Not even the 35°C (felt like 40°C) summer heat in Metro Manila on May 23 could stop motorcycle riders from putting on long-sleeved shirts, tweed jackets, vests or coats while riding to show support for the 2021 Distinguished Gentleman’s Ride (DGR).
This global movement aims to raise funds and awareness for prostate cancer research and suicide prevention. This year marks 10 glorious years of riding to support men’s physical and mental health. This was also the first time DGR Manila was sponsored and supported by Triumph Motorcycles Philippines.
It was definitely a sight to behold. Ladies and gents in their dapper best straddling café racers, classic scooters, retro modern bikes and other classic-styled motorcycles hopped from one café and establishment to the next. From Alabang, Paranaque, Makati, QC, Manila and even Antipolo and Cainta, riders were encouraged to stop by at least four of the 25 designated DGR Manila pitstops to take photos, catch up with old friends, meet new ones and drool over other beautiful bikes.
Sunday’s scene saw the mega city littered from North to South with riders dressed to the nines. They came from different directions, in batches, zooming around the city in sparse traffic on their own urban rally routes. Some participants were satisfied with visiting one stopover. Some hit four, others five. A few gunned for the bragging rights of completing 15-20 pitstops. Participants loved the spontaneity of waving at each other on the road, checking each other out at intersections, and being surprised by whom they would encounter and what they would see at each destination.
DGR Manila 2021 was truly unique, special, more fun, and more successful than imagined. Rather than being limited to one area, the event took riders through all corners and thoroughfares of the metropolis, beautifying them with happy people on gorgeous machines.
Because of current restrictions, the much-loved moto parade that has become a trademark of DGR Manila (with as many as close to 3,000 participants riding as one unit in 2019) wasn’t an option. Instead of a single start point, with a huge after-party event at the end of the parade, riders were instructed to ride solo or with a small group and plan their own route, taking into consideration designated partner pitstops which also served as hydration points.
“We made several adjustments and modifications that would fit the existing government-imposed quarantine regulations and at the same time, have a fall back program in case things got stricter as the days got nearer to the event date,” explained DGR Manila head organizer, Mark Laccay.
Riders were also encouraged to join the Shoot Tag Ride Repeat Challenge: where they take selfies or photos at four or more designated stops and upload on social media for a chance to win motorcycle-related merchandise, gift certificates, coffee makers or bluetooth speakers. This new format also helped support local cafés, restaurants and small establishments — businesses that were among those badly hit because of the pandemic.
“Partnering with these establishments, we hoped to help them get them back on their feet and jumpstart the economy as well,” said Mark. “We also hope to at least set a precedent and show that opening up the economy can be done in an orderly and disciplined manner.”
“We simply wanted to give support to the local riding community,” added Fritz Lim, owner of Siklo Supplies Co, one of DGR Manila’s major local sponsors and partner pitstops. “Knowing that DGR would have a lot of restaurants/cafés as partner establishments was also a big bonus because that industry has been gravely affected by the pandemic.”
“Our goal is to emphasize how we can get through together as a community in facing a global pandemic,” said Paul Tan, owner of Scooforza, a minor local sponsor and pitstop. “Through DGR we are giving hope to those individuals who feel they are alone in this battle with depression, anxiety, and isolation.”
According to Rich Tan, executive director of Kapetolyo by SGD and coffee specialist at SGD Coffee (both collaborators / partner pitstops): “DGR Manila 2021 was an uplifting experience. We were excited to have Sunday riders coming to cafés and establishments in groups again, enjoying coffee, the company of fellow riders, the chatter, the laughter, and to see our community at one of its liveliest since the quarantines were in place. The whole DGR 2021 celebration was nostalgic and hopeful at the same time.”
Each year since 2013, Mark Laccay has been putting his time and efforts toward building the DGR Manila community and creating engaging activities for participants.
“The advocacies of DGR are close to home,” he said. "My dad suffers from mental depression and I have a godfather who is battling prostate cancer. I may not directly benefit from the funds raised but in the long term I want to contribute to the awareness of these illnesses and make people realize that early detection and proper mental health care alongside family support are important in our community. The pandemic has hit us hard and has affected our riding community and made us more aware of the mental stress, anxieties and effects of depression. Through participation and contributing to the DGR movement, I find fulfillment simply by riding and campaigning for the causes.”