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Before he became a caver, Joni Abesamis Bonifacio, 42, was already an experienced biker. He did solo biking in Samar, Leyte and Cebu in the Visayas as well as in parts of Mindanao and in Luzon, too. On September 14, 2003, Joni has founded and organized in Catbalogan the Samar Adventure Mountain Bikers Association (SAMBA). Today, this biking group is still active as many serious bikers kept joining SAMBA. A big celebration was held during SAMBA’s anniversary this year: a biking activity to the SINP office at Barangay Tenani, Paranas, Samar where a 3-tier swimming pool filled with spring water is available. Nearby is located the Extreme Torpedo Boat Ride Adventure where people can take a thrilling boat ride at the Ulot River.

The group also biked passing through mountain barangays of Paranas, Motiong and Jiabong and then back to Catbalogan. They dubbed their activity as the 1st Historic Mountain Bike Crossing. Joni is also a nature lover. He is attracted to forests, beaches, caves, waterfalls, spring pools, etc. He even climbed Mt. Huraw, the highest mountain in Samar where he saw big trees, wild plants and wildlife. He may also be the only Samareño who has explored so many caves in his province and other places. He also led in the past a biking expedition around the island of Samar.


While biking at the top of the mountain in Catbalogan City, he found a spot that gives a panoramic view of the city as well as the Maqueda Bay and at the other side, the hills and mountains of Catbalogan City and nearby towns. He named that spot as “Joni’s Peak.” The place is ideal as a relaxing place for bikers on a tour in that area. And if bikers want to go and see the natural attractions in Samar, Joni has already identified routes to some caves, springs and waterfalls. For example, direct trips to the Lulugayan Falls in Calbiga, Samar; to the Blanca Aurora Falls in San Jorge town; and to the Lobo Cave in the town of Jiabong.

He also has a loop that will take bikers to the Tinago Ruins where the Spanish missionaries first landed and established Chistianity in Samar island in the 1600s; as well a loop to the mysterious Biringan City in Pagsanghan town and even to a leaf artist who can paint portraits on a leaf. Joni says there are many possible routes to be explored in Samar, and he will continue biking alone or with companions to new places. Joni says biking is enjoyable though sometimes tiring. Bikers, he adds, always feel that sensation of speed and freedom when cycling. He predicts that bicycle riding will be popular under the New Normal. It is a healthy form of exercise for all ages, he says. Those who are adventurous can join bike tours to different places in the province, he says. #

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