MANILA, Philippines – Over 100 cyclists are leaving Manila on Friday for a 3-day bike ride in commemoration of the Senate's rejection of the Philippine-US military bases agreement 20 years ago on September 16, 1991.
Anti-bases veterans, activists, environmentalists and cycling clubs are taking part in the tour, which began at the Bonifacio Shrine in Manila, with a stopover in the former US air base in Clark, and end in Subic on Sunday, September 11.
"We are recalling with this bike ride not only the historic Senate vote against the prolonged stay of the US bases but also to celebrate the decades-long peoples struggle for national sovereignty," said Wigberto E. Tañada, a member of the "Magnificent 12," the tag given to the 12 senators who voted against the extension of the RP-US Military Bases Agreement.
"The bike tour is also a reminder to the Filipino people that the struggle for national self-determination continues," Tañada said in a press statement.
The tour is retracing the "Lakbayan" route, which is named after the demonstrations that saw tens of thousands march from Manila to Subic demanding the removal of the US bases.
Short programs are planned in key stops wherein cyclists intend to interact with local communities to share memories and spur discussion about current issues related to Philippine foreign policy.
The first stop is in the Bulacan Provincial Capitol in Malolos town at lunch time September 9.
The riders will stay overnight in San Fernando's City hall.
Cyclists will be welcomed by a march on September 10 in Plaza Miranda, Angeles City.
The group will proceed to Dinalupihan, Bataan before proceeding to Subic where they will spend the night.
Cyclists will join motorcycle riders and other motorists for a brief program in Subic on September 11.
The country's leading cycling groups participated in the bike ride, led by the Firefly Brigade, CycAd, Mandaluyong Cycling Club, Cranksters, Livestrong Cycling Club, Foxbat Cycling Club and the Makati Cycling Club Team.
"If before, America's military bases in Subic and Clark in the Philippines were used to further US military interests, Filipinos can now use the facilities for productive economic activities, recreation and ecotourism initiatives," said Firefly Brigade president Ricky Pineda.
"What we enjoy today came at great sacrifice, which should remind young Filipinos to continue the fight for greater freedoms," Pineda said.
The commemorative bike ride seeks to build public focus on a September 16 event that will recognize the "Magnificent 12" senators and the organizations and individuals who fought for Philippine sovereignty.