Cebuano motorbike enthusiast tours around PH, gets stranded in Isabela due to COVID-19

By: Immae Lachica - General Assignments Reporter/CDN Digital | May 05,2020 - 10:30 AM

Ortega takes a quick selfie as he reaches the province of Apari. | Contributed Photo

CEBU CITY, Philippines— Have you ever wondered how it feels like to be stranded in a place where you’ve never been before?

This is what exactly happened to a Cebuano motorbike enthusiast who embarked on motorbike journey around the Philippines when the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) crisis broke out and forced different towns to lock down and close their borders.

Joreen Ortega, 26, a store manager and motorbike enthusiast from T. Padilla, Cebu City,  was joining his first Philippine Loop tour when he found himself stuck in Barangay San Mateo, Quirino, Isabela up to this day. He has ben there since March 16.

The Philippine Loop is a tour-oriented project to promote the Philippines as a major sports and adventure destination in the Asia Pacific Region.

According to Ortega,  it is an all-year-round and perpetual tour for Filipinos and foreign travel enthusiasts, enticing them to travel around the Philippines on board any vehicle over a prescribed 5,000-kilometer route and travel time.

Ortega left Cebu on March 8, 2020 to embark on his first Philippine Loop experience.

“I joined the loop to test and further improve my physical and mental discipline and to help promote the adventure to the riding community of Cebu,” he said.

He recalled that he encountered the first COVID-19-related checkpoint in Ilocos Norte and was then worried about how he will proceed with the loop.

“I was able to cope with the help of my fellow riders in the northern part of Luzon along the way who welcomed me with open arms in their homes and letting me enjoy the unique experience of their local cuisine, culture, and history,” he added.

Ortega is beyond grateful for Philippine Loop finisher Romulo Cayetano, who welcomed him in his home while travel is still restricted.

“Now, I’m just staying at his home, waiting for any announcement, news, and any development on the situation,” Ortega said.

Before being stranded in Isabela, Ortega was able to reach Ilocos Norte and Ilocos Sur, Baguio City, Antok, and Benguet, to name a few.

Ortega said he is doing okay in Isabela as he has learned to adapt to their culture.

One thing he has learned from this experience is that it  taught him to take risks and see the world while you can. /bmjo

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TAGS: Cebuano, Isabela, Philippine Loop, stranded

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