By Victoria Herrera (Published in Status Magazine June 2012)
Photographed by Patrick Diokno
Lucky are those can do what they love for a living and make a difference just like Bryan McClelland, founder of Bambike, a socio-ecological enterprise that build bicycles out of bamboo. It’s a far cry from the bikes often seen transversing the city, and it provides jobs for the country’s rural communities.
Growing up, Filipino-American Bryan McClelland always loved outdoor adventures, whether it be riding his bike or going on camping trips with his parents. “I actually thought I was gonna be a sports doctor when I was younger. But I decided I’d be having more fun by going into the environment and perhaps be able to have a larger impact.”
Bryan returned to the Philippines and contacted the community development organization Gawad Kalinga to help him set up Bambike. “I work in the workshop which is in the middle of the rice paddy, in the town of Victoria, Tarlac,” he says. Together with a group of trained bamboo bike builders, aka bambuilders, they tie abaca fiber and bamboo parts to provide skeletal support.
Inspiring other environmental projects such as the bamboo nursery, Bryan says, “We’re working with the government…to plant and grow seedlings. So we want to be growing more bamboo than we harvest.” He’s also developing new bamboo products like Bambowties, Bamboo shirts, Bamboo Sunglasses and briefcases. Bryan laughs, “We’re gonna go into baby strollers… we’ll call it the Bambaby.”
Real or not, Bryan’s biggest focus isn’t to spur a Bamboo product takeover, but on making sure he’s still providing as many sustainable jobs as he can. He shares, “I measure the success of Bambike based on the amount of jobs we can give. It might not be the most efficient way to run a business, but every time I could hire someone, we move in the right direction.”