Bikes for the Philippines

PhilippinesMission

Bikes for the Philippines provides bicycles as a tool to build self-esteem and help children attend and improve performance in school.  BfP seeks to encourage life-long habits promoting learning, health, and livelihood, and protecting clean air: EDUCATION, ENTREPRENEURSHIP, AND ENVIRONMENT.

Background

Businessman and undersea sports professional Joel Uichico noticed school children in the community of Baclayon, on the island of Bohol, walking long distances daily to school, often three and four kilometers over dangerous terrain.  This made him wonder about the drop-out rate.  He also learned about the plight of older youth who had already dropped out, who had no hopes or dreams for the future, but who should they so choose, could return and participate in the Alternative Learning System (ALS).    

Joel was inspired to make a difference.  He established the Bikes for the Philippines program to provide bicycles to students to (1) reduce the dropout rate of school children who walk long distances to school and hence were considered most at risk of dropping out, and (2) reach out to dropouts to complete a high school equivalency program.

With the help of his cousin in the United States, Jo Grant, Joel  was able to connect with Bikes for the World.  Joined by Joel Esguerra and the Baltimore office of Gensler, a global architecture, design, planning and consulting firm, bikes were collected and fundraising began. 

Bikes for the World dispatched an initial shipment of more than 500 bikes in July 2011.  A eco-tourism business in Baclayon, Peacock Garden Resort, funded the freight costs. The bikes arrived in Manila and were sorted and refurbished by volunteers, including an extensive network of Filipino cyclists, and members of the Filipino Army.  Reconditioned bikes were distributed beginning in January 2012.  The initial managing entity of the program was the Baclayon Recreational & Aquatic Activities Bohol (BRAABO) a for-profit organization that effectively operates as a non-profit.   

CarltonImpact

With a high concentration on training, the program doesn't just 'hand out' bikes to beneficiaries. There is an effort to expand entrepreneurial skills in this program not only in bike mechanics but apprentice training programs at resorts as rental agents or tour guides and other positions in community organizations.

The program has been well-received in the community, not only by student beneficiaries, but by local political leaders, the Catholic Church, and members of other civic groups, who have provided assistance in many forms including signage and other public investments, mentorship, and more.

Equally importantly, the program has been covered by the national press and received support from national institutions, including the country's Army--who provided volunteers to recondition the bikes--and Navy--who transported the bikes destined for Bohol.   

It is still too early to have a systematic evaluation of the change in regular student drop-out rates.  However, anecdotal evidence to date is positive.  Having a bike has already cut doen many students' commute time to and from school, affording them to more time--whether to concentrate on ther studies or to do other things remains to be systematically seen.  However, ALS students have returned to school and are graduating.  And other communities are clamoring to participate.  In late 2012, the Bikes for the Philippines Foundation was established as a local non-profit to administer and expand the program to a second and neighboring community on Bohol -- Maribojoc.

Beneficiaries

BfP Joe Israel graduate

Joe Israel

Student bike beneficiaries of Baclayon, on the island of Bohol in the Philippines, are hand picked based on a number of factors. The bikes are intended to help students who live great distances from school stay in school and graduate. Students are 'loaned' the bicycles and are only permitted to use them to get to and from school. Once they graduate they then 'earn' the bicycle and may use it to get to town and to and from work.

Joe Israel was one of the first bike recipients and graduated high school in 2012. He then entered a work program established through Bikes for the Philippines where he learned a trade in baking.

Sherwin and Ron Sercio Narbay

Sherwin and Ron Narbay

For Ron and Sherwin a bicycle could be the difference between graduating and not finishing school at all. In fact, many students in Baclayon, a remote community on the island of Bohol Philippines, travel many miles every day just to get to and from school. With only one high school in the region, students are often forced to travel more miles once they move up in school. This burdens not only the students but the entire family as less time can be devoted to necessary household chores. Continue reading Ron and Sherwin's story on our blog.
Joan Marie Igcas

Joan Marie Igcas

When Joan received her bike through the Bikes for Education program of Bikes for the Philippines she had no idea how to ride it. Fortunately Bikes for the Philippines worked hand in hand with the school system of Baclayon when they started this bike program to keep kids enrolled in school. As part of the school curriculum, the new student bike owners are not only taught how to ride a bike if necessary, but they are also required to learn bike safety and bike maintenance.

We met Joan in 2012 on a visit to Baclayon. You can see for yourself how well she learned to ride a bike for the first time thanks to this program.

BfP Jake Palijado 2

Jake Palijado

For 13-year-old Jake Palijado, the bicycle gives hope. Jake had a short walk to school in his village of Baclayon through eighth grade. But when he started high school, Jake had to hike more than three hilly miles for over an hour in tropical heat and humidity. Jake arrived at school drained and unmotivated.

Jake learned to ride through this program and is now more confident and arriving to school on time with motivation and enthusiasm. He has lost weight since he started riding and his teachers say his school work improved immediately.

 

Video:

A short documentary from Tec Concepcion on the beginnings of Bikes for the Philippines and the labor of love from the people behind this cause.