062012 - The Urban Tracker (In Pampanga): The Amazing Trike Transfer at San Rafael

Metropolitan Cathedral in downtown San Fernando Pampanga
here's no question that San Fernando city is truly the centerfold of commercialization in all Pampanga. 

Much has improved or changed since the last time I was here five years ago but then the city still preserved much of its old character. 

The last of authentic karitelas ply here in San Fernando Pampanga
When we took a brief segue at poblacion, there were some interestingly familiar sightings. Flags waved at the towering Metropolitan Cathedral soon to be outpowered by a nearly-completed SM San Fernando Downtown SFDM could be the last city to have karitelas or kalesa plying on the streets but thanks to the last of karitela makers which still made it a reality and classic downtown ride.

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The street of San Rafael as seen by a passenger of trike
One thing yet clear this morning was where we would stay with our bulkier stuff for that night. There's no contact with our next home base. My team decided it better to go directly to the place since one of my teammates knew it's somewhere in Maimpis and took chances. So back to the terminal in San Rafael, we began to fetch our stuff like burdened carabaos when somebody made an offer - here come the men in trikes.

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Powered manually, trikes is Pampanga's king of the road
The trike or cycle rickshaw is the term they call for a 3-wheeled bicycle with a housing powered manually. Also known as sidecar, padyak or sikad - a popular mode of short-distance city transporter but it boldly competes with jeepneys, tricycles in the mainstream street supremacy. 

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Trikes in action - the fast but not furious
Nevertheless, trike was our only choice to get to the highway in 10 minutes besides tricycles had been refusing us with our load of baggage. So we took 3 trikes and rode by pairs aboard with our pieces of baggage and watched how these men ruled the streets.

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Trikes snake the road system in San Rafael to race with vehicles.
The trike or padyak drivers men cheerfully agreed in our deal at 50 pesos for the pair of us making it 150. Besides, these men would bike their way up the busy section. So the action began, the men engaged in shouts as they gestured to follow each other. Along the road, it became a clear race and gamely we joined the fun and daring frenzy like the one in amazing race giving us a run of our ass. The trike men tried to outdo each other while we charged them ahead and instantly we became their cheerleaders.

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The smile of the spunky trike driver in Pampanga.
That was an action-ridden although mind-blowing fun, and obviously, the men just wanted to enjoy the indulgence, for they have been doing it as normal as every day. When we crossed the McArthur Highway, that’s the finish line. And the men parted, happy with a tip and all smiles pasted on their faces. It was a cliffhanging ride like a scene in Indiana Jones but then it gave us the icebreaker we needed before boarding another jeep to Maimpis.

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Like an Amazing Race, it's all smiling on the homestretch
Another trike ride due in check by Maimpis but this time cautious and normal as we were in tug with the luck to find the place available. But it was a heart-wrenching bad news, the house was already occupied by a long-term tenant. So the trike drivers took us wandering back and volunteered to help us find our new place. Our faces were in sorrow drop with a big question hanging as skies started to dim. Heaven knew we're in miserable state and so we beg the heavens for the final answer. With prayers and the memory of the trike drivers exploits earlier saved us from relapse.