I was a frequent taxi rider for 14 years. In my twice-a-day rides, I met countless of drivers whose stories are interesting enough to merit retelling. Now, my taxi rides are fewer than 10 a month, but the drivers are still as talkative as ever. I chanced upon one of these drivers two Fridays ago.
As soon as I opened one of the doors of the taxi, he said, “galing mag-box-out ni ma’am ah”. I laughed at his apt description. In my desperation to get to my doctor’s clinic on time, I ran to the passenger side of the taxi while it was slowly moving to a stop in the driveway of our condominium and begged him to choose me over the two Koreans behind me. He signaled me to hop in. I thanked him and told him my destination.
In our 15-minute three-block ride, we talked about politics, our presidential candidates, my doctor’s appointment, and his suki (frequent passenger). His presidentiable is different from mine (I tried my hardest to sell Mayor Duterte to him), my doctor’s appointment was a dead end, so we dwelt on the story about his suki.
The suki lives in Quezon City, in the same area as the driver. The suki is an old woman who regularly watches Eat Bulaga, a long-running noontime show in the Philippines. At 430am, just before he retires for the day, he drives the suki to Broadway Centrum where Eat Bulaga holds its live program. That ill-fated day, there was a bus that came from a province in the south of Luzon. The passengers were like his suki, old people who line up early in the morning to watch the show they enjoy and have a glimpse of the famous hosts (one of them was a Philippine senator between his gigs).
Two of the passengers from the bus hailed him not a few meters from the bus. They were men in their 20s, and they occupied the backseats. When they were in front of the Mt. Carmel Church along Broadway Avenue (about one kilometer from Broadway Centrum), the man directly behind the driver took his gun out and pointed it at the driver’s head. The man said, “pasensya na, pero hold-up ‘to” (I am sorry, but this is a robbery).
The driver gave the men the money in his compartment, which totaled to P2800 (US $58.69). The men asked him why it was so small. The driver told me, “kung gago lang ako, sinagot ko ng “dapat bangko hinold-up niyo”” (if I was a smart-ass, I would have answered, “you should have robbed a bank”). With the gun boring on his temple and the car seat belt tightening around his neck, he pointed at the gasoline receipt. He explained that he had just filled up the gas tank.
The robbers did not believe him, so they took his wallet. With nothing in it, they asked him to take his vest, shirt and pants off. The driver said that because of his fear, it took him mere seconds to take his pants off, even in a sitting position. He sadly added that the pants were new and the vest was from a popular news anchor. With the driver’s money and clothes in hand, the robbers immediately left the taxi.
Just in his underwear, the driver went directly to the nearest police station to report the incident. The police turned him away and told them that the place of incident was not under their jurisdiction. The driver, still in his underwear, quickly drove to the other police station. After filing the report, he drove home, still in his underwear. He said that he had to drive like a maniac to beat the sunrise. Of course, he lost. While driving, another taxi driver saw his naked upper body and commented, “mainit ba?” (is it hot).
At last, the driver arrived home. Before he entered the door, he had to steal his neighbor’s sinampay (clothes left outside to dry) so as not to frighten his wife. He said that if his wife learned of his experience, she would run amok and blame him for leaving his safe job to be a taxi driver.
The highway robbery happened more than a year ago. His wife is still unaware of it. I wished him luck after I had paid him. He smiled and said thank you.