If you live in Metro Manila and do even just a bit of commuting, then you know that we have some of the worst taxicab drivers in the world. Not only do many of them tend to be choosy when it comes to picking up passengers, a lot of them also overcharge whoever is lucky enough to get handpicked along their route. And let’s not even talk about those who rig their meters so that the fare gets significantly padded.
Even sadder and more alarming, recent news reports tell us that there are cabbies who have drug problems or anger-management issues. Little wonder that app-based transport services like Uber has soared in popularity in this country.
But every now and then, you’ll encounter a taxi driver with the kind of integrity our congressmen can only dream of. A guy named Rommel Lopezrecently met one such cabbie, and he tells this story (in italics):
Meet Mr. Eugenio Ventura, 63 years old, a taxi driver. I hailed him at the LRT Roosevelt Station to go to Mother Ignacia Avenue. Sabi niya: “Sir, pasok lang. Hindi ako namimili ng pasahero. Kahit saan kayo pupunta, ihahatid ko kayo.”
I thought he was just trying hard to be nice. But I was wrong. He wasn’t trying hard. He wasn’t even trying at all. Through that very short trip, I learned how happy he is for being a taxi driver and how he still drives for his youngest kid, who is a working student and is about to graduate in college. He said he is just doing his job as a taxi driver to be nice to his passengers, because “kayo ang pinanggagalingan ng aming kabuhayan.” It was sad to know that his operator had deducted something from his earnings (I wasn’t able to catch exactly what it was)–he ended up bringing home a meager P1,200 as his Christmas bonus.
When I reached my destination, the meter read P78.50. I gave him a P100 bill. I decided not to get the change, but he hurriedly gave me P20 and my receipt. I told him that he should keep it, and that it was my tip for him. He refused, saying that I deserved the change because it was the right thing to do. I told him: “Okay, yung P1.50 na lang ang tip ko. Huwag niyo nang tanggihan.” He smiled.
“Manong, may isa pa akong request,” I said. “Kunan ko kayo ng picture at i-share ko sa Facebook para malaman ng marami kung ano ang isang tunay na taxi driver na Pinoy.” He laughed so hard.
Don’t you wish all taxi drivers were like Mang Eugenio?