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Steering the Conversation Towards Inclusivity and Diversity with Motorcycle Riders

Photo courtesy of Angkas

Photo courtesy of Angkas

Discover how Angkas’ latest campaign encourages inclusivity and highlights the importance of accessible transportation options

The narrative of traffic congestion has become as familiar as the hum of engines during the morning rush hour. This common inconvenience has pushed commuters to seek a viable, flexible mode of transport in two-wheeled vehicles. Skillfully navigating narrow streets and congested traffic, motorcycles provide an effective answer to transportation and delivery needs.

Amidst this shift, motorcycle ride-hailing service Angkas, has unveiled its initiative “Ako Si Angkas” (I Am Angkas), a campaign that hopes to rewrite the narrative of their drivers, who are often seen as just delivery or ride providers.

In a bid to challenge this view and redefine societal perceptions, Angkas has employed billboards and video footage to tell the inspiring stories of its 30,000 drivers. They are not merely motorcycle riders; they are providers, dreamers, and cornerstones of their respective families. A mosaic of resilience and determination is illustrated through the remarkable stories of Melody Manalansan-Viray and Harprit Singh Brar. The campaign also includes fellow riders of the ride-hailing app Mary Del Rosario, Kleiy Escalona, Rogelio de la Cruz Jr., and Cherylyn Sumadero.

Melody Manalansan-Viray and her ultimate goal

40-year-old Melody, an Angkas rider since 2016 from the LGBTQIA+ community, had to battle societal prejudices and biases to prove her worth. The taunts and discouragements of her male counterparts could have easily dissuaded her, but she remained steadfast in her pursuit of a more fulfilling profession to support her mother, pets, and Abigale, her partner of 11 years.

Melody Viray wearing Angkas' blue trademark long-sleeve shirt.
Photo courtesy of Angkas

Melody’s road to becoming a successful rider was not devoid of challenges. At one point, she endured the reality of her mother’s stroke while on duty, concealing her overwhelming emotions from her unsuspecting passenger. “Yung passenger ko walang kaalam-alam na tumutulo yung luha ko. Kasi [nasa] Pangasinan yung nanay ko, tapos nandito ako [sa Manila]. Kinausap ko yung mom ko na, ‘Lumaban ka,’ kasi tayong dalawa nalang.” (My customer had no idea that my tears were already falling. My mom was in Pangasinan, and I was in Manila. I told my mom she had to fight because there were only the two of us.)

Despite this, she found strength in her aspirations: her parents, her education, and her dream of becoming an engineer. “The ultimate goal was to finish my degree,” she shares, adding that in between studying and working, she has successfully moved her mother to a better living condition in Cavite, bought a home, and even a car. Eventually, the Angkas rider, who is also a member of the first batch of women riders of the ride-hailing app, achieved her dream of earning a degree in computer engineering.

Harprit Singh Brar’s mission for the good of his family

Born in the Philippines to Indian parents, 43-year-old Harprit Singh Brar navigates the streets of Manila with a life story as diverse as his heritage. Having earned his doctorate from the University of the Philippines Los Baños along with his wife while caring for one of his children who is diagnosed with autism, Singh Brar bucks societal stereotypes by valuing his job as an Angkas rider.

Harprit Singh Brar wearing Angkas' blue trademark long-sleeve shirt.
Photo courtesy of Angkas

The Indian academic, who touts himself as a driver who loves to talk to his passengers, was once confronted with a judgmental comment questioning his education level. “Porket Angkas [rider] or MC Taxi [driver], walang pinag-aralan?” (Just because we’re an Angkas [rider] or MC Taxi [driver], does that mean we’re uneducated?) Singh Brar deftly handled the situation, gently reminding their passengers not to judge a book by its cover.

Despite occasional difficulties as a motorcycle driver, he takes pride in moments of helping others. He once waived the ride fare for a passenger hurrying a parent to the hospital, saying, “Hindi ako nagpapaka-bayani o sinasabing bayani ang tingin ko sa sarili ko. Natuwa ako dahil nakapagbigay ako ng serbisyo.” (I’m not pretending to be a hero or saying I think of myself as a hero. I’m just glad that I was of service to them.)The driver trusts in good karma, as vividly demonstrated when another passenger reimbursed his fuel costs after overhearing his story.

Harprit Singh Brar wearing Angkas' blue trademark long-sleeve shirt.
Photo courtesy of Angkas

His optimistic approach towards life revolves around his family’s well-being, his aspiration to provide for all their needs, and his desire to own land for farming. Underneath these ambitions, he also harbors a dream of becoming a lawyer to provide aid to those in need, a testament to his persistent humanitarian outlook.

His parting words encapsulate the essence of the “Ako Si Angkas” campaign, “Magiging proud at [matagumpay] kang tao kapag kinilala ka ng tao bilang tao, bilang ikaw. Hindi dahil sa kung anong meron ka.” (You’ll feel proud and accomplished as a person if people recognize you as a human being, as you. Not because of what you have.)

Transportation is a basic necessity for everyone. Thus, access to safe, reliable, and affordable transportation options is crucial for all. The “Ako Si Angkas” campaign underscores this point by confronting preconceived notions about riders and reinforcing the idea that everyone has an essential role in building a world that is accessible, equitable, and inclusive. It also serves as a timely reminder that behind every helmet is a human being with a story, battling traffic and challenges alike while contributing to greater mobility in the Philippines.

For more information, visit Angkas’ official website. Follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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