Driving a Helping Hand
Toyota owners reach out during the quarantine
Toyota owners reach out during the quarantine
We reached out to Toyota owners to find out how they helped others cope with life under quarantine. With most families experiencing limitations in transportation and challenges in getting food and supplies, we were glad to find out that these Toyota drivers were using their vehicles to do their part in supporting their communities and helping those in need.
Groceries were especially hard to come by for people due to the lack of transport and owners of the small but mighty Wigo found their calling here. The car’s spacious interior and excellent fuel economy make it credible alternative to motorcycle delivery. LJ and Raquel Tiongco use “Louwiggy” for longganisa delivery and the occasional food donation runs for frontliners. “I know the hard work and sacrifices of our frontliners and this is my simple way of showing my appreciation for them. As the old saying goes, sharing is definitely caring. I’m thankful for my blessings and I want to share it with others,” says LJ.
Other owners spent their downtime and family time giving back as well. Melwin Vergardo and his family spent their daughter’s birthday giving back, using their Innova to bring food to the police frontliners of Santiago City. “While I sit in a comfortable and air-conditioned office,” he relates, “those officers were exposed not only to the harmful heat and sun, but also the threat of the coronavirus.” So Melwyn and his wife decided to donate rather than spend money on a home celebration. “These police became our friends, and they would often tell stories of others doing the same thing,” he reports enthusiastically. “I hope this bayanihan makes us stronger against the pandemic and other threats in the future.”
Arden Austria was also feeling the spirit of bayanihan. He felt the need to help upon hearing his boss at work remark “I hope this doesn’t become an ‘every man for himself’ type of situation. He felt obliged to contribute what he could to give help to others and donated relief goods to hundreds of families in his home city of Santa Rosa using his trusty new Vios. “I wanted to give them hope that all of us will overcome this situation.”
Then there’s Bern Carlos and his cousin, who teamed up to distribute relief goods to needy families using their Vios and Innova. “I just had this sense of responsibility and urgency that I need to help these people, particularly those below the poverty line,” he explains. “Putting smiles on their faces was an honor and I want to share this lesson with my future kids: Giving a helping hand is unconditional.”
When she was running for office as a City Councilor in Olongapo, Attorney Winnie Bundang Ortiz set up a Facebook page to communicate with her voters and constituents. During the crisis, however, her page lit up with pleas for help. “I also have zero income too, just like many residents of Olongapo.” she says. “However, I cannot turn my back on the people who trusted and voted for me.” Using her personal Vios, she goes around Olongapo to distribute relief goods to the needy and elderly—goods which her grown children help her pack and distribute. “A simple act of kindness, if done by many, can transform the world,” she explains. “A simple act can cause a ripple effect. The assistance given by even just one individual really makes a difference in the community.”
Businessman by day, firefighter by night, Gerrome Tagle’s schedule is packed tight, giving him little time to rest. And yet, as COVID struck, he somehow managed to find time to deliver PPEs and relief goods around the city with his HiAce commuter. “As a volunteer firefighter, I know how hard it is to be on duty since we offer our lives to save others,” he says. “What keeps me motivated is the appreciation of people when they receive help. A simple ‘thank you’ is already a big thing for us volunteers.”
While many focused on feeding others, Marx Perfecto Garcia spent much of the quarantine helping others feed themselves. As part of his job at the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, he distributes much needed supplies and inputs for aquaculture production to the fisherfolk of the Cordilleras. “My wife and I hold on to the saying: ‘Blessings are meant to be shared.’ We conduct civic activities as thanks for all the blessings God has given us.” In addition to his regular civic duties, he also spent time delivering meals for Heroes in Hospitals and to checkpoint areas with his trusty Avanza.
Jaemy Mejia may not be a well-heeled businessperson, but she found ways to help beyond her own personal financial capacity. “The charity project started when my sister and I found out that someone from our street was COVID positive,” she says. Feeling the need to support their local hospitals, they started the “Out of the Woods, Southwoods” fundraiser for PPEs, surgical gloves, face masks, and other supplies for frontliners. “We believed that with our collective efforts, we could have a fighting chance of beating COVID!” she explains. They used their Toyota Innova to deliver these supplies, along with cooked merienda for frontliners at the nearby hospital and checkpoints. “When we gave food, ang saya nila,” says Jaemy, “Totoong a little goes a long way. If lahat tayo siguro gano’n, it will certainly make a great impact!”
The City of Las Piñas had its own angels in the persons of Precious Gumpal and her partner, Mau Aguasin. “We met a guy who told us he had not eaten for three days,” says Precious. “After that, we thought of scouting the streets of Las Piñas for more people who might have the same stories: homeless or stuck without a job.” This led her, along with Mau, to establish #ProjectFoodTrunkLP, a feeding project that took on a life of its own. Their efforts in distributing hot food and relief packs to the homeless of Las Piñas inspired other residents and businesses to contribute to their cause.
The tailgate of Precious’ Fortuner served as a mobile canteen and distribution center as they moved around the city looking for those in need. “We just wanted to take one thing off their minds–getting food, so they can focus on taking care of their kids, finding a way to reunite with their families, and as a whole, survive the lockdown and the pandemic,” she adds. “And I think, just the idea of someone looking after them and thinking about them gives them hope, despite our situation.”
Wherever they were, and in whatever capacity they could, Toyota owners around the country did their part in helping us get through the pandemic. To those who went the extra mile, we salute you. And rest assured, Toyota will always be there to go that extra mile with you.