Habal-habal is a form of transportation in Cebu. It is actually just a motorcycle with extended rear seating, allowing the motorcycle driver to accommodate 4 or 5 Filipino passengers. Impossible as it may sound, the small Yamaha and Suzuki motorcycles can actually accommodate this many passengers. I emphasized on 4 or 5 Filipinos riding since most Filipinos have smaller frames compared to Caucasians.
image courtesy of Edgar J. Ediza
Origin of the Name
Habal-habal comes from the word “habal”, which is a Cebuano term for animals copulating. Since a Habal-habal motorcycle ride makes the passengers and drivers seem like a bunch of animals copulating, they coined the term “Habal-habal”.
The standard fare for most Habal-habals is between P25 to P50, one way, depending on the distance covered. Those in mountain barangay can even offer Habal-habal rides for less than P25.
Habal-habal motorcycle rides are, needless to say, unsafe. Why? I’ll give you five major reasons:
1. No helmets are given out to the passengers. At all.
2. Habal-habal drivers usually drive fast. Extremely fast.
3. Most Habal-habal drivers don’t go through driving seminars. Unbelievable, right?
4. There is no designated Habal-habal lanes. That means these fast-riding Habal-habal drivers compete, overtake and try to outrun the likes of lorries, huge ten-wheelers, dump trucks, SUVs and buses.
5. Cebu, like the rest of Philippines’ roads, aren’t exactly the safest to drive around in.
However, you can’t put a stop to the growing Habal-habal industry, especially in the mountain barangays of Cebu. Motorcycles are sold cheap in the Philippines and the Habal-habal trade is at least a way for some Filipinos to earn an honest living.
Habal-habal is also an easier way of navigating throughout Cebu’s many narrow streets, unlike Jeepneys which can cause heavy traffic.