Maybe it’s when she starts to speak on the phone with that soft voice, or when she removes her helmet to let out her long, blonde hair. Either way, Baguio rider Marissa Navarro of Foodpanda, the country’s on-demand food delivery service, receives the same level of shock from customers as soon as they realize that their food delivery guy is actually a girl.
Navarro recalls one instance when she called a client about an order. The guy on the other end of the line thought he was speaking with a customer service operator—that there was something wrong with his food. Navarro simply said that the item is fine, and that she’s actually holding it outside his house, waiting to be picked up.
“Hindi niya in-expect na ako mismo yung rider,” she says. “Sabi ko naman meron pang ibang lady riders, pero iilan lang kami. Meron pang ibang customer, sa sobrang tuwa pagkatapos malaman na babae ‘yung nag-deliver ng pagkain nila, nagbibigay pa ng tip.”
Navarro began her career with Foodpanda four months ago. She used to work for a call center agency for 10 years, where her world revolved around the four corners of her station. With Foodpanda, she’s been as ecstatic as a kid in a candy shop by being able to go places and meet new people. She enjoys her new experiences knowing fully well that the company has her back.
Foodpanda ensures as a matter of policy that riders never have to shoulder the costs of canceled orders. The group also covers the accident insurance of its delivery personnel through partnerships with Manulife and Cebuana Lhuillier. On top of these, riders get exclusive deals to save up on data consumption and communications expenses, thanks to tie-ups with Globe, PLDT-Smart, and Cherry Prepaid.
Given the perks and the salary, Navarro considers Foodpanda as her family’s savior during this time of pandemic. She reminds her colleagues to take it easy on the road and to be defensive drivers
“Sinasabihan ko sila na ‘wag makipag-karera kasi mas kawawa pamilya natin kapag mayroong nangyari sa ‘tin,” she says. “Sinasabi ko rin na dapat chill lang tayo kasi tayo ang nagrerepresent sa Foodpanda. Kung ano tayo sa daan, ‘yun si Foodpanda. Kaya let us all be professionals. Always be kind to others.”
Navarro’s co-rider, Doks Garcia, shares the same mindset.
“My advice to my co-riders is to always do good and help each other out,” says Garcia, who just joined the Foodpanda family this year. “Also, I tell them to make the customers feel that they are special so they’ll keep on ordering on Foodpanda.”
Despite looking after his goals and that of his colleagues, Garcia never fails to lend a helping hand for the greater good, especially during a challenging time like this. Back when Luzon was put under community quarantine, Garcia was notified of a call for volunteers to help donate goods to senior citizens. He immediately accepted the invitation without having second thoughts.
“I will never forget that event because apart from being able to help, I met my best friends there: Mitch, Kevin, and Mar Mar,” he says. “Until now they are my closest friends among all the riders here in Baguio, and we still help out to those in need.”
If being a Foodpanda rider helped Garcia meet new friends, the opportunity allowed Aldren Esero to try different cuisines.
The rider is perhaps as big of a foodie as his customers. Esero enjoys his job and shares good vibes to everyone around him.
“I know that this time is hard because of the pandemic, but this doesn’t mean that we also have to give up on our dreams,” he says. “If today is bad, remember that tomorrow is always another day.”
If there’s anything that we could learn from these Foodpanda riders, who are truly modern heroes, it’s that in spite of people’s judgments, or our own personal preoccupations and situations, we could always choose to smile and inspire others to do the same.