Bicycles enable you to move when public transportation gets paralyzed

Street photographer Jilson Tiu shares how cycling helped him continue his passion in photography despite the difficulties of moving around Metro Manila.

“Commuting around the city via train and other public transpo is my routine in photographing the city and going through photo assignments and shoots,” he said. “When the lockdown caused by the pandemic hit, I was stuck in a 5-10 km radius because I can only walk for so long and I don’t have any private vehicle.”

His frustration is understandable. He lives in Manila and it’ll take so much time and almost all of his energy to walk to Makati or Quezon City. If you can recall, there was a long period of time when cabs, jeepneys and TVNs were not allowed to operate.

His photographer friends started biking around the city, documenting what’s happening during the height of the lockdown. That gave him the idea of getting a bike. Jilson said that his “muscle memory from BMX was still there.”

“Cycling opened possibilities for me to be able to shoot around the metro and this became my hobby to remove my anxiety due to the assignment cancellations caused by the pandemic,” he said.

Socializing is one way to ease the stress caused by Covid-19 and the uncertainties brought by the prolonged community quarantine. And for some people, cycling became a safe tool for human interaction.

“I met new friends and colleagues who also decided to bike again because it’s a safe hobby that limits you from getting the virus,” he said. 

We asked Jilson about his overall experience in riding a bike and taking photographs in this urban jungle during the past few months.

“Commuting via bike in Metro Manila is pretty hard because of the unfavored roads and its infrastructure that were designed for cars (and not cyclists). But these things don’t hinder me from moving and shooting around, and from seeing the city in a new perspective as it unfolds in every stroke of my pedal.”

Photo courtesy of Jilson Tiu.

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