Over the next few weeks I hope to share with you a personal view of one of Bikes for the World's latest partners Bikes for the Philippines. BfP was born from the dream of one man who was inspired by many. That man, Joel Uichico, ran a buggy tour through the rustic roads of Baclayon, the very town now peppered with the unmistakable green helmets of BfP beneficiaries. He noticed some of these same children walking great distances to school over steep, rocky, muddy roads, often without shoes.
Joel approached his cousin Jo Grant, who lived in the United States, to see if she could help get donated bikes for these children of Baclayon. Joel found that students were dropping out of school because of the distances between their homes and schools. His hope was to give these students bikes from the United States to help keep them in school.
Meanwhile, local cyclist Joel Esguerra had similar dreams. Independently of Uichico and Grant, Esguerra approached BfW, with the same hope of bringing bikes to the children of the Philippines. The three of them got together in the spring of 2011 at a BfW collection managed by Esguerra and sponsored by his company, Gensler.
Uichico returned to the Philippines dedicated and inspired that BfP would soon be receiving their first shipment of bikes from BfW. He began the process of identifying beneficiaries by interviewing families who lived 3-5km (that's up to 3 miles!) from school. Throughout this interview process, Uichico noted one common theme between all potential bike beneficiaries...these children had no hopes or dreams of the future.
In November 2011, Jo Grant and I began talking about a trip she would be taking to the Philippines in 2012 to visit family as well as this new bike program. Looking for a place to take my vacation, I decided on the Philippines! In February, Grant and I would meet in person for the first time in Concourse A at Detroit Metro Airport, before boarding the 20 hour flight to Manila.
This is the first entry as I document that journey. Please join us as I take you to Manila and eventually Bohol, where we will not only ride with the beneficiaries of Baclayon, but we will talk with their teachers, their families, and their local officials. We will visit their schools by buggy and by bike. You will get to see where they live, how they travel, and where they are now, as the first group of students just recently graduated from high school.
Here is an introductory photo montage video of the Philippines project: