Cycling and brewing coffee are like therapy, according to this barista and pinay bike commuter. These are her ways of relaxation that give her focus because it calms her mind.
Like many people, commuting to work is something that greatly affects barista Maine Magno’s wellbeing. She has worked in Makati, Mandaluyong and San Juan and while she had a fair share of better days, some trips were just terrible. She lives in Valenzuela.
“Dati, minsan naiiyak ako sa byahe kasi nakikita mo ‘yung sitwasyon ng mga Pilipino, pumipila at parang nawawalan sila ng simpatya sa kapwa nila tao kasi makikita mo na talagang nagsisiksikan. Parang akala mo zombie apocalypse na susugurin ‘yung isang bus,” she recalled. “Tapos may mga bata at matatanda, parang nakakalimutan na ng mga tao ‘yung respeto kasi lahat pagod, lahat gusto makauwi.”
That scenario was out of desperation, a result of our poor transportation system and lacking public vehicles.
Maine now works in The Den, a coffee shop located in Escolta, Manila. Her commute is relatively better compared to her previous jobs. However, it became really difficult when the pandemic happened.
“Nung nag-resume ‘yung work, sumasakay ako ng LRT at naglalakad. ‘Yun din ang isa sa dahilan kaya desidido ako mag-bike kasi ang haba ng pila sa LRT noong time na ‘yun tapos sobrang nakaka-awa talaga ang mga Pilipino,” she said.
Maine was able to purchase a folding bicycle from marketplace app Carousel, a bike that had a sentimental value to a little girl who used to own it. According to Maine, the seller was forced to put it on sale because the family needed to pay rent.
She promised the kid that she’d take care of the bike. And Maine did, in fact, she even loved it that she’s considering bike commuting even if the virus situation gets better.
“Para na rin pagbu-brew ng coffee ang biking. Para na rin siyang therapy, ritual. Kasi ako, medyo maingay yung utak ko, madami akong iniisip. So kapag nagba-bike ako, nakakapag-focus ako sa ginagawa ko kagaya ng pagma-manual brew ng coffee na focused ka,” she said.
The bike commuter added, “Noong una, hindi ko maintindihan pero ‘yung pagba-bike kasi ay masaya tapos tine-train mo ‘yung sarili mong maging pasensyosa at naging maintindihin ako sa mga tao. Kasi kapag nagba-bike ka, pinepredict mo ‘yung actions ng mga tao sa paligid mo. ‘Yun ‘yung natutuwa ako kasi lumalawak ‘yung pasensya ko.”
During our conversation, Maine admits that she’s hesitant to be featured on First Bike Ride because she admits that she’s a shy person. However, the opportunity to tell her story and maybe encourage more women to try bike commuting made her approve our request for an interview.
We agreed with her when she said that many women want to try bike commuting but are afraid to do it. While Maine has managed to build her courage over time, her mom was initially not in favor of this idea.
“Si mommy, natatakot siya kasi babae ako tapos parang ang layo para sa kaniya ng Escolta mula Valenzuela,” she said. “Sabi niya, ang gawin ko ay mag-bike papuntang Monumento tapos isakay ko ‘yung bisikleta sa LRT tsaka bumaba na lang dito tapos maglakad na lang ako.”
That’s why she got a folding bike. She followed her mom’s advice but she just cycles straight from home to work most of the time. Despite the non-existing bike infrastructure in her routes, Rizal Avenue and MacArthur Highway, Maine continues to bike.
The best assurance that she gave her mom was her prior research before actually biking to work. She read articles, joined helpful online communities like Pinay Bike Commuter and asked advice from friends who’ve been doing urban cycling. Plus, the mom-daughter tandem practiced in their village.
We accompanied Maine to Dangwa on her way home because she needed to buy flowers for her family. And we have observed that she’s actually confident on the road and she taught us cycling hacks such as where to position ourselves in certain roads of Manila for safety.
“Alam ko na madaming gustong mag-bike na babae, kasi ako rin eh, gusto ko rin talaga pero hindi nga ako pinapayagan kasi babae ako,” she said.
Maine is proof that women can bike commute and gender doesn’t have to be a factor for this activity.