Here’s how you can help pandemic displaced jeepney drivers in style
In the middle of a pandemic, the plight of the common man seeking aid might not be heard against all the calls for help bombarding mainstream consciousness. One such clamor for help hails from regular jeepney drivers. Among them are Oliver Aguilar, Eddie Deocariza, Mario Magbutay, Lucilo Mirasol, Melvin Amondina, Ronnie Agudo, July Flores, Victoriano Mercado, and Rommel Valdez. They are just a few of thousands of regular Juans who have lost their livelihood during the crisis.
Creating awareness about the issue, fashion accessory designer Zarah Juan launched Byaheng Pag-asa, a personal program of Juan’s that provides financial assistance to 60 displaced jeepney drivers of Alyansa ng mga Tsuper at Small Operator ng Maynila (ATOM). Through the program, Juan is set to sell her iconic Jeepney Tote bag with part of the proceeds going to the drivers, in hopes of improving their current situation.
Known to uplift indigenious communities through collaborative partnerships with local artisans and weavers, Juan echoes the very essence of Filipino culture through her symbolic accessories, as carried by the likes of actress Heart Evangelista and Department of Tourism Secretary Berna Puyat. “We have been selling our iconic Jeepney bags for several years now. Among all the bags I have designed, the Jeepney Tote Bag is what I am most proud of,” the designer says tells Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “In this pandemic we believe that we should prioritize people versus profits. Each and every action we do to uplift others—no matter how small—will create an impact that will help our nation survive this crisis.”
Scheduled to distribute proceeds in a weekly manner, Juan rallies everyone who can help treat this with a sense of urgency. “One day during the lockdown, it just hit me. Selling these bags will not mean anything anymore if our jeepney drivers are out on the streets begging for help. I want to use our platform to reach out to our jeepney drivers who are most vulnerable right now.”
For the Byaheng Pag-asa campaign, the designer has allocated 120 bags for 60 drivers, providing a minimum of P4,000 per driver to cover their most immediate needs. This, in turn, will create time for the brand to “find ways to connect them with different organizations for a more sustainable approach to their livelihood during the pandemic.”
The Jeepney Tote Bag sells for P7,000, and is available in Puraw (white), Kayumanggi (natural), Lunti (green), Bughaw (blue), Melokoton (peach), and Malamaya (grey). All transactions are done via www.zarahjuan.com.
Zarah Juan also accepts straight out donations for the jeepney drivers without any purchase from the brand. For more information, e-mail the designer at [email protected].
Photos courtesy of Zarah Juan