“Kung kaya ni kuya, walang dahilan na hindi nyo rin kaya (If he can do it, there’s no reason you can’t either).”
This was what Donna Ellaine Perez Villarin told the Manila Bulletin (MB) in sharing what she felt after meeting Joy Habana, a delivery app rider who powers his bicycle with the use of only one leg.
Villarin, a hotel executive who also runs a home-based food business, said she met Habana as she dealt regularly with food delivery riders.
It was in one of those frequent delivery transactions that she met Habana. And like many of Habana’s clients, Villarin was also taken aback in seeing how a rider dismounted his bicycle with just one leg, and approached her with the aid of a crutch.
“I was meant to meet kuya that day. I decided to go down and get my order myself. I never imagined that it would be [an] extraordinary encounter. Inabot nya yung order ko with one hand kasi yung isang kamay nya, hawak yung saklay nya (He handed over my order with one hand because one of his hands was holding his crutch),” she added.
It was then that she asked an officemate to snap a picture of her with Habana, promptly posting this on her Facebook page.
Villarin said Habana disclosed to her the reason why he had only one leg. According to Kuya Joy, he lost his limb right after he was born because his mother had been taking birth control pills even when she was already pregnant with him.
And while she initially felt sorry for Habana’s state, Villarin said her pity eventually turned into a strong sense of respect for the man, who could rise above his disabilities just to eke out a living.
“Maraming mababait at mapursigi sa ginagawa nila, meron din na nagpaparamdam ng reklamo dahil siguro sa pagod. Normally, it’s my team who meets and dispatches orders and para naman sa mga orders namin, contacless, so lagi namin pinapaiwan sa harap ng bahay (There are a lot of drivers who are kind and diligent. But there are also who slightly complain maybe because they are tired. Normally, it’s my team who meets and dispatches orders, and for our orders, they are contactless, so we always instruct them to leave our orders in front of the house),” Villarin told MB.
“With the pandemic, many of us have become more understanding. Those who are like Kuya Joy, you do not deserve pity from anyone, you deserve respect. People will applaud you for rising above your limitations. And this can be your everyday battle that you will win. So be that inspiration you already are,” she added in a mix of Filipino and English.
Reached by MB in between his bookings on Wednesday afternoon, May 26, 2021, Habana said he has been delivering food for over a year.
He also said he used to work at a pest control shop before the pandemic struck. He also said he dabbles in selling properties as another side job.
And through all these, Habana never considered his disability as a disadvantage as he related how he manages to ride his bike.
“Parang sa normal lang na biker, tuloy-tuloy lang po ang pagpedal. Kahit paahon ito po [ay] kaya dahil may kambyo naman po ang aking bike. Sanay na sanay na po ako sa pagbi-bike. Bago pa kasi ako mag-high school natuto na akong mag-bike sa sariling sikap (Just like normal bikers, I keep pedalling. I use my brakes when I’m traversing a higher road. I’m used to biking. I learned to ride a bike on my own before I went to high school),” Habana told MB.
However, he acknowledged that there were still challenges that have confronted him as a delivery rider – albeit, not because of his disability, but because of the errors and misgivings of others.
And like any other deliver rider, Habana has also encountered fake bookings, wrong pin off addresses, and long distance drop off bookings that should only have been channeled to food delivery riders with motorcycles.
The farthest that he has traveled on his bike to make a delivery was from Marikina to Cavite, Habana recalled.
But if there were bad experiences, there, too, were good ones.
“Nandyan po yung inaabutan ka ng tip na P500 to P1,000. Inaabutan ka ng food at grocery kahit hindi ka kakilala. Yung mabigyan ka ng malaking halaga dahil sa nakita ka lang. Mga taong umiyak sa harap mo dahil sa paghanga sa ginagawa mo (There are people who would tip me P500 to P10,000. There are others who would also hand me food, groceries, and even money. I also experienced people crying in front of me because they admire what I do),” Habana said.
“Sa mga kapwa ko PWD. Wag po kaung panghinaan ng loob dahil lang sa inyong kondisyon na panlabas na anyo. Opo, Ikaw ay isang PWD at kung panghihinaan ka ng loob parang Ikaw ay sumuko na sa buhay. Maraming taong ipagmalaki ka at ito naman nangyayari talaga. Kung meron kang kakayahan bilang isang PWD wag kang mahiyang ipakita ito. PWD tayo para ipagmalaki at hindi sabihin na sagabal sa buhay. PWD tayo kasi balang araw ang PWD ay magiging “Pantay-pantay na Walang Diskriminasyon” sa paningin ng iba (To my fellow PWDs, don’t be discouraged just because of your physical condition. Yes, you are are PWD and if you’re discouraged, it is as if you have already given up on life. Many people will be proud of you. If you have the ability as a PWD, don’t be shy to show it. Be proud that you are a PWD. We should be proud to say that our disabilities are not a hindrance to life. One day we will all be equal in the eyes of others),”
And it could be this commitment to show appreciation for the work of delivery riders that Villarin said her food business Kanie Allie recently launched “Pasalubong ni Kuya Rider”, which would give a delivery app rider baked sushi that he or she can bring home to their families with the help of their customers.
Originally priced at P300, customers can buy a platter of baked sushi for the driver for only P150, with the rest of the cost for the food item being shouldered by Kani Allie.
“It’s the least we can do for them, who have gone through many sacrifices just to be able to deliver food to us and our clients,” Villarin said.