BACOLOD CITY, Negros Occidental, Philippines – In the five years past, the Tour of the Fireflies leg in the Sugar Bowl of the Philippines had been attracting a growing number of bikers.
From only several thousands when it was first hosted by EB Magalona town then Cadiz City in the north to Valladolid town, it grew to at least 4,000 bikers in 2019 when Himamaylan City played host.
It was a record-breaking crowd.
That was before the COVID pandemic.
This year, at least a thousand bikers are expected, Olive Hucalla-Seruelo, information officer of the Provincial Environment Management Office, tells DNX.
The expected turnout is low even by standards set in the provincial leg but it does not mean that this year is poor, Seruelo said.
“It is more about quality (of the advocacy) not just the numbers,” she added.
With a raging pandemic that has forced people to stay home and business to slow down, Seruelo said for the Tour to push through in Himamaylan sends a strong message, an affirmation of life.
“It means that we are standing strong in the face of challenges, even if we are staring at a pandemic that has resulted to death in the face,” the PEMO officer pointed out.
Seruelo, who had been involved in organizing the Tour’s Negros leg since its first year, noted that the advocacy of the Ride had been evolving over the past few years.
First it was a ride for the environment. Then it was a ride for bike lanes in Cadiz and, subsequently for clean air and safer roads.
This year, an advocacy for frontliners – those who risk their lives to keep others safe – was added.
The Tour is evolving to respond to the challenges of the times, she said.
With Himamaylan City aiming to become the Fireflies capital in the Philippines, the city might be off to a good start in 2021.