Why 'Angkas' Is On A Mission To Protect Millions Of Motorcycle Users
Angkas and its co-founder, George Royeca, put social advocacy at the core of what they do these days. Angkas, The Philippines’ leading motorcycle ride-sharing service, has revolutionised public transportation in the country by providing options, creating job opportunities, and changing perspectives. Their journey has been tumultuous yet fruitful, but they still have more to do and are eager to continue their mission to positively impact the lives of Filipinos.
With 18 million motorcycle taxi owners in the country, George has a lot to fight for. “Our mantra is to change mindsets. If you give the Filipino the proper tools, they will become productive citizens of our country. This is what we are fighting for,” he says.
You might be thinking what is this cause and why does Angkas care so much? Well, did you know that one out of three Filipinos owns a motorbike and that most low-income families depend on these two wheels for their livelihood? These staggering figures made George and the Angkas team stop in their tracks. “A motorcycle is the first thing a low-income family invests in for their future to get them out of poverty. It shocked me to the core. When we started Angkas we didn’t know the extent of how many people this affected,” he revealed.
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What Team Angkas is fighting for is the legalisation of motorcycle taxis in the Philippines in order to protect the rider, the passenger and the industry. “For every 18 motorcycles, there is one car. Can you believe that?” George asked. “With that many people on motorcycles, there is a need for laws to protect the drivers and the riders.”
With un-passed bills, there are a lot of blurred lines and grey areas when accidents or disputes happen, causing a great deal of stress for people [who are] simply trying to make ends meet. “All of that was up in the air before Angkas entered the market,” George explains, leading into why he has spent years lobbying for the Angkas Bill to be passed by the government. “We are professionalising motorcycles as a form of transport,” he says, underlining the goal.
In fact, people have been trying to legalise the habal habal for 20 years with more than 20 bills on the floor. Thankfully, the Angkas Bill has made great strides—almost going all the way. “This year, the law might be passed, legalising motorcycle taxis for the millions that need it. This is not just for Angkas. It is for many other app-based provides, local providers, co-ops, corporations, and all other groups. We are the figurehead spearheading the project, but this law will benefit millions,” George explains.
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This is not just for Angkas... We are the figurehead spearheading the project, but this law will benefit millions.
— George Royeca, Angkas
Many of the challenges they face are rooted in the stigma towards motorcycles in the Philippines—one that associates them with reckless driving and unprofessional behaviour. Changing mindsets and increasing education on the topic is at the core of what Angkas strives to achieve.
“Everyone that drives a car passes their drivers test, right? The big players sell two million motorcycles a year but there was only one school that provided motorcycle driving tests in the country, [that is] before Angkas came around. These schools are not free and are thus not accessible to low-income families,” George elaborates.
Hardworking Filipinos are being sold the machine without establishing if the buyer has the ability to drive it. “Half or more of the people who buy the bike, ride it for the first time when they take it out of the dealership. You can be issued the license to ride the motorcycle, but they don’t teach out how to ride it. It is an institutional defect,” he adds.
To Angkas, training is everything; it is their staunch dedication to protecting riders that has caught the attention of the public and government alike. “We train our riders for free—[we've] trained over 120,000 bikes and have only onboarded 30,000. In truth, we fail more than 70 per cent. Angkas created our test from scratch with instructors from the US who train the Marines, Army, along with other head trainers from big dealers to put together a curriculum that is specific to back-riding,” George reveals.
In fact, their training programme is one that simulates real-world situations. Now, the lucky few who pass the Angkas test carry a level of pride because of its difficulty level. “We find that it has given drivers discipline and our customers confidence in us.” This commitment to safety has created Angkas’ entire business and fuels their overarching mission.
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To support the Filipino and progress towards a more diverse, flourishing economy, we need to shift mindsets and adapt to change. “A lot of people talk about new normal. Many businesses wait for things to normalise. But I am a firm believer in action and co-creation. You can’t just wait because there is no expert on the new normal, no one has been here before,” George states, encouraging entrepreneurs, citizens and Filipinos to make sure their voices are heard, accept challenges, and dream big.
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