Culture

A Native Tribe In The Philippines Carves Bikes From Trees

December 4th, 2018

An aboriginal tribe in the Philippines known as the Igolot is making news for their epic wood-carving skills.

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Pixelated Planet Source: Pixelated Planet

The word, Igolot means “mountain people” in the Tagalog language of the Philippines and was adapted from a name bestowed on them by Spanish invaders in the 16th century. Ironically, it was used in a derogatory way to imply that the people were uncivilized and unable to contribute any innovations to modern society.

Now their gaining attention for their technological prowess in carving fully-functional bicycles out of trees. People have been amazed by their intricate designs and craftsmanship.

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Pixelated Planet Source: Pixelated Planet

These skills have been passed down through the tribe for generations and we can see why – these bikes are breathtaking!

Made entirely from carved trees, each bike is unique and represents the distinctive artistic style of the creator/rider.

Perhaps more of a scooter-type vehicle to some, these two-wheeled wonders are often carved in the motif of lions, horses, and dragons. It’s clear that each one involves intense craftsmanship and attention to detail.

The bikes require great skill to ride since they only have rudimentary breaks and can reach up to 25mps if they’re going downhill!

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Pixelated Planet Source: Pixelated Planet

The bikes are slowed down by the rider stepping on a wooden pedal attached to a piece of thick recycled tire. The friction as it hits the road is enough to slow down the scooter until the rider can stop it fully with his feet.

As you can see, there is no protective gear to be found and the riders don’t protect their head with any type of helmet.

This tribe is part of a larger group of mountain tribes, all referred to as the Igolot (or Irorot) that inhabit Luzon, the largest island in the Philippines.

The craftsmen are happy to share their creation with the rest of their village, often dressing up in traditional costume before riding together.

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Pixelated Planet Source: Pixelated Planet

The photographer, Richard Haw, captured these beautiful photos as he was wandering back to his truck while in town:

“… it just so happens that I had my camera on hand and snapped the cowboy-inspired scooter zooming downhill. Owning a motorcycle is considered a status symbol for people of a humble background. Since most of them do not really earn enough to afford the real thing they would just make imitations of scooters by whatever means they have.”

Haw, whose wife Elaine is part-Igorot, lives in Tokyo.

He said he didn’t believe fatalities were common but noted that some of the riders had deep scars on their legs that could have come from road accidents.

“When they race through the town, it is a chance to show off their scooters which is a source of pride for the carver.”

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Pixelated Planet Source: Pixelated Planet

It’s no surprise that the Igolot believe that their gods reside in objects such as trees and mountains because it’s clear they have great respect for both.

Unfortunately, the Igolot still struggle against oppression in their quest to remain on their indigenous land. They are currently pushing to be recognized as a self-governed people so they can benefit from resources taken from the mountains they inhabit.

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Source: Pixelated Planet

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