MANILA -- On March 20, ABS-CBN promo specialists Rev Martin, Jeddah Legaspi and business strategist for integrated news Marga Go teamed up and started PasaHero, an initiative that provides daily necessities to Filipino public utility vehicle (PUV) drivers in different communities within Metro Manila.
Realizing that many are able to save up, even just a little, from working at home and not consuming commute expenses, Martin came up with the idea for these people to start a fundraiser for those unable to work at the moment and shared this on Facebook.
“People started to commend na good idea siya, na they wanted to help. Sila Jeddah, sila Marga,” he added. “They really wanted to push for the project. (People started to comment that it’s a good idea, that they wanted to help like Jeddah and Marga.)”
With this, PasaHero was born.
After reaching out to different point-people in various communities including transport group Pinagkaisang Samahan ng Mga Tsuper at Operator Nationwide (PISTON) secretary-general George San Mateo, Martin, Legaspi and Go focused on areas that were most affected by the enhanced community quarantine.
After pinpointing these areas, the group contacted local groceries to reserve the goods for distribution to PUV driver groups such as local jeepney operators and drivers associations (JODA) and tricycle operators and drivers' associations (TODA).
As smooth as their logistics may be, the group shares that having to implement social distancing and community quarantines were challenges they had to face in pursuing this effort. As such, they communicated through technology with elderly drivers and key people in the project’s process and distribution flows.
“We had to contact groceries or supermarkets who can actually work around that limitation,” Go shared. “We knew that the help is coming, the funds are coming. Pero how do we get out? How do we use these funds to get the supplies and distribute it?"
Working with suppliers and contacts who helped with the logistics, they came up with solutions that would work for the situation.
“There’s really a lot of coordination in terms of paano natin mapaparating sa mga drivers. Ultimately, we decided na para hindi rin lahat lumalabas, meron nalang pi-pickup doon sa supermarket ng mga supplies and then i-didistribute na lang sa kanya-kanyang grupo. (There’s really a lot of coordination in terms of how drivers would receive these. Ultimately, we decided to have representatives pick up the supplies at the supermarket and distribute these to their respective groups so that less would have to go out.)"
“'Yun 'yung magic doon,” Martin shared, inspired of Pasahero’s reach and purpose. “Kasi nga we are really not meant to go outside ‘di ba and since tayo nga 'yung work from home na force, 'di talaga tayo pwedeng makalabas kasi meron tayong daytime na job. Kaya more of online talaga 'yung coordination and hindi siya legwork namin- legwork nung mga actual leaders nila,” he added. “Cute tignan kasi at least yung leader talaga nila maaasahan nila. Better na rin na ganoon."
(That’s the magic there. We are really not meant to go outside right, and since we have to work from home we really can’t go out due to our daytime job. That’s why the coordination is mostly online and it’s not our legwork, but the legwork of their community leaders. It’s also cute to see that at least they can depend on their leaders, it’s better that way too.)
“Nakakatuwa kasi actually 'yung mga nakakausap namin ngayon, hindi ko pa sila na-memeet. I think 'yun nga rin 'yung magic with all of these,” Go related.
“Hindi mo sila kilala pero every time you raise the initiative and your request with them, most will also express the same interest to help out kahit hindi pa kayo nagkakakilala ever. So, it’s interesting to how you get to feel each other’s-- how do you call it-- bayanihan spirit siguro.”
(It’s amazing how we haven’t met some of our contacts. That’s the magic in it too, you haven’t met them but everytime you raise the initiative and request with them, most will also express the same interest to help out even though you haven’t ever met.)
Their continuous goal of delivering goods such as canned sardines, meatloaf, instant noodles, and rice, totaling approximately 100 food packs good for at least 2 days, have reached different communities across Metro Manila.
As of March 15, they have helped an estimated number of 600 drivers from Muntinlupa, Novaliches and Caloocan and more.
Many locals in the country have lost daily wages due to the quarantine, including PUV drivers. Recognizing this and their integral part in a Filipino’s everyday life, PasaHero realized that this is a specific group of people that must be helped out too.
“Araw-araw ako nag-ji-jeep. Kumbaga, isa din talaga ako sa mga nakikinabang sa serbisyo ng mga jeepney drivers natin and I think it’s about time to help them,” Martin said. “Parang lagi tayong tinutulungan ng mga drivers na makarating sa paparoonan natin, sa papunta sa opisina, sa pauwi sa bahay. Ngayon, kailangan naman nila tayo. I think it’s only right to help them naman to survive this crisis. Sana hindi tayo nag-iiwanan, ganyan.
(I ride jeeps everyday, I’m on of those who benefit from the service of our jeepney drivers and I think it’s about time to help them. They always help us get to our destinations like the office or home. Now, they need us. I think it’s only right to help them survive this crisis. Let’s not leave each other.)"
Legaspi shared the same sentiments. In a time of difficulty for our PUV drivers and fellow Filipinos, we must do what we can to reach out and help.
“Nagtatrabaho sila nang nagtatrabaho para may maipakain sa family nila. This time, gugustuhin talaga nila magtrabaho kung pwede it’s just that wala 'yung opportunity para makalabas. Siguro ito 'yung bridge na pwede naming maiugnay na maitulong sa kanila. Kasi hindi sila yung tao na tamad,” she added. “Ang nawala sa kanila is yung chance na kumita at magtrabaho. Kagaya nga ng sinabi ni Rev, kailangan 'yung mga pasahero naman yung maging hero para sa kanila.
(They work and work to feed their families. This time, they would work if they could but they don’t have the opportunity to. This may be the bridge to connect and help them. They aren’t lazy, they lost the chance to earn and work. As Rev mentioned, it’s time that the passengers step up as the heroes for them.)"
To contribute to this initiative, visit PasaHero’s Facebook page for more details.
This story was originally published on the Choose Philippines website.