humans and their bicycles*

This ongoing project is an attempt to come up with a series of (street) portraits of men and women with their bicycles. I think it is largely because of my father why I developed a sense of admiration for people who ride their bicycles to work or any other destinations even when the option of driving a private vehicle or using public transportation is available. When he was younger, Tatay (Father) used his BMX bicycle when going to work, the market or the hardware. With the help of my grandfather, he also made a saddle that would mount on the frame of the bike and on which his children could sit and therefore ride in tandem with him. In addition to this, there’s also Vittorio de Sica’s “Bicycle Thieves,“ which is simply brilliant filmmaking and remarkable, convincing and incendiary in terms of its depiction of the bicycle’s proletarian tradition. I want my child to see the film at least once in the hope that it will inspire her to stand in solidarity with the working class and continue riding the bicycle for as long as her legs and reflexes would allow it. This is somehow also my small contribution to the campaign to promote cycling not just as a form of work out or exercise but a viable and environment-friendly mode of transportation.

*Another inspiration for this work is Brandon Stanton’s remarkable project called Humans of New York.

_MG_8466This is me and my bicycle as photographed by my wife.

_MG_9124[1]Rey is a co-worker here in the university. He also uses his bike to bring his child to school on days without rain. Here is a photo of Rey and his daughter.

_MG_9129[1]I frequently see Eric passing by the University during afternoons. I was instantly smitten by his fixie, which is damn gorgeous in black and silver.

_MG_9133[1]Dodong is a co-worker here in the university. He said that the bike previously belonged to a co-worker who spent 15 years with it before selling it to him.

_MG_9178[1]Bert works as a security guard and has been riding a bicycle to work for the last 15 years. He jokingly told me that sometimes he cares more about his bicycle than his wife. “Di ako mapakali kahit preno lang ang sira (I become terribly bothered even when only the brakes are broken),” added he.

_MG_9185Jimlon pedals his BMX from Tumana in Marikina to Quezon Avenue everyday, rain or shine. We instantly hit it off as he noticed that I am also using coaster brakes on my bicycle and we exchanged notes. I noticed that the handle bar grips of his bicycle were custom made from PVC pipes. The edges were cut in such a way that they form spikes/studs.

_MG_9193Colleen is a sophomore at the College of Engineering. She told me she began riding the bike to her classes from her dorm at the start of the semester. She was on her way to an early morning Physics class when I saw her riding her bike. Albert Einstein who is a Physicist reportedly shared that he discovered the theory of relativity while riding a bicycle.

_MG_9199[1]Jun works in a shop specializing in the production of metal trusses for windows, roofs, etc. That can partly explain how he was able to custom design his bicycle that looks like a motorcycle, body kit and all. The headlight also works, by the way. “Hybrid” of motorcycle aesthetics powered by bicycle engineering.

_MG_9201Charlie and I used to work in the same College until he was transferred to another unit in the university.

_MG_9295Dennis works as a messenger. In his bag are credit card bills delivered to offices in Quezon City. He is a member of Cycling Advocates (CYCAD). We share the view that some motorists are acting like jerks towards bike riders (sometimes) and should be educated with the truth that what they “own is a car and not the road.”

_MG_9445William earns a living by distributing/selling retail packed goods like garlic, pepper, tawas, etc. to sari-sari (retail) stores. In the course of our brief conversation, I learned that his son recently graduated from the UP College of Education and is now teaching in High School.

_MG_9791Ethel is an occupational therapist by profession. She goes to her patients riding her folding bicycle. She is a member of the UP Mountaineers and an organization of folding bike users and advocates ingeniously called Tiklop Society. “Tiklop” translates to “fold” in English.

perryMang Perry’s love affair with his bicycle is as old as his venture into the business of photography, which he mainly practices in the compound of the Parish of the Holy Sacrifice in UP Diliman. He played an important role in the UP community by taking photographs of families attending mass and schoolchildren participating in various activities of the kindergarten run by the parish. This was back in the day when personal cameras were hard to come by and selfies and camwhoring were unheard of; back in the day when it normally required another person to take a person’s photograph and images captured by the camera were not easily and immediately available for viewing. He still dresses the same way he did during my childhood and adolescent years in Diliman in the 80s and 90s: dark glasses (which he can be seen wearing even at dusk and on cloudy days), polo shirt tucked in khaki or corduroy pants, leather shoes, and a hat.



  1. Virgil T. Morant · August 12, 2013

    As one who did not get a driver’s license until the age of twenty-two and therefore commuted by bicycle, I especially love this post. And Bicycle Thieves is indeed a very good movie.

  2. elmer · February 19, 2014

    I wonder if Figuracion, the bike shop just outside UP, still exists

    • sakukongliwanag · February 19, 2014

      wow. kilala niyo si mang pigo (short for figuracion). sarado na po yung shop. last I heard he got sick and had to move another home. we actually got our first bikes from him. kumpare ni erpats. hehe

      • elmer · February 19, 2014

        Ganumba. Alamat na rin un. Jan ako lumaki kasi. Sa Weather Bureau

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