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Are Baguio Taxi Drivers The Most Honest in the Philippines?

By Lorraine Joy Signey

Wait. Hold it. Before answering YES or NO or MAYBE, let’s first know what is this honesty we are talking about?

Does honesty among taxi drivers simply equates to returning the things passengers left in the cab?

Does honesty reflect on a taxi driver’s physical appearance? Really. I know we’re judgmental at times. Sometimes we say, “Mukhang mabait ‘to. Yiee, si manong kamukha niya si Honesto.” No need to deny.

Or does honesty pertain to only telling the truth? Yes. Honest ‘to. Promise!

If we look at the definition of Merriam-Webster dictionary, honesty is the quality of being fair and truthful.

With this definition, we’ll try to gauge the quality of being fair and truthful among Baguio taxi drivers and determine if these drivers are worthy of being called most honest in the Philippines.

WHO SAYS BAGUIO TAXI DRIVERS ARE THE MOST HONEST?

Facebook has given spotlight to some of our Baguio taxi drivers. With the easy sharing of information in social media platforms, stories of honesty have become viral. People from different parts of the country, the world rather, have attested that Baguio taxi drivers are worthy of the title.

I have asked some Baguio taxi drivers about how they handle situations where the passenger’s things are left behind in their cabs.

Certainly, these drivers have their ways on how they can return these belongings. Most of them would immediately go and surrender these things to local radio stations so that they can do public service announcement. Some drivers leave the things at the police station.

In cases where cellphones are left behind, some drivers would even try to contact and meet with the owner.

Additionally, some drivers have made it a habit to check their backseats after they drop their passengers to see if there are things left.

“Tatlong beses ng may nakaiwan pero ako naiisauli ko agad. Pagbaba ng pasahero, tinitignan ko kung may gamit pang naiwan, kapag meron, ihahabol ko dun sa pasahero,” Manong Frender, who has been driving taxi for 5 years, told me.

 

Stories about Baguio taxi drivers does not only revolve around things being returned. There have been comparisons between our taxi drivers and those from Manila.

I have asked different taxi passengers–students, tourists, housewives, workers–about their experiences riding taxi here in Baguio.

One common thing they would tell is that Baguio taxi drivers give exact change. Unlike in Manila where some drivers would automatically “keep the change”, Baguio taxi drivers would give you your change even if it’s just a peso.

Some of the passengers interviewed also said that Baguio taxi drivers are more courteous and cautious when driving.

“Yung mga taxi driver dito nakakakwentuhan mo at nagiging instant tourist guide na rin kapag nagtatanong ka kung saan yung mga magagandang puntahan,” one tourist commented.

 

It seems that simple acts of returning a passenger’s belongings, giving the right change, and being courteous could affect the world’s perception of taxi drivers. It has this effect of making people believe that there’s still fate in humanity.

BUT HOW DO BAGUIO TAXI DRIVERS SEE THEMSELVES AND OTHERS?

Manong Kolokoy, Mike, Bong, Boboy

With no hesitation, I have asked some taxi drivers if they think Baguio taxi drivers are the most honest in the Philippines. Here are some of their answers:

“Kung ako, honest ako. Ewan ko lang sa iba.” – Manong Manny (taxi driver since 2003)

“Siyempre naman. Mga 90 percent siguro.” – Manong Michael (taxi driver since 2009)

“Oo naman pero marami na ring nagsusulputang loko-loko ngayon.” – Manong Mike (taxi driver since 2002)

Most of the drivers I have talked with does not really mind the title of being the most honest. They were simply thinking of making a living in accord to what is right and without aggravating others.

As I have said earlier, simple acts can affect people’s perception of any matter. One wrong act can overturn all the right things that have been established. Have I told you that stories about Baguio taxi drivers in Facebook are not always stories of praise?

I have asked some taxi drivers about their views on certain concerns addressed to them by taxi passengers. Some of these complaints are contracting passengers, refused boarding, reckless driving, choosing passengers, detouring, and rude behavior.

I have briefly discussed these issues one by one with them. Some drivers expressed their dismay upon hearing about it. Some shared there experiences and were also firm in expressing their opinions.

Here’s what the drivers have to say to my attempt in doing a “chika minute”

Issue #1: Choosing Passengers / Refused boarding

– This is the most common complaint of the passengers I have talked with. They said some drivers would refuse to take passengers whose destination is quite far from the city proper or it’s traffic.

“Ewan ko sa ibang drivers. Ako kasi hindi namimili. Kapag may pasahero, karga-hatid lang gawain ko hanggang sa gumarahe. Siguro kapag gabi, pwedeng mamili ng pasahero para na rin sa safety ng driver. Mahirap na kapag ma-holdup.” – Manong Manny

“Hindi magandang gawain yun kasi public utility vehicle. Kailangan paglingkuran ang mga pasahero. Ihatid sila saan mang gusto nila.” – Manong Michael

“Ayan,hindi maganda. Mas mabuti pang hindi tanungin kung saan pupunta yung pasahero bago isakay. Mali ring pababain kapag hindi gusto yung pupuntahan. Kung alanganing magsakay, umuwi na lang.” – Manong Bong

Issue #2: Contracting Passengers / Overcharging

– Passengers who live far from the city proper shared their experiences on drivers who ask for additional payment in order for the passengers to ride the cab.

“Kapagang ganyang mga driver, nag e-extra lang yang mga yan kaya wala silang takot mahuli. Dapat nirereklamo yang mga yan.” – Manong Frender

“Dapat sinusunod yung patak ng metro. Kung magbigay ng dagdag yung pasahero okay lang basta yung pasahero yung nag-offer. Hindi dapat pinipilit.” – Manong Boboy

Issue #3: Detouring

– Some passengers I’ve talked with told that some drivers would take long and unnecessary routes instead of taking the usual to increase the fare on the meter.

“Hindi applicable sa Baguio yan. Karamihan kasi dito umiiwas lang sa traffic kaya sa iba dumadaan. Dito kapag malayo, mas lugi ka. Kaya minsan, mas gusto pa yung malapit lang.” – Manong Frender

“Hindi kikita sa konting dagdag sa patak ng metro, sayang ang krudo. Umiiwas lang sa traffic kapag sa ibang kalsada dumadaan.” – Manong Manny

“Hindi yan totoo. Dito sa Baguio, umiiwas lang sa traffic. Ang sa’min naman tinatanong namin kung saan dadaan para hindi nagagalit yung pasahero.” – Manong Bong

Issue #4: Rude behavior / Reckless Driving

– Passengers shared that they’ve experienced some drivers who were ill-tempered. This rude behavior is not only directed towards the passengers, but also to pedestrians crossing or other drivers. Some passengers told me that there were drivers who were “driving as if they own the road.”

“Hindi magandang ugali yan. Dapat, hindi na lang nagtaxi driver yang mga ganyan.” – Manong Michael

“Yung mga kaskasero na yan, minsan sinasabihan namin na mag-ingat. Yung iba, kaskasero kasi hindi naman sa kanila yung sasakyan.”  – Manong Boboy

“Dapat nagbibigayan sa daan. Hindi dapat sumisingit. Kailangang sumunod sa batas trapiko.” – Manong Manny

SO, ARE BAGUIO TAXI DRIVERS NOT THE MOST HONEST ANYMORE? 

Being the MOST honest isn’t important at all. This is not a competition to begin with. Even for the drivers I have talked with, it’s more important to prioritize their passengers’ safety, uphold the law and work with integrity.

But to give you a peace of mind, we now return to our definition of honest: the quality of being fair and truthful.

Honesty among taxi drivers is about being truthful to the services they offer. Service that is not for the sake of merely getting a reward, but a kind of service that is heartfelt.

Have our Baguio taxi drivers somehow achieve it?

Of course. BUT NOT ALL.

Let’s deal with it. We cannot generalize things. Just as everything in this world, achieving perfection is near to impossible. But relatively speaking, Baguio taxi drivers are probably more honest than those from Manila. Again, I am not generalizing.

 

So what do we do with the “black sheep”?

Passengers have the right to file a complaint against these abusive drivers. Posting in Facebook may be a good way to inform others, but it is not enough to completely correct the misdeeds of these drivers. One should file a complaint at the Department of Transportation and Communications.

 

And how about these honest taxi drivers?

The only thing we can do is be good to them in return. Let us be grateful that there are still people like them. Let us not take them for granted. Let respect be a two-way exchange.

A simple “thank you” upon getting off the cab is enough.

And by the way, according to the taxi drivers I have talked with, this is another way you can do:

“PLEASE CLOSE THE DOOR GENTLY.”