MOST people think of camping as an outdoor activity to escape from the hustle and bustle of the city and to reconnect with nature. But the idea of camping out with a trailer is still a concept or practice that has yet to generate a larger following in the Philippines.
And Jay Seroma sees potential in making more Filipinos enjoy camping. The founder and owner of Phoenix Campers Philippines said that the people who come to his shop in Silang, Cavite have their trailers commissioned and built by his company.
“People who know how to camp have different ideas of what camping is. Those people are already accustomed to means like overland SUVs and RVs, as for trailers, which we make, is a completely new concept that the industry needs to tap into,” Seroma told Fast Times in an interview.
The company was founded in October 2019 by Seroma, a few months before the pandemic struck. But it was in 2022 when Seroma partnered with a company called UCM, a shop known for its all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and related equipment, to sell his small camper trailers.
“The concept of camper trailers here in Phoenix is that the trailers owe its use in the campsite. Most people think of a campsite as just having a tent, but my idea for a campsite is that it needs to have utilities, such as cooking or a water source, similar to how camping works in the US. The campsite is used to support the trailers, you cannot have one without the other,” he added.
But the pandemic made his plans bear little fruit. In 2020, UCM planned a site in its own Adventure Park in San Mateo, Rizal to support Seroma’s vision of a campsite that will support his trailers. His plans were scrapped when the Covid-19 outbreak started.
But that did not stop Seroma and the people cooperating with him in developing the trailers, as they figured a way to provide a power source on their own even in places where there was no available electricity support.
One of his small camper trailers is located in UCM’s ATV shop in Libis, Quezon City, near Eastwood Mall. It is also used for marketing purposes and its body is made out of strong fiberglass, which also allows for better thermal insulation, with vinyl tiles layering the inside. A soft foam bed mattress is installed, as well as an electric fan and air-conditioning for creature comforts. A couple of tiny LED bulbs provide lighting during the darkest of nights.
While this trailer can fit two, Seroma has built bigger ones to accommodate a small family.
Essentially, it can be said that Seroma’s trailers bridge the gap between big trailer homes and tents when it comes to camping.
Power and cooking
Providing electrical power is a generator that can hold up 3,000 watts of power, sourced by the sunlight captured by means of a solar panel on top of the trailer, or by using a 220-watt power cable to be inserted to a suitable power outlet in a vehicle. Seroma said that the trailer can power the lights using the generator alone.
Pull one of the compartments and it reveals a mini steel kitchen counter, complete with a sink and a mini stove for cooking convenience. A big awning is installed to provide shade from the sun and rain while cooking as well as during ingress and egress.
When asked why there isn’t a toilet installed. Seroma said: “It kind of defeats the point of camping. If you still want most of your conveniences from your home, then might as well find a hotel to stay or stay home.”
Despite being made mostly of fiberglass, the whole trailer is light enough to be towed even by a four-cylinder sedan, owing to its smaller size. And being small allows for advantages for people trying to escape Manila’s traffic-prone roads while towing their trailers.
While it may cost half a million pesos or more depending on specifications, Seroma said that compared to bigger ones, it’s a lot easier to live with, and a lot less hassle to tow without the danger of falling objects. “We designed it in a way where it is livable, at the same time, it’s easier to live with and tow. It’s a concept that I think is a suitable camping option for Filipinos who need a trailer,” Seroma added.