Caloocan City Highschool was the venue for the Tzu Chi Foundation’s series of relief operation aimed at helping Jeepney drivers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. While a total of 760 drivers and their families were provided relief goods, the same drivers were inspired by Master Cheng Yen’s teachings and donated what little they had to help their fellow drivers.
The early morning of Sunday, September 27 saw hundreds of Jeepney drivers lining up outside of the Caloocan City High School along 10th Ave., in anticipation of Tzu Chi’s latest relief operation. With help from the local government led by Mayor Oscar Malapitan and Congressman Along Malapitan, The Tzu Chi Foundation helped Jeepney drivers in Caloocan have food and basic necessities to take care of their families.
In the spirit of giving, and inspired by Master Cheng Yen’s teachings, Jeepney drivers also donated their hard-earned money to help their fellow drivers who were unable to receive relief goods that day. Many drivers said they were inspired to “pay it forward” and said it feels good to help others. Having received help from Tzu Chi, they felt it was their duty to help their fellow man.
Feels Good to Help
The President of the Balintawak PUC Jeepney Operators and Drivers Association, Jessie Dela Cruz, explained that there are more than 200 drivers in his association, and throughout the pandemic he approached friends and other people in the community who could help the organization. He also donated 75% of his savings to drivers whose families needed milk and food for their children. “It feels good to help others, and it feels different when you help other people.”
Jeepney Driver Jerry Caalim, organized his own relief and with the help of other drivers, collected money from drivers and the community. “We saved money so we could help other drivers, we saved money for almost a month and we are happy to help others.”
While many have been unable to find other jobs to earn a living, others like Michael Salinas, has volunteered his time to the Barangay as a volunteer patrol driver, and gets a token payment for his services. Even though he is struggling, he donated a portion of his earnings. “I thought of sharing some of what I have in the hope that I can inspire other drivers to help each other as well. I hope we unite as one in this pandemic and work together and do not ask for something in return.”
Cooperating to Help Others
For their part, the local government, apart from their cooperation with the Tzu Chi Foundation to help drivers, have been assisting the various JODA associations and introducing programs that allow drivers to earn a living. Congressman Along Malapitan noted that “here in Caloocan we encourage every driver to join our livelihood program so they can learn to make a product and earn a living when they are at home.”
In the past, the city also hosted job fairs to help those in the community find a livelihood, however, many companies have remained closed due to the pandemic. Congressman Malapitan was thankful to the Tzu Chi Foundation and said that “whether there is a pandemic or not, Tzu Chi is here to help us and we are grateful for their help and cooperation.”