When the pandemic started and with lockdowns abruptly getting imposed, the whole world suddenly came to an intrusive halt. Everyone wondered the same thing: “what’s gonna happen now?” Malls were forced to close their doors, and what used to be an annoying busy Manila turned into what we would only see in zombie apocalypse movies. It was a terrible scene, to say the least.
While most of us kept looking for ways to deal with the awful situation, others slowly crept out from the dark to build different groups and communities that would spark movement after movement of individuals who turned (almost) everyone into the easiest way of transportation and the perfect excuse to stay sane. I’m talking about of course, biking.
With different bike groups blossoming from the ground up amidst the pandemic, a group of individuals unconventionally stood out among the rest. Coming from different backgrounds but with one goal, the “chill” boys of Leisure MNL chose to make biking a casual, easy-going activity. Leisure. A word they chose for the lifestyle that they were and still are promoting. Perfect.
I had the chance to visit the famed Leisure HQ and sit down with 4/10 members of the group namely Ean Mayor (of UDD), Migs Mendoza (of Join The Club), Wally Contento (of The Vince Noir Project), and Rebo Saguisag (City Councilor of Makati) to talk about the group’s history, what Leisure is about, and why lifestyle is as important as living itself.
Can you please describe Leisure and its evolution in a nutshell?
Rebo: Leisure to us means freedom, more specifically with biking. It evolved from being a bike group to a movement promoting “chill” biking. Being in politics and a bike racer myself, meeting the boys of Leisure made me realize that i needed a relaxing outlet rather than making everything a competitive sport.
Ean: Nasa banda ako eh, so kailangan ko ng something to look forward to within my week kumbaga. So when the pandemic started, I met the boys and we started talking about bikes (specifically vintage bikes) tapos nangyari na lang lahat from there. We started biking on a weekly basis. Leisure became what it is now because of our common passion for relaxation and lifestyle. Subconsciously, Leisure became a brand for all things chill. Leisure started formally back in Feb 14 2021 when we did our first Leisure POP at Legazpi Market. We mostly sold bike parts and accessories. From there, we expanded with merchandise, events and music.
Wally: Leisure actually started as a groupchat for biking lang around July of 2020. I named the groupchat “LEISURE RIDERS” then eventually took out the “riders” and just stuck with Leisure. We really just wanted to get together to bike and talk about the lifestyle aspect of biking. Tapos ayun, naging ganito na.
Can you name the people behind Leisure and are all of you involved in creatives?
Ean: We’re composed of 10 people mostly involved sa creatives, yes. So it’s me, Knell, Wally, Migs, Rebo..
Migs: ..Roman owner ng Pretend Leather, Dani ng Giniling Festival, Vez Protacio, Jerome Quilatan and Jeariel Mira.
Ean: One of our members si Jerome, graphic artist siya, created the logo you’re seeing on our decals and merch. The logo was highly inspired by the 90s era, specifically Blur and Oasis. So fun fact, our logo is a mix of both Blur’s and Oasis’ band logos.
So Leisure having mostly creatives onboard, a common interest in vintage bikes and being a lifestyle brand, how important is fashion and art to your movement?
Migs: My perspective on this is, luckily, we’re all interested in vintage bikes and that era of “coming as you are”. So whenever we’d go out to bike, we call it “porma ride” but more in the sense of coming as you are. Again, luckily, our sensibilities naturally became cohesive na lang dahil sa common interests namin. “Klasikero” is how I see our aesthetic as a brand and as a bike group talaga.
Wally: We see one thing in biking – it’s not an exercise. It’s a different kind of lifestyle. Others see cycling as a form of exercise na ok din. It’s just that what we’re introducing at Leisure is a bit unconventional. It’s a “ang sarap mag-bike” type of vibe. This doesn’t just go with biking. It’s the leisurely activity of biking that we’re promoting. So everything we do whether it be bikes, fashion, or attitude, is all related to art. We consider everything we do as our artistic expression.
Rebo: Everyone at Leisure influenced me a lot in terms of tapping into my inner-“chill” personality. People have always known that I’m not your typical lawyer/politician. I was always into competitive biking din so you know, the works. Everything was for competition, so nung nakita ko si Ean na naka-polo at jeans nabang nagba-bike, na-realize ko na “pwede pala yung ganto, pasok pa’rin sa work at biking!” Dun ko nalaman na I’ve been a Leisure boy all along pala. So thanks Ean for influencing me! (Everone bursting into laughter)
Capping off your successful Leisure Pop 1st Year Anniversary event here at the Leisure HQ, what’s next for you guys?
Wally: Yung podcast nasa plano din namin ni Rebo yan. And of course, yung recording studio dito sa HQ, ie-expand din namin yan. Kumbaga, we want to be known not just for biking and events. Andyan yung merch na mage-expand din. Caps, socks, etc. Basta anything that has something to do with lifestyle, music and bikes.
Ean: I think the simplest answer to that question is, never namin inexpect na magiging ganitong brand ang Leisure. Kumbaga, whatever talent anyone in the group can offer, that’s where we’ll head at. For example, now, we have a brand na Leisure, a recording studio, we just maximize the capacity of whatever we have and can offer. Here sa studio, I wanna push yung recording and producing but still under the philosophy of Leisure the brand. More events din to come, of course!
Any last words from the Leisure boys to our readers at Clavel?
Rebo: As they say, “if you plan too far ahead, you miss that opportunity at the corner of your eye, so stop and smell the flowers.” That’s Leisure.