With many people staying home and having their deliveries ordered, foodpanda riders take on the hassles of going out and lining up to get meals and other necessities delivered conveniently to their customer’s doorstep.
For 38-year-old foodpanda rider, Benjamin Baetiong, June 18 was just another day on the job that has helped sustain his family’s needs. Little did he know that this was the day that he would gain a whole ARMY as his friends.
As early as 7:30 am, Benjamin and other foodpanda riders noticed that there was a surge of orders for a special, limited edition BTS Meal from Mcdonald’s. By the time he was on his 5th BTS meal delivery of the day for eager Filipino fans of the K-Pop group, that was when he was inspired to post on his Facebook account, “Lakas ng BTS Meal ngayon. Umaarangkada na kaming mga FoodPanda riders, masayang ide-deliver sa inyo ang BTS Meals. Kaya mga BTS fans diyan, gogogogo, order na kayo.”
This post was much appreciated by the fans, who call themselves the BTS ARMY, after they saw a lot of negativity online about the aforementioned meal. A Twitter account posted a small fundraiser for him, “In light of the toxicity we face as a fandom towards some food delivery riders, this manong FoodPanda rider stood out the most,” read the Tweet. “At dahil sa sipag at tiyaga niya sa pagdedeliver ng BTS Meal para sa ating lahat, ang proyektong ito ay para sa kanya,” Through this tweet, the ARMY was able to raise P40,500 over the initial target of P7,000.
Benjamin, who has been a foodpanda rider for a year since losing his job as a tricycle driver in Quezon City, is overwhelmed by the support. He is the only boy among four siblings, and he is using his earnings as a rider to support their family after their father suffered a stroke. He recalls his surprise at the ARMY’s response to his post. “Noong araw na iyon, 7:30 am pa lang may surge na agad ng Mcdo BTS order. Sunod sunod napansin ko umaga pa lang. Kaya nung pang lima na order, nag post na ako sa Facebook ko na naghihikayat ako sa mga fans na umorder lang sila ng umorder at masaya kami na maghahatid ng BTS Mcdo nila,” he says. “Nagulat ako nung nag viral! Naninginig ako sa tuwa, lalo sa mga comments na BTS fans din.”
An even bigger surprise was when he found out that his new-found friends put up a fundraising effort for him. “May nag-message sa akin na member ng BTS ARMY. Sabi lang nila may iniipon daw sila na donation para sa akin. Nung nakuha po nila number ko, may nag text saan daw ako pwede i-meet.” On June 20, they met at a McDonald’s branch in Cubao where they handed Benjamin their token of appreciation.
He shares that he is very happy with the gift which he will use to take care of his family. “Para ito sa papa ko na stroke patient, ngayon kasi naka higa na lang at wheelchair at ako ang kasama sa bahay. Gagamitin ko din para sa gastusin sa bahay,” he says. He is also happy that McDonald’s also appreciated his efforts. “Nung kinagabihan din ng June 18, may tumawag na manager ng McDo at tinanong ako saan ako pinaka malapit na branch na nakatira. At sinabi na papadalahan ako, at binigyan nga ako ng limang BTS meals at binigay ko naman sa mga kapatid ko na BTS fans din!”
One of the reasons why he is so supportive of the fandom is because he understands how they feel supporting their idols. “Ako po ay K-pop and K-drama fan din, kaya naiintidihan ko ang mga BTS fans. May mga nag-message sa akin na binibilin na siguraduhin maayos yung wrapper, kaya ang ginagawa ko po sinasabi ko na sa staff ng McDo na ibalot sa hindi BTS na wrapper yung order, wala kasing plastic ang McDo. ”
He is very happy to be a foodpanda rider, he adds. He was able to sign up through the brand’s pandaTODA collaboration with the Quezon City local government under Mayor Joy Belmonte, where tricycle drivers of the city who lost their jobs can sign up with foodpanda. “Maganda sa foodpanda. Sa kaunting oras, mas malaki ang kinikita, basta mabilis at masipag mag deliver. Kaya naman masaya talaga ko dito. Nagpapasalamat ako sa pagkakataon na ito.”
His advice to other foodpanda riders, “Tuloy tuloy lang, think positive. Respeto sa mga customers kahit minsan mainit ang ulo nila. Intindihin ang excitement nila. “Hindi ko ine-expect na ako ay hahanapin at bibigyan pa ng tulong dahil lamang sa simpleng post na iyon. Nagpapasalamat ako sa kanila [BTS ARMY Philippines].”
foodpanda managing director Daniel Marogy says that Benjamin is one fine example of how foodpanda riders care for their customers. “We are proud to have Benjamin as part of our team that delivers our customer’s orders with care. They are our heroes on two wheels who take on the job to deliver convenience and even happiness to your doorstep.”