ciary is a 57-year-old ven­dor who used to walk from one barangay to an­other to sell the fish that he bought from the fish port. The daily ef­fort took him more than four hours of walk­ing.

“There are 11 peo­ple in his house and it’s only he and his son, a gro­cery bag­ger, earn­ing a liv­ing for their fam­ily,” Al­con­era re­counted.

“We knew there are more Filipinos like him who are en­dur­ing long hours of walk­ing just to pro­vide for their fam­i­lies. We thought there might be some way we could help them, one bi­cy­cle at a time,” she said.

Ben­e­fi­cia­ries are cho­sen from di­rect ap­pli­ca­tions and re­fer­rals, Al­con­era said. “We’re all in our early 20s. Eight of us are girls and most of us are in the cre­ative in­dus­try. We are run­ning the fundrais­ing re­motely as some of us are based over­seas. We didn’t want dis­tance to stop us from help­ing, so even with the lim­i­ta­tions caused by the pan­demic, we still con­tin­ued [with our ef­fort].”

3rd batch

Among the other mem­bers of Bikeyani­han are Joni de Guz­man, also based in Qatar, and graphic de­sign­ers JP Anonuevo, Yvette Cruz, Marge Abordo, mar­ket­ing pro­fes­sional Nikki An­ge­les, and stu­dents Ni­cole Dyogi, Erika de Cas­tro and Les­lie Dy.

The group is now seek­ing donors to com­plete its third batch of 15 bikes.

Con­tin­ued Al­con­era: “At first, we thought of just pitch­ing in and do­nat­ing a few bikes to some peo­ple. But since most of us are from the cre­ative in­dus­try, we de­cided to brand it. We started a Face­book page in the hope that we would reach more peo­ple. We first reached out to close friends, [fam­ily mem­bers], and the peo­ple in our net­work. Our Face­book au­di­ence even­tu­ally grew, and we’re now re­ceiv­ing do­na­tions from the pub­lic.”

The group found a sup­plier who pro­vided dis­counts. It col­lab­o­rated with other so­cial ser­vice groups also cater­ing to bike rid­ers: one pro­vided hel­mets, an­other pro­vided re­flec­tors.

Their help will pro­vide a safer road ex­pe­ri­ence, Al­con­era said. “If ever get­ting to dif­fer­ent places us­ing a bike con­tin­ues to be part of the new norm, bike lanes should also be im­ple­mented, as well as proper safety mea­sures for all bik­ers.” Street sweeper Dones said bik­ing had be­come her mode of trans­porta­tion. “I’ll use the jeep­ney fare that I can save to buy more food for the fam­ily,” she said.

Bikeyani­han will con­tinue to pro­vide bikes to those who need them, Al­con­era said. “As long as there are peo­ple con­tribut­ing to our cause, we will con­tinue to pro­vide help to Filipino work­ers in need.”

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