LoyarBasikal, Day 1, Manila

The last time I was in the Philippines was about six years ago, when my Lolo passed away. It was a time of grief and sadness, and I hadn’t been able to return since.

Today, I arrived in Manila on a different mission – to ride for 24 hours with a group of amazing women in the Cordillera Mountains. Objective: raise enough funds to reforest the mountains.

June's candy-striped bike jersey!
June's candy-striped bike jersey!

I arrived with a sense of great peace, and acceptance, and this surprised me. It has been a whirlwind of activities, what with my mentor being arrested over the weekend (his second arrest in several months) that I haven’t been able to think much about this bike ride at all.

Meeting up with my friend Maria/spokeswoman for this fund-raiser was a huge pleasure until she announced over dinner that she wasn’t doing the ride at all.

“What?!?” I blurted out, trying not to shriek over my pasta.

“I told you, over e-mail. I haven’t been able to bike seriously since the past six months. I can’t do this.”

“I thought you were kidding! Because I haven’t been training for this all!”

“Oh, you’d be fine.”


So where was I? Oh yes, peace and acceptance. Peace and acceptance. Maybe if I say this often enough, I won’t be glaring at Maria, who’d be happily bundled up in the safety vehicle as I try not to kill myself on the mountains.

She also announced that there would be a camera attached to each bike, to catch “every single moment of glory of the ride”.

“For real?” My heart sunk. Thoughts racing through my head on how to stop LoyarBurok from obtaining footage. It can be done. Peace and acceptance. Ohm.

Tomorrow, we’d be heading out early at 8 am on a six-hour winding ride to Baguio. We’d be meeting with the good people of the Cordillera Conservation Trust and I’d be finding out more how our donation will be spent on the reforestation efforts. As telepathically commanded, I will be documenting every step of the way. That is, if I don’t get myself killed.

Peace and acceptance.


June is a Malaysian conservationist from Sarawak, where she was born and raised. She is of Krokong-Bringing (Dayak Bidayuh) and Filipino (Tagalog) descent and now seeks peace and acceptance in the Philippines. She worries about how to stay unmarried through tweeting at @j_rubis.

In another lifetime, June was a field biologist, searching for orang utans in the wild. She still dreams of living in the forests.

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