World of transit: habal-habal motorcycles in the Philippines

A colleague shared this video of a motorcycle on a rural road in the Philippines that is bursting at the seams with passengers – six of them as far as I could tell. The careful balancing act is harrowing, awe-inspiring and comedic. It really showcases the lengths people will go for a bit of mobility.

A little bit of internet research revealed that this mode of transport is called a habal-habal or “skylab” and is relatively common in the Southern Philippines where poor road conditions in remote areas make motorcycles the best means of transit.

Motorcycles are modified with extended seats and planks of wood and, according to one source, the most extreme can hold up to thirteen passengers!

Although common – and working as a for-hire driver provides a livelihood for many – habal-habal are in fact illegal in the Philipppines. It might not surprise you to hear that habal-habal accidents are quite common.

One blogger even came up with a list of tips on how to survive a habal-habal ride. His first suggestion?

“Pray that you arrive at your destination.”

Check out some pictures of this unique form of transit, after the jump.

Family of seven on a habal-habal. Photo edgar j. ediza via Flickr.

Family of seven on a habal-habal. Photo edgar j. ediza via Flickr.