National Transport Vehicle - The Tricycle

If there will be a plebiscite wherein the Filipino people will vote what will be the Philippine's national motorized transport vehicle, my best bet will be none other than the "Vehicle for the Masses" or Ang Pang-Masang Sasakayan - the Tricycle.

Cabanatuan City has one of the most, if not the most number of tricycles in the country. The city and the province of Nueva Ecija can be voted the Tricycle Capital of the Philippines. Seeing it all around the country, it has been a major part of Filipino life.

Tricycle is a three-wheeled vehicle (duh, tri is the prefix meaning three! ewww!) created out of the need o transport more people using the motorcycle. Motorcycle is cheaper and travels more distance with less gasoline compared to car taxis. Fact is, I observed a couple of motorcycles on the road so commuters can save money on gas.

A motorcycle will be fitted with a side car in order to accommodate a greater number of passengers more conveniently and transport them a little safer.

The best and cheapest ride for a person to travel from one place to another in the province is the good old reliable tricycle. There are various designs of the tricycle in the Philippines. As observed, the design is dependent on the type of the regular route's terrain. Part and parcel is the trend of the designs and the required color scheme of their organization or as required by their localized laws as well.

TODA usually refers to Tricycle Operators and Drivers Association. When riding a tricycle try to check the local TODa where the vehicle belongs. We have the abbreviated or full name of a place or barangay followed by TODA. Like LATODA (for Laur), PATODA (for Papaya), RUTODA (for Rufina), BBTODA, CATODA, BATODA, GATODA and whatever TODA's that they can imagine named after their place. Often we see them queueing, waiting for passengers on designated areas near the marketplace, schools and other public places.

I can recall that the first family vehicle way back in the early eighties was a tricycle with Suzuki brand motorcycle. This was driven by e neighbor "Kuya Boy" (elder brother whose name is Boy, a name that will never grow old!).

As it was in yesteryears, drivers who do not own the vehicle are required to pay a certain amount to the owners. The payment, known as "boundary", is an amount agreed upon between the owner and the driver and serves as the rent income gained by the owner. The driver will keep whatever is left from passenger's fare and the gasoline usage. Although this vehicle is one of the cheapest, only a few numbers can afford to buy. Hence, the on-going driver-owner relationships.

Despite the reality that these vehicles help commuters in a great way, they are also the reasons of major traffic jams in cities and town proper areas. Driving a small vehicle, they ease their way even in the smallest possible areas unimaginable. Once inside the town proper, maintaining an arms' length distance between your car and another vehicle is not applicable in my province. A tricycle (or two) will eke its way between the vehicles causing more traffic jams and delays.

In our province, do not expect the drivers to follow the tricycle lane. On the main highways, there are designated rightmost side of the highway assigned to them. No, very seldom that you see tricycles following their lanes. So you have to slow down and follow their phase for a while, some of them running at 20mph. You have to take the risk of overtaking, on the other lane and get your speed back to 70 or 80mph ... until another tricycle comes in your way. And if they will turn left or right (or suddenly stop to ask a passenger - on the other side of the road!), do not expect them to use light signals! Just be wary when following a tricycle.

I still enjoy riding the tricycle from time to time. For one, it is readily available. Most drivers will ask your destination even if you do not wave at them. See? No need to wave and they will stop by your side on a sidewalk, causing traffic jams.

The air. The wind. The space. Riding a tricycle is highly recommend for claustrophopics. If tricycles go around 40 mph and in the main highways, make sure to hold your head. Your brains might be blown out by the wind. And try doing this on a night with a cool breeze of the holiday season, you will definitely curl into a ball just to keep the heat in your body.

The views. In an open air vehicle, you can see most of the views. Plus the slower the vehicle moves, the more time to appreciate the beauty of the province and the sceneries.

Versatile. Aside from passengers, the national vehicle is also used to transport produce from the farm to market. Passengers also use it to transport and deliver grocery items, lumber and anything imaginable.

Transformer. No, not the movie. Not Optimus Prime. Tricycle can also transform. Don't wanna ride the three-wheeled car? Just remove the attachment and ride the motorcycle on its own! Easy!

A visit to the Philippines won't be complete without a tricycle ride. Being a Filipino, a tricycle ride will let you understand and feel what the most people feels. In a sense, it makes us more Filipino.

Riding a tricycle is fun. Cheap. A little noisy but I really appreciate the air and the space. Incomparable.

Try riding a tricycle... It's worth the experience!

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