• Melo Acuna

The headwinds parents meet with blended learning

As the school year opens tomorrow,

Uncertainty hounds hardworking father of three; a common story these days

MANILA – Even during heavy rains, food delivery crewmember Albert Laus begins his day at 10:00 A.M. as he receives orders from clients requiring food deliveries. On average, he attends to food requirements of 31 households or offices before he heads for home somewhere in Old Balara, Quezon City at 9:00 P.M.

The 36-year old dedicated head of family, with three children, all of school age, enrolled in public schools, hopes to provide everything they need. For the past four months, he is considered a freelancer, sans social protection with Foodpanda, just to augment his three-day workweek with another food delivery agency.

“I can leave anytime but I can also be fired,” Laus said as COVID-19 pandemic altered his life. Though working in an agency in contract with food companies, he said work was rewarding until the pandemic affected almost everyone.

“So, to make both ends meet, I opted to work for Foodpanda to make up for the four days off given by my agency,” he said in an interview a month ago along Tomas Morato Avenue in Quezon City while waiting for orders. He declined to identify his agency.

He has been a food delivery rider for the past 12 years and has earned him P500.00 a day (less than US$10). He said tips vary from P100 (less than US$2) which complements his commissions from food deliveries.

He initially wanted to be a policeman but failed to finish college in Nueva Ecija, a province in northern Philippines and tried his luck in Manila and later married a young lady from Surigao province in southern Philippines.

He said they are considered informal settlers in bustling Metro Manila which continuously attracts young people in search of better livelihood opportunities.

This morning, this writer asked Albert how he’s coping with the requirements for tomorrow’s school opening, he said he has not been able to provide the needed gadgets for his three children, aged 13, 8 and 6 who will all adjust to blended learning.

“I hoped to buy the gadgets they would need for online instructions,” he said. However, as of this morning, he still has to buy the needed implements.

Still, he looks forward he would be able to have enough cash to purchase the gadgets and have a stable internet access for his children. This problem confronts most Philippine households as President Rodrigo Duterte’s promise of free internet access has remained unfulfilled.

For someone who spends at least P200 on gas every other day, whatever he saves from tips and commissions would be spent for their food and other basic necessities.

He thanks God and his lucky stars he has remained safe from the usual hazards faced by food delivery crew. Asked of his “secret,” Laus said one has to remain focused on what he’s doing.

Despite the regular thunderstorms and the projected La Niña, Albert Laus continues to pursue his dream of providing a better future for his wife and children. (Melo M. Acuña)

Albert Laus, 36-year old dedicated father to three children hops he could muster enough resources to provide for gadgets for the new school year st to begin tomorrow. (Melo M. Acuña)

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