Into the fifth week of relief operations intended to help Jeepney drivers throughout Metro Mania, the Tzu Chi Foundation, with help from the local government, provided rice and other goods to over 700 drivers in Mandaluyong City.
The Tzu Chi Foundation continued its three month long relief mission for Jeepney drivers in Mandaluyong City on September 19th. With the help of the city government, thanks to Mayor Carmelita Abalos, better known as “Menchie” to her constituents, and the help of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce, Tzu Chi Foundation members and volunteers were able to distribute relief goods to 719 Jeepney drivers.
Lending a Helping Hand
A total of 44 Tzu Chi Foundation volunteers, complemented by 92 city staff and volunteers, were on hand to coordinate the relief operation. Additionally, members of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce came out to help, including Executive Vice President William Castro, Deputy Director Louie Santos and President Alex Tiu, carrying bags and helping drivers with their relief goods.
The President of the Mandaluyong City Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association (JODA), Ernesto Banzuela, expressed his gratitude for the help provided to his members. Due to the pandemic, the 150 drivers in his jurisdiction have taken jobs as construction workers, and taxi and tricycle drivers, just to be able to survive and feed their families.
“We want to thank the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Tzu Chi Foundation for supporting us and our members,” he said, “I hope you do not get tired of helping, our members are very grateful for your generosity and being able to help their families.”
Trying to Survive
Many have been struggling to feed their families and Jeepney driver Eduardo Escubar is no exception. A single parent of three children, Eduardo has been a driver for over 30 years. “I’m a single parent caring for three children, and because of the pandemic, my only income has been barely 2,000 pesos a month from serving as a frontliner in my Barangay.”
Manuel Ordiales is a senior at 65 years old, and has also been a Jeepney driver for 30 years. He currently cares for two children and has not worked since March and has been getting by with help from neighbors, friends and the local community.
Like many others, Eduardo and Manuel have been heavily affected by the pandemic, and although drivers like Eduardo have been able to find ways to earn a living and support their families, others like Manuel have not been able to, either due to their age or the lack of work.
Tzu Chi Foundation Providing Hope
This is why the Tzu Chi Foundation has taken the initiative to help those hardest hit by the pandemic. Since the beginning of the Jeepney driver relief operations in August, over 15,300 drivers and their families have been given relief goods. The operation in Mandaluyong was made possible with help and cooperation from the Mandaluyong City Government, Mayor Carmelita Abalos, and members of the Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce.