Friends bike 1000km to share lessons with typhoon victims
MANILA, Philippines – While Christmas music, bright lights, and holiday sales flooded the Philippines, graphic designer and Bike Scouts Philippines founder Myles Delfin and his friend Kevin Soler decided to visit typhoon-affected areas to give them gifts and talk about disaster preparation.
And to get there, they rode their bikes for 1000 km.
Thus began a series of encounters which Delfin wrote about in a series of stories published on X titled “The Last Sixty Days.”
Delfin and Soler left Manila on November 20, and traveled to Ormoc, Leyte. They rode along the Pan-Philippine Highway, making stops along the route to rest or talk to local residents.
With bags filled with spare parts, necessities, candies for kids, basic medicine, and vitamins, the two friends began a journey Delfin described as “half noble idea and half quixotic adventure.”
Delfin and Soler’s mission was not just to deliver gifts. They were also trying to educate people about disasters.
“We are, after all, volunteer bicycle messengers, and this time our message was about the need to be ready for the effects of climate change and how big words like that translate to the simplest need of people who live in faraway places,” Delfin said.
Past lessons for future events
Along the way, Delfin and Soler also listened to these people’s stories. They talked to ordinary citizens to gauge their awareness of disaster preparation.
What they found was a story all too familiar in a country where storms are frequent. “People have gotten used to storms coming every year that they think every storm will be no different,” Delfin said.
Filipino resilience, which has served the people in the face of past disasters, has also prevented them from adapting to the new threats. For Delfin, the effects of climate change have shown some people that “it’s no longer just a matter of waiting things out.”
“People in vulnerable areas have very good instincts for survival but they need an update in knowledge regarding the new normal when it comes to extreme weather,” Delfin added.
Delfin’s experience in Bike Scouts have shown him the harm of being left unprepared for storms. The group, founded in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda, “gathered survivor data and collected personal messages from survivors.” Recently, the group visited Oriental Mindoro and saw the effects of Typhoon Nona. (READ: Bike scouts: An eyewitness account of Mindoro after #NonaPH)
Throughout the trip, Delfin gained a new perspective on typhoon preparedness. “Disasters are human-impact events that should be approached from a human perspective: dignity, safety, and immediate access to communication, information, and basic services,” he explained.
Stories and experiences
As Delfin and Soler made their way along their route, they were also able to hear the personal stories of different people.
Delfin said he had no particular favorite among the stories. Instead, what struck him was experiencing “the overall goodness of people.”
“You might call it an escape, but it's not. It was an inward journey as it was an external voyage at sea, on land, and in all the places where we met happy children and hopeful people,” Delfin wrote of the experience.
In the fourth part of the series, Delfin recounted a story of a woman at an eatery who shared her life story in the time it took him to finish his meal.
Earlier in the trip, a tricycle driver offered to share his small home with the two friends so they could rest for the night. The bikers, however, found they would not be able to fit, so they had to refuse the offer.
Each stop Delfin and Soler made along the way was in a place that, in some form or another, experienced natural disasters. The stories they shared and the kindness they showed the bikers put a human face to dealing with the effects of these disasters. – Rappler.com
To learn more about Myles and Kevin’s trip, you can read Part 1 here: The Last Sixty Days (Part 1)
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