MANILA, Philippines - He has no costume, not even a cape, but what he does to help people surely deserves a commendation.
Seemingly, good news is not that easy to come by that we tend to rejoice when someone makes an effort, no matter how small, to restore people’s faith in humanity. The web-verse is clouded with negative commuter stories – from reckless drivers, bad commuting experiences, to abusive chauffeurs.
Not until netizen Gelica Tulauan posted her recent commuting experience, which started out on a harrowing note but turned out to be a really positive one.
In the busy streets of Manila, as many commuters would describe, taking cabs can cause panic attacks especially when a driver acts differently. This was how Tulauan, a 21-year-old writer, felt when her GrabCar driver suddenly made a stop in a dark alley and got down from the car.
“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,” Tulauan wrote.
This was when Tulauan started to panic and called a friend.
“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,” she continued.
That was when Tulauan realized that the driver was giving away the brown bag, which contained newly-cooked food, to the old woman in the street.
“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,” Tulauan said.
The ‘superhero’ driver
For the driver, Carlo Santiago Diaz, what he did was par for the course.
“Hindi ko po binibilang, pero madalas po naming gawin – kami ng girlfriend ko saka yung iba pa pong mga Grab drivers,” he told The STAR in an interview. They commonly provide cooked meals, among others, to street dwellers.
Diaz admitted that it was his girlfriend’s idea to help the needy, and he agreed because it was the right thing to do.
“Nung una ang gusto niya mag-donate sa orphanage, pero sabi ko may mga pondo na ‘yung mga ganun at mas maraming mga tao sa kalsada ‘yung nangagailangang bigyan ng atensyon. Since nagda-drive ako araw-araw, nakikita ko ‘yung realidad sa Maynila, lalo na kapag gabi, kapag ‘yung mga homeless itutulog na lang ‘yung gutom kasi wala naman silang ipanlalaman-tiyan. Nakakagising yung realidad na ‘yun, kaya kahit wala naman akong sobrang daming pera, ‘yung meron ako, kaya niyang makabusog kahit sa iilang araw,” Diaz explained.
Asked why he does this despite meager funds, Diaz said, “Hindi ako mayaman pero swerte ako. May bahay, may nakakakain. Kahit hindi ka mayaman, makakatulong ka para pumuno sa kung saan kulang ang iba.”
“Sabi ng marami, dapat yung mga ganun daw tinutulungan ng gobyerno,” he said while slightly shaking his head as if he finds the thought a bit bizarre. “Naisip namin, bakit mo naman hihintayin pa ang gobyerno kung pwedeng ikaw na mismo ang gumawa?,” he added.
In her post, Tulauan thanked the driver for being a blessing to others.
“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 saluteto 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!,” she wrote.
Diaz’s simple act of kindness has been lauded by netizens on Facebook, receiving almost 196,000 likes and 28,000 as of this writing.
At a time when negative stories can dampen all hope and make us feel that nothing makes a difference, there will always be an exceptional story that will help restore our faith in humanity.
#BiyaHERO is The Philippine STAR’s social media platform for commuter stories that matter. If you have your own experience to share, email firstname.lastname@example.org