THEY came from many parts of Mindanao on their motorcycles to show government troops fighting the terrorists in Marawi that they care for them.
The bikers belong to various groups but they are all members of the Mindanao Confederation of Big Bike Clubs (MCBBC), and their purpose is one: to boost the morale of the soldiers who are engaging in urban warfare in the streets of Marawi.
Officially called the “Breakfast Ride,” the Cagayan de Oro event was the continuation of the same activity held last August in Baguio City which was attended by the more than a thousand motorbike enthusiasts from across the country.
Each biker who joined the ride-for-a-cause paid P600 for the registration. Almost 2,000 riders had registered for the event.
Major General Ronnie Evangelista, chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Civil Relations Services, said the ride was also aimed to raise the awareness of the public regarding the hardships the uniformed personnel have to go through to eliminate the insurgents in Marawi.
“Now more than ever, this is the right time to unite. We have to convince the ‘silent majority’ to speak out,” Evangelista, himself a biker, told the riders and soldiers at the Philippine Army’s 4th Infantry Division (4ID) headquarters on Saturday.
Through “Breakfast Ride,” he said other civilian sectors can initiate their own morale-boosting projects to raise the spirits of the armed forces in Marawi.
Major General Ronald Villanueva, the 4ID commander, said the ride was no to just to show support to the troops but as an expression of love for one’s country.
“Because of this (Breakfast Ride), we will strive hard to defend our countrymen from [those who want to sow violence and disrupt the peace],” Villanueva said.
Since the Marawi crisis started last May 23, hundreds of soldiers have already been brought to the Camp Evangelista Station Hospital (CESH) for treatment.
At present, there are 88 Army personnel who are still recuperating at the CESH and Villanueva said they want to go back to Marawi to fight again as soon as they are able.
Jondi Lacson, a motorcycle enthusiast and head of a motorcycle dealership in Mindanao, said the MCBBC is planning on producing an indie film that will document the stories of soldiers who are in Marawi.
Part of the proceeds of the Breakfast Ride will be used to finance the production of the film.
Lacson said the film will be about the war in Marawi and will focus on the troops.
“It (film) will also tackle the aftereffects of the war to the soldiers who had fought in Marawi,” he said.
He said they will develop the concept and will hire a director and cinematographer to do the movie.
Lacson said they chose to produce a film so people, especially the next generation, will remember what happened in Marawi.
“We don’t want the war in Marawi to be forgotten. We want to document it and keep it for the future generation, and the means of documenting it is through an independent film,” he added.
Lacson has not divulged the timeframe for the production of the documentary, but once finished, they have plans on entering it in local and international film festivals.