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My Biking 101 Diary

I’m learning how to ride a bike at 36. My 2nd attempt. The first one was like 8 years ago; the first BMX bought down the street of Iloilo City on the way home to Antique from a summer gig in Bacolod. I stopped deprived of the confidence that I could pedal the rough road of my village because I had to go back for work in the big city.

Now this is confidence and determination, for where to practice in Manila? I googled to verify the existence of a bike rental at the CCP grounds. Old news there so checked it out for myself and a guard told me it was phased out as early as 2004. Okay. How about the news of an MMDA sponsored bike lane along Roxas Boulevard? I walked the once-upon-a-time postcard perfect boulevard and stopped at Pedro Gil St. for there it is, my government effort on ‘bike sharing’ announced by its pink mobile car stationed in front of the fountain before the Malate Church. But nothing much there. But yes, a bike lane indeed, and so I have to learn how to bike now.

Before owning another bike.

Online research led me to Bambike EcoTours in Intramuros. I got excited. Its advocacy speaks for me.

So I went there one Sunday before noon. Cool place. I knew it.:) They were also nice and friendly. They accommodated my request to coach me and rent for practice.

Tried out a Japanese bamboo bike at Bambike Tours in Plaza San Luis, Intramuros.

Tried out a Japanese bamboo bike at Bambike Tours in Plaza San Luis, Intramuros.

Half an hour of learning how to balance and pedal and I got the confidence that I could make it! I knew right there and then that I have to buy my own bike already. Again. I could get lazy on weekends to go to Intramuros for practice. But with my own bike in tow, CCP is nearer, more spacious, and free.

Google said Cartimar in Pasay is one of the best places to buy a bike. I was greatly amused: 15 years in Manila and I’ve never been to Cartimar! Now the time has come that I have a reason to go there. I hopped into a Baclaran-bound jeepney one afternoon and entered the world called Cartimar.

What a fun it was! Before finding the row of bike shops, I enjoyed an authentic Japanese meal and bought packs of White Rabbit creamy candy in a Chinese grocery store. After the bike shops, I bought clay flower pots for my urban herbal garden alongside pet shops that I had also fun checking out. At Paulinas Bike Shop, I bought my first ever biking shorts. I asked for a folding bike – kid’s size – and was introduced to one, at a reasonable price, but thought it wise to come back another day.

My intuition proved me right. A few days after, I went out for my suki dress shop along Taft Avenue. A skirt has to be restitched. But my heart got broken. My suki dress shop is gone, and without a notice on the wall of its former building about its new location. I went for another suki. Fully booked, they pointed me to a dress shop at Singalong. By the stoplight, they said, you will not miss it.

I saw the dress shop. Talked to the old woman who also refused as she was feverish, and when I was about to feel sorry for myself, I had my serendipity-like moment that made me giggle I had to post a status update in my Facebook: there it was, standing on the other side of the street, a what looks like to be a decent bike shop.

I crossed the street. Bikes of different sizes that seemed to sparkle in my eyes at display. I talked to the owner, a handsome middle-age guy. Pricey, of course, and I just need a reliable bike for now for practice. A customized kick-ass bike designed for upgrade could wait.

This is what makes it a serendipitous afternoon: he pointed me to another bike shop one block away. A thrift shop actually: Japanese surplus, baby. Your neighborhood garage. Red open gate. I went in and talked to the two men busy with their tools. They struck me as decent skilled men; our good old neighbors in the province, your to-go guys. I felt comfortable right away. We exchanged pleasantries, and accent being indicator of one’s ethnolinguistic affiliation, what a comfort to know we are kababayan.

That was a ‘this is it!’ moment.

For a good price, two days later, I got my first Japanese folding bike. I named her Sakura.

Manong Yumi of the Singalong bike shop fixing Sakura.

Manong Yumi of the Singalong bike shop fixing Sakura.

She is now parked in my unit. Soon, she will bring me to my goal.

Sakura, my first Japanese folding bike.

Sakura, my first Japanese folding bike.


Apply now! 13th San Agustin Writers Workshop

Via Email from
Fray Luis de Leon Creative Writing Institute
c/o Graduate School
University of San Agustin
General Luna Street
Iloilo City, Philippines 5000


13th San Agustin Writers Workshop set

THE Fray Luis de Leon Creative Writing Institute of the University of San Agustin (USA) is now accepting applications for writing fellowships to the 13th San Agustin Writers Workshop which will be held on May 11-13, 2015 at the USA President’s Conference Room, Iloilo City.

Ten fellowships are open to creative writers in and from Western Visayas who are willing to learn more about the craft of writing from panelists led by award-winning writers and teachers Leoncio P. Deriada, Isidoro M. Cruz, Alice Tan Gonzales, and Erwin Sustento. The workshop director is the award-winning writer John Iremil E. Teodoro.

Interested applicants must submit the following: (a) application letter stating that the literary writings submitted are the original works of the applicant ; (b) letter of recommendation from any faculty member of their school or any established writer in the region; (c) bio-data with one 2” x 2” colored picture, and contact details (landline/cellphone/e-mail address); (d) for minors, a letter of consent from parent/ guardian; and (e) printout of five poems, or two short stories, or two one-act plays, in Aklanon, Hiligaynon, Kinaray-a, Filipino, or English, in 8 ½” x 11” bond paper, in Arial or Times New Roman, double-spaced; and (f) e-mail attachment of the same creative works, sent to the workshop director at , cc:

The theme of this year’s manuscripts will be Panay dark mythological creatures like the aswang, maranhig, tayhu, and many other beings in West Visayan lore, in celebration of the 13th year of existence of the workshop.

The fellowships cover free board and lodging in Iloilo City during the workshop, plus a modest transportation allowance for fellows who are based in Western Visayas. Fellows from other regions are advised to look for their own travel funding.

The deadline for applications is on April 6, 2015. The names of the ten fellows will be announced on April 15, 2015. They will be informed by e-mail by the workshop director.

Please send complete applications in a brown envelope to:
Dr. Isidoro M. Cruz, Dean, Graduate School, University of San Agustin, General Luna Street, Iloilo City 5000.

For more information, please contact Ms. Tonya Perales (Graduate School secretary) at telephone number (033-3374841 local 241) or Dr. Cruz at local 164.