Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Philippine Motorcycle Club Pushes for Safety Over Swinging

While the term “haruroot” may loosely be translated to describe the act of speeding, or revving up one’s engine to achieve a faster acceleration, the members of this motorcycle riders’ club are hardly anything but speed addicts. They are in fact the most cautious type of riders, preferring to keep to their lane and stay on the safe side to avoid accidents.

“We’re actually proud of the fact that throughout the club’s existence, no member of our club has ever been involved in any type of vehicular accidents,” beams Harry T. Yu, former President of Haruroot Riders Club. Such a rare feat is further amplified by the fact that the club, which was first founded in June 1973, is now celebrating its 40th anniversary this year – that’s over four decades of safe riding on the road!

Jimmy Chan, one of the Sr. officers of the group recalls, “In the 70s, the bad guys are often depicted as motorcycle-riding thugs with tattoos, often operating as a group and wreaking havoc on any place they fancy. This is particularly true in the movies, but that wasn’t the case with us. During the time of our foundation, there were only a few riders,  and motorcycles still weren’t the most common mode of transport -- unlike today. We decided to form a motorcycle riders’ club just as a way to unwind, like a barkada enjoying each other’s company after a hard day at work.”

The club has since evolved tremendously through the years.

To help enhance their motorcycle riding skills, the club enjoins its members to regularly attend conventions and seminars sponsored by national motorcycle associations. Prior to being formally welcomed to the club, its members are also made to undergo an initiation rite of sorts where they are required to attend all club meetings and pass a series of safe riding tests.

“If before we just require prospective members to undergo six months probation, we have since become a bit more ‘picky’ in accepting new recruits. It’s no longer enough that they pass all the tests, there is now also a panel interview that they’d have to go through,” says Jess Bangsil, vice president for external affairs of the Haruroot Riders Club. “More than the financial aspect, we also see to it that the new recruits are able to blend well with the others while still being able to stick the club’s rules, advocacies, and activities.”

The club has since organized weekend club rides, conducted once or twice a month, to major tourist destinations in the country such as Cebu, Davao, Tacloban, Baguio, and most recently in Bacolod. “We’re now like a fraternity, or a brotherhood of men who share a common passion for safe riding,” Jess adds. “While the tattoo and the usual swagger of a motorcycle rider is still there, our members aren’t the type who would go swinging and swerving left or right to ease through traffic. Haruroot riders are established professionals and disciplined drivers who abide by the club’s commitment to safe riding.”

During scheduled rides, each member is made to follow a set of rules meant to ensure their safety. One of these rules includes wearing proper attire like body armour, helmet, leather jacket and other safety gears. They are also advised not to overtake the lead bike and to just stay focused on the road, thinking of nothing else but the planned route ahead. “The rides aren’t meant to test how fast our bikes can go,” Jess explains. “Rather, it is for riders to enjoy each other’s company and to savor the journey while it lasts.”

For his part, Sr. Officer, Mr. Harry Yu believes that what sets the Haruroot Riders Club apart from other motorcycle clubs is the camaraderie fostered among members during the scheduled rides. “We ride for fun and pleasure, enjoying scenic views along the way. In every ride, we try to deepen the friendship and solidarity among our members through shared activities on the road. We are not like stereotype motorcycle riders in the past that’d go around in their rider’s suit just to show off.  For our members, each ride serves a purpose.”

Indeed, as an organization that began as a simple get-together for a group of friends some 40 years ago, the Haruroot Riders Club has since come a long way. They have proven their worth, both on and off the road, as riders with a mission. Theirs is a brotherhood bounded by principles instead of borders, a fraternity of men whose main goal is not only to look good (in their leather jackets and overall rider’s getup), but to be good and help other riders practice safety on the road.

Unlike the usual stereotype (and you can even say misconception) for riders, these men are made of a different stuff. They are out to prove to all and sundry that the bad guy isn’t and shouldn’t always be the one riding a two-wheeled vehicle. In fact, riders shouldn’t always be pointed to immediately as the culprit in every major road accident as there are also those who practice safe riding, like the Haruroot Riders.

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