He doesn’t have reindeers and sleigh, but he has a makeshift bicycle camper which he uses to deliver happiness to street children.
He is Joey Belo, also known by his YouTube channel Bike Camper JBelo, who goes around the country to surprise marginalized kids with bags of toys.
Even before Joseph Allain Eliseo’s post went viral in September, the 59-year-old cyclist has been embarking on this advocacy of his, using his earnings from ad placements on his YouTube channel to buy the gifts he gives to kids. Eliseo encountered Belo while he was walking along Montillano Street in Muntinlupa City on Sept. 19.
The cyclist handed Eliseo a small flyer promoting his channel, and when the latter found out about the former’s advocacy, he encouraged other netizens to subscribe to the “Pinoy Santa Claus.”
“Sir Joey easily caught my interest because of his soft-spoken and kind-hearted nature. Despite his age, he is still very eager to help people, especially the street children,” shares Eliseo.
When Eliseo posted Belo’s photo and story on his feed, he shared that he was glad because he was able to reach and inspire thousands of people. He says, “I believe that his advocacy of helping street children is awesome. As the gap between rich and poor becomes wider and wider these days, it amazes me that there is a man who is willing to take risks to be part of the solution in his own way.”
Since Belo’s fateful encounter with Eliseo, his humble channel has grown to have more than 260,000 subscribers, as of this writing.
“I am really grateful because I didn’t imagine that this would happen to me. Now when I bike, there are people who would stop and greet me. The support is really overwhelming,” enthuses Belo.
How he started
Before he became a “Santa on a bike,” Belo shares he has been fond of biking since he was a child. And the advocacy he does was inspired by his experience as a kid.
He relates, “I was motivated to start this advocacy because I also once lived in the streets. Batang kalye din ako noon, at hindi ako madalas mag-stay sa bahay kasi maliit lang tirahan namin noon (I also used to roam the streets before, because I didn’t stay much at our house because it was small).”
His journey started by creating an improvised camper bike made of recycled scrap materials from junk shops. With his makeshift van and GoPro Hero 8, he treks around Metro Manila for long days and documents and uploads his experiences along the road on his channel. He has been to numerous destinations and brought smiles to kids in Calamba, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal.
Aside from delivering toys to street children, Belo says he wants his YouTube channel to be a legacy that he can leave for his children. “I really like watching on YouTube, and I’ve been planning to start a channel since last year. I want to post videos for my kids to watch because the posts stay there for a long time, parang legacy ko na.”
His kids often assist in editing and uploading videos on his channel. The usual routine is that he gives them his camera once he gets home and they filter through the recordings and edit them to become a vlog. Currently, they have produced and posted 28 videos on the channel.
How it’s going
As his story made rounds online, Belo says he has received generous donations of toys and financial support for other goods for the kids, in fact some of his videos feature gifts sponsored by supporters.
“I make sure to document every time I give toys to the kids so they can see where their donations go. The continuous support from people really warms my heart.”
With Christmas fast-approaching, he is determined to bring even more joy and give presents, saying he wants to also be able to give educational and story books, snacks, and even face masks to the children.
His journey is not ending anytime soon. The cyclist shares he wants to reach more children and travel to the Bicol Region. He is also hopeful that more people will join in his advocacy, saying, “Iba yung pakiramdam kapag nakita mo yung ngiti sa mga bata. Sa mga gusto na tumulong din, kahit in your own little ways, gawin mo. Kahit sa una walang susuporta sayo, wag ka matakot (It truly is a rewarding feeling whenever you see the kids smile. To those who want to help even in your own little ways, do it. Even if you have no support in the beginning, don’t be afraid). Reach out to them and they will thank you endlessly.”
To those who want to help Belo as he ventures to more cities and gives toys to more kids, send a message to him at www.facebook.com/bikecamperjbelo or [email protected].
COMMENT DISCLAIMER: Reader comments posted on this Web site are not in any way endorsed by Manila Standard. Comments are views by manilastandard.net readers who exercise their right to free expression and they do not necessarily represent or reflect the position or viewpoint of manilastandard.net. While reserving this publication’s right to delete comments that are deemed offensive, indecent or inconsistent with Manila Standard editorial standards, Manila Standard may not be held liable for any false information posted by readers in this comments section.