NEGROS ORIENTAL—Move over, mountain bikers. An improvised version of a utility vehicle found only in Valencia, Negros Oriental, is generating a lot of attention worldwide following its international debut as the “king of the downhill trail.”
The “ligiron” (Visayan word for “to roll”) is a four-wheeled wooden cart with a bamboo flooring serving as its chassis. It is used by farmers to bring their produce from the mountains of Valencia to the market. At least three villages have slight variations of this cart.
But it took environmental activist Nicky Dumapit to organize the first-ever race involving over 20 ligiron in Barangay Bongbong in Valencia on June 9.
Dumapit and his group, called Lipay ang Kalibutan (The world is happy), raised money for prizes and organized the race. “I was surprised at the number of ligiron that showed up for the race,” he said.
“It’s addicting. You keep looking forward to your next ligiron experience after just one try,” Dumapit said.
For the June 9 race, the carts had one design, in which drivers would put their feet to the ground to stop the vehicle. “There are other models found in other barangays which have brakes. I have also seen one with a motorcycle shock absorber,” he said.
The ligiron has been featured in a national television program but the attention of the international community was drawn to the photographs of the race by photographer Hersley Ven Casero and the video by Paul Benzi Florendo, both staff members of the creative department at Foundation University.
Florendo also placed a video of himself trying out the ligiron but spinning out of control and tumbling as he hit the dirt. “I never knew dirt would taste that good,” he said in jest.
The video has been posted on social networking site Facebook and the video-sharing site Vimeo. So far, the video has been shared more than 16,000 times and played 55,500 times on Facebook in 11 days by viewers worldwide.
“[It has] gone crazy viral! I’m humbled by it,” Florendo said on his Facebook page.
Making it safer
Interest in the ligiron keeps appearing on Facebook and Vimeo every day, with some netizens suggesting some ways to make the sport safer.
A Facebook user, Genie Morata Rabanes, said the riders should wear helmets and other safety gear.
Dumapit said that he, too, was an advocate of safe riding. “I wanted them to wear protective clothing but the old folks would tell me that they had no such protection when they were using these devices as kids. They feel it would be so unnatural for them to be wearing helmets and pads,” he said.
The video also led some netizens to point out similarities between the ligiron and the wooden scooters of the Cordillerans, leading them to ask who made the first wooden vehicle.
But it appears that both the ligiron and the Cordillera scooter evolved around the same time out of a need for mobility.
Dumapit said elderly Valencianons had told him that they had been riding the ligiron since they were young.
Another netizen, Raul Castillon, said the video showed to the entire world that Filipinos were very talented risk-takers and lovers of extreme sports.
Asked whether the ligiron should become a part of the annual Buglasan Festival in October, Dumapit said perhaps the organizers might want to look into it.
“After all, ‘buglas,’ where the word ‘buglasan’ comes from, is a grass that is closely related to the bamboo, which is the main component of the ligiron,” he said.