Manila jeepney drivers begging for alms get help from Facebook group

Ayla Conda with driver Alberto Manuel. Photo from Conda
Ayla Conda with driver Alberto Manuel. Photo from Conda

Times have been hard for all Filipinos, but perhaps our jeepney drivers have been hit harder than most.

Many of them have had to resort to begging in the streets after the government banned them from the roads. The extensive media coverage on the plight of these drivers spurred a Facebook group to help alleviate their suffering, at least temporarily.

Ayla Conda, a 22-year-old tutor, was encouraged to raise money for the drivers when she saw the story of elderly driver Alberto Manuel Jr. online on Father’s Day. At 76, Manuel had to resort to begging on Avenida Road in Manila when the government abruptly shut down his source of income.

“I saw him on the Father’s Day [Facebook] post of ABS-CBN News. Then we shared it on our [Facebook] group (Quarantine Tribute Tips) if maybe we could help Father [Alberto] and the rest of the drivers. So that’s how we started raising money for them,” Conda told Coconuts Manila via chat.

Read: Jeepneys may return if transport options insufficient, says Roque

Quarantine Tribute Tips is an online group where users can share ideas on how they could stay safe while doing errands, such as shopping. Conda, with the help of the group, oversaw the donation drive and raised at least PHP130,000 (US$2,602), enough to buy groceries for Manuel and other drivers in Manila.

Each pack contains food such as rice, vegetables, eggs, and bread. They also distributed bottles of alcohol disinfectants and face masks. Manuel and at least 150 drivers in Manila received their gifts earlier this week, and 100 more drivers will be given food by Conda and her friends this weekend.

“They’re always thankful. You will always see their smile when they arrive and when they leave,” said Conda.

Jeepneys are scheduled to make a comeback on the metro’s roads sometime next week. It remains to be seen how their operators would be able to enforce social distancing to avoid the spread of COVID-19 among their passengers.



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