Yesterday was a tough day for 27-year-old Dolor Sison. The rain and wind was so harsh that it was difficult for her to go back home. It didn’t help that Sampaloc, the place where she’s usually getting her work orders, has some terrible potholes and road cracks.
“Nakakapagod. Inabot ako ng alas diyes (10) ng gabi at hindi na ako nakauwi. Natulog na lang ako sa kaibigan ko,” she said. “Bahang-baha tapos ang hangin, hindi ko na kaya umuwi.”
(It was tiring. I was working until 10 pm and I was not able to go home. I just slept at my friend’s house. Flood was everywhere and the wind was too strong.)
Biking in the rain is not much of a problem for this lady biker who has been delivering food with her bicycle for two years now. Armed with her raincoat and her reflexes in tough Manila streets, she can easily bring the orders fresh from the kitchen with the guarantee of still having an appetizing look.
She admits that there are more bookings during the rainy days, perhaps it is because people don’t want to brave the floods and experience the hassle of getting wet. Someone like Dolor is basically doing all these things for people to have a comfortable dining experience at home.
“Sa mga nagpapa-deliver, okay lang na mag-order kahit naulan basta sana naka-abang na sila kasi mahirap maghintay tapos maulan pa,” she said. “Tapos ‘yung pag-sukli mahirap kasi basang-basa ka. ‘Yung iba kasi hindi sumasagot, eh kailangan namin maka-quota kaagad.”
(It’s okay to book deliveries even if it’s raining as long as they anticipate our arrivals because it’s hard to wait when there’s a downpour. It’s even hard to give change because we’re wet. Others don’t respond too, we have to meet our quota.)
We understand her. Time is very important for these delivery workers and making them wait for a long time means loss of income. And for the work that they are rendering, they’re not earning much. That’s why tips are very much appreciated.
And that’s just one problem that they usually face. She said that motorists, especially during rainy days, can be inconsiderate and dangerous.
“Dahan-dahan lang ako sa padyak kasi may mabibilis na sasakyan. Naulan na nga, kaskasero pa,” she said. “Sana maingat sila lagi kasi nakakatakot dahil nasa bike kami.”
(I pedal slowly because there are many fast vehicles. It’s already raining and they’re reckless. I hope they’re very careful because it’s scary, we’re on a bicycle.)
That’s right. Drivers, especially those using four wheels, are protected with metal sheets compared with cyclists who are very vulnerable. And they’re more responsible on the road because they use these machines that can kill people.
There was a time when Dolor recalled that a motorcycle rider almost hit her and that she had to do a sudden turn to avoid the collision. Because of this, the cake that she’s delivering got deformed.
“Nasira ‘yung pagkain tapos binayaran ko na lang ‘yung customer,” she said. “Nasa 700 pesos lang naman ‘yun. Inuwi ko sa bahay ‘yung cake tapos kami na lang kumain, masarap naman.”
(The food got deformed and I had to pay the customer. It was only around 700 pesos. I took the cake home and we ate it. It was delicious.)
That day, Dolor did not meet her quota.
Prank bookings are also real where the delivery cyclists are forced to pay. According to Dolor, her company tries to help them solve these problems. She recalled that she had to eat one order because the customer became unable to contact. One of her friends had to pay 1,500-peso worth of food.
Before her work as a delivery cyclist, she was employed in a restaurant. It was there when she was invited by other deliverymen to try working for a food-ordering app. Since Dolor just bought a second-hand mountain bike, she applied for a part-time position as a delivery cyclist.
“Nagsakto na hiring ng bikers kaya nag-try ako. Kasi ‘yung ka-trabaho ko ay motor naman at malaki na ‘yung ipon niya ka triny ko rin. Baka makaipon din,” she said. “Kapag rest day lang ako nagbibisikleta. One time sa isang linggo.”
(They were hiring bikers that time so I tried. My former co-worker was delivering via motorbike and he was able to save so I was inspired to try. Maybe, I’ll be able to save too. I only bike during my rest day, which is once a week.)
Dolor decided to go full time during the pandemic because it was difficult to find work. The Tondo-based cyclist is working to help her family pay their bills.
However, her parents, who hails from the province of Pangasinan, do not approve of her biking in Manila because they think it’s dangerous.
Despite all of these challenges, Dolor still loves her job as a delivery woman on a bicycle. She likes biking, anyway.
“Nag-eenjoy ako kaya hindi pa ako makapaghanap ng ibang work,” she said.
(I’m enjoying that’s why I’m not yet looking for another job.)