Viral video: Recognise this woman? Filipino expat reveals why she helps manage Dubai metro crowds

Rhea Tovillo Agsaullo uses her own commute time of 13 stations to offer her services 'for free' during peak rush hour

by

Meher Dhanjal

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Rhea Tovillo Agsaullo (Supplied photos)
Rhea Tovillo Agsaullo (Supplied photos)

Published: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 12:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 25 Jan 2024, 11:00 PM

"Please stop pushing." That's a phrase you would be more than familiar with if you've ever used the Dubai metro during rush hour. No doubt it's also why a video of a Filipino expat cheerfully, but firmly, managing crowds entering and exiting the ladies compartment during her own commute went viral last week, garnering nearly 50,000 views on TikTok and 200,000 views on Instagram.

It was like looking for a needle in a haystack but Khaleej Times wanted to speak to the Good Samaritan who was bringing other residents so much joy. The hunt took a week — but find her we did!

Meet Rhea Tovillo Agsaullo, a full-time nanny, who decided to become a voluntary 'conductor' after witnessing some incidents. "I once saw a woman accidentally leave her luggage at the platform during rush hour. She was very worried so I helped her get off at the next station and get her bag back by getting her in touch with an RTA official, who could later confirm that the bag was safe and sound," recalls the long-time Dubai resident.

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"Another time, I saw the doors close on a woman whose stroller was stuck on the platform. Unfortunately, no space was being made for her to get in with her baby in time and I had to block the cabin doors so the mum could exit safely and catch the next train. That's when I decided to do something about this."

That was last October. Rhea has since been faithfully extending this service to fellow commuters during her own daily commutes.

Spreading smiles while keeping the crowd in check, Rhea has now mastered the art of crowd management on the metro. Before the metro approaches a station, she asks the crowd of women in the cabin: "Who is getting down here?"

She then organises the order in which people get off at the stop, after which she welcomes commuters waiting to board the train onboard. In case there's no space and the cabin is too full, she says with a bright smile, "Oops, no space. Sorry!"

Dealing with fellow commuters

Sometimes, rush hour can bring out tensions in people jostling to enter and exit cabins and Rhea says she has often played peacemaker to diffuse such situations.

"People using the Metro are from different cultures and walks of life. They may also have different personalities: some are very patient, some are moody... especially during rush hour!" Rhea's message to fellow commuters is to be as considerate, kind and peaceable as possible.

People are often sad when she says she has to leave for the day, she adds. "Sometimes, they say, 'No, don't go! We need you here.'" The interactions always make her get down at her stop — after her own commute of 13 stations — with a smile on her face as she bids them farewell. "See you tomorrow! I love you!" she calls out as the doors close.

Watch a video of her bidding farewell to other commuters as she gets down at her stop at Al Jafiliya, below:

Fellow commuters have spoken of their delight at travelling with her. "She's so energetic and funny at same time. I felt like I am travelling in an Indian city's bus. She [is just like a] bus conductor. I travel with her in the metro most of the time," said one Instagrammer.

"I thought she's one of the staff in the metro. [I saw her] during rush hour today," a TikTok user said.

Rhea doesn’t do this for fame or appreciation, she says. "I just want everyone to get home safe, with a smile on their faces."

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