Tricycle drivers become Malabon’s tourism ambassadors
Riding a tricycle is an unlikely choice to discover a place. But when it comes to a city like Malabon, where roads are usually narrow, a tricycle ride is a more practical option. Aside from easier mobility, tricycle drivers have firsthand knowledge in terms of unique places to visit, which the most curious of travelers are looking for.
Launched December of 2014, the Malabon Tricycle Tour has gained traction as a most sought-after experience as it has opened to tourists a new way of viewing the city. It has even roused the interest of those residing within the city to as far as those living at the opposite side of the globe. Just recently, more than 50 students from a US-based university experienced the tour.
“We were so delighted that these American students chose the Tricycle Tour as they want to really immerse in the place. They wanted something different, far from the usual beach-and-mountain destinations. Malabon gave them history, culture, and of course, a lot of food and fine Pinoy hospitality,”
said Melissa Sison-Oreta, Malabon’s First Lady who conceptualized the project with Mayor Antolin Oreta III as a way to give tricycle drivers an additional source of income.
For only a minimal fee (P250 for the Heritage Tour, P750 for the Food Trip Tour, and P900 for both), the tricycle drivers will take visitors to various tourist destinations, starting at Malabon’s centuries-old San Bartolome Church which was built in 1564.
Two of the tricycle drivers, Michael Mendoza and Richard Sioson, said that the Malabon Tricycle Tour did not only provided them additional income but more importantly, it gave them a renewed sense of pride in their work and in the place where they live.
“Before, we can earn an average of P150 to P200 a day but when we joined the project, we can earn more than P800 a day. Since the tour will not last more than eight hours, we can earn extra afterwards,” both of them revealed. “Our families are so thankful that an opportunity like this had happened.”
Art is also a major part of the tour, as tourists get to visit several art galleries such as Artes de Paseo which regularly features local artists depicting local scenes. There is also the gallery-home of Malabon-based esteemed artist Angel Cacnio.
A visit to the Ibaviosa Ancestral Home will give visitors a closer look at the entrepreneurial spirit of the Malabonians. It is the first house to have a patisan located in the backyard (patis or fish sauce being a major product of the city). The house, with its marble floors, had survived the Filipino-Japanese war.
When it comes to places to eat, Malabon goes beyond the popular Pancit Malabon and Sapin-Sapin. In recent years, there has been a restaurant boom in the city, with small eateries popping all over and serving the city’s unique choices of tapa, the most exotic of which would be tapang kabayo or cured horse meat.
Tapang kabayo, along with other local delicacies such as longganisang Malabon and kalabasang okoy (shrimp omelet with squash shavings), can be found and bought at the Concepcion Market—another Tricycle Tour pit stop.
The tour has indeed directly benefited restaurants in the city, solidifying Malabon’s reputation as NCR’s heritage and food destination. Judy Ann Francisco of Jamico’s Restaurant has seen tourist arrivals drastically increase when the Tricycle Tour was launched.
“It made people rediscover the best of Malabon. The tour should be supported and continued as it has benefited not only the business owners but most importantly the people who rely on tourism for livelihood,” said Francisco.
Marcy Nepomuceno Paguio wholeheartedly agreed, adding that they gave their all-out support for the tourism program. Their ancestral home was renovated in 2015; it was also the time when they decided to convert the carport to a restaurant named Ninong Ading’s Veranda.
“As part of the Tricycle Tour, we are proud to open our home and tell visitors the story of our ancestral house which was built in the late 18th century,” she said. “After touring the house, guests can enjoy our dishes such as seafoods, tapang kabayo, tinapang bangus, etc.”
As guests tour and take time in each stop to buy products or take selfies, the tricycle driver is just patiently waiting. From a handful of participants, the tour is now operating with 50 trained tricycle drivers ready to welcome tourists any day of the week. They are well-versed with the city’s rich history and can even reveal some interesting trivia about each of the stops. From merely transporting people from one point to another, they are now tourism ambassadors ready to open the doors of Malabon’s past to be appreciated in the present.