About B.O.N.G.G.A!

This bike ride raises awareness about the impact of climate change in the Philippines, an island nation that is a country of origin for my family and for 3.4 million other Americans.

About BONGGA! Ride for Climate Justice
As part of RAGBRAI (the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa), I am riding across the great state of Iowa on my bamboo bike to raise awareness about climate change impacts on the Philippines and to fundraise for InHand Abra—an inspiring Philippine non-governmental organization (NGO) working for climate justice.

This started out as a ride across the state of Iowa with my uncle and cousin, but it has turned into much more than that.

With your help, each mile I ride generates much-needed funding for InHand Abra, an NGO empowering low-income Philippine communities to prepare for climate change.




More specifically, I am riding to help InHand Abra reach their goal of bringing a bamboo processing tank to their region. What is a bamboo pressure treatment tank, you might ask?

Typically, bamboo products that reach your home or office have been highly processed to eliminate any bugs, dry out the water, and seal the bamboo from absorbing any water in the air. Traditional forms of bamboo treatment and processing techniques are hugely time consuming: leaving it out in the sun to dry, which takes 8-12 weeks, placing it in a saltwater stream or river (~2 weeks), or using a large oven or kiln to bake it (1-2 days).

With a bamboo processing tank, treatment and processing time is reduced to just 30 to 60 minutes.

By increasing efficiency and improving the quality of the final bamboo product, this bamboo treatment tank will enable InHand Abra and their bamboo farmers reach more competitive markets.

But what is BONNGA?!
Well, BONNGA is an acronym, but you likely knew that!

It stands for Bamboo On New Green Ground Ang (Ride for Climate Justice). As an archipelago nation, the Philippine islands are literally losing ground due to climate change and rising sea levels.

Planting bamboo is one way to adapt to the changing tide.

BONGA also a play on “bongga“–the Fillipino word for “fabulous,” “outlandish,” or “crazy in a good way.” It’s pretty much how I feel about this ride. 🙂

The Ride
This year’s RAGBRAI route is 418 miles and stretches across the northern part of Iowa, from Rock Valley in the West, to Guttenburg in the East. You can read more about it here.

I feel I should admit a few things: 1) I am newly relocated to the Midwest, and as someone who has lived mostly on coasts with the ocean as a constant part of my life, riding through the heartland is new (and exciting!) for me; 2) I’m not a cyclist- but I am so excited to experience Iowa from the perspective of a bicycle! AND 3) I am passionate about climate change awareness and this era of action~ something we can all take part in. So I am sharing this opportunity for action with you! Each mile makes a difference.

InHand Abra
I was fortunate to work with this inspiring community-based NGO during my tenure as a Fulbright Fellow in the Philippines in 2011-2012. InHand Abra provides a starting point for creating sustainable communities by teaching classes on bamboo management and production village by village, providng an inclusive pathway for bamboo weaving and furniture communities to compete in local and national bamboo markets.

If you are interested in the work I conducted with InHand Abra, you can read about it here.

Along the side of the highway, a stack of bamboo poles ready for pick-up.

Along the side of the highway, a stack of bamboo poles ready for pick-up.



Bamboo is everywhere!

Bamboo is everywhere!



One thought on “About B.O.N.G.G.A!

  1. Pingback: About | rbairdblog

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