BY RICKY MONTECILLO
January 19, 2021
One of the activities you can do during this General Community Quarantine is to go on motorcycle rides and enjoy the outdoors, away from the crowds and enclosed buildings.
Nature has a way of calming the nerves. Nothing beats feeling the breeze of fresh air as you ride your favorite big bike. For The Long Riders it does not matter wether you ride a Benelli, Royal Enfield, or KTM. Or wether you choose the biggest and baddest BMW GS 1200s and 1250s.
What matters is you enjoy the adventure, bond with the other riders and be happy for the weekend. What better stress buster is there?
Last week we rode and camped in the wilderness of Floridablanca, Pampanga. Some also came on 4×4 vehicles.
It was good to have some pick up trucks and SUVs with us. They had the space to load all those camping stuff like tents, coolers, comfy portable chairs and tables.
Sael, Ruel, Albert and their 4×4 group Team Sabik came prepared, with nice canopies, solar lights and long tables for camping.
We couldn’t have hauled all those provisions with our bikes. Riding on motorcycles, we only brought our basic camp gears, a few canned goods and whiskey.
Restie Renia brought us up to Barangay Nabuklod, the Aeta community where Ka Lita is one of its leaders. She calls Restie “Kapatad”, meaning brother in their dialect.
The barangay has grown ever since I first went there several years ago. The population has visibly multiplied and a lot of houses have sprung.
The community of Aetas is actually a resettlement place for the indigenous people of Floridablanca. They are sometimes called “kulot” because of their curly hair.
Floridablanca is just a short ride from Manila, especially now that the stage 3 of the Metro Manila Skyway has opened. Bye bye Edsa! We don’t have to suffer your heavy traffic every time we ride up north.
It only takes less than an hour to exit San Fernando and onto Floridablanca. We were composed of nine big motorcycles and another nine 4×4 vehicles.
We gathered first at Restie’s “kubo”, his home away from home. We had some coffee and bread before we started our adventure.
First stop, driving thru some dusty dirty roads up to Sitio Liplip, up in Porac where we dropped off some toys, clothes and other goodies for the Aetas.
As we started to arrive at the Barangay, we were met by throngs of Aeta children who were cheering and running towards our vehicles. (Reminds me of scenes from Africa).
It must have been a wonder to their innocent unspoiled eyes to see such big machines ridden by men in space suits.
The people there are poor. They live in utter poverty and squalor. Seeing them, being witness to their poor living conditions, it always hits me hard. It simply turns my stomach upside down.
Rodel Velasco, a TLR mainstay, once told me that whenever we encounter such poor communities, he gets the feeling of guilt. He said “ what we do is not enough, kulang.”
Gift giving and outreaches is The Long Riders’ humble way of charity. It gives meaning to our adventure riding. Actually, the feeling cuts both ways. In giving, we too feel happy.
Our next stop was supposed to be at Sapang Bayabas where we planned to setup camp beside the River. But upon reaching it, there were many other visitors and a bit crowded. So we decided to go up to Ka Lita’s.
It was late in the afternoon when we got there. The camping grounds is actually a local view deck where one can have views of the mountains and the city lights of Pampanga.
We set up camp and it was getting chilly. While waiting for our prized home grown lechon, we started with some cocktails and storytelling.
The weather was really cold. We wore our jackets and pants. Doc Von, who was not really planning to spend the night, had to make do with wearing a motorcycle back protector and some loose clothings to keep warm.
Well the scotch helped.
The guys brought lots of food and pica-pica. Joseph Tan came fully equipped and even had some pork liempo barbecued. Albert brought some good ole Ilocano pulutan and Raj had some Indian chicken masala.
The morning after was the real adventure. The challenge was wether big bikes and the TLR riders were going to conquer riding the rough dirt roads and several river crossings all the way to Sumuclab Lagoon where no other big bikers dare?
True enough, the dirt roads were challenging. We had to traverse seven river crossings, which were passable but tricky. The deepest water levels reached our engines.
(Oh by the way, Wern, Capt. Tin and I had it easy because we rode our trail Honda bikes.)
After challenging trails, we finally reached up to the last passable stop going to the Sumuclab Lagoon where no other foolish rider has gone! Another first for this crazy bunch of adventure riders.
As our prize for the difficult ride, we got to swim in the cool clean waters of Sumuclab Lagoon. We refreshed ourselves and enjoyed the river, washing away our weary bodies and horseplayed like grade schoolers.
Can’t wait for our next adventure. I hope this COVID-19 pandemic ends soon so we can ride longer and farther.