Around 150 Ilonggo bikers sent off Rey Neil Besana, a bike mechanic, Sunday afternoon to his final resting place at the Lublub Cemetery in Dumangas, Iloilo. “Balot” to his comrades and “ka-sikad,” Besana is a beloved figure in the biking community of Dumangas, a municipality in Iloilo with a very strong bike culture.
The bikers who attended the funeral wore white shirts especially printed as tribute to their departed friend. On their bikes, they joined the procession from church to cemetery. Besana’s bike and helmet were placed on top of a separate vehicle that followed the funeral car. Meanwhile, the three bikers who preceded the hearse were said to be those closest to Besana, one of them a mechanic in his bike shop.
The 36-year old Besana ran his own bike shop in Dumangas. A mentor to many young bikers, he is also a husband and a father of two. “A very simple man,” said his wife Karen in Ilonggo, “and very friendly.” Besana’s passion for riding started in high school with BMX bikes, until he shifted to mountain bikes later on with the intention to lose weight.
“He didn’t graduate from college because he put up a small shop selling spare parts for BMX bikes,” Karen continued. “He was very loving to family and friends. A very simple guy. You won’t hear him complain no matter how tough life got. You won’t hear anything even if he’s angry. He will just stay quiet.
“He also has a joker side. He would tell our kids his out-of-this-world jokes and that’s how they bond. If he can do anything for your bike, he will do it. He’s not selfish when it comes to his knowledge in his field.”
Besana is one of the pioneers of DUMBA, or the Dumangas Bikers Association. The oldest bike group in Dumangas town, it is known for its generosity in supporting Iloilo City’s bike-friendly initiatives and helps marshal fun rides to keep people safe. It is also the “kuya/ate” of bikers and emerging bike groups in Dumangas which, as of the moment, already has four bike organizations. Dumangas is a 25-minute ride away from Iloilo City which is known as the most bike-friendly city in the Philippines.