Philippine Floods: Motorcycle Taxi to the Rescue

Typhoon Noru devastated the Philippines, flooding homes, leaving millions of people without electricity, and making travel extremely difficult. In the northern town of Hagonoy, in Bulacan Province, Typhoon Noru, known locally as Typhoon Karding, only exacerbated a long-standing problem. Residents have long dealt with flooded streets and difficulties with transport. Nonetheless, motorcycle taxis have found innovative ways to stay in business and provide much-needed transport to their customers. According to Reuters, these drivers have modified their vehicles to allow them to travel through flooded roads, while keeping their passengers dry.

For several years, Hagonoy’s streets have been flooded, thanks to heavy rains during monsoon season, that reach up to two metres (6.5 feet). Nevertheless, life must go on, and residents have, according to Reuters, been forced to wade through flooded streets, or ride through them in boats.

Motorcycle Taxi Styles

Motorcycle taxis typically carry one passenger; who rides pillion behind the driver. In the Philippines, they can carry multiple passengers. There, the motorcycles have sidecars, or seats that stretch out sideways thanks to a T-shaped crossbeam. When they are stretched out with crossbeams, they are known as habal-habal, or skylabs, after Skylab, the first NASA-launched space station. There are also autorickshaws, which are covered tricycles. Companies such as Angkas offer motorcycle taxis for hire in the country’s capital, Manila.

The motorcycle taxi drivers of Hagonoy have modified their motorcycles to allow them to cope with flooding. The drivers have done this by adding steel tubes to the forks of their taxi. This raises them by a few feet, so that passengers and the driver stay dry during the ride and the motorcycle can cope with the flooding.

Adaptable People

Albay Tours points to this innovation as a demonstration of the adaptability of the people of the Philippines and their endless resourcefulness. All across the country, the motorcycle taxi has emerged as a way of dealing with the transport challenges that the country has faced as it has developed. On a trip to the Philippines, you are bound to see these vehicles everywhere, sometimes carrying as many as 10 people!

Motorcycle taxis are popular because they are affordable and accessible. This is even more true in rural Philippines, where there is often an absence of reliable public transport. As The Vera Files reports, prior to the invention of motorcycle taxis, people in rural Philippines walked everywhere, or, they used multicabs. The problem with multi-cabs is that they needed to fill up before they could depart, and because they were so big, it would take a long time for them to do so. In addition, they had more defined routes, where motorcycle taxis are freer to improvise a route based on the passengers’ needs.

Now, mobility is less of an issue, because people have an option to travel longer distances than they could in the past. Now, with this further innovation of the motorcycle taxi, mobility constraints have once again been conquered. As Albay Tours reminds us, this is a testimony to the resilience and adaptability of the people of the Philippines.