It was one of those plans that just randomly pushed through. Last Saturday (August 19, 2017), my friends and I participated in the Bambike EcoTour in Intramuros, where we toured around the walled city in bikes made out of actual bamboo.
We weren’t able to get in the full tour earlier in the day so we opted for the 5PM sunset tour instead. Luckily, the weather wasn’t so hot and the rains stopped right when the tour was ongoing. The 5PM tour was an express one, only lasting for an hour and visiting 3-4 spots inside Intramuros. This tour is best for Filipinos who already have a good sense of the walled city’s and the country’s stories and would just like to revisit the past for a short while.
But first, all about Bambike
Bambike is a socio-ecological enterprise focusing on the construction of bikes made out of locally grown high-grade bamboo. This was started back in 2007 by Fil-Am Brian McClelland while looking for a way to help his Gawad Kalinga sector in Victoria, Tarlac. The frames of the bikes are manufactured locally, giving employment opportunities to the residents of Gawad Kalinga Victoria.
Today, Bambike thrives from its sales both locally and abroad. Part of how much they raise would be given to the Gawad Kalinga sector to improve livelihood by supporting the school and giving allowances to the teachers. Excess bamboo were even reutilized to form a small park where the children could safely play.
Part of the sales of their ecotours will also benefit the people in Gawad Kalinga Victoria. This is why we opted for this tour, seeing that it’s really focused on improving the lives of others and ensuring fare trade inside the Philippines. We hope for more social enterprises like these in the future!
The tour started at 5pm at their headquarters inside Intramuros. We were headed by our tour guide Alyanna, and another Bambike employee for first aid and traffic help! We all chose our bamboo bikes and surprisingly all of them were super light! You can even carry a bike with one hand.
We visited places like Plaza San Luis and Manila Cathedral, pedalled through cobblestone streets, and walked right on top of the Intramuros wall. Alyanna, our tour guide, gave tidbits of information regarding the places we were in and it was a great refresher on Philippine history!
Even for a Filipino with substantial knowledge regarding Philippine history, this express tour still encouraged me to take the full 2-hour tour in the future.
There are Bambike EcoTours in BGC and Poblacion as well, if you’ve been in Intramuros so many times already! Schedules and rates are on their website.