Howie Severino’s birthday bike ride

We thought last year's birthday ride was hard, a tough trip to Pinto Art Museum via uphill Tikling. Well, what we did today was more difficult.

It’s been a tradition of veteran journalist Howie Severino to celebrate his birthday with a bike ride. This year, he organized a cycling adventure in Batangas — a 30-kilometer Balete-Tanauan loop with the goal of visiting Eskinita Art Farm.

The actual birthday of Kuya H, as what our group calls him, is on the 18th. It’s his son Alon’s 20th birthday today and he just wanted to celebrate both occasions this Sunday.

“I want to do a bike ride as a birthday tradition because I want to challenge myself. And this ride was challenging,” he said. “Ang daming variety kanina. May magandang kalye, may hindi, may tubuhan. ‘Yung ahon at downhill. Naulanan pa tayo.”

“I-challenge mo ang sarili mo hangga’t kaya pa kasi you’ll never know when’s the time na sasabihin mong hindi mo na kaya. Pwede naman ako magpasundo pero tinuloy ko pa rin kasi that would be the end of it.”

We thought last year’s birthday ride was hard, a tough trip to Pinto Art Museum via uphill Tikling. Well, what we did today was more difficult.

After visiting the beautiful Eskinita Art Farm and meeting its artists in residence, we were faced with a 350-meter downhill rough trail that forced us to walk our bikes — some even carried their vehicles.

As we neared our final stop, 7 kilometers before the finish line, everyone was surprised that we had to climb a continuous stretch of steep inclined road. It’s so hard that some even considered hiring a tricycle for help.

But we survived and everyone had a good time. And what’s the reward? A delicious lunch as we celebrate his son’s birthday.

I look forward to every bike ride with Kuya H. There’s always something new I learn about him, which both amazes and inspires me.

In the middle of our ride, he told me about his recent trip in Paris and said that he enjoyed riding a bicycle in that gorgeous city, noting that there’s a good bike-sharing scheme there.

It’s also my first time visiting Kapusod, the name of his home in Batangas, and it’s like a dream, especially for someone who tries to live a sustainable lifestyle — there are plants everywhere, they use non-toxic materials and the system of the place is geared towards sustainability, among others.

He practices sustainability even outside home. For example, when we stopped for a buko juice break, Kuya H refused to have his drink poured over a new plastic cup. As an alternative, he gave the vendor his insulated water bottle.

We had a fun day, and today is definitely something memorable. Thanks to everyone in the group who made it special — Jilson, Manong Chris, Doc Nina, Chester, Joy and Jun. I’d also like to thank Ate Ipat for the hospitality.

And of course, big thanks to Kuya H. Happy birthday!

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