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A Quirky Philippine Tricycle 'Disturbs the Peace' in California

It’s a tricycle on Filipino steroids. 
IMAGE INSTAGRAM/TNT_TRAYSIKEL, SHUTTERSTOCK
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There is a quirky Philippine tricycle making rounds in California and catching all sorts of stares as its built-in karaoke blasts unsuspecting neighborhoods with OPM tracks culled from the Philippines’ best hits of the century. Described as a “cultural marker” honoring Filipino heritage in California, TNT Traysikel is actually a mobile public artwork by Mike Arcega and Paolo Asuncion.

A Tricycle on Filipino Steroids

As a piece of artwork, the TNT Traysikel looks like a regular Philippine tricycle, but a closer inspection shows that every inch of it has icons from Philippine culture. Painstakingly handpainted details usually seen on jeepneys are applied on the body. Curtain headings with those quirky neon balls of yarn adorn the cover above the rider’s head and, on the back of the trike, a tarp features the words “UFO: Unidentified Filipino Object.”

‘Por Wan Pibe’

But perhaps the best detail on the Filipino tricycle is the “por wan pibe” pun (four one five) on the front of the sidecar. In California, law enforcers say “415” as code for “Disturbing the Peace.” It stems from the California Penal Code 415, which makes it unlawful for any person to start fights in public, maliciously and willfully disturb another person, and in the case of the Traysikel, create loud and unreasonable noise through its karaoke. 

 

Traysikel Karaoke Show

“TNT SideCaraoke is a rolling karaoke interview show all about Filipinos and the Filipino American experience,” wrote the artists on their Instagram.

On the show, Filipinos would take a ride on TNT Traysikel while singing karaoke and talking about their “superhero origin story” and their “superpowers.” Below is a teaser of the show. 

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On Arcega's personal website, he describes why they created their tricycle. 

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.”

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Mario Alvaro Limos
Features Editor, Esquire Philippines
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