As motorcycle riders, we often try to come up with excuses just to have some long and satisfying saddle time with our beloved steeds. More often than not, especially if you are already a married man, these excuses do not work anymore with the wife. However, these riders from my informal riding group, the "Banayad Boys," found the perfect excuse for a 4-day adventure ride in the mountains of Abra: the gift of clean and safe drinking water.
Taking advantage of the long holiday weekend last February, the group decided to scratch their itch for an adventure ride up in the mountains. This wasn't just a self-serving adventure. Our reason for going was to deliver a water filtration system to the far-flung community of Malibcong, Abra. Being far from major cities, it's difficult for the community to receive a regular and safe supply of drinking water. Providing them with a filter will allow the community to be more self-sufficient when it comes to their water supply. This entails a two-day ride up, spanning some 500+ kilometers from Metro Manila.
Meet Up and Roll Out
From Manila, our first stop was in Candon in Ilocos Sur, hosted by our good friend, Derrick Itchon, on the first day. We arrived in 4 groups – the first group, who loaded their bikes on a pickup was composed of Lito Pible and Jeff Encarnacion, who both ride a Yamaha Serow. The second group was Joseph Tan, who also carried his Honda XR250 (which he will lend to me for this adventure) and a Yamaha Serow aboard his pickup. The third group consisted of me, Cho Delos Santos, and AJ Adiviso who brought their Beta 300RR and KTM SXF450. The fourth group, consisted Vic Ochoa, tito Pete Barrientos, and Norbs Dizon, riding their big KTM 1090 Adventure and BMW 1200GS bikes all the way from Manila.
Balbalan Municipal Hall
The Ride Up
The group started out quite late on Saturday in Bangued, Abra as it coincided with the Dapil Festival. Our first plan was to traverse the town of Balbalan up to the town of Kabugao, about 250 kilometers further north. Since it was almost sundown when we reached the sleepy town of Balbalan, we settled there for the night, at the town's Inn just beside the Town Hall.
Children of Malibcong performing the Palook Tajok , a traditional tribal wedding ceremony, and dance.
The Inn is managed by the town's LGU, and it only costs PhP200 per head. So, if you happen to pass by the town of Balbalan in Kalinga, just look for their town hall and you can't miss this Inn.
By Sunday, the group was some 130 kilometers from Kabugao and just a short distance toward our destination. Getting to Mataragan required some off-road action and passing through the town of Malibcong. Malibcong, Abra is approximately 500 kilometers from Manila and is very remote. From the main highway, it will be another 12 kilometers inward to the town proper and another 23 kilometers further to reach Barangay Mataragan.
The Road (Or Lack Thereof) In
The road, or basically rough path to get there, got our adrenaline pumping. Since it was the dry season, the road was very 'powdery,' and slippery even for us riding 250's. It was a very long 35 kilometers of rough terrain especially for Vic, tito Pete, and Norbs as they were riding their big adventure bikes. Although the road going to Mataragan was quite challenging, we all enjoyed every bit of it and now consider the road as what adventure riders colloquially call 'GS Friendly' or something that big adventure bikes (like the BMW R1200 GS) could be well suited for.
Sumptuous lunch to the delight of these hungry riders, courtesy of the Osing Family.
Upon reaching Mataragan, we were greeted by one of the village chiefs, Eduardo Osing, who led us to his home for lunch. We were treated to some good, old-fashioned Filipino hospitality, and served the best pinakbet on this side of the mountain. Of course, we did not come to be just visitors to such a beautiful and wonderful paradise.
The water filtration system will provide the community with clean and safe drinking water for the next 10 years.
Clean Water for 10 Years
Thanks to our friends from Bikerbox, Inc., we were able to deliver a water filtration system for the benefit of the children of Mataragan Elementary and Agricultural High School. While the barangay has access to clean spring water from the mountains, it is not always potable. During heavy rains, the water can be full of silt, caused by erosion, and not safe for drinking. The water filtration allows the community to continue source water from the spring, even during heavy rains, to produce potable drinking water after it runs through the filter. It is expected to last for 10 years and will be a big benefit to the population of this small and far-flung barangay numbering less than 600.
Mataragan Elementary and Agricultural High School - the beneficiary of the Water Filtration System, courtesy of our friends from Bikerbox, Inc.
After delivering and installing the system, we were once again charged and in high spirits to head back to Bangued to the home of our next host and friend, Joy Lalin, who was joined by kuya Jun Rosales (both avid adventure riders themselves). Awaiting us was a hearty dinner in the traditional Abra Miki. On the dinner table, feeling good about giving back to a community in need, the Banayad Boys already began talking about where their next adventure would be, perhaps another one for a cause.