Road Trips With Harley-Davidson Riders

One early morning, I got a call from my long time friend, Jay Bautista. “Hey Mike, there’s a bikers’ convention in Tagaytay, and the HOG (Harley-Davidson Owners’ Group) will also be riding to Northern Luzon. Would you like to ride with us and cover these events?”

After checking my schedule, I said without hesitation: “Yes! Email me the details, please.”

Jay and I go a long way back to the days when we were dirt bike riders in the early ‘80s. I was just out of school and he was still a teenager full of enthusiasm and energy. We would ride our small bikes (compared to the Harley-Davidsons) and just have fun and adventure.

If we were not riding, it was endless trips to the beach, every time we had the opportunity, summer or not. We normally traveled in big groups with our special friends. I ended up marrying my very special friend while Jay, who had a crush on one of the girls in our group, ended up with someone else. Now, enough with the love story, let’s get back to motorcycles.

BURN’s Pit stop in Tagaytay. Mike enjoys a bottle of beer with the members of BURN led by Jay Bautista (fifth from left) after arriving at their hotel in Tagaytay.

Long before I met Jay, I was riding a Harley-Davidson. It was my first bike, when I was 17, just after high school. My father, who stopped riding his Indian more than two decades before, decided to buy a vintage 1200 cc, side valve Harley-Davidson, and ride again.

As in most cases riding again after a long break, bikers normally lose their riding skills and become prone to accidents. Fortunately, my father’s accident was a minor one, but it was enough to put a scare on him and he never rode again. While waiting to be sold, the bike seemed to be seducing me, “come on, Mike, ride me, ride me.” So, one day, with help from some of my Harley-riding friends, I succumb to the seduction and rode the bike.

Pretty Harleys All in a Row at the Tagaytay Bikers’ Convention

I had the best time of my life. Every weekend, I would ride with friends on long and short trips, and the bike, which was customized into a chopper, was my commute to school. I could feel the envy of my classmates.

I just can’t remember the exact reason why my father felt he had to sell the bike. I couldn’t do anything since I just borrowed it. Maybe he was scared that the bike might kill me.

Life had to go on without a bike but it was really hard for me to move on. Realizing how I missed the bike, my father bought me another vintage, but it was a car, which confirmed that my father was really after my safety.

Years later, when I went to work as a budding journalist, our company provided willing employees with a motorcycle plan. I was the first in line and got a 125cc Enduro. The boss Raul L. Locsin, created the program so he could have company during weekends when he went trail biking. Another guy from the company also got a bike on the plan, and we joined Locsin and some more friends trailing the ranges of the Cordilleras. We would ride from sunrise to sunset and, if our busy work schedules would permit, we would go for overnight camping trips.

It was during this time that I met Jay and we immediately clicked since we were both riders. It was a period of endless trips and adventures. Like me, his father introduced Jay to motorcycles. There was a big difference though, for while I just “borrowed” my father’s bike, Jay’s dad really encouraged his son to ride bikes. He bought Jay his first bike when he was still a kid.

Years passed and our riding days together ended. We lost touch for a while but would bump into each other during family gatherings since my wife and Jay’s mom were in-laws and officemates, which is how I met him in the first place. Our paths also crossed professionally when he was with the sales force of a company, which hired me as a consultant.

Jay Bautista trying to convince Mike to ride again.

As we pursued our own careers, I stopped riding while Jay continued his adventures. Eventually, his riding friends, including his father (the oldest in their group who still rides at the age of 77), decided to form a biker’s club named BURN, an acronym for Bata at Uugud-ugud Riders Nagsamasama (translation: young and old riders get together).

Then the opportunity for Jay to manage Harley-Davidson Manila came. After he opted for early retirement as a sales executive, a friend of Jay’s recommended him to the owners of Harley-Davidson Manila. During the job interview, Jay was asked: “Why do you want to join us?” He replied, “I just want to be myself and grow my hair again.”

Jay got the job.

I visited Jay before the ride and he told me that he had demo bikes, and that I might want to ride one of them while covering their events. Remembering my father’s accident and others I know who suffered the same fate, I politely declined.

Instead, I asked Jay to tell me the story of Harley-Davidson Manila. He obliged and you can watch his story here:

The Travelers

The road trip to Tagaytay was a two-day affair. Michael Marasigan, founder and producer of, was the designated driver and producer. Long-time buddy Noel V. Mesina joined Michael as his co-driver and cameraman. The trip with the HOGs was more of a send off for the riders who did the Northern Luzon loop through the eastern corridor. Michael and brother Cris Marasigan, as cameraman, rode with them until the end of NLEX (North Luzon Expressway).

Jay Bautista and members of his motorcycle club BURN participated in the National Convention of the National Federation of Motorcycle Clubs of the Philippines in Tagaytay.

Members of HOG, led by its president Rey Pineda, rode their Harleys through the Northern Luzon loop.