2021: A bumpy road to a more hopeful future
MANILA, Philippines—This year has been extremely challenging for food delivery rider Richard Dajutoy Medina and PUV driver Relly Sardual, who are both considered as essential workers.
Medina, who began delivering Chinese food during the pandemic, said while his work has been “okay” this year, he ran into road mishaps along the way.
“Mga na-experince ko na problema yung masiraan ka sa daan,” he told INQUIRER.net.
(I experienced having a motorcycle breakdown while traveling.)
“Mahirap pero kinakaya para sa pamilya,” he added.
(It’s hard, but I continue to push through for my family.)
Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the country saw a surge in food delivery services, which became essential, especially during lockdowns and quarantines where the movement of people was limited and dining in was prohibited.
A report by consumer company Statista, citing data from a survey conducted by Rakuten Insight last August, said 85 percent of respondents in the country would still order from food delivery applications or services—even after COVID-19 restrictions are eased—due to its convenience.
Around 54 percent said they would still rely on food delivery services because they are still trying to limit social contact. Meanwhile, 51 percent said these services save more time than dining in.
Reasons for continued orders from food delivery apps after COVID-19 restrictions are eased in the Philippines as of August 2021
On the other hand, Sardual—who has been giving rides to commuters for 15 years now—has felt the cruelest impact of COVID-19 especially on PUV drivers who have been off the road countless times during the pandemic.
Last year, the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) had banned any mode of public transportation as enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed across Luzon to curb the spread of the virus.
For drivers like Sardual, this was a huge issue, considering they have been getting fewer commuters since the pandemic hit the country due to lockdowns, community quarantines, and the fear of contracting the dreaded disease.
“Humina ang byahe. Minsan walang kinikita kulang sa pangangailangan,” said Sardual.
(I had fewer passengers. Sometimes I’m not earning enough to cover our needs.)
Operations have resumed in Quezon City, where Sardual resides, on May 15, 2020. However, local guidelines required tricycle drivers to have only one passenger per trip.
This policy remained until August, while Metro Manila was on a two-week ECQ because of a spike in Delta cases.
The series of oil price increases this year—which caused a total net price increase per liter of unleaded gasoline to P19.65, 18 for diesel, and P15.49 per kerosene—aggravated the hardships that Medina and Sardual were already going through because of the pandemic.
“Ang mahal ng gasolina, P60 per liter. Nabawasan ang kita ko,” said Sardual, who decided to adjust his working hours just to earn back what he had used to pay for overpriced gasoline.
(Gasoline was expensive; the prices reached P60 per liter. My earnings further decreased.)
Both Medina and Sardual also admitted that they were scared of being infected with SARS Cov2, the virus that causes COVID-19, whenever they transport food and interact with people every day.
“Natatakot din pero need ko kasi mag trabaho para sa kanila (pamilya), doon ko kasi kinukuha yung mga pangangailangan namin sa araw araw,” said Medina.
(I’m scared, but I still need to work for my family.)
“Oo naman po [natatakot din], [pero] syempre, [kailangan matustusan] yung pang araw araw na pangangailan, [yung] pera,” Sardual shared.
(Of course, I feel scared, but I also need the money to pay for our everyday needs.)
Safer, stronger family bond
The pandemic has taught Medina and Sardual to always place family first above all else.
Despite the challenges he encountered along the way, Medina said he learned to become “stronger at all times” for his family.
When asked about what made 2021 memorable for him, Medina said it has made him more determined and gave him time and opportunity to bond more with his family.
Medina likewise said he is thankful that God has guided him and his family throughout the year.
“Nagpapasalamat po kami lagi sa Maykapal kasi hindi Niya po kami pinapabayaan. Kahit hirap basta may tiwala ka sa Kanya lahat makakayanan niyo,” he said.
(I thank God because He never neglected us. Even though things get hard, you can overcome everything if you have faith in Him.)
Sardual, on the other hand, has learned that family will always be important—especially during crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
“[Nagpapasalamat ako dahil] walang nagka-COVID sa family namin. Buhay at walang sakit ang buong pamilya,” he said.
(I am thankful that no one in my family had COVID this year. We are all alive and healthy.)
Medina and Sardual said they planned on celebrating Christmas this year with their families.
For their Christmas wishes this year, they said:
“[Sana] lagi pong ligtas ang pamilya ko at wini-wish ko rin po na sana matapos na po ‘tong pandemya na nararanasan natin,” said Medina.
(I wish for my family to be always safe and for this pandemic to end.)
“Sana mawala na ang COVID-19,” Sardual replied.
(I hope the COVID-19 pandemic will soon end.)
Onto the next destination
Medina described 2021 as the “most challenging year” because many people faced a host of difficulties as a result of the pandemic.
As part of his resolutions for 2022, Sardual said he would try to avoid vices and bad habits that could affect his health.
“Siguro i-let go ko na yung mga masama para sa kalusugan kagaya ng paninigarilyo at alak,” he said.
(Maybe I will let go of bad habits for my health, such as smoking and drinking.)
When asked about what they are looking forward to in 2022, they responded:
“Gusto ko po [mawala na ang] ng COVID para po makapag-umpisa o makapag simula na po ulit tayong lahat, lalo na po kaming mga mahihirap,” said Medina.
(I hope that the COVID-19 pandemic will soon end so we can all start over, especially the less fortunate.)
“[Sana] maging okay na po tayong lahat at wala nang magkakasakit at [sana] maging stable na rin po ang economy natin,” he added.
(I hope we will be okay and that no one will get sick. I also hope that our economy will become stable.)
“Sana guminhawa na ang buhay,” Sardual stated.
(I hope our lives will improve.)
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