Ride Around Manila with Bambike Ecotours
If you and your friends are looking for something new to try, join Bambike Ecotours as they ride around Intramuros on a bamboo bike. It is a great way to explore the city, learn more about our history, and help support the livelihood of a Gawad Kalinga community in Tarlac.
For PHP 1,200 per head, you get to go on a 2.5 hour tour visiting ten locations including Plaza San Luis Complex, Puerta Real, Aduana, Maeztranza, and Puerta del Parain. Have you even heard of these places before? I honestly haven’t. This just shows how Bambike Ecotours can be a historic adventure you’ll never forget. It is also a great way to tour balikbayans or any foreigner friends one might have. Bambike Ecotours offers a different tour experience since you don’t just sit in a car and wait to get to your destination. You actually get to participate (and even burn calories along the way).
Bambuilders of Victoria, Tarlac
More than just offering tours around the metro, Bambike Ecotours makes use of bikes that are built by bamboo bike builders (Bambuilders) from Gawad Kalinga (GK), a Philippine-based community development organization working to bring an end to poverty. Many workers from rural areas are day laborers, driving pedicabs, welding, farming and doing other odd jobs. While GK provides the housing and infrastructure, Bambike provides full and part-time jobs with benefits, as well as reinvests in the community through a number of programs. “Currently, we sponsor the school teacher as well as a feeding program for the students. A bamboo playground and hand-washing station has also been built, encouraging safe play as well as good hygiene. We are creating a school supply and scholarship program. Improving the water and sanitation issues are projects that are in the pipeline. And a bamboo nursery program is in place to ensure a sustainable supply of raw materials. Bambike is investing in the future.” (source: http://bambike.com/faq)
“Bambike is a company that is interested in helping out people and the planet, dedicated to social and environmental stewardship. Our goal is to do better business and to make the greenest bikes on the planet. Bambike Revolution Cycles: People-Planet-Progress.“ (source: http://bambike.com/company) Bambike founder Bryan Mclelland believes that by investing in communities (People) and producing bikes through sustainable manufacturing (Planet), we can develop a new green economy through ecotourism and environmental product development (Progress).
Bambike founder Bryan Mclelland with children from the GK community
Mclelland built his first bike in 2009, and for some time, that was it. He had an idea, but he struggled to execute it due to the language barrier between him and the local community. Aside from that, there was also an unreliable supply of bamboo, and finding the right type for the specifications of the bike wasn’t easy. Mclelland had to research the different species of Philippine bamboo of which there are at least seventy and the different methods of treatment for bamboo. “Bamboo is a pretty incredible material. In the plant kingdom, it grows really rapidly and absorbs tons of carbon dioxide, so from that perspective, it is a very renewable resource. In a performance level, it has the natural characteristics of natural vibration dampening pole structures which really absorb the road chatter and road buzz and make for a super smooth ride,” said Mclelland on his interview for Voice of America in 2013 (source: https://youtu.be/kXtKwarSq6c)
Mclelland with Bambuilders, Luntian 2.0, and Bambino (for kids)
Bambuilders work approximately 50 hours to build one Bambike frame
Today, the Bambuilders work full-time at the Bambike workshop in Victoria, Tarlac. There, they cut, treat, and process the material into specialized bike frames. Bambike offers numerous bicycle models which are used for bike rentals, purchase, and the ecotours. They can also build custom bikes depending on the client’s specifications. Bambikes are not cheap as their prices start at PHP 15,000, but you’ll be buying them knowing that these world-class bamboo bicycles keep jobs for people in the rural areas so the workers can stay with their families and have gainful employment at the same time.
The Bamboo Beach Cruiser – Ligtasin Cove
Mclelland is also working on building bamboo nurseries due to the limited supply. He is advocating for a natural greening program where bamboo is a large focus, because there are really so many things we can do with bamboo – its use is not just limited to bahay kubo – and Bambike proves just that. Slowly, the perception for bamboo and bikes are changing, and people are learning to appreciate the material more, especially for its strength and resilience. Using natural bamboo and abaca materials, and bonding them with aircraft-grand alloys, Bambike is able to form one-of-a-kind functional works of art.
Learn more about the walled city of Manila or explore the impressive paintings from ArtBGC’s Mural Festival for only PHP 1,200 per person with Bambike Ecotours. Visit their website at bambike.com for more details.
Bambike Ecotours and Shop
Plaza San Luis Complex, Real St. cor. General Luna St., Intramuros Manila 1002 Philippines. +632-525-8289. Open 9am to 6pm Tuesdays to Sundays. All photos courtesy of Bambike’s website and Facebook page