Meet Jemelie Torres, the Pinay rider who completed the PH loop 3 times

Dennis Gasgonia, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 20 2021 10:56 PM | Updated as of Jan 21 2021 07:49 AM

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Imagine riding around the Philippines all by yourself on a motorcycle in 25 days. Jemelie Torres has done just that. Three times.

Torres said she first signed up for the Philippine Loop Adventure Tour, — which entails riding to various points in Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, — in 2018 to challenge herself.

"Kinausap ako noong organizer na wala pang babae na gumagawa ng Philippine loop na solo. So ako naman na-challenge," said Torres, a pharmacist by profession.

Torres first learned the joy of riding motorcycles at the age of 6 when her father gifted her a 2-stroke Honda Dio scooter.

Years later, she began joining endurance challenge events that meant riding 1,200 kilometers for 24 hours.

This boosted her confidence to join the Philippine Loop Adventure Tour. 

"I'm a solo rider, so sinabi ko gagawin ko ang Philippine loop," Torres said.

Like most riders, Torres considered motorcycle riding as a welcome break from her daily routine.

"Kahit 'yun anak ko, ano daw napapala ko sa rides. 'Yan tanong sa'kin . . . Lagi ko sinasabi is nakakaalis ng stress," she said.

"Kung hindi ko naging libangan mag-long ride baka sa dami ng stress ko madepress naman ako."

The Philippine Loop Adventure Tour is an all-year event backed by the Department of Tourism to encourage tourists to travel around the Philippines over a prescribed 5,000-kilometer route and travel time.

"Mayroon silang checkpoints na kailangan mong daanan, magpi-picture ka for documentary evidence . . . Requirement sa Philippine loop na mag-post ng picture sa page," said Torres. 

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

The places Jemelie Torres visited during her journeys. Photos courtesy of the rider herself

"Kapag sinunod mo ang basic route sa Luzon, Visayas and Mindanao, it will cover 5,000 kilometers."

In her first try in August 2018, she used a Honda Click 150 and nobody from her relatives knew what she was about to do. The starting point was at the Kilometer 0 landmark at Rizal Park.

"Actually wala silang alam na nagloop ako. Kasi 'pag sinabi kong tumawid dagat ako baka sabihin nila lumubog ang RORO. Basta nagse-send na lang ako ng picture na nandoon na ako," she said.

She rode day and night, checking in at small hotels. Sometimes she sleeps at gasoline stations or while onboard a RORO.

"Natutulog lang ako saglit, makikipagbonding sa rider groups, tapos bababyahe na ulit. Ligo lang kapag gabi. Ang ginagawa ko pag nasa RORO doon ako natutulog. Kahit sa gasoline station natutulog ako," Torres said.

"Basta kailangan 5 or 6 a.m. bumabyahe na ako."

Of course she enjoyed the sights, which was the point of the tour.

She visited various spots that were part of the route — Baler in Aurora, Aparri in Cagayan, Laoag City in Ilocos Norte, the second highest peak Mount Atok in Mountain Province, Alaminos in Pangasinan, Subic, and General Santos, to name a few.

Torres acknowledged she was scared at first by the thought of riding solo in Mindanao.

"Nu'ng dumating ako ng Dumaguete, madaming nag-aadvise sa'kin na, 'Jem, dapat bago mag-alas-5 ng hapon nasa Cotabato ka na... Sabi ko tatakbo na ba ko? Mindanao na ito e,'" she said.

But her worries turned out to be unfounded.

"Nameet ko 'yung rider clubs doon, mga kaibigan nating Muslim, doon ko lang sila na meet," said Torres.

What made the ride special was the friends she made along the way.

This is why she did it twice more in 2020, in January and February, just before the lockdown.

"Marami tayong mga kabigan dyan sa Visayas-Mindanao . . . Sila ang nagwe-welcome sa akin doon sa Roxas City. Magtatampo kapag hindi ko sila hihintuan," said Torres.

"Ganoon din sa last ride ko sa Mindanao, noong naka (Honda) ADV na ko. May mga kakilala tayong taga-Bukidnon, binibisita ko."

Covering the Philippine loop gives Torres a sense of accomplishment.

"It's an accomplishment na 'di magagaya at 'di mananakaw ng kahit sino," said Torres. "Ito yung mga bagay na tipong maikukuwento ko sa mga mgging apo ko."
 
For her next ride, Torres plans to go for the North Loop covering Marikina, Subic, Alaminos, Atok, Laoag, Aparri and Baler.

"Sa February ako biyahe. Pinapaaayos ko pa ang travel pass," she said.

"Masaya ako na madami ako nakikilalang mga tao sa iba't ibang lugar sa mga ganitong ride. Nalalaman ko ang kultura nila at naikkumpara ko kung anong meron ako kahit walang yaman sa mundo. Iyan ang mga bagay na hindi nabibili."