When we began this project over 2 years ago, as a response to Typhoon Yolanda, we had no transport. The typhoon had stripped most of the foliage from the trees so shade was sparse. The dry season cut in just after New Years 2014 and the winds felt like a giant hair dryer. It was bloody hot. My job was to create a Permaculture project which I decided would be a Permaculture Field School. We made a deal with a local land holder for a 4 hectare farm with no infrastructure.
When you run an aid project you need the internet as it’s the modern day telephone and post office. Donors and external team members need to be informed. Most of the time when I needed the internet I had to walk a few kilometres to town. That’s after a hard days work clearing land or digging gardens to set up our base camp. The locals had to walk so I had to walk, was the way I approached it.
A few months later we obtained our first motorcycle, a 200 cc Chinese trail bike. What a quantum leap from hoofing it everywhere to flying along the dusty track on a motorcycle. Life improved considerably after that. One bike can carry 3 people or even 4 skinny people in the Philippines. Soon I was hauling students, food, furniture, bamboo, building materials and tools by bike. Like a tow truck,I have towed tons of bamboo and rebar steel, dragging it noily along the rugged track. Beats walking!
Our second bike came here on the second year when an American friend sold us his old bike when he bought another 200 cc Chinese trail bike after watching what it could handle here at the Green Warrior Field School. The Moto Star might be made in China but it’s one hell of a tough machine.
Rough terrain is the only to way to describe the road to Mablad. My bike riding skills improved immensely after riding that road with a ton of crap balanced precariously across the seat. The local’s bikes are stripped down scooters in very poor condition. They look like bikes that zombies would ride. Even so, I saw they can move up to 4 x 25 kg sacks of cement on a single bike. Most of the time, their tires are bald and they have no front brakes.
If you need a lift out here in Antique you call a “Skylab” or “Sky-love” which is a motorcycle taxi for hire. I’ve seen whole families shuttled around on one bike, and that’s a Filipino family. For a few pesos it seems there is nothing a Skylab cant get on a bike. Plywood, roofing iron, thatching and even a 3-seater bamboo couch have arrived here by Skylab. I’ve never seen one of them crash either, even though sometimes they are drunk! One of our Green Warriors recently wrote and recorded a song honouring the Skylab heroes. Skylab I salute you!
A few days ago we purchased our first 4 wheeled motor vehicle, “the Green Bastardo”. Our transport abilities have jumped another quantum leap. These Suzuki 4×4 mini pick up trucks come to the Philippines from Japan and are reconditioned and repainted. In Antique, they must be the most common vehicle on the road. The motor is a 3 cylinder 660 cc petrol motor. It’s a very basic cab-over chassis with 2 seats in the front. When 2 people are in the front you cant even fit a briefcase in there.
The vehicle is very lightweight. 2 guys can pick up the rear end when it’s empty. It has a 4-speed gearbox and a normally aspirated carburettor. Anyone with the ability to fix a lawnmower can fix one of these. The body is so light my plan in the future is to retrofit this ute to be electric. An organic farm really should run electric vehicles.
Already we have moved a ton of rice husks, been to the beach twice and even taken the crew to the internet in town. Our next building project, which is a handicrafts studio will be built in a jiffy with the Green Bastardo delivering materials as we need them. Students arriving from far and near can now be picked up including their luggage. When I was young I wouldn’t have been seen dead in a little dinky toy truck like this. My mates would have laughed me out of town! Now after transport deprivation our new truck is a mighty machine! In the kingdom of the blind the one-eyed is king. In Mablad, the land of poor people, the green Bastardo is king!