Angkas bikers crowdsource donations for passenger's medical bills
MANILA, Philippines – Around 200 motorcycle riders and passengers of ride-sharing app Angkas gathered at the Quirino Grandstand last July 30 for a shared purpose: to gather donations for passenger Alejandro Cajano who ended up in a coma after figuring in a crash.
Cajano was on his way to Makati on July 15 when the motorcycle he booked through Angkas figured in a vehicular crash. The incident left him in critical condition. His hospitalization bills are now estimated at over P1 million. (READ: Angkas passenger in coma after crash: Who's liable?)
While Angkas is also providing financial assistance, the ride-hailing service's bikers themselves organized their own efforts.
Sympathizing with Cajano and his family, Angkas bikers organized the meetup through a Facebook group chat. The group was able to gather P25,000 from those who attended as well as those who sent in their donations online.
This is not the first time the rider groups worked together to assist one of their own.
Luisito Castillo, an Angkas rider, says there are numerous group chats and Facebook groups for the motorcycle riding community which serve as a support system for fellow riders.
These group chats are always active, with daily updates on traffic-free routes as well as calls for rescue during emergency situations.
Not just a community of riders
The effort of Angkas bikers to help Cajano is just a glimpse of how tight-knit the biking community is.
According to Jon Guarin, one of the leaders of Team Riders, their community is more a family than just a gathering of fellow riders.
They constantly organize events and gatherings to strengthen their bond. Castillo shares that there is not even a month that there was no event for riders.
These events also include disaster response efforts, outreach activities for the homeless, fallen soldiers, and several other advocacies.
The community of riders recognizes the importance of strengthening their bond as they continue to face challenges on the road every day. According to the World Health Organization, 23% of the 1.25 million road crash related deaths every year involves motorcycles.
Experiencing the same vulnerable environment makes understanding and supporting each other easier.
They also face other problems, such as a ban on motorcycle helmets imposed by some cities due to security issues. While this may ease local officials' concerns on motorcycle-riding criminals, it can also leave riders vulnerable to injuries.
"In order to slowly change the stereotype against us, we want to set a good example and let everyone know that we can do good things not only for our fellow riders but to anyone who needs help," Castillo said in Filipino.
Driven by their similar passion to ride, they took it upon themselves to help each other as one community. Riders like Castillo and Guarin believe that their love for riding and the convenience it brings them are big factors why the biking community has a strong connection.
The internet and social media even made connecting with each other easier. One of the Facebook groups organized by the riders, named R.A.C.E.R. (Riders Anti-Crime & Emergency Response), has reached up to 57,000 members.
This simple Facebook group has become a daily safe space for them to ask and extend help especially during road crashes or crime-related emergencies. The group's page is constantly filled with pictures, videos, and information that the riders encounter daily on the road.
Castillo said that he used to ride out before just to look for people to rescue. Now, it became easier to locate and help people through Facebook groups and chat groups.
During an emergency situation, a few riders need only to start a group chat, and within a few minutes, more members will join in, ready to help.
"Kailangan lang po talaga na may magsimula para maipakita sa marami na pwedeng makatulong ang kahit sino. Yung maliit na pagtulong, pag pinagsama-sama ay lumalaki rin," Castillo said.
(All it takes is just one member to initiate action, to show others that anyone can help. A small amount of help gathered together will eventually accumulate.) – Rappler.com