The Firefly Brigade is a group of avid cyclists who set out to make a difference in the country’s environmental state. It is a citizen's volunteer action group formed in 1999 to work for clean air and a habitable, people-friendly environment in our cities.
What started out as a small “fun bike ride with a serious purpose” in 1999, the Tour of the Fireflies now attracts thousands of bikers. The group was founded by UP Mountaineer Katti Sta. Ana as a response to the catastrophically polluted metro streets that she constantly had to face when biking. In their report, they quoted a research done by the Asian Development Bank that says: 16 people die daily in Metro Manila due to air pollution, 78% of which comes from motorized transport.
With the government allocating a great amount of funds to road widening and flyovers, it really is a manifestation that it perpetuates a car culture---when only 20% of the country can afford to buy and use a car. The group pushes for bigger investment in public transport planning and also the need to explore the bike lanes option.
The Firefly brigade also promotes a more human-oriented road and street planning, the over-passes are, for the most part, not very kind to pedestrians who have to physically carry loads and therefore they end up crossing underneath those structures, which make them more susceptible to car accidents. People, not cars should be the priority when designing structures such as these.
Rock Ed promotes the Millennium Development Goal #7 ---to Promote Environmental Sustainability so we had two (yes, just two…) participants in the ride this year, Nards Coll and Pat Posadas. The two brave souls who actually owned and used bikes in the midst of us nocturnal rock and rollers. We found a connection to this group via an unlikely source, Patrick Reidenbach (owner of the legendary Club Dredd) gave us the number of Firefly Brigade President Jack Yabut.
Even if we had a tiny group representing us during the ride, we still expressed our full support. We had a volunteer sign-up table and we gave out white bands to bikers at 5am. Some of us didn’t sleep at all as we went straight from rocking at the Terno event the night prior…but there we were groggy and party-weary but beaming and proud to be part of such a worthy cause. Even if it didn't look it, we do BELIEVE, SUPPORT and SALUTE the Firefly Brigade. You are our heroes because you had no excuses and you took on the advocacy of caring for our planet. Mabuhay kayo!
Volunteer for the Firefly Brigade at http://www.fireflybrigade.org
Photo Credit: Leonardo Coll © 2006