I was a frequent taxi rider for the good part of 14 years. My twice-a-day taxi rides enabled me to meet different types of taxi drivers – the good, the bad lucky and the ugly naughty. Taxi drivers in Metro Manila are some of the least liked individuals, maybe just behind the thick-faced corrupt/inefficient politicians and kotong officials, but luckily, a high percentage of the drivers I met were sane good men. Here are their feel-good stories:
The first story happened four days after Typhoon Haiyan devastated Visayas. I just arrived from Iloilo (where I experienced the typhoon, but that is a story for another day). I hailed the taxi in Quezon City. The driver who I will call kuya, and I listened to an AM radio station that was giving updates about the relief efforts in Region VIII. Later on, we talked about the two TV stations that were doing a lot of campaigns for donations of merchandise, time and money.
Kuya asked me if I had donated. I said not yet, but I was on my way to a grocery store to buy items for the typhoon victims. He turned around and smiled at me and said, “mabuti ‘yan. Pagpalain ka ng Diyos.” (that is good. May God bless you.) I asked him the same question, and he said that he already donated TWICE. So I said, “ang galing mo naman, kuya!” (you did a good job!). His smile widened but he added that what he donated was not a lot. I told him that whatever he donated was more than a lot and was greatly appreciated by whoever received it. He nodded. Later on, he related that he and his wife were listening to the radio throughout the Typhoon Haiyan coverage. Upon learning the fate of the people in Leyte, his wife cried. He reassured her that everything would be okay.
Right after his shift the following day, he went to the grocery store and bought two packs of diapers. He donated one pack of diapers each to the two TV stations. I asked him why he chose diapers. He said that he has a baby and knows how important diapers are to both the baby and the mother. But kuya was not done yet with his philanthropy, he said that him and his fellow drivers chipped in P50 (US $1.06) each for three straight days to buy more items for those affected by Haiyan. So I told kuya that he actually donated five times, not just twice. 🙂
The second story occurred early this year. It was raining in San Juan City, and taxi drivers I asked in real life and in a phone app turned me down. Quezon City was just too far, and the additional P100 (US $2.12) was not enough incentive. I thought that I must one big loser for 20 drivers to turn me down, and if my self-confidence were based on the number of rejections I received, it would have been in an abyss.
I was at the end of my wits when a taxi unit stopped in front of me. I imagined a choir of angels singing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Halleeeeeelujaaaahhhh!” As soon as I was inside the cab, I thanked the driver for agreeing to take me to QC. He said that he saw me standing in the driveway 15 minutes ago and was surprised that I was still there after he had dropped off the previous passenger. He also said that it was a nice coincidence because most of the time his previous passenger, who was his suki (frequent passenger), usually went home early, but that particular evening, the suki went to the hospital for a check-up. He had to wait for her in the hospital parking area. Since we were in a sharing mood, I unabashedly asked him if the suki paid for the time he waited. He said no. I said it was nice of him because most people would charge extra for that. I was not being materialistic; I was being practical.
In the course of our conversation, he said that the suki was a nice old lady who gave him Christmas gifts. Once, she gave him the Christmas basket that every employee in a certain city received. It contained a dozen cans of Ma-Ling (a brand of luncheon meat). I joked that I hope it was not overpriced. J He just laughed, and said that he ate it in a month. And it tasted so good. As a sign of his gratitude, he gave the suki five kilograms of rice (from a sack of rice) and dried fish from Capiz twice. I asked him if he went to Capiz that many times (most taxi drivers I talked to go to their provinces only once or twice a year, unless they live in Luzon). He told me that his mother brought the products from the province using RORO (roll-on roll-off) boats when she visited him. I told him that he was lucky his mother seemed like a good woman to carry a sack of rice and several kilos of dried fish for him and his suki to enjoy. He just nodded in agreement.
I told him I am from Iloilo so we could converse in Ilonggo. He told me about his life as a farmer and later on, as a fisherman in Capiz. He said that life was hard, and being a taxi driver was a lot easier when it came to physical and financial aspects. Before I got off the taxi, he told me that if he sees me again, he would give me rice and dried fish, too. 🙂