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HEROES ON WHEELS ROAM MALABON’S STREETS

By JESSICA PAG-IWAYAN

Not all heroes wear capes, some are ordinary citizens—the doctors and nurses, the convenience store workers and supermarket baggers, the soldiers and police, the street sweepers and garbage collectors, who have been going out of their way to do the extraordinary: to bring care, comfort, and convenience to their fellow Filipinos. If not for these frontliners, society would not have functioned as well under the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).

One of the unsung heroes of this time are the riders who bring food, packages, and offer services to make life convenient for all. They continue their work delivering goods to our doorsteps, for all of us to continue staying at home to help “flatten the curve.”

In Malabon City, these riders are a very vital part of the community. One of them is a group called Malabon Riders Association headed by Joseph Legaspi. He created a Facebook page called “Malabon City Bayahihan Rider Pabili” which offers a “pabili” service for free. In a conversation with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle, Joseph shares what inspired him to roll out this initiative and how it has been helping their city cope with the challenges in what has been dubbed as the “new normal.”

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The ECQ challenge

Two days before the announcement of the ECQ, John realized how it would affect the residents of Malabon. “Naisip ko namaraming tatamaan na simpleng mamamayan na walangkapasidad na bumili at mag-imbak ng maraming pagkain sakanilang bahay (I realized that a lot of citizens would be affected because they don’t have the capacity to buy and store a lot of food in their homes),” he says.  

At the very beginning of the lockdown, he noticed how challenging this setup would be for their city’s residents. Even though the Malabon LGU is doing its best to bring food, medicines, and necessities, it was a huge logistical challenge to reach out to each and every citizen.  

Nakita ko ang effort ni Mayor Lenlen Oreta at ng pamahalaang siyudad, pero dahil sa dami ng mga Malabonians sa tindi ng kalaban na virus, kailangan talaga na tumulongtayo at gawin ang makakaya natin kaysa sa magreklamo at maghintay lamang (I could see the effort of Mayor Oreta and the city government, but there are just so many Malabonians and the virus is a strong enemy. We really need to help and do all we can, instead of just complaining and waiting),” he says.

With public transportation also on hold, John saw how it added pressure on LGU officials, down to the barangay level. “What happened is that people began to walk to go to the market and rush along with others to beat the curfew. Different people mixed with one another. It is scary because if an infected person is in the market, the virus can spread,” John laments.

The beginning of Malabon City “Bayanihan Rider Pabili” Facebook group

As the head of Malabon Riders Association, he saw an opportunity to help his townmates. John decided to create a program that would allow his rider-members and other riders to roam around Malabon to offer a “pabili” service. Initially, he was able to gather 500 members through the Facebook page. The goal of this group is not to earn money but to ease the suffering of Malabonians through riders who will do the “pabili” service free of charge.

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A volunteer rider delivering goods to Malabonians

“We observed that there are a lot of poor senior citizens, new moms who have no one to send on an errand, and citizens who are weak and sickly,” he says. “They all need help. That’s why we don’t charge for our service.”

From the initial 500 members, it grew to 1,000 the next day, until it boomed to 2,000. Today, the initiative serves around 6,000 Malabonians. This becomes effective because they don’t charge any fee, but there are a lot of people who give them tips, from P20 to P50, and all the riders appreciate it very much.

“I think it’s because of gratitude to the rider, as residents see the hardships, like the waiting time in groceries, which can last from one to two hours,” he says.

Today, the group continues to provide this service. This has also become a platform for some micro entrepreneurs to share the items they are selling that are ready for pick-up and delivery, such as frozen meat and other goods. John assures everyone that riders strictly follow health protocols, such as social distancing and wearing of protective gear.

“The aim of our group is to make sure that each Malabonianstays at home. This is our help to fight the virus and make the ECQ effective,” he says. “Hindi panahon ngayon ng sisihan, kundi panahon ngayon ng bayanihan (This is not the time for blaming others, this is the time for bayanihan).

Malabon city Mayor Oreta is truly grateful for this group’s selfless act and generosity. “I commend and salute all the frontliners of Malabon, such as the Malabon Riders Association. They know that it is a very challenging time for the city, but with their help, “malaking ginhawa ito sa mamamayan (it is a big relief for residents),” he says. “We will continue our programs to reach out and bring relief to Malabonians.”


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/05/02/heroes-on-wheels-roam-malabons-streets/)

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