A place where a good driver is an essential member of the project team

richmond-drivingThe place is the Philippines.  The driver is Richmond Pon-an.  The project is the e-Governance for Municipal Development (eGov4MD) project.

I’m here in the Philippines, as a Volunteer Advisor (VA), to the eGov4MD project, with the Canadian Executive Service Organization (CESO).  The eGov4MD project is an international collaborative, orchestrated by the League of Municipalities of the Philippines (LMP), bringing together various Filipino organizations, municipalities, and foreign nonprofits (e.g., CESO).  The project will help Filipino municipalities develop and leverage their Information Technology (IT) staff and capacities.

Who is Richmond and what does he do?

Richmond is a 12-year employee of the LMP, and serves as their designated driver.  I’ve known him since the fall of 2008, the last time I was here, also with CESO.  He’s transported me safely to various locations in the Philippines, as part of my eGov4MD project involvement.  All the while, and sometimes under stressful driving conditions, he’s maintained his fine sense of humour, and been very nice to me, and I thank him for that!

He is married to Joramay, and father to a beautiful 10 month old boy, Jomrich.  His wife, prior to becoming a mother, spent several years working overseas (like millions of Filipinos!), in Taiwan and Saudi Arabia.  Here’s a family photo of them that I took outside my hotel last week in Manila:

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Richmond’s family, and a sister-in-law, live in a 2-bedroom apartment near the LMP office in metro Manila, a mega-city of 15 million people.  He tells me that about 80% of his salary goes towards paying the rent.  Health care services have recently taken up another large chunk of his income.  As for food, I didn’t dare ask!   His employment with LMP (a not-for-profit organization), like all LMP staff, is not guaranteed beyond the next election; given LMP takes its direction from elected government officials.

As LMP driver, he transports LMP staff, project personnel, and foreign visitors, to destinations around the Philippines.  Here’s a simple, 1-minute video I pieced together on Richmond…

He spends many days on the road.  In a country where personal (new) vehicle ownership is cost prohibitive to most, getting anywhere can be both a challenge and exhausting.  Driving is often slow, and on congested roads, populated by all manner of vehicles; all of which seems to invite, at times, an aggressive approach to driving.  And yet, undeclared driving norms (rules-of-the road) exist (although I’m in the dark about some, I’m sure!) and are generally followed, allowing people to get safely from point A to B.

Richmond’s services are an invaluable asset to many.  I can’t imagine how a collaborative project like eGov4MD could be as successful as it is, without a driver and team member like Richmond!

What idea about people working as a team comes to your mind, on reading this post?

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Comments

  1. Doug Mcveigh says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting Richmond during my visit to the Philippines as a VA. Richmond was a very caring person, always looking after your interests and provided a great education on the Philippine culture.

    warm regards

    Doug/Spanky McVeigh

  2. Doug. Good to hear from you. Sorry, I took so long to reply. I concur with your comments. I’ve been on some lengthy road trips with Richmond, and he’s always been both proactive, and responsive to my requests, to show and teach me about the Philippines and Filipino ways.

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