Pedicab art nets more for padyak drivers, thanks to a young leader

Joy Karen Damasig, an alumna of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress, makes artists and pedicab drivers work together to promote Nagueño culture


Can a simple aesthetic solution help pedicab drivers earn an additional P1,000 every month?

While still a student at the Ateneo de Naga University in 2014, Joy Karen Damasig and her friends could see how a lot of the pedicabs in her community were starting to deteriorate. It was easy to dismiss them as eyesores, but the bigger problem was, these pedicabs didn’t attract a lot of customers. This meant lower income for the drivers—which could prevent them from “upgrading” their vehicles, on top of the difficulty of providing for their families’ needs.

She was also aware of Naga’s rich history and colorful traditions, and she believed that her city had much to share with both residents and tourists. Together with her friends, she thought, there must be a way to make the pedicabs—a primary mode of transport for the community—reflect the beauty and richness of Bicolano culture, while also helping pedicab drivers earn better.

Given this challenge, Joy Karen—together with the members of the Ateneo Sarong Bangui Junior Eagles, student artists, and other out-of-school youth artists and painters—embarked on Project TarPadyak.

“The project aims for both the recycling of nonbiodegradable tarpaulins and help the pedicab drivers in a simple way,” said Joy Karen.

Project TarPadyak gathered plastic tarpaulins that had been previously used for advertising billboards. And then the tarps were distributed to some of Naga’s most promising young artists, who used them as canvases on which they could paint colorful images of Bicolano culture and way of life. In partnership with the Pedicab Operators and Drivers Association of Naga City, Project TarPadyak distributed the tarps to 50 pedicab drivers plying five of Naga’s 27 barangays.

The pedicabs became strikingly noticeable to Nagueño pedestrians and visitors to the city, and effectively became an effective way promote tourism in the province.

Not only that, in the nine months of the projects pilot run (June 2014 to March 2015), the pedicabs participating in Project TarPadyak also became attractive for passengers. The pedicab drivers reported a PhP50 average daily increase in their income, or up to PhP1,000 per month. In its first six months, Project TarPadyak successfully helped 50 pedicab drivers collectively make an additional PhP300,000.

Joy Karen is one of the 1,286 alumni of the Ayala Young Leaders Congress (AYLC), the flagship youth leadership development program of the Ayala group of companies.

Some of these alumni are serving communities through the government—such as Joseph Anthony Quesada, executive director of Nayong Pilipino; Major Ronald Sarmiento, who heads the Fiscal Management Office of the Philippine Military Academy; and Elvin Uy, an assistant secretary with the Department of Education.

Others are making their mark—and making a difference in the lives of people—by serving as educators. These include, among others, Jayeel Cornelio of the Ateneo de Manila Development Studies Program, Ryan de Lara of the Wesleyan University College of Engineering, and Enrico Yee of the Department of Business Administration of the University of Southern Philippines.

Still others are serving the country in various capacities within the private sector. These include Lesley Cordero with the World Bank, Honey Sumndad Usman of the Teach Peace Build Peace Movement, Jenny Elmaco of Spark Philippines, and others.

Every year, AYLC gathers some of the most promising student leaders from colleges and universities all over the country for a leadership congress, which is designed to build the delegates’ confidence and hone their leadership skills, to nurture commitment to integrity and principled leadership, to foster nationalism and idealism, and to encourage faithful stewardship of their communities and the country’s future. Guided by the principles of “servant leadership,” these individuals put the interest of the community before their own.

In collaboration with the members of the communities they serve, they work toward uplifting lives, finding solutions to various challenges, and serving as catalysts for others to become leaders themselves.

“I now have this clearer image of how a servant-leader should be, given the framework shared with us during the congress,” says Joy Karen, who is currently pursuing her medical studies. “AYLC has also made me realize the importance of our partner communities, that these people that we are serving are more than just beneficiaries but rather, our partners into building a much more resilient community.”

This February, AYLC is celebrating its 18th year. Eighty-one of the most promising servant leaders from top colleges and universities all over the country are joining the congress. The congress features talks, outdoor activities, plenary sessions, and workshop group discussions. Well-known and highly respected leaders from government, civil society, business, the arts, media, and entertainment share their own leadership stories and experiences and challenge participants’ perspectives and paradigms.

For this year’s congress, the theme is “Kabataan: Sabay-Sabay sa Bayan,” which shows that nation-building is a collective responsibility that the youth can participate in. After the congress, AYLC is confident to see more individuals like Joy Karen Damasig, ready to re-join their community and make a difference in the lives of people.

Visit the Ayala Young Leaders Congress website and official Facebook page for updates.

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