Care For A Lift – Filipino Style?

Jeff Gill


St Agustin Family Trike

Hard at work, making the incredible green machine…


Travelling within SE Asia, you often come across some very innovative solutions to the everyday problems that ordinary people face. Problems, that in developed countries, have already been solved and have been made widely available to the community at large. 

Being based in Sydney, we can take the ready availability of transport services such as buses, trains, ferries, light rail, taxis, and other ride-share options plus private transport for granted.

Solving A Lack Of Transport Options Within A Rural Filipino Community

Living 35 km away from the Philippines’ sixth largest city, Tacloban, Leyte, the small rural town of St Agustin (around 400 houses) has very limited transport options.

There are no buses that connect the community to bigger centres. There is a twice-daily Jeepney that waits until it is full of passengers before it travels. This can add hours to a villager’s journey.

Within St Agustin, there is very little car or motorcycle ownership and no taxi or ride-share services to call upon. This makes accessing shops, supplies and healthcare services time-consuming and difficult. 

The city and province of Tacloban, Leyte
Village of St Agustin, 35km from Tacloban

Innovation makes a way

As necessity is the mother of invention, the Family Tri-cycle was born to solve the lack of transport.

An innovative family (a brother and sister) who live in Sydney have contributed funds back to their mother’s rural community to help solve the village’s transport conundrum.

The builder’s brief for the Tri-cycle was to select an appropriately reliable and powerful enough motorcycle to connect with a fully enclosed fixed sidecar and can carry up to 8 passengers, luggage and shopping. The project has been fully tailored to meet the needs of the family.

A Kawasaki 175cc motorcycle was chosen to power the estimated 750 kg loaded sidecar, with all fully operational electrics, lights and braking systems to run off its engine’s capacity. 

The St Agustin Family Motorcycle And Side Car

(AKA the Tri-Cycle)

The Green Machine
Early sidecar construction
The Green Machine

Room for 8 passengers

Just out of the paint shop

Built locally in Samar, which is just over the San Juanico bridge connecting the provinces of Leyte and Samar, the family tri-cycle has taken shape as the above pictures attest to.

Sturdily built and taking almost 3 months to construct from the ground up, the sidecar which can carry up to 8 passengers plus 1 or 2 behind the rider of the Kawasaki 175 cc motorcycle.

It is connected to the sidecar via steel struts that fix the motorcycle firmly to the sidecar. To be roadworthy, (yes even the rural Philippines have safety rules), the sidecar must have all lights, brake fittings, an enclosed weatherproof cabin and sturdy construction before being passed as road legal. 

Estimated cost to provide the Family tri-cycle

175 cc motorcycle95,000 PesosAUD $ 2,465 @ 38.54 pesos to AUD $1.
Side car body work etc 120,000 PesoAUD $ 3,113 @ 38.54 pesos to AUD $1.
Total cost215,000 PesosAUD $ 5,478

This in itself, would have been beyond the modest incomes and savings of the St Agustin families, however with overseas remitted funds, the project has become a reality with benefits all round.

The Green Machine Brings Many New Possibilities

Shared around the greater family unit, (20 to 30 people), the family now has access to their own private transport. This means doctors appointments, medical emergencies etc can now be met.

If other friends and relatives need to be collected from the Tacloban airport (35 to 40 km away), they can be transported along with their luggage. Taxi’s often do not travel out to the village.

Weekly shopping trips into the bigger centres to restock supplies of rice and other goods can now happen a lot easier plus the Tri-cycle will be available for private hire amongst the village which can help them produce a little extra income to cover operating costs and registration. 

Anyone care for a lift in the St Agustin Green Machine??

Our recently revamped website continues to provide a wealth of information about the region and we would be more than happy to take your call or email so that we can help guide and assist you in your knowledge of this amazing region.

If this article arouses your interest in further exploring the SE Asian region of the Philippines, Cambodia, Vietnam, Thailand, Indonesia or Malaysia, feel free to further peruse our website or contact the team at Retire to Asia to learn more.

Happy travelling. 

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Jeff Gill

Jeff Gill

With 25 years of travel experience to 73+ countries including SE Asia, Jeff now enjoys helping others retire there. He invites you to experience the people, culture, food and amazing landscapes of the SE Asia region for yourselves.

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