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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.

PICKUP Con­cha had to find an­other source of in­come after her work at a pizza joint came to a halt due to the pan­demic. Now in Angkas uni­form, she picks up a pas­sen­ger on Jupiter Street, Makati City, on March 13.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THEM Be­fore be­com­ing an Angkas rider, the sin­gle mom mainly used her mo­tor­bike to take her daugh­ters Via and Yna to school.
ES­SEN­TIAL About 5,000 Angkas rid­ers take part in a “unity ride” in Oc­to­ber 2020 to ask the gov­ern­ment to let them op­er­ate while Metro Manila is un­der en­hanced com­mu­nity quar­an­tine due to the coro­n­avirus pan­demic.

“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.

Can­celed book­ing

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.”

HEAD­START Con­cha, 40, gets ready for work at her Makati City home—and soon the me­trop­o­lis, its road jams and tight turns, its heat and fumes, may get in her hair.
‘ASTIG’ With still no end in sight for the pan­demic, and with pub­lic trans­port sys­tems and busi­ness op­er­a­tions still lim­ited, more and more women may try the job Con­cha now per­forms with pride and pro­fes­sion­al­ism.
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