KIDAPAWAN CITY, North Cotabato - A tricycle driver here has continued his civic advocacy by offering "free rides" to public commuters despite the easing of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) protocols and high fuel prices.
Juby G. Puyod, 42, a decade-old trike driver here, offers free rides to local folks twice a week, even amid the challenging times.
"This is also my expression of gratitude to the commuters because they are the reason why I can feed my family," he said in the vernacular during an interview Thursday.
According to Puyod, he began the initiative in July 2020 at the height of the pandemic that shuttered establishments and affected the most vulnerable sector - the ordinary workers.
"I belong to the transport sector that was heavily hit by the pandemic. I was idle at home, yet I was able to surpass those hard days and now is the chance to give back what God has given to my family," he said.
Puyod said when the Covid-19 restrictions loosened and allowed limited occupancy of public transport vehicles, he allocated two days a week for "free rides" to commuters, depending on the route of the riding commuter.
"I went roaming on the road from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m. all day, serving students, workers, and typical household mothers riding to the marketplace," he said, adding that this gesture of giving back to his fellow residents has gained hundreds of acts of gratitude.
"A simple thank you, a tap on the shoulder, and a smile from those unknown commuters keep me motivated and more inspired," he said.
Since 2020, Puyod was frequently posted on several social media accounts, lauding his initiative and was personally commended by the local chief executive.
"Tricycle driver offers free rides to commuters amid Covid-19 Pandemic," reads a post on the City Information Office's Facebook account, which became viral in July 2020.
"A generous driver that offers a free ride. I'm so lucky I chanced upon him a while ago," Avelino Anteg posted in the vernacular on his Facebook account last year.
Puyod started his life on the road in 2017 when he quit his job and leased a tricycle for his livelihood.
Two years later, he managed to buy a tricycle, which he currently uses to provide for his family.
Puyod is a father of three children - a Grade 2 and two high school students.
"It doesn't matter how low or high your current income and profession because what matters is your heart that is willing to help and share in your own way," he said.
Puyod is among the 3,000 tricycle drivers granted permits to ply the city's routes and take passengers at full capacity. (PNA)