December 1, 2021
Caloocan South trike drivers claim third tranche of rice, relief goods
By Joy Rojas
Even before the pandemic in 2020, Juan Villanueva had not been able to work for some time. A tricycle driver and welder in his heyday, he suffered a stroke in 2016 and then again in 2019.
Today he uses a wheelchair and depends on his wife Marie Ann, who runs a small sari-sari (convenience) store. “The second stroke was worse,” says Marie Ann, unable to contain her tears. “It affected his memory. He remembers people by their faces but not by their names.” Juan was undergoing therapy when the pandemic forced him to stop his sessions.
Despite not having driven a tricycle in years, Villanueva was still among the 2,852 Caloocan South tricycle drivers who received their third and final tranche of rice and relief goods from Tzu Chi Foundation. The distribution took place on November 28 at Caloocan High School. The goods—two 10-kg sacks of rice and a bag of assorted grocery items—ensure the couple will be well stocked during the holidays. “It’s really a big help,” says his emotional wife. “Thank you for this opportunity.”
Also present to claim his rice and groceries was Sonny Ladin. A tricycle driver for the past 10 years, he removed meat from his diet a long time ago after he was diagnosed with a gallbladder problem. “I especially liked grilled street food,” he says. “But it gave me a stomach ache. Now I only eat vegetables and fish and I’m not in any pain anymore.”
“Tzu Chi is such a big help for people like me, especially now that Christmas is coming,” he says of the generous goods he received. “What you give us can last for a month.”
Tzu Chi Foundation has seen Caloocan through some of its toughest times. “I first learned about the Tzu Chi Foundation in a medical mission, when they brought a hospital-like setting in Caloocan,” says Genevive Lyn Pineda, community relation office coordinator. “They performed cataract operations and gave free medicines.”
Tzu Chi volunteers were also there to distribute relief goods after a fire ravaged homes. And when the pandemic struck, Caloocan’s jeepney and tricycle drivers and operators were supplied with rice and groceries.
“That’s why I always volunteer,” says Pineda. “I don’t have to wait for our local government unit to ask. I present myself to help and assist whenever Tzu Chi Foundation comes. It feels good to help people.”
Over 2,300 Caloocan North tricycle drivers will receive their third tranche of rice and relief goods at the Caloocan Sports Complex on December 5.