By Katrin Anne A. Arcala
The reign of the mountain bikes and longboards may soon be cut short, here comes a new extreme sport in Negros Oriental which allows you to sit like a biker, push like a boarder and feel a new thrill. It thrives on hilltowns and breathes a downhill track. Sounds similar to the same old extreme sports experience? Maybe yes, only that this time, it is made of wood and scrap materials – the LIGIRON cart.
Ligiron is derived from the Cebuano term ligid which means to roll. consequently, it may also mean ligid or wheels. The ligiron is a wooden cart which uses bamboo as its chasis and wood for its wheels. The sport originated from the town of Valencia, Negros Oriental.
Originally, the carts were used to transport goods from the uptown to the mercado. It dates back to the 60s when motor powered vehicles were still out of sight and ingenuity was at its peak. When technology overtook its popularity through habal-habals and sidecars, slowly the ligiron met the dusts and rusts of several residences in its respective community.
It was only last about two years ago when Nicky Dumapit, an environment activist, knew about these carts which were nearing extinction.
“This is more than just about the sport. This is about the culture that we have here which is so unique. It would be a waste to lose it,” he said Finally, last June 9, the sport had its debut through the Ligiron 2013, the official race for the wooden cart. About 20 racers joined the event under the beginner and expert category. The track included cemented pavements and rocky roads. A big leap and a bumpy landing capped the crossing of the finish line.
The photos and videos went viral in the internet, increasing the race’s popularity among Filipinos and foreigners alike. In fact, several individuals have already ordered their own customized ligiron carts which are often sold for about 200 pesos each. Aside from being a past time, it has also been an alternative source of income for the rural community of the said area.
The Lipay ang Kalibutan movement (The world is happy), through Dumapit, said that the event was a fruit of volunteerism and generosity from the community. And through the efforts of many individuals, the race now expanded to other towns of Negros as inquiries and invitations are pouring in.
There were talks to make the event annually and a part as well of the Buglasan festival of Negros Oriental as an official tourist attraction for the province.
Though the sport had gone from being endemic to being in demand, Dumapit said that in the end, what matters the most is not really the popularity that it beholds, but the genuine appreciation the humble cart deserves. As he puts it, the carts are not just toys or means of transportation but a representation of the unique culture that the Philippines has.