When my new friend and tour guide in Dumaguete asked me if I was interested in trying the ligiron, a four-wheel wooden contraption resembling a bike, I enthusiastically said yes, not knowing what I was signing up for. That time, we were already in Valencia, the home of the ligiron in Negros Oriental, so it was just a short trip to the community where we would be riding.
I had tried a similar wooden contraption in Sagada, Mt. Province before, and rode it briefly down a cement road, so I felt a bit confident even before seeing the ligiron. I did not know, though, that I was supposed to take the ligiron for a ride down a hill, which looked more like a mountain to my beginner’s eyes. It was a narrow downhill trail with bumps, stones, curves, and, what’s worse, a short drop, which would mean I would be mid-air for a second – ok, maybe less than a second – but to a leisure biker like me with zero experience in making my bike jump or fly, the idea of taking that downhill trail was daunting. Not to mention, of course, that the ligiron has no brakes.
So I bought some time – and vicarious experience – by asking the kids in the community to ride the downhill trail. I watched closely to get some pointers.
The kids rode down the hill again and again – they were in full-out playtime mode. So, while I waited for them, I also helped out in prepping coconuts for our salad later.
At last, it was my turn to ride the ligiron. My friend/guide Nicky and the kids cheered me on. I let the bike go downhill, feeling the rush of the wind – and exhilaration. But as I came to the short drop, I hesitated and stopped the ligiron with my feet. I had images of the ligiron going out of control and me tumbling down the hill.
Nicky told me not to hesitate, to plant my feet on either side of the bike, and just steer firmly. I kept stopping at that short drop every time I went downhill though, until finally, I let go. What the heck – never mind a few cuts and bruises, because I know I will regret it if I don’t get past that jump-off. I am here – might as well make the most out of this possibly once-in-a-lifetime ligiron experience.
So I let the ligiron pick up speed, keeping my feet on either side, and stayed in place until the drop-off.
And, for a split second, I was flying.
No wonder the kids want to do it again and again. This beats other games like hide and seek, and even computer games! Kids can have an adventure in their own backyard with arguably the coolest and most ingenious bike. And it’s great exercise too!
It was indeed a great exercise – I was surprised to find myself winded after a few successful rides. I felt happily refreshed by the cold mountain water straight from the tap and the simple buko (young coconut) salad after.
After I was done, the kids again rode the “mountain bikes.”
It was a good thing that the people of Valencia kept using the ligiron. I was told that originally, it was used for transporting fruits and other produce from the mountain to the community. Now it is being used for kids’ playtime – I’m sure the kids don’t have any complaints with that. I certainly wouldn’t!
How to get there:
Valencia is just 15 to 20 minutes away from Dumaguete City, Negros Oriental, by jeepney. Should you want to try the ligiron experience yourself, contact Nicky Dumapit at (63)9276549601 or (63)9196488615.