October 3, 2016
BY RICKY MONTECILLO
The outpour of support for the Charity Ride for Ding was overwhelming. We packed the KIDZ POOL at Coto Mining site in Zambales with riders from different groups, using all kinds of motorcycles. The riders used GS BMWs, Ducatis, KTM, Yamaha Tenere, Kawasaki Versys, Royale Enfields, an R6 Yamaha sport bike and yes a Harley Davindson!
A couple of months ago, The Long Riders decided to organise and event to help out fellow rider and good friend Ding Dela Cruz who is afflicted with Lung Cancer. He came home from Vietnam where he works as a road engineer consultant, after doctors found that his cancer had spread to his brain and stomach. He is now undergoing Chemotherapy.
We felt that with his worsening condition, his expenses for medical tests, procedures and other fees would mount. The least we could do was to raise some money to tide him over. After all, the moto of the Long Riders is “walang iwanan” or nobody is left behind. Initially, some of us suggested to sound the call to our group and friends to ask for donations. In the course of our meetings, it was finally agreed to organise a Charity Ride for Ding, as a show of solidarity to a friend in need and also to raise funds for his medical expenses.
On October 1-2 the Charity Ride for Ding was held in Coto Zambales. It used to be a mining site for Chromium in Masinloc Zambales, which had ceased operations for many years now. The event took place in the recreation area called the Kidz Pool, near the Coto River. It was the perfect setting for an adventure camp and ride event!
To reach the camp grounds, you have to ride on rough and tricky roads for about an hour thru a 26 kilometre adventure trail! It was challenging both for the experienced riders and the newbies. All 40 or more riders tested their skills in the trails as they negotiated through the dips and ruts and uphills and downhills.
Some roared and blasted through the trails like mad max while some enjoyed the ride like sightseeing tourists. Others struggled and were thinking to themselves if it was even worth it to go on with such big heavy bikes. As they neared the site, it also started to rain hard making the roads more difficult to ride.
They came in batches. The fast ones, the easy riders and then the newbies. There were some spills and drops but none were seriously hurt, only bruised egos and confidence and small scratches on their bikes. All part of adventure riding to be sure.
And then there was the camp site. What a joy to see! It was like a scene in Yosemite! Beside a roaring river with crystal clear waters, with views of the mountain ranges, the Coto Camp site was simply enchanting. There are 10 cabins in all. They are old and run down, aged by time and idleness, but it is clean and cleared for the event. Many shared the rooms while the others chose set-up their tents for a true camping experience.
The event’s program was simple. Let’s ride to Coto, let’s camp, eat and drink to get together for a worthy cause. Many of the riders don’t even know Ding but the allure of joining to experience an adventure ride with the famed The Long Riders, all for charity was simply a good, inviting idea.
So there we were around 45 macho men ( except 2 ladies) on big bikes, banded together by the thought of adventure riding to help out a fellow rider. The event offered free food and flowing beer. The first thing we prepared for the riders was to chill the beer before they arrived!
Unknown to many, Ding and his son Harell arrived at the campsite late at night when most of us were already fast asleep. Against advise from friends, doctors and his family, he went to Coto to see for himself how the event turned out. He was taken aback as he arrived when he saw the outpour of participation from so many riders, most of whom he didn’t even know.
After breakfast the following day, we gathered by the camp grounds for some group picture taking. Ding took the opportunity to speak to the group and expressed his gratefulness for all the support and help. In his short speech, he first thanked the Long Riders and all the participants for this “very humbling activity”.
And then Ding continued to say “Kanina nag lakad-lakad nga ako dyan, maraming nagsasabi nakakatuwa kasi parang eye opener not only for the Long Riders but also for other groups that might encounter the same problem with a different member. Manalig lang sa Diyos at magkapit-kapit lang, palaging kapit-kapit lang. No problem is big eh, walang problemang lumalabas na malaki, maliit lang ang lahat ng problema. Basta naniniwala sa Panginoon at naniniwala sa lahat.”
(I was walking around earlier and many were saying like this is an eye-opener not only for the Long Riders but also for other groups that might encounter the same problem with a different member. Just have faith in God and hold-on to each other, always hold-on to each other. No problem is big, all problems are small. Just believe in God and each other.)
It was a fitting moment to cap the event, meeting Ding personally and hearing him first hand to express his gratitude to everyone.
Most people have this notion that big bikers are tough bad madmen who rule the highways, just like the Hell’s Angels or some bandit riders they see in the movies. Nothing is farther from that. The Charity Ride for Ding was another example of how big bikers are mostly gentlemen who love their bikes but not as much as they value humanity.
This one’s for Ding! Keep on riding!