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How celebrity riders are helping boost local tourism
JV Ejercito is currently helping Department of Tourism’s ‘Moto Tourism’—a campaign aimed at promoting local travels given our poor economic climate at present.
JV Ejercito’s Instagram account

How celebrity riders are helping boost local tourism

BROAD CAST - Jing Castañeda (Philstar.com) - June 7, 2021 - 8:41am

MANILA, Philippines — As it involves mingling together and often with strangers, tourism has been one of many industries easily crippled due to the pandemic. Just when traveling has become almost a necessity among millennials, the business sorely declined with governments imposing bans here and there to limit more contact. In a United Nations World Tourism Organization report last January, international arrivals across the world dropped from 1.461 billion in 2019 to around 381 million in 2020. An estimated loss of $1.3 trillion in global export revenues also followed as a lowlight.

The numbers alone could never fully illustrate all the other losses brought about by the crisis. From losing jobs to lives down to even our own sanity, COVID-19 has affected us exponentially. Yet without disregarding the need for accountability and immediate action, one good thing to have happened to us these hard times might just be the discovery (or rediscovery) of a skill, a hobby, a passion project. For me, while it could still be work-related, it was to finally launch my own digital platform, Tita Jing Online, in the middle of the pandemic. It was something I would have never imagined doing as a busy journalist out everyday for fieldwork.

It could also be baking or painting for some. But for some gentlemen, it could be something a little more adventurous and nerve-wracking like riding motorbikes.

The hobby — also guised as a necessity — increased in popularity across Europe and Asia during the pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported. Last year’s power sports sales in the US were “better than they’d been” in the past three years, a Motorcycle Industry Council report also said.

Locally, the idea of catching the virus in a cramped car plus the usual metro traffic nightmare has almost become an excuse for some of our big boys to instead saddle up these two-wheeled toys. Suddenly, for these gentlemen, the idea of “traveling” became something to look forward to again.

Riding has especially tickled the wanderlust of many celebrities including political figure JV Ejercito and basketball players LA Tenorio and KG Canaleta. In our recent online discussion
in our “Pamilya Talk” episode, the three proud dads-turned-new-bikers shared with us how they got into the hobby—and how they’ve used it to advocate domestic tourism over time.

Goodbye, four-wheels

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by LA Tenorio (@la_tenorio)

 

Former senator JV met PBA hotshots LA and KG in Club 9T, a biker’s club so called for the BMW R nineT model the members have as a ride. JV and KG have been into the sport for some years now, while LA has only started riding just before the pandemic.

While they discovered riding on different occasions, they stayed on because of just one simple reason: It relaxed them. The actual ride, the picturesque destination, the good food discovered while getting to that picturesque destination, the brotherhood developed along the way — riding was literally an easy-breezy way to escape their busy work week.

“Iba yung nag-mo-motor ka ng two wheels compared to a car. Every ride is an adventure! You feel the wind. You can appreciate the surroundings more. Tsaka yung adrenaline rush—kumpleto!” JV excitedly said. “Outlet namin ito outside of our profession kung saan kami nakaka-release ng stress at nakaka-relax.”

“May halong takot at kaba, pero to be honest kung nakasakay ka na, parang di mo na iisipin kasi nag-e-enjoy ka,” KG seconded.

Riding has since become their lifestyle. Suddenly, JV, LA, and KG would be among those geared up men swarming around gas stations on NLEX or SLEX on a Sunday morning preparing for a weekend ride. At Club 9T, JV, LA, and KG would meet up once every quarter and travel as a group to relatively nearby places like Tagaytay and Batangas. Outside Club 9T, they also belonged to other riding communities—compared to, say, fraternities, biker clubs need not be exclusive. The more JV, LA, and KG rode, the more fellow enthusiasts they got to meet. For them, befriending people from different ages and walks of life made their newfound hobby all the more exciting.

LA, who is also part of PBA Moto-Club with fellow cagers Mark Caguioa, James Yap, and JC Intal, could only add: “Maganda rin na may iba kang kakilala rin at mag-se-share-an ng iba-ibang experience. Para mag-iba din ang tema ng pag-iisip namin.”

 

 

Safety talk

With hobbyists like JV, LA, and KG posting their thrill-packed adventures online only to further help popularize riding, one might have felt the need to ask questions surrounding its safety. The three gents say riding does come with obvious risks—but then again, the same goes with all other sports.

But a relief, JV says, is how technology has made the hobby relatively safer now than before. For example, among others, the EBS Electronic Braking System in bikes has been updated to help in the stability and the manoeuvrability. Some helmets, too, now come with a unique communications system connecting everyone on a route easily for directions and other instructions—like a walkie-talkie.

JV emphasizes how the communication system has also made every experience not just safe but also, again, relaxing. “We talk to each other, we communicate constantly, warning each other of the hazards, kung may tumatawid o may makakasalubong.” He then added with a laugh, “Nagkukwentuhan kami about our different lives. Pag long ride, nakaka-bore din. So minsan pati chismis, napag-uusapan nyo sa haba ng ride!”

All these things follow the principles of what JV, LA, KG, and other hobbyists call as “defensive riding.” The gents all rally behind it to help decrease any more motorcycle-related accidents, which saw a 3.5% increase in Manila from 221 (2019) to 229 (2020)

Talking to those curious to explore the hobby, JV, LA, and KG all recommend equipping oneself not just with a full gear—but also with the right knowledge. Riding schools courtesy of BMW, Ducati, and Honda might just help introduce one with the proper techniques, they say.

“Kaya yun din ang importance of riding with someone kasi maiiwasan mo yung mga (accidents),” stressed LA, calling himself a “rookie” in the sport. “Of course, lagi ring magdarasal.”

“Bago mo papormahin motor mo, mag-invest ka muna sa sarili mo—yung mga suot na gear at helmet. Tsaka mo na pormahan motor mo,” KG added.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Kg Canaleta (@kg_canaleta)

 

Based on experience, JV, LA, and KG all maintain the growing interest in the riding sport in the country—including Filipinas even forming their own biker clubs.

Supporting ‘Moto Tourismo PH’

Riding has especially tickled the wanderlust of many celebrities including political figure JV Ejercito and basketball players LA Tenorio and KG Canaleta. In our recent online discussion in our “Pamilya Talk” episode, the three proud dads-turned-new-bikers shared with us how they got into the hobby—and how they’ve used it to advocate domestic tourism over time.

 

JV, LA, and KG aren’t just the only local personalities going places on a motorbike. A quick search online leads to the likes of Jericho Rosales, Raymart Santiago, and Kim Atienza also rocking biker gear while perched on some elevated spot somewhere. Just last May, Dominic Roque piloted his vlog with a tell-all about his riding journey. The vlog was shot using what seemed to be a GoPro to help visually capture the experience.

Yet, for some of these celebs, riding as a hobby isn’t just limited for the ‘Gram. JV, for one, is using his influence in boosting Philippine tourism through riding. Since late last year, the former lawmaker has taken part in the Tourism Promotions Board’s “Moto Tourismo”—a campaign aimed at promoting local travels given the poor economic climate at present. Last May, he launched his vlog “The Good Ones” (from his 2019 reelection slogan “The Good One”) that documents his riding adventures a la magazine show.

“It’s about anything good in the country—good views, good vibes, good food!” JV explained. “Kaming mga riders, alam na namin ang mga magagandang lugar. Alam namin ang masasarap na kainan. We will share  (online) yung mga discoveries namin, mga hidden treasures na di alam na lugar pero ang gaganda pala. Para pag makita ng iba, pupuntahan.”

The Good Ones has brought JV to as far as Villa Vitalis in Santiago, Ilocos Sur and Ambuklao Dam in Benguet. Yet, that one episode he considers his most memorable so far would be the one shot in the BenCab Museum tour in Baguio as National Artist BenCab himself joined him on the vlog!

LA has also relied on vlogging to take part in the same cause. Together with actors and fellow Batangueño riders Zanjoe Marudo and Yubs Azarcon on their vlog D’LaZY Road Trip, LA shares his riding adventures while showing places worthy of further discovery.

“Ang ganda ng Pilipinas! Dun namin na-realize talaga. Dati pag off-season ng PBA, iisipin naming mangibang bansa. Now with this vlog, dun namin na-realize na you don’t have to go somewhere else para makapag-relax at makakita ng magandang tanawin,” LA enthused.

JV, who once thought riding through Australian paths was already the dream fulfilled, would second. “In every crisis, there’s an opportunity. (The travel ban is) an opportunity for us to rediscover the Philippines. Ang ganda ng Pilipinas! You just have to go out!”
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Please watch "Pamilya Talk" on Facebook, YouTube, and Kumu (@JingCastaneda – 5:30-7:00pm Monday, Tuesday & Wednesday). Please share your stories or suggest topics at jingcastaneda21@gmail.com. You can also follow and send your comments via my social media accounts:  Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and Kumu.

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