Motorcycle adventures: Jay having a joy ride

JP Mitog - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - They say that four wheels move the body but two wheels move the soul — all a person need to do is ride.  

And ride is definitely what the Peabody award-winning journalist and motorcycle enthusiast Jay Taruc did.

For Jay, his fascination with motorcycles began when as a kid, he grew up watching the heroic exploits of bike-riding Steve Armstrong, the ace pilot in the Japanese animé Voltes V.

And then, there’s Evel Knievil — the death-defying adventurer whose amazing airborne motorcycle stunts earned him worldwide fame during the ‘70s.

Later on, Jay realized how icons like James Dean, Marlon Brando, Elvis Presley and even Peter Fonda never looked as good as they did riding a motorcycle.

“I think it’s really cool! Every time I see motorcycle-riding dudes in our neighborhood in Pasig, I would really run out of the house to watch them drive by,” Jay enthuses.   

The endless twists and turns of the road are indeed what riding a motorcycle is all about. For Jay, nothing can beat the feeling of being one with the machine.

“Not everyone would dare ride a machine to far-off places, exposed to all the elements, with nothing but a strapped helmet and a jacket. I guess the fulfillment comes from not a lot of people would do it because only a few are crazy enough to ride a bike,” Jay says laughing.

To be sure, the sense of freedom that comes with riding a bike is something only a true biker can understand. “Motorcycles are unmatched when it comes to the excitement it gives when traveling. It’s probably close to flying, on a very low altitude, exposed to the elements: Wind, rain, dirt, sun and a great view of where you are going to,” Jay shares. “It’s just different (as opposed to) riding in a metal cage, or a safety metal box going to places,” Jay adds.

Today, Jay considers his first ride his most memorable one. “They say you never forget about your first ride on a bike. My first long ride was from Manila to Negros. After shipping our bikes from Manila to Bacolod, we traveled on our bikes to Dumaguete breezing through a 200-kilometer trip, under a scorching sun, driving by a coastal highway. The panoramic view of the ocean was breathtaking, while doing 100 to 120 kilometers per hour!”  

Being part of Haruroot MC, a club for motorcycle aficionados based in Caloocan, further ignites Jay’s ardent love for the two-wheeled mean machine. “We would ride to as far as Sagada in the North. And ride to Davao or GenSan in the South. I attended our Saturday meetings where we exchange stories about riding and other motorcycle-related stuffs. I would also participate in local motorcycle conventions.” And Jay even had the club’s insignia tattooed on his arm to prove just how much love he has for motorcycles.

Nowadays, Jay can be seen cruising on his Harley Davidson Sportster 883 R. “It’s a cafe racer that I ride to work on a weekly basis, depending on the weather. I used to have three bikes: A Japanese cruiser and a Vespa scooter.” 

Son to renowned radio broadcaster Joe Taruc, Jay shares he got his sense of adventure from his father. “I grew up being aware of my dad’s profession as radio reporter and broadcaster. I learned a lot and was influenced by my dad in different risk-taking situations,” Jay says.

For Jay, his dad can very well be the major force in his career as a broadcaster. “I grew up listening to news radio, as a child. The radio was always tuned in to my dad’s station,” Jay explains. “He has such a wealth of experience in media that I always draw inspiration from. My dad has invested so much integrity in what he does, the minute people come to know I am his eldest son and I’m also in media, the respect is there already.” 

Today, Jay says he feels utterly blessed for having the chance to do two of the things he feels most passionate about — riding his motorcycle to far-flung places to collect stories of people and lives that speak volume for his documentaries. “We usually film our best stories in remote barangays, where motorcycles or horses are the only modes of transportation are used. So, the challenge of reaching our interviewees in the mountains can really be back breaking.”

And although his dream of becoming a rock star did not come to play, the adventurer nonetheless had the better end of the deal. Jay’s many exploits from the deepest corners of the country led to his numerous awards including one from the internationally-renowned George Foster Peabody award and a recent nomination in another distinguished award-giving body, the New York Festival for his I-Witness episode dubbed Lapnos. 

For Jay, riding the motorcycle can very well be a way of life in itself that taught him some of life’s most valuable lessons: “I learned to enjoy the trip more, rather than the destination itself. And in life as with motorcycles, you have to expect the unexpected.”

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