A Vespa Roundup in Pagudpud


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In photo: Euroscoot taking a break at the Patapat Viaduct. Photo by: Randy Villa

 

 

In 2008, three active Vespa clubs decided to hold a roundup that spanned nearly 600 kilometers north of Manila. Here are the groups and how that eventful ride came to be.

Euroscoot

Sometime in 2000, the European Scooter Association of the Philippines was put together by like-minded individuals. Euroscoot is the OG Vespa club of my time. They’ve done so many long rides in both north and south of Luzon even before I knew them. This Manila-based club was mostly composed of entrepreneurs, professionals, celebrities, and passionate scooteristas. Their stable had the Vespa PX and Piaggio models such as the Typhoon, Skipper, Hexagon, X9, MP3, and a variety of Gilera models Runner 180 SP, VXR 200, and the Nexus 500’s of Clifford Certeza and Ton Sealtiel. And who can forget Nong Guyjoco’s camouflage Vespa PX 150 that had a paint job on both cowls that read: FOR OFFICIAL USE ALSO.

Their headquarters were located at 2211 Works along Leon Guinto in Malate, Manila. 2211 Works used to be a Vespa dealer and is owned by a member and former club president, Migs Oca.

Scoot 66

This club’s members were mostly residents of neighboring Parañaque, Las Piñas, and Muntinlupa cities. A SEC-registered PX-dominated organization, Scoot 66 also had it’s share of automatic scooters as well as the Indian-made Stella and LML grip shifter brands. We also had with us one of the first owners of the Vespa Granturismo 200, Serge Gloria. Since I was a resident of Parañaque City, I became a member of this club in 2005. But I started riding with them a year earlier. Among the notable bikes we had in our club were the Gilera Runner 180 SP owned by the late Tony Tangga and the Piaggio Skipper of ace mechanic Ado Alegado. These two bikes were really fast at the time. There was also the modified LML Vitto 150 of multi-titled race driver and coach, Edgen Dy-Liacco that went up against some of the tuned PX 200’s.

Vespa Club

Vespa Club is now known as Vespa Club of the Philippines (VCOP) and has members from all over Metro Manila. Like Scoot 66, their bikes were mostly PX and other grip shift scooter brands. Among the three clubs mentioned, VCOP is the lone active Vespa club in the country today headed by their current president, Rob Martinez. They are now a federation with affiliate clubs such as Vespa Club Manila, Vespa Club Pasay, and Vespa Club QC to name a few.

How It Happened

The Vespa community used to hold weekly informal gatherings or “roundup” as we called it back in the day. Anyone can simply go to the venue whether you belong to a club or not, and make new friends. Euroscoot’s Bimbo Isidro coined the term Vespinoy, referring to Vespa owners frequenting the roundups.

One roundup place I fondly recall was Hotrocks along Libis in Quezon City. This al fresco joint served steak and cold beer.  It was put up by a Vespa owner, Louie Abad who happens to ba a cousin of my late brother-in-law Joey Rivera, who likewise owned quite a number of Vespa PX’s.

In one of the roundups, then Euroscoot chief Certeza talked about his club’s upcoming long ride to Ilocos Norte. Upon hearing this, Vespa Club head Abet Rana suggested the idea of having a meet up with all three clubs, to which Certeza replied, “Why not?” Rana quickly got in touch with our club’s president, Dy-Liacco, and vice president Eugene Buenaventura, whose one-room Vespa shop inside his house grew into what is now known as Scooter Depot with branches in BF Homes, Parañaque and Westgate in Alabang. Meetings where held and the date was set to February 28 – March 2. Four days and three nights of riding. Since Vespa Club and Scoot 66 had few riders joining in, they decided to ride together agreeing to do the north loop, clockwise. Euroscoot, on the other hand did the opposite direction as planned early on.

The 4-Day Ride

Vespa Club and Scoot 66 had a combined ten riders with a back up van, and a pick-up truck driven by the Bataan boys Ron Wee alternating with his nephew, Paul. Ron’s older brother Joseph rode a PX-150. Ron now owns 158 Works Scooters & Motorcycles, a Vespa dealership located in Balanga City and is also the founder and president of Vespa Club of Bataan 158. Euroscoot had about 20 riders and a number of service vehicles plus mechanics.

Photo by: Mario Rodas

Scoot 66 together with Vespa Club took off from Caltex Greenhills at 3am. We headed to San Fernando, Pampanga for a quick break and proceeded to our first day destination which was a resort in San Juan, La Union. Occasional stops were inevitable. We arrived mid-afternoon. It was interesting to note that our bikes were all below 400cc which means no toll roads. MacArthur Highway all the way. Day 1 was approximately 300 kilometers. Euroscoot spent their first night in Bayombong, Nueva Vizcaya.

Vespa Club at the Vigan Cathedral. Photo by: Mario Rodas

Day 2 was more of a relaxed ride because roads were decongested as we were going farther, approximately 290 kilometers to Pagudpud, Ilocos Norte. From San Juan, we passed all the remaining towns of La Union until we reached Tagudin, Ilocos Sir. From this point onwards, we would occasionally lose sight of the Vespa Club guys. They took lots of photos more than we did. They were more patient in documenting this one epic ride.


The Scoot 66 crew at Paoay church.

The ride to Pagudpud was not without its challenges. The Polini pipe of my PX 200 broke down twice. Luckily, there were welding shops by the roadside in the towns of Narvacan, Ilocos Sur, and again in Paoay or Laoag, Ilocos Norte. I blamed it on my newly-installed, rock solid, ‘budgetarian’, non-adjustable Gabriel shocks. It was a wise decision that I packed my saddle seat in the van, alternating it with my Ancillotti seat everytime I felt sore. The saddle seat had a spring of its own underneath.

 

Dominic Ochoa of Euroscoot, hosting for Stoplight TV talks to Eugene Buenaventura (Scoot 66), Clifford Certeza (Euroscoot), and Abet Rana (Vespa Club).
Drinks before dinner

Arriving at the resort, the Euroscoot gang welcomed us. They hosted the fellowship night. Food and drinks did flow and each had stories to tell. It was one night of pure good vibes. It was camaraderie at its finest.

 

Scoot 66 and Vespa Club in Enrile, Cagayan.

On the third day, we were bound for Bayombong while Euroscoot headed to Baguio City. Bayombong was another 400 kilometers. It rained most of the time and as a result, we got to the hotel past dinner time. Nevertheless, the two clubs (Scoot 66 and Vespa Club) continued to share each other’s long tumultuous ride stories before bedtime.

The next morning we all headed to Manila. That was 280 kilometers to Parañaque for Scoot 66. A brief lunch in Cabanatuan City and a flat tire in Angat, Bulacan were our only stops aside from gas refills. In total, we clocked over 1,500 kilometers for the whole loop.

In Hindsight 

Looking back after 16 years, I can only imagine how the ride would have happened if we had Google Maps or Waze on smartphones, better cameras, phones, and the now popular motorcycle comms, drones, and 360 action cameras. These technology are way better than the Casio Exilim, Canon Ixus, and wired headphones attached to our Nokias, Motorolas, and Sony Ericssons just to have on-board music. But that’s life for us back then.

 

Moving Forward

 

With all the modern gadgets available in the market now, not to mention the free downloadable apps and the various social platforms that we use, documenting rides has never been easy. One would even upload a video of a short ride to the grocery, with effects and soundtrack done in a few seconds.

 

Alas, the current Vespa scene has two major factions. Both of them trying to outdo each other in organizing events, rides, or with a simple tambike. I see this on social media and different Viber groups. If only they would stop the mudslinging and set aside their differences, they will be able to do more, achieve more. Something that they could be proud of. In terms or numbers, they are a lot bigger now compared to 15-20 years ago. Set aside the numbers though. Aside from passion and dedication, one has to be a true gentleman.

 

In Memoriam

Dodick Baello (2009) and Yeyey Yatco (2022)
Romy Binalay (2018)

 


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Eggay Quesada

A former karter and touring car driver, Eggay has been in the motoring beat for almost two decades now doing television, radio, print, and online coverages. A former petrol head and Vespa lover, he has since shifted to riding adventure and heritage bikes.