Sampung Libong Pag-asa

Bulacan driver catches break, buys own jeepney

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Sampung Libong Pag-asa, the cash aid initiative started by former House Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano, is staying true to its name as it continues to change the lives and fortunes of tens of thousands of families across the country.

During the Sampung Libong Pag-asa event live streamed over Cayetano’s Facebook page on Friday, October 8, 2021, some 150 beneficiaries from all over the country received P10,000 each in cash aid.

This number includes 100 jeepney operators and drivers from Mabalacat City in Pampanga, Bacolod City in Negros Occidental, and Zamboanga City, as well as 50 beneficiaries nationwide who were selected online.

As of October 8, around 11,792 families from all over the Philippines have been given P10,000 in cash aid through the Sampung Libong Pag-asa initiative.

Among the thousands of beneficiaries whose lives have been touched by Sampung Libong Pag-asa is Manuel dela Cruz, a jeepney driver and father of two in Bulacan.

Dela Cruz used to be a tricycle driver, but he shifted to driving a jeepney as his family’s needs grew over the years.

The income he earned from driving the jeepney — which he rented at a fixed rate called a “boundary” — had been sufficient for his family. But as with many transport workers during the last year, the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench on dela Cruz’s already crisis-sensitive livelihood.

Sa ngayon mahirap, hindi namin inaasahan. Noon kasi ang pasahero ng jeepney driver karamihan 80 percent ay estudyante, 20 percent doon sabihin na natin yung mga empleyado. Halos sabihin nating 80 percent pa rin yung nawawala sa ‘min na pasahero,” dela Cruz shared.

(Right now, things are unexpectedly difficult. Before the pandemic, 80 percent of our passengers were students while some 20 percent of them were employees. Now, I think we’ve lost 80 percent of our passengers.)

Dela Cruz added that he used to make between P600 and P700 in earnings, excluding his gas and “boundary” expenses, before COVID-19 hit. That went down to just P400 to P500 on days when he could take a jeepney out; pandemic travel restrictions meant he wasn’t able to make a living for long periods of time.

When dela Cruz was chosen as a Sampung Libong Pag-asa beneficiary on June 15, 2021, he took advantage of the windfall to do something he had been putting off for a long time, something he knew would liberate him from the “boundary” vehicle rent payments that ate away at his daily income: he got himself his own jeepney.

Noong natanggap ko yung 10k ayuda, kumuha po ako ng jeep na tinatawag namin ay ‘hulog-boundary’. Noong panahon po na yun, meron po akong 50k. Yun pong binigay ni sir Peter Cayetano, isinama ko po roon para maging pang-down ko at ng makuha ko yung jeep na ‘to. Ibig kong sabihin yung boundary ko po na ibinibigay, yun na rin po yung magiging hulog ko sa kanya monthly na pagdating ng panahon magiging sariling sasakyan mo na po,” dela Cruz said.

(When I received the cash aid, I went ahead and got myself a jeepney on a rent-to-own basis from its original owner. At that time, I already had P50,000. The money I received from Sir Peter Cayetano, I added it to the money I already had and used it as downpayment for the jeepney. So now, instead of making daily “boundary” payments, I can just pay for the vehicle via monthly installments.)

Dela Cruz now has a more stable income with the help of the easier-to-manage monthly payments on the jeepney he drives. He admitted that the going is still tough for him and his fellow drivers, as his daily income of P500 is still below his pre-pandemic take-home pay, but he vowed to persevere for his family.

Ang buhay natin e ‘ika nga parang gulong talaga ng jeep natin: minsan nasa ibabaw, minsan nasa ilalim. Ang ginagawa nating ito ay para sa pamilya, para sa anak,” Dela Cruz said.

(Our lives, as they say, is like the wheels of our jeepney: sometimes up, sometimes down. But we keep at it. We do it for our family, for our children.)

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