“Whoever said that diamonds are a girl’s best friend clearly never drove a motorcycle.”
What do riding motorcycles and beauty pageants have in common? A lot, it seems. Both are gender-skewed at present, with motorcycles dominated by males and pageantry by females. Both take risk, requiring physical, mental and emotional endurance. Both are also continuously gaining traction from many Filipinos, and they include Samantha Ashley Lo, Binibining Cebu-Tourism (2017), GLAM (Global Asian Model) Philippines Best Model of the Year (2018) and Best Model of the World Philippines (2018).
“I was riding motorcycles first, and then I became a beauty queen,” the towering 5’9” charmer sets our records straight over a bottle of sparkling water, considering her apparent greater popularity to many people as a beauty queen.
When Samantha is not on the catwalk, she can be seen riding on a motorcycle. “The first time I was riding, it was actually a ‘habal-habal’ 3 years ago with some friends,” referring to a Visayan term for an improvised two-wheeled single motorcycle usually seen in rural areas ridden beyond its passenger capacity. “I felt so nervous because there’s a guy who was swerving on a twisted road on a cliff. And then we saw all the mountains on this beautiful day just like the breeze was perfect,” she describes an unforgettable moment of a ‘rider’s high.’ “It’s where you feel like you’re just enjoying the ride, and then rain started pouring. But my friends and I loved playing in the rain while all these biker guys were acting like tough. They were laughing and everything, but they took us home. They were zooming and splashing around. It was liberating.”
Here is a beauty that can also put together custom-built motorcycles as much as she can slay on the ramp. “I built my motorcycle from the ground up. As in ‘mano a mano’ (in Spanish, literally means ‘hand to hand’),” Samantha recalls the first thing she did upon setting foot again in Cebu along with her family after spending some time in the United States as a Nursing student. “ It took about 3 hours and 45 minutes to put together a whole motorcycle, literally bolt by bolt using parts from China that were shipped for one day. I would have my own cardboard box, I nailed down and sat on a small stool to put together all the parts with my dad and some men from China. It was a cool experience.”
Samantha credits her father Harris Lo for giving her the head start in the ins and outs of motorcycles.
“Riding motorcycle is also something that makes my dad happy when he’s younger. It gets him going and it inspires him. I guess I took that from him and I put my own love into motorcycles, too,” she says.
One of the most popular modes of transportation in the country also bonds Samantha’s family over. “My brother, the oldest (of 5 siblings) is the only boy. He loves his motorcycles, too. I guess I am the lucky one because I got the whole factory while he just gets the motorcycle,” she jokingly shares.
Walking the talk
Understanding what it’s like to be driving, changing gears, welding and doing metalwork, it’s no wonder why Bristol Motorcyles chose her to be its brand endorser. Bristol is the new boutique motorcycle brand known for its European-inspired built and is exclusively distributed by Sinski Motorcycle Philippines. While most endorsers of motorcycles are men, Samantha’s presence shatters the stereotype when she posed solo in a poster and seen in the driver’s seat.
“Why can’t a woman just have fun with a motorcycle?” asks the Filipina-Colombian-Nicaraguan beauty who now helps to accelerate the number of female motorcycle riders in the country. “We once were back-riders. We once had lower positions, but we have been women of the house and we want to sit in the front seat and have some fun. Of course I also don’t mind back-riding especially when I’d feel lazy. But I think the best seat is in front.”
Samantha also underscores the affordability aspect of a motorcycle relative to a car. “People are graduating early and getting jobs. They’re making money, and what’s the first economical choice for transportation? It’s a motorcycle,” she says. “I think if they see a young girl who is working, whose choice of transportation is a motorcycle, then it’s a smart business really.”
Her take on the future right now
Splitting time between Manila and Cebu and with Binibining Pilipinas 2019 in sight, Samantha approaches her next adventure as anyone would a motorcycle ride and beauty pageants: with lots of patience. “I think what we Millennials forget now is that we need to be patient especially in a world where everything is instant and always at the touch of a button. We really need to practice patience, commitment and focus. Because without those, we miss a lot and a lot will just fly by us. We will be stuck and when we don’t win, we’d give up when in fact, it can mean, ‘it’s not yet her time’. It’s easier said than done really,” the 25-year-old recognizes the pressure that goes with the quest for winning a crown amidst the highly celebrated victory of Catriona Grey, Miss Universe 2018. “I’m always going to be nervous but I just have to remind myself na kaya pa. I’ll just keep climbing that ladder just like Catriona did. She had a lot of fears and doubts, too, but at the end of the day, she placed.”
These days, Samantha is pairing that patience with lots of hands-on, knowledge-building activities “to continue building my knowledge, because I think that knowledge is power,” she says. “There’s only so much from books. It really is heavily weighted on what goes on in your mind and how you connect with people. What’s in right now.”
What cause is in her mind right now, apart from that of being a road safety advocate? I asked, to which the Nursing student just one semester shy of graduating quickly responds: “Mine is gonna be more of a health advocacy because there’s always gonna be someone hungry, someone needing something (e.g, money, supplies) but at the end of the day, I think our health really is our wealth. Filipinos’ common condition is high blood pressure, and people don’t see how detrimental that could be and how easy it is to maintain. I had a friend of mine whose dad passed away because his heart finally failed on him. And he’s just in his 50s and that’s something that could have been avoided. It’s not just the person who’s going to be affected. It’s the whole family and the whole community so I think that we really need to start taking this up seriously. Health is the next big thing.”
Text by Denice Christine Garcia–Pilla
Photos courtesy of Bristol Motorcycle Philippines and Samantha Lo
From over 80 candidates of the 2019 Binibining Pilipinas coronation night held on June 9 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Bristol Motorcycle brand ambassador Samantha Lo won the Bb. Pilipinas – Grand International crown. From Ridestyle Philippines thank you for the opportunity and Congratulations Samantha Lo as we wish you success on the pageant.