Name: Aldrin Pelicano
City: Manila, Philippines
Occupation: Program Manager
Bike: Folding bikes – a Brompton and a Tern Link D8
One-Way Commute: 8 miles (13 km)
Four years ago, Aldrin Pelicano commuted to work like many other people in Manila: by car or public transit. He would catch a jeepney, a culturally iconic (yet overcrowded and slow) form of public transit, and make the 2.5 miles (4 km) commute to work over the course of an entire hour.
“The experience was excruciating,” he recounts. “What always stood out was the congestion on my route; there are just too many motor vehicles everywhere.”
Although he was initially concerned about his riding skillset and his confidence among the motor vehicles on Manila’s notoriously crowded city streets, eventually the desire to be free from traffic overcame his fears, and he gave bike commuting a try. He hasn’t looked back.
“It has made me more awake and sharp in the mornings. Riding my bike has really helped me get warmed up for the tasks ahead for the day.”
Today, Aldrin’s commute is longer: 8 miles (13 km) in either direction to his work as at Cardno, where he manages an Australian-supported aid program aiming to improve the Philippines’ basic education sector. Although the ride is mostly flat, it passes through densely populated areas of two cities (Metro Manila is composed of 16 cities) and is largely mixed in with motor vehicle traffic.
Riding either one of his two folding bikes, Aldrin admits he’s had some uncomfortable run-ins with drivers. “It is when people driving motor vehicles choose to ignore your presence to the extent of harming you,” that can make the commute difficult, as well as what he describes as the “deplorable conditions and design of our roads here in the Philippines.”
But despite the obstacles, Aldrin is pressing on with bike commuting, citing the freedom to control your own schedule and the time saved by avoiding traffic. Not to mention the physical and psychological benefits of regular exercise.
“It has made me more awake and sharp in the mornings. My work starts at 7 am (Manila is 2-3 hours behind my colleagues in Melbourne whom I directly work with as part of a larger team) so riding my bike has really helped me get going or warmed up for the tasks ahead for the day,” he explains. “And it is also the same case going home. After a tiring day, I get a kind of ‘second wind’ as I pedal home because you need to have energy and focus on the road. I get to have that time to think and process what happened during the day while on the saddle.”
In addition to his work with Cardno, Aldrin runs a Facebook page and blog called mnl moves, where he shares media and write-ups from his experiences as a bike commuter in Manila, as well as profiles of other riders he meets along his route. In a city where many people would not even consider bike commuting because of the road conditions and traffic, Aldrin’s work with mnl moves is critical to shifting public opinion about cycling and encouraging others to examine the impact of their commute. He says one of the most amusing parts about his own experiences cycling is when people approach him on the street because they recognize him from the Facebook page.
Despite the poor road conditions and the occasional careless driver, Aldrin is committed to his life as a bike commuter. Both for practical reasons and for reasons more philosophical in nature. “There are so many details in our surroundings that get lost when we are inside motor vehicles. Perhaps it is the speed but when I am on my bicycle, your senses are more awakened/aroused/stimulated (because you need to be safe); and while you think you are slower, you actually get to your destination faster,” he says. “It’s almost a contradiction in itself but the experience is just all around positive and enjoyable.”
We are extremely excited to welcome Aldrin to the Two Wheel Gear Ambassador team. Aldrin represents everything we applaud and try to promote with our brand. Follow Aldrin’s mission on his Facebook page or Instagram profile.