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        Michael Bucu’s first Philippine Loop almost turned out to be his last

        The budding motovlogger shares his most unforgettable rider story
        by Matthew Galang Jul 29, 2021

        “Yun ang pinaka-nakakatakot na two hours ko as a rider

        The Philippine Loop is at the top of most riders’ bucket lists for a reason. They say once youve completed the adventure tour, you cant wait to have a go at it again. It requires a combination of motorcycle riding skill, endurance, navigation, and resourcefulness, which makes the feat rather fulfilling.

         

        Just ask Michael Bucu—avid rider, motovlogger, mechanic, and owner of  Michaelmotoworkz motorcycle repair shop.

        Michael Bucu

        Continue reading below ↓

        His story as a rider began when he was still in high school, and his father brought home a Honda Tact from Ilocos Norte. The little 50cc scooter came from the pier and was dissassembled, or ‘chop-chop’ as Bucu described with a matching chopping motion. He recalled: “Pag wala siya, tinatakas ko yung motor. Dun na ko nag-start mag-ride onti-onti nang malalayo... Yung mismong motor na dinala ng tatay ko na rin ang pinagpa-practice-an kong kalkalin at gawin. 

        Continue reading below ↓
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        He couldn’t help but laugh while reminiscing about his adventures and all the places he got to visit on the little Tact. Back then, Bucu thought to himself: “Parang may kulang. Kulang pag di ko maabot yung Visayas at Mindanao.” A photo of his dad reaching Mayon volcano by bike ultimately convinced him to follow in the former’s footsteps and take on the Loop, despite the ongoing pandemic.

        PHOTO: Mark Jesalva

        Lone wolf

        Bucu has always preferred to ride solo. Part of the joy of riding for him is taking in the sights and sounds of the journey, which could prove difficult when you have to worry about your riding companions.

        Continue reading below ↓

        For this seasoned rider, rides continue no matter the seasons (pun intended). In a previous interview, he revealed that he’s no stranger to riding through a storm, and even revels in getting soaked, Kapag nauulanan kasi akonawawala ang stress ko.”

        PHOTO: Mark Jesalva

        As much as he would like to ride full-time, Bucu is aware of work-life balance—the ‘work’ part of which comes in the form of Michaelmotoworkz. Focusing on his business is his way of recouping his expenses. The shop also serves as his headquarters, where he keeps his Kymco Xciting S 400 i.

        Whereas other Loopers obsess over preparing for the 5,000km tour, the motovlogger can be found in his workshop tinkering with bikes hours before takeoff. Sleeping before a ride also isn’t really his thing, apparently, “Gusto ko kasi pag natulog ako, kinabukasan na yun.” 

        He only needs water, vitamins, some meds, and his tools. He explained: “Kapag nasiraan ako, walang problema, kaya kong gawin. Pero thank God, sa lahat ng biyahe ko, never ako nasiraan, never din ako na flat-an.”

        Continue reading below ↓

        Michael Bucu

        If there’s one thing that Bucu isn’t taking any chances with, it’s is his bike. He makes sure that his motorcycle is in tip-top shape by performing comprehensive pre-ride inspections and services, including oil change and CVT cleaning. He said, “Di bale ako pagod, wag lang yung motor ko.”

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        The mechanic vouches for stock parts, which according to him are sturdier than bike mods. He also underscored the importance of proper pre-ride maintenance: Mahirap naman yung walang change oil, walang maintenance tapos bigla kayong sasabak nang malayo. Mahirap masiraan sa malayong lugar, lalo na sa gitna ng bundok. Mahirap, maiiyak ka na lang nun.

        Thrown for a loop

        Bucu intended to take things slow on his adventure trip—literally. He took his time riding and, as cliche as it sounds, savored every moment. This allowed him to not only sightsee, but fully experience his regional destinations. He said: “Nakatikim ako ng mga specialty ng bawat probinsya, nakakilala ako ng mga bagong kaibigan. I’m so blessed na sa ride ko na ito sa Visayas at Mindanao, ang dami kong nakilala. Ang saya; alam mo yung pupunta ka sa bawa’t lugar, may nakakakilala sayo.

        Michael Bucu

        Continue reading below ↓

        Riding through Mindanao, though, turned out to be the opposite of laid-back. While he was in Davao, Bucu was given a permit to shoot on ground zero of Marawi. He was directed to the route (nine and a half hours away) passing Cotabato, where he was supposed to be met and escorted by police, but he found another way with shorter travel time.

        The locals dissuaded him from this route. Bucu was pressed for time, though, because he wanted to catch the 4pm RoRo trip from Iligan to Cebu. Trouble struck when he took the shorter way anyway. He shared: “Na-dead end ako. One and a half hours away na lang ako sa Marawi, putol yung daan.” He pinned Iligan Port, where he thought he could backtrack to Marawi, and took the route that just appeared.

        The next scenes came straight out of a survival movie.

        Una, maliit na daan lang, tapos lubak. Maya-maya lumala na, parang mga batong pang-hilod na yung dinadaanan ko. Pag nagkamali ka, laglag ka sa bangin. Nung time na yun, kinakabahan na ako. Ginawa ko, tinanggal ko yung camera ko. Tapos ayun, napara ako ng may baril. Pero, sinunod ko yung payo ng mga nasa Davao, na pag may pumapara sayo, dumiretso ka lang. Unang para sa’kin, dumire-diretso ako. Siguro after 30 minutes may pumara ulit sakin na nakakasalubong ko lang. Yung huli, may mahaba na dala talaga.

        Continue reading below ↓

        PHOTO: Mark Jesalva

        Seeing someone with a rifle trying to flag him down really shook Bucu. He recalled: “After nun, iba na talaga kaba ko. Wala pa rin akong makitang daan. Nagkamali talaga ako, sabi ko eh.

        Prior to entering that path, Bucu asked around if it would take him to Iligan. A local told him there’s a rough road and that he has to have a full tank. A couple of hours after getting lost and almost flagged down by armed men, he finally found two mobiles with police officers in in battle gear.

        Relief washed over Bucu as he approached the vehicles. He remembered asking the police if it was the right way to Iligan. They told him: “May daan nga raw dun, tapos tinanong ako, ‘Saan ka galing? Bakit nadaan ka dito?’ Sabi ko naligaw ako eh. Tanong nila, May humarang ba sa’yo? Buti di ka huminto.’ Dasal ako nang dasal nun, sobra, iba yung kaba ko.

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        The police then instructed Bucu to keep going for 20 minutes to get to his destination, and reassured him that he was going to make it there safely. He even went by a landslide on the way, but he did arrive in Iligan after 15 minutes.

        Yun ang two hours talaga na nakakatakot na biyahe ko sa buong buhay ko na pagiging rider. Pero at the end of the day, di ko pinagsisisihan kasi merong tinuro na aral sa akin na minsan kailangan makinig ako sa mga kaibigan ko,” he shared.

        Life of a Looper

        A friend of Bucu’s who had also finished the adventure tour once told him, “Kapag nag-Philippine Loop ka, babaguhin nun yung pananaw mo sa buhay.” True enough, he now appreciates the things that he used to take for granted, especially after his thrill of a ride.

        PHOTO: Mark Jesalva

        The freedom to go wherever you want becomes significant once you’ve navigated the country via motorcycle. Spending 15 riding days away from home has also strengthened Bucu’s relationship with his wife, who has been supportive of his dream from the start.

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        Philippine Loop Adventure Tour badge

        After his first go, Bucu is thirsty for more. He said: “Ibang ruta naman. Tingin ko, di mo kayang pasyalin o ikutin ang buong Pilipinas ng isa, dalawa, o tatlong ride lang. Maraming biyahe to.

        Kung mapapansin niyo, every year dumadami yung mga tourist spots na ngayon lang nadi-discover, so it’s never-ending. Hangga’t kaya ko, hangga’t bata ako, kung may pagkakataon, no questions asked, walang pag-aalinlangan, gagawin ko ulit.

        Continue reading below ↓

        Michael Bucu

        To all the aspiring Philippine Loopers, Michael has this to say: “Sa mga kagaya ko na nangangarap noon sa pagra-ride... Ngayon mo pa lang madadaanan yang mga lugar na yan, iwasan mo yung mga racing-racing sa kalye, enjoy-in mo lang yung bawat sandali.

        Michael Bucu

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        Michael Bucu

        Michael Bucu

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        Michael Bucu

        Michael Bucu

        Continue reading below ↓

        Michael Bucu

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        PHOTO: Mark Jesalva

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