Flying to church on three wheels

When Froilan Caderao drives to church he does so on three wheels—not because he is so fast or because his vehicle does not have more wheels. His passengers love it.

In terms of land, Bohol is the tenth largest island in the Philippines, even if only a million of the 100 million Filipinos live there. Some ninety per cent of the people profess the Christian faith. A number of them are members of the New Apostolic Church. They speak Boholano, a dialect of Cebuano, and many also speak English and Tagalog.

One of the inhabitants of Tagbilaran City, the capital of the island province of Bohol, is Froilan Caderao with his wife and their two children. He is an Evangelist and the rector of the congregation there. Prior to the divine services, and afterwards, Evangelist Caderao (48) can be seen weaving in and out of traffic like no one else in the city: with a flashy yellow tricycle.

Flying to church on three wheels

Motorised tricycles are the most common means of transportation in the Philippines, especially in rural areas. They belong to the cityscape like cars, buses, or streetcars elsewhere.

Many variations of the tricyle are on the road: either with or without a sidecar, with a roof or with a rain cover. They are also used as public utility vehicles and can offer room for up to nine passengers. Depending on the design of the vehicle, the passengers either sit or stand during the ride.

It is not a taxi, but carries passengers

This is the kind of tricycle Evangelist Caderao uses to drive to church. Originally, he bought it so he could drive his family to church: his wife, Aurea (45), his daughter, Gwyneth (13), and his son, Gwylhem (8). But before long he was also collecting members along the way to church on a regular basis. He does not use his tricycle as a means of public transportation or to earn money.

Public relations work the fast way

The tricycle is very flashy and recognisable from a long way off: it is painted in a flashy yellow, and the entire front of the sidecar is used to display the emblem of the New Apostolic Church. “Joy in Christ”, the 2015 motto of the Church, is painted in red letters just above the black emblem. And directly above the windshield it says “The God Servant” in large letters.

Go and teach them …

The Evangelist designed the artwork for his tricyle himself and commissioned a painter to carry out the work. With some pride he says, “I am the only one who has this kind of painting on his tricycle.” Friends and neighbours have of course noticed the unusual lettering on his yellow tricycle and have asked him about it. For the Evangelist this is a great opportunity to speak about his faith and his Church. And he is delighted to be able to do this: with the joy in Christ. Whether he has ever been late for a divine service because of this, we cannot say.

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Oliver Rütten
Asian, Philippines, Congregational life