Firefly Brigade Marshal Profile: Freddie Valenzuela

freddie valenzuela My first exposure to the tour of the fireflies was in 2006 the theme that year was "RECYCLE". Two "sweeper" marshals encouraged me to join, and be a marshal I was to complete two training rides and the compulsory ride with the SAG (support and gear) truck and the MMDA and Police marshals on motorbikes. Since it was my first time to ride a bicycle again as an adult and had not much riding experience as such, on the third, compulsory ride, one of the sweepers saw me zigzagging along Shaw Blvd in Mandaluyong.

tof marshals training
I only had one 300 ml bottle of water at that time and it was 12 noon. I experienced de-hydration. This sweeper marshal who saw me asked me then: "isasakay na kita?" there was but 2 kilometers left to complete the training.... I had to say yes! A soon as I got to the truck I fell asleep with a face towel covering my head. That was the first time I experienced something like that. As we arrived in Tiendesitas, all the other "Senior" marshals and Firefly core members were concerned about my state of health, being chubby and not as young as I used to be, They had to decline me as being a Marshal for that Tour!
 Freddie says, "The weekly training sessions for the Marshals always keeps me in shape I am looking forward to the next training session for us Marshals."
The next weekend, those two marshals, a couple of Firefly Brigade core members and some other guys asked me to join them in a ride to traverse Mt Maarat in Rizal. I joined, again. I didn't have enough water. all the uphills I walked through. But this time I had some gift checks for Max's Restaurant. Still not a seasoned rider, I kept on telling the other guys: Balik na tayo, ililibre ko kayo sa Max's!"  The ride was long and tiring specially for an overweight old guy and a newbie on a mall bike like me. Eventually we reached the Giant store and had some refreshments and instant noodles and got to rest. As we reached Cabading, one guy gave me some bananas and it sure was refreshing to eat a banana to go on. The road was downhill after that and I felt good. Then we explored the Binangonan/Angono Petroglyphs but was still walking uphill in this mall bike with the same group we've been riding the streets of Metro Manila.  I realized the importance of hydration and nutrition for riding.

Firefly Brigade Marshals

Marshals are volunteers who shepherd the peloton (bicycle caravan)... they serve to guide and protect the group as it winds its way along the route of the Tour ...

Read more

The next TOF in 2007, "Cycle For Clean Environment" I joined the training rides for TOF Marshals. This time I passed. And since then I have been a "Sweeper Marshal" I realized how important this job is when I myself was "swept". I always bring tools, a spare tube and a lot of water, some snacks and a first aid kit. Being a sweeper marshal isn't easy, one has to be left behind while escorting a newbie back to the peloton. One has to go through bumper to bumper traffic caused by the TOF just to get back to the peloton. Sweepers have to make sure no one gets left behind. Sweepers don't get to have their picture taken because we are always far from the peloton. We always arrive 2 hours after the first people arrive during the TOF.

The weekly training sessions for the Marshals always keeps me in shape I am looking forward to the next training session for us Marshals. I hope all of us here on this page get to train again as Marshals for The Big Ride! You may also recruit some more as all of us know, we need more.
Mabuhay ang Firefly Brigade Marshals! Lagi natin isa-isip at isa-puso na "Walang Iwanan!"
If you are a Firefly Brigade Marshal and you have a story to tell about marshaling the Tour of the Fireflies, do email us with your story and we willl gladly publish it here. your social media marketing partner