Dumaguete City—After 12-days on the road, 35 of the 40 big bike motorcycle riders from different parts of Mindanao culminated the longest cross country motorcycle ride here after conquering around 4,000 kilometers of riding through the seven biggest islands in the Philippines, on November 17, 2016.
The nationwide big bike motorcycle tour dubbed as the “5th Mindanao Freedom Ride” started from the riders’ respective towns and cities all over Mindanao on November 5. Then the big bike riders travelled to the islands of Leyte, Samar, Luzon, Mindoro, Panay and Negros—visiting 15 regions and 36 provinces. The riders traveled as far as Aparri and survived the dangers of the Halsema Highway in the Mountain Province.
According to Juan Andre Lacson, event organizer and CEO of Norminring Motorbikes, “So far this is the biggest from Mindanao and the country’s longest big bike motorcycle ride. We started this event five years ago with the aim to showcase how peaceful and safe it is to ride across Mindanao, the freedom to roam just about anywhere.
“We invited riders from different parts of the country to visit Mindanao and experience its beauty, with the hope of changing the perspective and removing the stigma that Mindanao is a place of violence and conflict. This year, we decided the to bring that message to other parts of the country.”
Lacson also pointed out that the ride also aims to draw attention to motorcycle tourism as well as evaluate what needs to improve on the ferry services that provides transport to vehicles crossing from one island to the other.
For the majority of the riders, it was their first time to visit the towns and cities they passed and stayed on. The 12-day ride was not only considered as the longest but one of the fastest and most challenging cross-country tour in the Philippines so far.
Erbing Arriaga, a 59-year-old businessman and member of the Davao Tigers club shared what make the tour fun and exciting: “I’ve been riding big-bike motorcycles since 1989 and this is the first time I’ve experienced riding this far. The ride is super, I enjoyed it so much and it is a great feeling riding with fellow riders from Mindanao. The camaraderie is something else that only fellow motorcycle riders can relate to. Hopefully more rides like this will be promoted throughout the country to entice more people to get into ‘moto-tourism.’”
Nonoy Zambra, a 52-year-old rider from Koronadal City, South Cotabato and the president of SCOTT Riders Philippines Incorporated expressed how he enjoyed the long ride.
“It was a good fun experience, this ride is a good addition to the years of experience for me as well as to the entire group. I’ve toured Luzon back in 1998 but we were using smaller dirt bikes back then and ended up doing it in 21 days. Now we have bigger motorbikes, the communication and technology we have today is not as hard as before as it made our ride more convenient but its more challenging since we travelled farther and the number of days we did it. It was hard, tougher but amazingly great,” said Zambra.
Zambra added that the hard part in the tour was navigating through the heavy traffic in Metro Manila and some parts of Luzon comparing it to the laid back ride they used to have in Mindanao.
But for majority of the riders who joined the ride, the hardest part was navigating through the treacherous stretch of Halsema Highway. Traveling through portions of muddy, landslide-prone, and narrow pathways between Banaue, Mayoyao leading to Aguinaldo in Ifugao Province was where most of the riders’ lost their balance and fell to the ground. Yet they all persevered the ride that ended Day 6 day in Aparri.
The Longest Ride
The ride started on November 5, with riders from 16 different big bike clubs and organizations from Mindanao together with the Norminring motorcycle crew arrived in the port of Lipata in Surigao City, Saturday morning after conquering heavy rains along the way brought by the Low Pressure Area or LPA.
That same day, the riders arrived in San Ricardo, Leyte then traveled to Tacloban City and to Calbayog, Samar. From Samar, they crossed via ferry to Sorsogon ending Day 2 in Naga City. Day 3 started in Naga City to Atimonan, Quazon. The riders spent the night in Laiya, Batangas.
Day 4 of the ride brought the riders to the heavy traffic of Metro Manila to visit big bike motorcycle show rooms of KTM and Ducati then ending the trip in Baguio City.
Day 5 to Day 6 brought the freedom riders to Sagada, to the rice terraces of Banaue, and up to Aparri.
The highlight for the Day 7 trip was giving aid and help to the typhoon victims of Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. Here, the Mindanao Freedom Riders headed by Lacson of Norminring together with Raymond Gabriel of Together We Ride motorcycle blog and Breakfast Ride Club donated about Php60,000 to 12 families who lost their houses to Super Typhoon Lawin (Haima) that hit the area in October.
Day 8 brought the riders to the explore the streets of the City of Vigan then a ride to San Fernando, La Union to Clark Freeport in Angeles City, Pampanga. By Day 9, hundreds of motorcycle riders from all over Metro Manila joined the Mindanao Freedom Riders.
“Boss motorcycle club came to assist us going to manila then meet up with HPG in Petron NLEX sound bound. We proceeded to Petron SLEX km 44, to meet up with different clubs. They prepared food and drinks, I lost numbers how many went there, but I guess we are about more than 100 there from different big bike motorcycle clubs all over Metro Manila,” said Gabriel of the Breakfast Ride group.
Day 9 to Day 10 brought the riders from Batangas Port to Mindoro, then to another ferry ride to Caticlan and a night in world-famous Boracay Island for a well deserved break.
By Day 11 and 12, the tour culminated in Dumaguete City after travelling from Iloilo to Bacolod. Then crossed from Visayas to Dapitan City in Mindanao ending the Philippine Loop.
Each trip definitely has an adventure to be shared in this column. You’ll be reading more about it next.