We’ve all heard so many horror stories of taxi rides gone wrong. Which is why when mobile rental apps came into existence, commuters rejoiced. It’s efficient, convenient, much more safer, and as it turns out…charitable. Well, at least this one is.
The gray streets of Manila (whether by pollution or by the unheard cries of its people) have unfortunately turned its commuters into robots automatically going into “alert mode” when stepping out. That was certainly the case with one 21-year-old Gelica Manuel Tulauan just two nights ago in the city. She booked a ride through a mobile rental app, but when her driver started acting differently, she went from alert to panicked, immediately trying to call friends. But what happened next surprised her. In a very good, inspiring way.
Gelica shares: “I shared this experience because this is the kind of story I want people on social media to read. Because these stories make you realize that, yes, the world like that street we went to, may be filled with darkness. But there are always these little specks of light that breaks through….and they make all the difference.”
She posted about the experience through her Facebook account. It’s quite the long story, but I’m telling you—read it until the end. I promise you it is worth it.
“Hindi ako nakakuha ng picture dahil madilim na at nagulat ako sa ginawa niya. But I want to share what happened. This is quite long, but bear with me for a few minutes here, please.
Fan ako ng Grab app. Like many people today, I find it extremely convenient and a lot safer than regular metered taxis. Their drivers in general are accommodating, respectful, and very easy to talk to.
Last night, I used Grab again from Gateway Cubao to Moriones, Tondo. After we dropped off my friend, Madel, at Quirino, we turned left to Pedro Gil so we could take the Roxas Blvd. route. Medyo madilim na yung kalyeng dinaanan namin, maliban sa mangilan-ngilang establisimyentong bukas pa ng hating-gabi. I was alone with the driver at this point. At dahil: 1.) mahilig ako sa mga slasher/ detective/ mystery-everything; 2.) laganap ngayon ang mga krimen sa mga public transport vehicles; at 3.) asyumera at hyperactive ang imahinasyon ko; I couldn’t help but be a little (okay, a LOT) paranoid.
I was pretending to look at my phone, but all my “danger sensors” were on high-alert because the Grab driver suddenly slowed down and said something that I wasn’t able to catch entirely. Basta ang naintindihan ko na lang, bababa raw siya.
`Di na ako nakapag-react kasi huminto na siya sa tabi ng isang bangketa. He took off his seatbelt and pulled something from his feet. It was a medium-sized brown bag.
At dahil nga asyumera ako, napa-call-a-friend ako bigla. I was waiting for my bestfriend Danelyn to pick up but my gaze was fixed on the Grab driver as he got out of the car and strolled to the dark sidewalk. I was looking for something that would convince me that I was in trouble and that I needed to get out of there fast.
I was starting to get worried because Danelyn wasn’t picking up the call. Tumingin ako sa gawi ng windshield, nag-iisip na kung saan ako pwedeng tumakbo. When I turned my gaze back to the driver, I was confused by what I saw.
He was bending over a dark figure lying on the cold, slightly-wet pavement. I was wondering what on earth he was doing when the figure suddenly rose. It was an elderly woman sleeping on the sidewalk, I realized.
The old woman looked a little dazed from suddenly waking up from her sleep. The Grab Driver was telling her something as he pointed to the brown bag that I noticed was now placed in front of her. I was watching this interaction from inside the car, and the Grab driver had his back turned to me so I don’t really know what was being said. But I saw the old woman point at herself, probably asking, “Para sa akin?” And the Grab Driver replying to whatever she said with a nod. The sidewalk was dark and lonely, but the look on her face after that lit up the whole street. She smiled at the Grab driver and said something to him again. He said something too, waved goodbye to her, and quickly returned to the car.
By this time, all thoughts of gory news headlines and horrible viral Facebook stories in my head were gone. They were replaced with a bit of relief, and a lot of shock and embarrassment for the way I acted.
As he continued driving to our destination, I was silent for about a minute or two because I felt guilty that I had been so quick to judge. Though, I couldn’t help but probe a little about what he did. I asked him if he knew the old woman, and he answered no, it was the first time he saw her. I also asked what was inside the brown bag. He told me it was food.
“Ah…tirang pagkain mo, Kuya?”
“Ay, hindi po, Ma’am. Nagluluto po talaga kami minsan tapos ibinibigay po namin,” he replied.
“Kami? Sinong ‘kami’?”
“Yung mga tropa ko po at saka girlfriend ko.”
“Ginagawa n’yo talaga `to regularly?”
“Opo, madalas po. Hindi naman po laging-lagi, pero medyo madalas rin po. Nung birthday ko rin po nung January 30, nag-ganito rin po kami.”
He went on telling me how he and his friends would chip in money to buy and cook meals they would give out to homeless people on the streets. They also give used clothes and blankets, because as he said, that’s what they need especially now that it’s getting chilly at night. Sometimes, the whole group would ride with him and conduct the simple act of kindness when he wasn’t on driving-duty. Sometimes, it was just him.
I was sitting at the back so I couldn’t see his face, but as he told me about this one time they gave clothes to a homeless child along Roxas Blvd., I couldn’t help but notice how his voice was filled with…joy.
“Alam n`yo po ba yung Ang Probinsiyano, Ma’am? Kilala nyo po si Onyok? Naku, parang ganun yung isa dun sa grupo ng mga batang binigyan namin. Nakabusangot tapos pakamot-kamot pa ng ulo kasi wala daw kasya sa kanya dahil maliit siya,” he narrated, laughing heartily as he finished the story.
I looked at him thru the rearview mirror. He was young, maybe just a few years older than me (I’m 21). His friends and girlfriend, I assumed, were all about his age, too. Not many people, especially YOUNG people, would think about doing something like that without a reason or at least a story behind it. So I asked him who initiated the idea and what inspired them to do it.
“Ako po at saka yung girlfriend ko. Araw-araw kasi, magda-drive ka, makikita mo sila lalo na sa gabi na nakahiga sa bangketa. Madalas mga gutom, pero itinutulog na lang yung gutom nila. Kaya naisip naming gawin `to. Para at least, makatulong kaming malamnan yung mga tiyan nila kahit isang gabi lang,” he said.
My heart swelled and I smiled to myself, silently thanking God for using them as instruments of His love. My respect for them went sky high. And just when I thought I couldn’t get any more impressed, he went on to say something that completely blew me away.
“Sabi ng marami, dapat yung mga ganun daw tinutulungan ng gobyerno,” he said while slightly shaking his head as if he find that thought a bit bizarre. “Naisip namin, bakit mo naman hihintayin pa ang gobyerno kung pwedeng ikaw mismo ang gumawa?”
After that, I wanted to give him and his group of friends a standing ovation. Sinong magsasabi ngayon na hindi na natin pwedeng asahan ang “pag-asa ng bayan”? These people belong to the current generation of Filipino youth, and look at what they’re doing: making a quiet change one meal and one piece of used clothing at a time.
So, a huge THANK YOU and a big SALUTE to you and your friends, Kuya CARLO SANTIAGO DIAZ! Special props to you for using your job as a Grab driver to perform these acts of kindness. People like you restore my faith in the goodness of humankind, so continue doing what you’re doing. Salamat at mabuhay ang mga tulad ninyong may malasakit sa kapwa at sa bayan!”
This is one of the best lines in the story: “Sabi ng marami, dapat yung mga ganun daw tinutulungan ng gobyerno. Naisip namin, bakit mo naman hihintayin pa ang gobyerno kung pwedeng ikaw mismo ang gumawa?” A little reminder to all of us that we should not keep waiting for change to happen. If you want change, stop demanding it. BE IT.
Faith in humanity: Restored.