"I'm hip about time" says Wyatt nicknamed Captain America, in the classic film "Easy Rider". Since watching that movie, I've associated Harley-Davidson bikes to that hippie culture of the 60's. It's the closest thing I've been to the world of motorcycles' pop culture equivalent of Bob Dylan. A few years later I picked up Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels: The Strange and Terrible Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs. It was a great read, mainly because of HST's masterful prose and uncanny wicked humor. Still, the idea of possessing a Harley or riding one, seems like an exclusive thought to me. I imagined big, burly, bearded, smelly guys would only ride it. Unless, you walk around with a young Dennis Hopper aura. However, through the years, the brand of Harley-Davidson, while maintaining its iconic branding and association to the 60's hippie counter-culture, has also developed a connection to mainstream bikers. So, much that it has finally come roaring into this country of ours.
Department of Tourism Ramon Jimenez homered out the significance of Harley-Davidson's arrival in the Philippines, by pointing out that the country's branding is producing a positive image that attracts iconic brands like the Harley to setup a market in the country. For someone, who can only ride an automatic scooter, I welcome the idea of having the Hell's Angels' motorcycle of choice setting up dealership here. Who knows I might win the lottery and you know what's the first thing I'll gift myself with.
I was invited to its launch held at the Global City last March 2. I arrived at the venue sticking out like a sore thumb, as I was surrounded by hardcore riders wearing leather jackets with big patches of their motorcycle clubs stitched on their backs. Tattooed beautiful women escorts some, while the others stood around each other with menacing looks but with amiable friendly smiles. I know, one doesn't have to be a bad-ass to embrace the hobby of motorcycle riding. Its a common misconception which prevails for most, for every Sonny Barger, there are hundreds of well respected individuals, like Professor Randy David and like minded travelers like Kara Santos who are passionate about motorcycles.
It is a great culture to belong into I mused to myself. As the theme of the day suggests "Let Freedom Roar", Harley-Davidson has finally rolled its 110 year brand into the country, bringing together biking enthusiasts and people like me, who can entertain the idea of someday experiencing what its like being Wyatt and Billy, easy-riding into our country's highway.
The Harley-Davidson's newly opened dealership located at 1008 EDSA, Greenhills, San Juan was inaugurated in an unusual manner, getting rid of the cheezy ribbons and scissors, a bolt-cutter was used instead to cut the steel chains. To date, there are around 800-1,000 Harley-Davidson owners in the Philippines. That number is expected to grow in the near future. Local filmmaker Mark Querubin didn't waste any time by becoming the first customer of Harley-Davidson Manila by purchasing a 2013 Black Softail Slim. (I die of envy).
“Nothing beats the kind of freedom riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle gives you,” says Felix R. Ang, President of American Motorcycles, Inc., the official distributor of Harley-Davidson in the country. “Harley-Davidson of Manila, as we are officially called, caters to the thousands of bikers and enthusiasts that have always dreamed of owning a bike that can give you serious power. Everyone knows no other bike roars the way a Harley can.”
I'm excited for everyone who will soon ride a Harley-Davidson, Its now part of my bucket list. As the night dwindle down and the event turned to fever pitch as bands like the Jerks and the Dawn (all time favorites of mine) along with General Luna (a new favorite of mine) entertained the mix crowds of bikers and envious biker-wannabes, with Wolfgang frontman Basti Artadi and the beautiful Kat Alano playing hosts of the night. I walked out of the place, not after taking a peek at the dozens of Harley's parked on the lawn. I shake my head and can only wonder how it feels like riding that amazing machine eating hundreds of miles and roaring with freedom. In any case, if my luck turns out alright, It will be a convenient thought knowing a Harley-Davidson dealership is just right around the bend.
For more information, please visit harley-davidsonofmanila.com.ph and facebook.com/harleydavidsonofmanila.
Harley-Davidson of Manila Contact:
1008 EDSA Greenhills
1502, San Juan.
(02) 784 5006