As a journalist and bike commuter, I’m always curious about the stories of fellow bike commuters I encounter on the streets everyday. In this time of crisis, bicycles have become a lifeline for many people. For over a year since the onset of the pandemic, I’ve encountered many bikers on the street.  It’s always interesting to learn why some people choose to bike as part of their daily grind.

Joel Agodong, 42 years old and a former utility worker at the Davao International Airport for two years, from Matina Aplaya, Davao City. He lost his job last year when the airport ceased commercial operations due to the pandemic. Joel, a father of two, put up an online selling business in December last year to feed his family. Everyday, he is out on the streets on his bike to deliver the items he sells on Facebook Marketplace.

According to him, he earns P200 to P400 a day. Sometimes, he would pedal his way to Panacan to deliver his product. That’s about 20 kilometers from Matina Aplaya, one way.

When I took this photo, he was on his way to Agdao to deliver a barbecue grill to his customer.

Jesus Lerin, in his 60s, an electric fan technician in Bankerohan, Davao City

Gaslang Magno, 57, a tuba gather or mananggete in the local dialect. According to Gaslang, he has been collecting tuba or coconut wine for almost 30 years now in the coastal community in Barangay Pampanga, Davao City.  Almost everyday, he transports about 40 litres of tuba using his rusty but still reliable bicycle. According to him, he has been using the same bicycle for over two decades already.

 


Former jeepney driver Ricky Espeña sells flowers and pots using his modified bicycle in Bankerohan Market, Davao City after he quit ferrying passengers due to the pandemic sometime in the middle of last year. According to Espeña, he tried to resume ferrying passengers after the ECQ but his earnings were just enough for the daily jeepney rental.

This is Joselito Delibrado, 80 years old from Samal Island. His customized bike caught my attention while following him on the bike lane. In our brief chat, I learned that he used to be a porter at the Sasa Wharf for more than 20 years but he lost one of his legs during the Sasa Wharf bombing in April 3, 2003.

Since then, he depends on his three children to survive. “Usahay naay ihatag akong anak para pangkaon nako. Mao nang usahay manglimos lang ko aron naay pangkaon pud,” he admitted.

As we are about to end our chat, I’m surprised when he said that he is actually on his way to Digos City to visit one of his children. But he will spend a night somewhere in Ulas before heading to Digos the next day. That’s about 75 kilometers of travel all the way from Samal Island. Joselito said it would be his first time to take his motorized bike to Digos.

I’m astounded by his story–an incredible feat for someone who is physically challenged but took the risk just fill his stomach.

Photojournalist Manman Dejeto, an avid bike enthusiast. He hunts for pictures around the city with his bike.

The tangling plastic strips caught my attention. This is Leopoldo Guzman, 75 years old. Every week, he bikes about 20 kilometers (one way) from Matina Crossing to Panacan to collect discarded plastic strips from factories and warehouses. According to him, he is recycling these discarded strips and turn them into bayongs (woven bags) and folding bed mattings.


Loloy Labandero, 43 years old and a father of three, is a taho vendor for 20 years already.


This is Maximo Quirong, whom I caught up biking on his way to work sometime in May last year when the city was placed under enhanced community quarantine. He bikes 12 kilometers from Panacan to Uyanguren to report for duty. He is using a BMX he borrowed from his brother.

Sometime in February, I was able to photograph a biker carrying an oversized cargo cruising along the highway in Lanang. I was amazed how he managed to weave through the traffic with a big cargo on his rear rack. Three months later, I saw a biker with another cargo horizontally strapped on the rear rack of his bicycle in front of Insular Village in Lanang.  In my mind, this must be the same guy that I photographed in February. So I signaled him to pull over by the side of the road. It was him!

He is Jonathan Gallora, 38, a father of three.  He used to work at the Royal Mandaya Hotel for three years until the hotel ceased operations last year.

To feed his family, Gallora ventured into online selling. He sells kitchenwares, plastic furnitures, bike parts and other items using Facebook Marketplace.

He is using his bike to deliver his products anywhere in the city. He usually earns P150 to P200 per transaction.

I asked him where was the farthest place he had delivered his products. I was astounded by his answer: “Tagum City.”

According to him, he endured the heat of the sun for 3 hours to deliver a 30-kilo kiddie pool sometime in February to Tagum City. “And then 2.5 hours back to Davao City. I earned a little over P1,000 from that transaction,” he said in the vernacular.

To prove his story, he showed me this photo posted on his Facebook account. 

Tagum City is at least 50 kilometers away from Davao City.

Forty-three year old Veronica Bohol, a mother of three, endures the scorching heat of the sun everyday as she bikes around Agdao District to Obrero area in Davao City to sell packed meals for a living.

Jimmy Junia, a construction mason from Matina Pangi, drives his customized bicycle while looking for an open hardware in Uyanguren District. The retro music being played on his onboard sound system caught my attention while I was hunting for pictures in the downtown area.  According to him, he just loves to play music on his sound system while biking. “Trip trip lang, chill ride lang with sounds,” Jimmy proudly says.

This is Vicente Segara, 66 years old and a fish vendor for about 20 years now.  According to him, he is now living alone since he  separated with his wife in 2002.  “Ni-uban man sa laing lalaki akong asawa,” he lamented. Everyday, he is on his bike selling fish around downtown Davao City.

I can’t remember the name of this elderly man on his bike because I lost my notepad (I think it was chewed by one of our dogs at home). He’s in his mid-60s. But I can still remember a bit of his story. During this time, I was on my way to Matina when I caught him on the road. He said that he was on his way to Ulas where he works as a carpenter.  If I remember it right, he had been working on a house project for over a month already and he was biking all the way from Tibungco–everyday! That’s about 25 kilometers, one way. I can’t chat with him for so long because he was in hurry to get to Ulas.

I’m still hoping to catch him one of these days in the bike lanes so I can jot down his name.