On the streets, the word ‘kamote’ has taken on a derogaroty or negative meaning. It's been used as a term for someone who rides or drives with little knowledge of the rules of the road, right of way, or traffic rules and regulations. Lately, this word has been used as a blanket term for all unruly or reckless motorcycle riders.
A quick search on the internet or social media will reveal hundreds of videos of so-called 'kamote' riders not wearing a helmet, texting while riding, going against the flow of traffic (counterflow), weaving through traffic, overtaking over double yellow lines, and committing many more traffic violations.
Some say that these 'kamotes' ride that way because they are young, “mainit pa mga yan, (still hot-headed or daring)," while others claim it’s the result of the Land Transportation Office's (LTO) lax/corrupt driver's license procedure. Others point to lack of rider training, knowledge of traffic rules, or a variety of other reasons. It has gotten so bad that the President himself even said “there is anarchy on the streets” during his speech before the delegates of the annual NFMCP Convention in Legazpi City last April.
While the government is working on a solution, one group from the private sector already has the answer: Kamote Race Wars. Organized by Wheeltek Motor Sales, Corp. and Kawasaki Motor Philippines, Kamote Race Wars is an event that invites self-confessed Kamote Riders to experience the fun and safety or racing within the confines of a race track.
The event hopes to redirect these riders' need for an adrenaline rush, to the proper venue with a racing event run with professional timing, marshals, and emergency services. This way, racing is taken away from the streets, where it can potentially harm other road users, and brought back to the track.
The riders need to pass safety and technical scrutiny before entering the race track.
About 100 'kamote' riders participated in the event. Entrants were categorized into groups, with the winner of each group automatically advancing to the finals. All the finalists then raced again each other to determine the grand champion. The champion received a P25,000 cash prize and one lucky winner was able to take home a brand-new Kawasaki Fury 125.
Kawasaki Motor Philippines Corporation, Account Manager, Henry Raquedan, explains the importance of not being pasaway on the streets.
According to Mark Chuidian, Marketing Manager for Wheeltek, the goal was to encourage as many riders as possible to experience the track, especially 'kamote' riders. The event hopes to positively channel their energy towards safe riding at the proper venue. "It is also a great opportunity for everyone to compete or ‘gauge’ friends and fellow motorcycle riders inside the safety of the racetrack," added Mark. Wheeltek and Kawasaki hope to make the Kamote Race Wars an annual gathering, giving more riders the chance to experience racing on the track.
Race on the track, and not on the streets, kamote!