‘TNT Traysikel’ symbolizes Pinoy art and diaspora in San Francisco

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Kara Santos
Kara Santos
Kara Santos is a freelance writer and rider based in Manila. She writes about travel, motorcycling, biking, food trips, video games, and more on her blog www.traveling-up.com.

It’s not everyday you see the humble Philippine tricycle plying major thoroughfares in other countries.

In an Instagram post recently shared by @TNT_traysikel, the distinctive three-wheeled vehicle was seen crossing the Golden Gate Bridge along with a group of Pinoy Riders from different parts of Northern California who share the same passion of riding and love of big bikes.

“TNT Traysikel was a hit with this group of more than 60 Filipino Americans on motorcycles that showed up for this meetup and ride (more than 400 members on the Facebook group). It was great to meet so many pinoys on 2 wheels. And what a sight it was to see a Filipino Traysikel crossing the Golden Gate Bridge followed by a bunch of Filipinos on motorcycles!!” the post reads.

A collaboration between Michael Arcega and Paolo Asuncion, the customized Filipino sidecar and motorcycle is actually a mobile public artwork that operates as cultural marker for the SOMA Pilipinas Cultural Heritage District in San Francisco.

The vehicle hand-painted by Meng Ngyuen was reportedly funded by the San Francisco Arts Commission Individual Artist Commission with additional financial support from Awesome Foundation, San Francisco State University and Balay Kreative.

The customized motorcycle and sidecar features distinctly Pinoy details with quirky hand-painted sayings like “Hoy,” “UFO: Unidentified Filipino Object,” “Yerodynamic” and “Basta Driver, Sweet Lover” adorning the vehicle’s interior and exterior.

According to the artist’s website, the aesthetic of the traysikel is adjacent to Filipino-customized transport Jeepneys left by Americans after WWII.

“TNT Traysikel is an immigrant metaphor constructed from a deep colonial history. As a social sculpture, TNT Traysikel was used as an aesthetic object, a protest tool and symbol of solidarity with the Black community against Police brutality and delivery vehicle during the Covid-19 pandemic. It will be the main site for collecting stories of Filipinx diaspora in a forthcoming documentary,” reads the artist’s description.

Balay Creative, which provided a grant for the mobile art project, says the collaborators will be offering rides on the custom-made tricycle while interviewing participants as part their documentary project.

“A metaphor for immigration, the tricycle opens dialogue around immigrant experiences, expectations, dreams, and the contribution and importance of the undocumented immigrant population,” reads the teaser for TNT Sidecaraoke on YouTube.

Read more about the TNT Traysikel here and follow the artist’s adventures on Instagram.

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