Creative Image Slider: There is nothing to show! 10 Important Words and Phrases You Should Know To Better Understand and Enjoy the Tour of the Fireflies

Our Mission and Vision

mission vision1A world where bicycling and sustainable transportation are a way of life... To promote cycling as an environmentally sustainable form of transportation...

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Our Advocacies: What We Do

advocacy1The Firefly Brigade is an NGO that promotes the use of the bicycle for clean air and sustainable communities. Our activities that support these goals:

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Bicycling Resources

bikeresources1This is a partial list of bike shops in and around Metro Manila. Please contact us If you are a bike shop owner and you want your shop to be listed here.

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10 Important Words and Phrases You Should Know To Better Understand and Enjoy the Tour of the Fireflies

The Tour of the Fireflies is now on its 17th year and it’s good that every year, more and more bikers become aware of its existence and why the Firefly Brigade has always pedaled forward to have it held every year since 1999. However, even as thousands of bikers not only in the country but in some foreign countries as well, have participated in the Tour, not all are aware of its purposes and ideas associated with the Tour. Here below are 10 words and phrases that will help you too better understand the reasons why we have the Tour and why we will continue to hold it in the years to come.

1. Marshals

Marshals are first of all, bikers like the rest of the participants. They might not look the same as the others because of the different jersey they wear, but deep inside, they are bikers at heart. What sets them apart however, as Firefly Brigade Marshals are the amount of training they undergo before they can be admitted into this select group. It is not easy to get into this group but neither is it easy to shepherd at least 15,000 bikers with various levels of skills into one, cohesive and organized group of bikers. You have to have a huge capacity for patience and endurance to be an effective marshal. This group of men and women bikers are tasked with and are expected to being disciplinarians on the road while also being asked to be patient and kind at all times. They are expected to be a jack-of-all-trades while on the Tour as both veteran and newbie participants look up to them for guidance and bike repair knowledge when needed.

Why is this important to know?

Marshals have become an integral part of the Firefly Brigade’s mission and vision, including its advocacies. They are there as part of our mission to “promote cycling as an environmentally sustainable form of transportation;” they participate in our vision “to make a world where bicycling and sustainable transportation are a way of life.” Marshals are to the Tour as gloves are to hands: they go together perfectly for without Marshals, the Tour will be crippled, and the participants could get lost or worst, could become involved in unnecessary accidents. No Tour will be complete without Marshals who help direct the participants from start to end.

2. Peloton

Wikipedia defines peloton as “the main group or pack of riders in a road bicycle race.” The Tour of the Fireflies is not a race but we do apply this term to denote the pack of participants so we know where much of the efforts of our Marshals should be focused. Of course, every single participant is important and our Marshals are there to ensure that each one is given proper assistance at the right time.

Why is this important to know?

The peloton is the biggest group of the Tour and it is composed of riders with varying skills not only in group riding but also in actually riding on Metro Manila’s crowded streets. For this reason, the peloton becomes the center point where marshals, especially trained for this purpose focus their attention, making sure that no one strays too far from it. The peloton is usually at the head of the Tour, being trailed by smaller groups (which can also be referred to as pelotons in their own right.) Riding with the peloton can make it easier to finish the Tour since you become infused with the group’s desire to arrive at the finish line. Being inside a peloton gives bikers a unique perspective of group riding. It’s like being carried along but you also are one in pushing the peloton forward.


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3. Critical Mass Ride

The Tour itself has been described a one huge Critical Mass Ride. We do have our monthly CMRs and they in turn can be referred to as mini Tour of the Fireflies for they are just as fun although in a smaller scale. CMRs are held every month showcasing a special event that highlight our mission, vision and advocacies. It is held every 3rd Sunday of the month, barring unforeseen circumstances such as flood and rainfall warnings coming from the Pagasa.

Why is this important to know?

The Tour may just be too much of a big bite for a newbie and CMRs are a great way to prepare them for the Tour. A CMR is usually of short distance and with a specific theme that fits a particular celebration for each month. A good example would be our Christmas CMR which incorporates our annual gift giving to people who less fortunate. At the same time, CMRs are also excellent venues to learn city road cycling in a safe and controlled manner. You can also learn basic bike maintenance, how to use simple tools in repairing flat tires, how to wear bike safety gears properly and other things that you will find helpful when you are ready to bike on your own.


Image from here.

4. Road Sharing

We can only hope that our roads will become a safe way to travel by bike as soon as possible. However, considering what we have now, road sharing is the only way to go as having exclusive bikers’ lane or even thoroughfares will remain a pipedream for generations to come. But we should not let this dissuade us from realizing our goal. If not our roads, let our dreams and aspirations be wide enough to accommodate all those who wish to have a better future for ourselves and our children.

Why is this important to know?

Road sharing can actually be considered as a new concept especially for those who have been used to driving cars and had exclusive use of the roads back then in time when bikers were relegated to side streets, far from the maddening traffic created by motorized transport. But nowadays when we are more enlightened and more aware of the need to protect the environment, limit or stop pollution, conserve energy and discover renewable resources to replace fossil fuels we wantonly use today, road sharing takes center stage as more and more people use the bike as either their alternative means of transportation or as their main transport mode. The Tour of the Fireflies is the perfect venue to bring forth the need to share the road because what else can drivers do when faced with 15,000 bikers on the road!


The Tour of the Fireflies is your best bet when it comes to inspiring, practicing and preparing yourself to bike to work...


5. Bike to Work or Bike Commuting

Biking to work is the best means to practice road sharing on a more realistic form. Those who bike to work can attest to the fact that while it may not be the safest way to travel, it is the most economical, faster way to go, not just to work but to other destinations as well. Other people might complain that biking to work is not suited to the country because of weather extremes – we do have hot and hotter days and wet and wetter days but this could be overcome with a little ingenuity and well, luck too.

Why is this important to know?

The Tour of the Fireflies is your best bet when it comes to inspiring, practicing and preparing yourself to bike to work. What with thousands of others with the same resolve to help save the planet by doing something that could contribute significantly to worldwide efforts of controlling pollution, limiting use of fossil fuels, sharing the road, highlighting the need for more bike facilities and infrastructures – all of these come to converge on a single day and what’s more important is that people notice and start to do their part.

6. Hand Signals

Sometimes it’s hard to be aware of our surroundings when we enjoy an activity that directs our focus on only one thing – having fun. Yet it happens that we might need to communicate non-verbally with other bikers in order to quickly convey something that not only is interesting to us but also something that could literally save lives. Hand signals are used for non-verbal communication and they can be more than useful to know in situations that need quick reaction.

Why is this important to know?

When you are biking in the midst of thousands of other riders, it’s quite easy to have your voice drowned out by the din of voices shrieking and screaming their excitement. Our marshals have adequate communication equipment to cover the entire length of the Tour but even these may not enough when quick actions and reactions are required. This is where hand signals become just as important as electronic communications equipment, and may even be more useful too. We use hand signals to indicate where we are turning, when it is safe to pass through, when we need to stop and go, to indicate a pothole on the ground. There specific hand signals to indicate certain actions that need to be done and riders of the Tour should be at least familiar with them and they should try to practice doing them with their own companions or with other riders.



7. Safety Gears or Personal Protective Equipment

In all the rides that we have organized, we have always maintained a strict policy – no helmet, no ride. This is to emphasize the importance of not only having enough skills to ride in a peloton but also that of protecting ourselves from accidents that could be aggravated by not wearing proper protective gears.

Why is this important to know?

Our marshals are there to make sure that every biker is safe and sound from the starting gun to the finish line. However, it is still up to the individual biker to do his or her share in making the Tour more fun by not allowing themselves to do irresponsible things and uncalled for behavior while riding the Tour. But let’s face it – when it comes to having fun and being responsible for one’s own safety, well, it’s hard to be both at the same time sometimes! So we do encourage everyone to wear not only helmets but if possible all other gears that you need to protect vital body parts.

8. Larvae

You may be wondering what baby insects have to do with the Tour of the Fireflies! Well, a lot because here we are referring to those who dream of becoming members of the Firefly Brigade. Those who wish to become full-fledged Parplays are required to undergo Firefly Flight Training. (Please see below.)

Why is this important to know?

Being immersed in the preparation for the Tour (which may take from 4 to 6 months, depending on the availability of volunteer Parplays) is one way in which we try to filter who among the aspirants (or larvae) can withstand the demands of volunteering for the Firefly Brigade and thus can take the oath of a Firefly. You can see them as one of us helping in the preparation of materials to be used on Tour day, or maybe you don’t see them as they work in the background, invisible but you can certainly see their work being used during the Tour. They can be part of the Marshals (see above) that make the Tour safe for everyone. Larvae are true-blue bikers who have more than bikes in their hearts – they are volunteers who want to be Parplays too.

9. Firefly Flight Training

For those who have been participating in the Tour for several editions now, you may be wondering how we are able to bring together thousands of bikers in one day, in one place, with one thought in mind – to have fun, and then to help the environment recover and help preserve it for future generations. One way for us to realize this goal is to look for future members of the Firefly Brigade who would have the same fervor as we have in caring for the environment. It is through the FFT that we try to incubate members who would have the Firefly Spirit of having fun between their legs and at the same time, being responsible for the environment not just as armchair environmentalist but as hands on advocates.

Why is this important to know?

Walang forever di ba? So then, in order to make sure that there are future generations of Parplays who will continue the work of the present crop of super dedicated Parplay volunteers, we give people the opportunity, nay, the privilege of serving the cycling community in particular and the whole world in general, by participating and contributing to the realization of our mission, vision and advocacies. The FFT is your gateway to a world full of real adventures not only in cycling but also to helping others realize their dreams.



10. Advocacy Ride/Fun Ride

Our monthly Critical Mass Ride and our annual Tour of the Fireflies are perfect examples of an advocacy ride and fun ride combined into one. They are our way of showing how the little things we do as individuals can overflow to world class, life changing events that can influence other nations to do the same.

Why is this important to know?

While no two rides are exactly the same in terms of number of participants and theme of the month, all our advocacy/fun rides are meant to give bikers an experience they will long cherish in life. We like to think that we are establishing a legacy that next generation Filipino bikers will understand and try to continue and perpetuate as long as they can. It is important not only to know what we do but also have the will to do the same.

Words can only convey as much that people can understand and relate with on a deeper level. They are as limited as our understanding of the concepts behind them. However, words are tools that can be used to introduce and implant the seed of interest and can, in time bloom into fruition if nurtured properly and given enough loving care. With this year’s Tour of the Fireflies, we hope to do this and inspire change in all its participants. your social media marketing partner

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