We’ve heard of RVs, living in cars, and turning jeepneys into mobile family homes—but a tricycle turned camper? Well, thank heavens for TikTok’s Part-Time Hippies we now know such a thing exists. The couple behind the trike slash mobile home—and the TikTok account—is Benjo and Rox Dimaandal and they share their adventures in transforming their trike as well as living the camper life to their now over 123,000 followers. Aboard the ‘Magic Trike,’ the two explore different nature spots around Camarines Norte.
Many of us, especially corporate slaves, secretly yearn to live their lifestyle. When we can wake up to beautiful mornings by the beach or a river, or in the middle of a forest. When we could simply lay our mats, watch the sun rise or set while enjoying coffee and strumming our guitar. When we could wade in the river unmindful of deadlines. When we could just chill out and relax with the sound of crickets lulling us to sleep. No wonder “Sana all” is an oft-repeated comment on the Dimaandal couple’s videos.
How did Benjo and Rox come to building a camper trike, of all things? Why not a van or truck? The couple shares their story to ANCX.
Their three-wheeler—a multi-cab type used for deliveries—was actually a “bayad-utang” to Benjo’s mother. “Andun lang siya sa garahe, medyo napabayaan na,” Benjo recalls. Over the pandemic, the couple and their two teenage kids decided to move from Quezon City to Camarines Norte to avoid the risk of getting Covid.
Selling cars and real estate, then their bread and butter, had become difficult, so the husband and wife thought moving to the province would be the best option. They’ve long considered themselves “part-time hippies” anyway. They love traveling and immersing in new experiences, and they prepared their children for this kind of life; both kids are homeschooled.
They once were well-off, 36-year-old Benjo shares. “Nakakapag-travel kami here and abroad. Sa Landers kami naggo-grocery. May condo property kami sa Tagaytay.” Benjo is a mountain climber and has hiked in different parts of the Philippines, as well as in the mountains of Nepal and Kuala Lumpur. “Anim ang kotse namin noon na pang buy and sell,” 33-year-old Rox offers.
But Taal Volcano erupted, followed by the Covid pandemic and the lockdowns. Their lives were turned upside down. “Naibenta ko nang palugi ang property sa Tagaytay, ipinambayad sa utang,” shares Benjo.
“Yung anim na sasakyan namin na pang buy and sell, lahat yun na-zero. Hindi lang zero, negative pa,” adds Rox. They hit rock bottom. “It was mental torture. Nung pandemic, may point na tumatawag ako sa Mama ko at kapatid ko na parang gusto ko nang magpakamatay,” Rox recalls, her cheerful expression disappearing from her face.
The “bayad-utang” tricycle became a life-saver. Their initial plan was to turn the old, rusty three-wheeler into a mobile food truck. They used P100,000 from the money they got selling their condo property to remodel the vehicle. By February 2021, they started selling barbecue and fresh meats in the food truck which was stationed at Bagasbas Beach. But the business didn’t do well so Benjo thought of another idea. Since they love to travel, love to camp, why not turn the trike into a home and make videos of their life as trike campers?
It was in December 2021 when Benjo started converting the food truck into a mobile home. He knew a thing or two about home design, thanks to years of selling condo units. He had to do some of the dirty work himself since they had a limited budget. With the help of relatives who know carpentry and welding, he was able to finish the remodeling process in two months. They spent P65,000 for the project.
Benjo has been doing the upgrades here and there and showing some of his DIYs on TikTok and Facebook. In one video, he converted a small area of the home into a shower room. They also bid goodbye to their portable butane stove because he just recently installed a foldable stove top with a gas tank. Their living space is about 10 feet long, 4 feet wide, and 5 feet 8 inches high. “Ito na yun,” the giggly Rox tells us, showing the entirety of their trike home.
The living room can be converted into a bedroom, a kitchen, a bathroom, and an entertainment room. Would you believe they could even enjoy movie nights here? The Magic Trike is run by solar power.
“Marami din akong newbie mistakes kasi first time kong mag-convert [ng food truck para maging bahay]. Wala din talaga akong experience sa carpentry,” Benjo reveals. “With this one, natuto tayo kahit paano.”
Benjo also learned to be creative and resourceful. “Since nagtitipid kami, ang ginawa kong pinaka basin ng lababo ay yung lagyanan ng ulam nung nagtitinda pa kami. Binutasan ko lang,” he says proudly. “Yung gripo namin, hindi siya talaga yung may pump. It’s battery operated; 1 ½ years na siya now and going strong.”
On their first night at the trike home, the Dimaandals still parked around Bagasbas beach. “Napagkamalan pa din kaming tindahan nung nagse-setup kami… may mga nagtatanong kung may burger daw,” Rox recalls laughing. “Yan ang dahilan kaya ginawa ko din talagang mukhang bahay ang loob,” says Benjo.
They’ve obviously been having fun documenting their life as campers. “Ang isa sa pinaka na-enjoy ko talaga ay yung freedom,” says Benjo, who also spent a couple of years working in an office. “Hindi ko talaga kaya yung may sinusunod na oras. Kaya from 2012, I’ve been working from home. Gusto ko yung may freedom na kahit saan kami, basta dala ko ang ang laptop ko, makakapag work ako. Kaya tugma din sa akin ang pagiging content creator.”
But while some may think content creation is easy money, Benjo says it actually requires a lot of hard work and patience. Often he has to stay up late to finish editing. And their videos don’t always get viral. “Basta ang ginagawa ko, mataas man o mababa ang views, I put in the same amount of effort,” says the Mass Communication undergrad.
Their dedication is starting to pay off. They’ve been attracting partnerships and sponsorships. In their latest video, the couple featured a new trike given to them by automotive company Bajaj Philippines. The couple also has an ongoing partnership with the tourism of Camarines Norte; the Dimaandals are to promote the province’s tourist attractions.
Traveling in a tricycle obviously has its share of challenges, as can be seen in some of their videos. Their MagicTrike's engine is old and sometimes stalls in the middle of a trip. At times the trike would get mired in mud. “Sa mga experiences na kagaya nito namin napapatunayan na marami pa ding may mabubuting kalooban na handang tumulong,” says Benjo. During strong rains, they have no choice but to stay put or park somewhere safe.
Benjo and Rox have been married for 15 years and the former likens their journey to that of soldiers. “Pag sundalo ka, you go through shared struggles, you go through battles, and those experiences strengthen your bond and relationship,” says Benjo.
Their dream is to build a bigger, more heavy-duty camper, so they could take their children along with them in trips (the whole family lives with Benjo’s folks when they’re not traveling). But leaving MagicTrike might be a bit of a struggle. After all, in the darkest of times, the little-vehicle-that-could gave them hope and allowed them a brand new start.
Photos courtesy of the Dimaandals