A Dubai-based OFW has found an alternative means to earn a living in the Philippines amid the pandemic.
Ariel Lagda, an OFW from Dubai for over nine years, flew back to the Philippines last March. However, due to lockdown restrictions and other circumstances beyond their control, they were unable to head back to the UAE.
Without any assurance as to when flights would resume in the mean time, Lagda’s friend suggested him to join the Active Riders Passenger Group (ARPG) as a way for him to continue earning money to support his family.
“We came home from Dubai, but there was a lockdown (here) and we were not able to go back. A friend suggested me to join the ARPG to have an income,” said Lagda in an interview with the Philippine News Agency.
The ARPG is a group based in the Philippines that conducts charity rides, that also helps people meet people with common interests during long rides. From its humble beginnings of 30 members the group grew to over 5,000 members during the pandemic.
“The group suddenly reached more than 5,000 members during the pandemic because many got laid off. When we had a total lockdown and were placed under the enhanced community quarantine, people had no choice but to find strategies (to earn a living),” said Jane Tomon, ARPG’s chapter head in Cavite who has renamed the page to “Angkas at Padala 24/7 (Cavite).
As of posting time, the group now has nearly 130,000 members with riders and customers in the mix.
Reports from the Philippine News Agency stated that Lagda is one of the many OFWs who have joined the group to help make ends meet as it now helps him pay his bills and other expenses at home together with his growing family.
“My wife who was an OFW for 18 years, and I, have no source of income during the lockdown,” added Lagda.
Among the struggles he faced were the weather condition in the Philippines, as well as some nasty customers.
“The rains, and sometimes too much warm weather conditions, were challenging. There were customers who have canceled their orders when I was already in their location,” he said.
To ensure customers’ safety, valid IDs, barangay clearance, and NBI clearance are required to become an ARPG member.
“Just like in the services apps, we do not tolerate if (the riders) committed mistakes or if there are customer complaints. We investigate and take the necessary actions,” Tomon said.
Interested individuals also need to attend a seminar to become a member.
“They don’t have to pay for anything. Everyone is welcome to join, and we endorse them to ARPG chapters near them,” Tomon shared, adding that the ARPG has 23 chapters nationwide.
Aside from offering errand services, the group also holds various charity activities, all by using the members’ own money, according to Tomon.