'Bikeyanihan' campaign benefits workers walking long distances

A fundraising campaign launched by De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde (CSB) alumni aims to provide bicycles for Filipino workers walking long distances to work as a result of limited transportation due to restrictions imposed to control the spread the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Gwendolyn, a Las Piñas City Hall street sweeper, used to walk an average of two hours daily (Photo courtesy of Bikeyanihan)

Two of the project's founders, Nikki Angeles and Yvette Cruz, told Manila Bulletin that Bikeyanihan started because their group wanted to help people keep going and reach their destinations despite the challenges of this pandemic.

Bikeyanihan is a portmanteau of "bike" and "bayanihan," which loosely translates to lend a helping hand. The project started on June 9.

"The bike fundraising was supposed to be within the group only, but since we work in the marketing industry, we decided to brand it and open its doors to the public so we can help more people," Cruz said.

She added that they design their own graphics and marketing materials and conduct weekly Zoom meetings to make sure that operations of Bikeyanihan go smoothly.

Among the other members of the group are Marley Alconera, Leslie Dy, Erika De Castro, Joni De Guzman, Nicole Dyogi, JP Anonuevo, and Marge Abordo.

Inspired by 'Tatay Carlo'

Alconera said Bikeyanihan was inspired by 87-year old candy vendor Carlo Samonte who used to walk from Pasay to Makati everyday because of the limited mode of transportation.

"Tatay Carlo" had been frequenting a bike shop in Pasay City owned by Fe Carandang, hoping to persuade Carandang to sell him a P4,800 bike at P2,000. Carandang eventually gave Tatay Carlo the bike for free.

"I shared this with my friends and we knew that there are more Filipinos like him who are enduring the long hours of walking just to provide for their families. We believe that there was some way we can make a difference and empower them, one bicycle at a time," she added.

People can nominate a Bikeyanihan beneficiary by messaging the project's Facebook page or Instagram page along with their referred Filipino worker's story and reasons why he/she deserves to be given a bike.

Aside from donating BMX bikes, the group is also giving out helmets and reflectors to their beneficiaries with the help of their partner groups Happy Helmet Project, a group that aims to ensure the safety of every biker and Kita Ka, a nonprofit advocate of bicycling as an environment-friendly mode of transportation.

As of July 6, Bikeyanihan has given out 15 bikes and raised a total amount of P133,538.