“BECAUSE a bike should be a right, not a privilege”.
Bike4u.org, a bike-based foundation started by Cebu-based expat Jens Funk in 2006, has redefined "biking for a cause."
Since it was established in 2006, Bike4U invites visitors to take part in 'voluntourism' activities where they provide much-needed assistance to impoverished residents or disaster-affected areas in the Visayas region.
Funk, who leads the non-profit organization, originally intended it to be a cause-oriented group "that utilizes the bicycle to build skills and foster personal growth of young adults through bicycle-related programs and services."
“It recognizes that everyone should have their own bike that gives him/her the option to use it for recreational, fitness, and commuting purpose. The B4U works to provide each one a bike," Funk explained.
Bike4U has since given away 213 bikes to individuals who use them for daily commute to work and school.
In 2011, the group decided to add “non-biking” initiatives such as feeding programs for children and providing school supplies at the start of the school year.
The group also helps provide solar-powered lamps that can also recharge cellphones to fishing villages with no access to electricity under easy-to-own payment schemes (Php120-600 payable in one year).
To help finance his group’s activities, the former IT consultant also owns and operates Bugoy Bikers, an outdoor company that conducts regular biking tours for a foreign clientele in some of the most beautiful locales in the Philippines. Donations are also accepted.
For full story about Bugoy Bikers, see German expat turns top pitchman for Philippines as top biking destination
The group would invite volunteers to ride to the mountains on their bikes, find a community and try to help in a "small" way by providing school supplies, food or whatever is needed.
The 47-year old-German was in Bohol when it was struck by a magnitude 7.2 earthquake and was also present in Leyte when Yolanda struck. Funk returned with a truck filled with relief goods containing food, medicine and candles to 700 families.
Last weekend, he and his group returned to one of the typhoon-affected areas, this time in Barangay Bandilaan in Siquijor island, to help spread holiday cheer for the residents.
As an example of their “Pabukid is Bugoy (Bugoy Goes to the Mountains)," the group distributed a truckload of goods that included 300 buckets; 300 basins; 300 dippers; 300 loafs of bread; 300 1-liter bottles of Coke; 300 bread spreads; 400 pairs of slippers; 350 tarpaulins and 500 gift packs containing clothes & toys for kids.
“As a cyclist, we take so much memories and fun out of the mountains. Let’s help in our small way. Let's support those who need support," Funk said.
On Christmas Day, Funks and his Cebu-based group will go on a “Charity Ride” to mountain communities in Danao, Cebu where they will donate canned food, clothes and school supplies to children.
“This is an open ride, and every cyclist can join. Just donate something, go with us in the mountains and see, that 100% of your donation will be received, where it's most needed,” Funks said.
The donations will be transported in a jeepney that would accompany the bikers. This year they plan to host more than 400 kids in Barangay Hagnaya in the mountains of Danao in Cebu as part of their annual feeding program.
“We thought it's time to give something back,” said Funk, an avid cyclist who has biked all over the Philippines in the past 11 years.