Text and photos by Marianne Bermudez
Out here, given the long hours and the physical demands, motorcycle taxi and delivery services are still largely male turf.
But for single mother Rizza Capuyan Concha, 40, being an Angkas driver is nothing short of fulfilling.
Concha was a cashier at a pizza joint when the pandemic hit and brought business to a pause. She was not laid off but was oncall for any work to be done at the restaurant.
It was during a work lull that she took serious notice of the growing stream of motorcycle taxi and delivery riders on the road, and wondered whether she could use her own motorbike to earn extra cash.
“I didn’t even learn to ride the motorcycle until around three years ago, when I decided to buy one because it was getting expensive to go to work. Plus the traffic,” says Concha, who lives in Makati City.
Initially, Concha used the motorbike to go to work and take her two teenage daughters to school.
In April 2020, she decided to try her luck and applied to be an Angkas rider.
“I was once told by a male rider that the test was too hard for a woman and that I would never make it,” she says.
But she went ahead and passed the test in just one take—and “now, whenever I see him in the main office, I show him my exam results just to tease him.”
Concha starts her day at 7 a.m., scheduling bookings through a phone app. She accepts bookings that mostly take her around the cities of Manila and Makati, though she has gone as far as Laguna.
She says her daughters got worried when she first told them about her new job. “Don’t accept male passengers; they might just get their dirty hands on you,” she remembers her elder child saying.
But something else happened that they didn’t expect. A male passenger once canceled on her—and she surmised it was because he realized too late that he had booked a woman.
“I was already at our meetup place on Taft Avenue when he suddenly canceled the trip [on the app],” Concha recalls. “Then I saw a man waiting at that spot, but he wouldn’t look at me. After a few minutes, another Angkas rider—male—arrived for him. I guess he doesn’t trust female riders.”
Now into her second year with Angkas, Concha says she has learned to enjoy the job. Well, except when it rains and she has to take cover under bridges and overpasses. Or whenever she needs to find a toilet midway through a trip, and she has to hold it in until she gets to a gas station.
“It’s easy for men; a tree or a sidewalk will do. The struggle is real for me,” she says. How long does she intend to be a rider? “As long as I can, perhaps,” says Concha, whose children are still years away from finishing college. The cancel experience aside, it flatters Concha to hear some passengers calling her “astig”—tough. “There’s not a lot of women delivery riders on the road yet, but things are changing, especially because of COVID-19,” she says. “It’s kind of empowering.”