By Cris de Vera
Over fifty activists joined our Critical Mass bike ride in Baliwag, Bulacan against coal and other fossil fuels last December 18.
The ten-kilometer bike ride, organized by the local Food Not Bombs group in partnership with Etniko Bandido Infoshop, 350.org, and local autonomous activists from Manila, aimed to raise awareness about the social and ecological impacts of fossil-fueled development in a town like Baliwag, and to connect its struggle to the global problem of climate change.
Bulacan is a major industrial and agricultural hub. It is strategically located between the commercial center of Manila and the industrial and trading centers of Northern Luzon, one of the key rice granaries of the Philippines.
Despite the great challenge posed by El Niño, this province pulled off a bountiful harvest that led it to be recently recognized by the Department of Agriculture as a Hall of Famer in the Agri-Pinoy Rice Achievers Award. Yet food production is decreasing because vast swathes of agricultural land have been converted to low-cost housing projects, supermarkets, and malls.
All this new infrastructure requires a huge amount of electricity, which will be generated from coal and other fossil fuels. On the other hand, food security is at risk and will be even more so because of the impacts of climate change.
Some of us bikers arrived at the Hero’s Park in Baliwag as early as 8 AM that Sunday. We gathered to discuss the route and give a brief background of the Critical Mass Action. We also started putting up signs like “Break Free from Fossil Fuels” on our bikes.
The weather was calm, yet the darker clouds made us think it will rain soon, so by 9 AM we started to bike to the northern side of Baliwag. When we saw a Shell gas station along the road, we decided to stop not just to rest but also to unfurl our banner stating “Bikes Against Coal and Fossil Fuels”.
After that we rode again, taking one lane of the road while at the same time speaking through our megaphone to promote our cause.
We already felt small drops of rain fall so we decided to rest and take cover. We ended the ride at noon; thirty minutes after, we occupied a tent space in a park where we installed our banner and gave out both free vegetarian meals and flyers.
The bike ride may be over, but we continue to call on motorists to share the road, as well as to promote the use of bicycles as an alternative form of transportation to minimize our dependency on fossil-fueled vehicles. And in the midst of the climate crisis, we shall carry on the fight for Food Not Bombs.