From Taytay to Quezon City, Edmundo Chavez spends 95 pesos for his fare. That’s 190 pesos for the day and he only gets 500 pesos for a day’s work as a construction worker. On top of transport expenses, he still needs to eat.
On his first day, three weeks ago, at his construction job in Quezon City, he tried commuting and said that it was hard — aside from it being expensive.
“Una, namasahe ako. Ang hirap. Tapos ganoon din, nasa dalawang oras din ang biyahe mo. Edi magba-bike na lang ako,” he said. “Wala pa akong pera noon kaya bumale muna ako. Dalawang kaltas.”
The money that Edmundo saves, he’s giving it to his mother who is suffering from Tuberculosis. He said that his mom budgets his money and they use it for their food and some expenses.
When we asked him, “what do you usually eat?” His reply was pretty heartbreaking.
“Itlog. Binabaunan lang ako ng pritong itlog araw-araw. Hindi na ako bumibili ng ulam, dati humihingi lang ako sa pinsan ko. Tsaka 50 pesos para sa merienda,” he said. “Minsan may sinabawang isda naman kami tsaka baboy isang beses sa isang linggo.”
When we met Edmundo, he was sitting on the gutter with his notebook. Apparently, he’s fixing the schedule of his Church’s next feeding program. For someone who doesn’t have that much, who can’t afford to give himself proper nutrients, it’s amazing that he still volunteers to feed others.
He is also waiting for his uncle that afternoon because he needs to borrow 95 pesos. It’s an emergency money that he’ll use just in case his bike gives up on him that day. He mentioned that his rear wheel sounded problematic and repair shops are already closed by night time.
But just in case, he has a wrench on his handlebar. A tool that’s not usually used by cyclists and that’s only good for one kind of bolt.
“Importante ‘yung bike kasi service ko ‘yan e. Ang mahal na ang pamasahe papunta sa amin. Kung sa Taytay ako papasok, wala akong mapasukan,” he said. “Wala naman akong pinipiling trabaho kasi wala rin naman ako natapos. Pero tiyaga-tiyaga lang kasi wala pa akong ma-applyan ngayon.”
He used to work as a forklift operator before the pandemic but was forced to leave work because of the effect of the health crisis. He’s been jobless for two years — not because he was too lazy to work but it’s because it’s difficult to find work. It was thanks to his uncle who recommended him for this construction work in Quezon City.
He doesn’t have a helmet too, so we gave him one — something we collected from our earlier donation drive. Edmundo said that since he’s a new Quezon City worker, he’s not aware of the city’s bike helmet ordinance.
“Hindi ko alam na hinuhuli ‘yung walang helmet. Dahan-dahan naman ‘yung takbo ko, hindi naman ako nagmamadali,” he said. “Kung magkapera siguro, bibili ako, kapag nakaluwag-luwag. Sa ngayon po kasi hirap eh. Kagaya ‘yung nanay ko nga, may sakit, may TB. Kaya doon ako umuuwi sa kaniya at may gastos.”
Edmundo is already 32 years old and he chose to live with his mom when he learned that she’s sick.
“Mahal na mahal ko ‘yung nanay ko. ‘Yung sine-sweldo ko, sapat lang sa amin kasi hindi naman kami maluho sa bahay,” he said. “Sana gumaling na siya. Maraming gamot naman na binibgay sa kaniya sa center at libre ang check-up. Pero sana gumaling na ang nanay ko.”
That day, Edmundo was wearing a pink sweatshirt. Before we said goodbye, he thanked us and was too proud to tell the story about what he’s wearing.
“Streetsweeper ‘yung nanay ko bago siya magkasakit. Sa kaniya nga itong damit na suot ko eh.”
We’re glad to help Edmundo, even in our little way by giving him a helmet and saving him from the costs of getting apprehended by the police for not wearing one.
We wish we could have helped more but we randomly stumbled upon him and it was just coincidence that we brought an extra helmet just in case we saw someone on the road who would need one. We got his phone number to give more help soon.
First Bike Ride and The Curator is still raising funds to give helmets, bike lights and other safety gear to bike commuters who can’t afford to buy one. 100% profit of the Weekend Slushies of The Curator for the month of February will be donated to the fundraiser.