Jake Palijado was one of Bikes for the Philippines' (BfP) first bike beneficiaries when the program started in 2011. When BfP was hand selecting the first students to receive bikes through the program, however, Jake wasn't even in the mix. He lived more than three miles from school and his family's monthly income was just over $50. He more than qualified, but he watched from afar as his friends and family received bikes.
Technically Jake was too young to be in the program. During those first few years, BfP only accepted third year students and older into the program. In fact, the pilot beneficiaries were all out of school youth who never graduated. The bikes were used as incentives to get them back into school to receive their diplomas.
Then, BfP moved onto fourth year students and then third year. At 13, Jake was only in his first year of high school when the chosen beneficiaries were given bikes. But, BfP also believed in keeping families together, and since Jake's brothers had been accepted into the program and they would have all been traveling to school together, Jake would have immediately been accepted. But he never applied.
He seemed interested enough and he clearly qualified, but Jake was painfully shy. His classmates kept encouraging him to apply, but he refused. Eventually Jake's secret came out: he was embarrassed because he didn't know how to ride a bike. When BfP Director Joel Uichico found out, he went directly to Jake. Joel had older mentors assigned to work with Jake until he not only learned how to ride a bike, but confidently tackled the rough terrain around his home in Baclayon.
When BfP expanded their program to other schools in Bohol, Jake volunteered to help mentor other youth who were entering the program for the first time. He then started wrenching bikes too. After Jake graduated he went on to trade school to learn how to weld. He was then working back in Bohol, riding a tricycle around to attract tourists and also assisting them around the beach club.
Today, Jake lives in Manila where he can earn a better living than in his small community on the island of Bohol. Jake now works at BfP as their official mechanic and trainer. He was just brought on as an employee at the beginning of the year when he helped unload our fifth container donated to the program.
Jake works at the main warehouse in Manila and also travels with the team when they deliver bikes to other school on different islands throughout the Philippines. BfP is helping Jake obtain his drivers license so he can help transport bikes and get around on the job. Jake now makes more than his family in addition to receiving room and board while he lives in Manila away from home.