A Conversation with My Taxi Driver in Manila

Manila cab driver

I just spent an unsuccessful afternoon at the Indonesian Embassy trying to convince them to process my visa with the requirements for Canadian nationals, despite the fact that I am in Manila. I kept waving my Canadian passport around aimlessly; they kept saying “You are in Manila. You will be treated as a Filipino national.” In my travels thus far I have yet to be turned away from an embassy because they treated me as a local. No matter my cajoling, they stood resolute. Eventually, I gave up.

A typhoon is currently barreling toward Samar and Leyte, and the preliminary storms have already begun to drench Manila in terrifically strong rain. I waited at least 30 minutes for a Manila taxi, only to have it stolen by a wizened old lady who swept in out of nowhere and jumped in the front seat, flashing me a toothless grin as the cab sped off.

When I was 16 my dad moved to New York temporarily, and I visited him for a week. There I quickly learned the mercenary art of jumping into a cab before someone already-waiting could stop you. Clearly I forgot this lesson when I got to the Philippines.

Typhoon season in the Philippines

Instead, I hailed the next taxi. Five minutes into my ride the following dialogue occurred.

A conversation with my Manila taxi driver

Cabbie: Ma’am. You will pay 50 pesos extra because we will be stuck in traffic.

Me: No, I will pay the metered fare. That’s how it works.

Cabbie: No, you will pay 50 pesos extra because TRAFFIC.

Me: No, I will call the taxi commission and report that you are trying to scam a nice girl like me.

Cabbie: [Thinking for a good 5 minutes]

Cabbie: Ok, no extra charge and then no calling taxi commission?

Me: Ok.

Cabbie: You look like a nice white girl but you are not nice.

Me: I’ve heard that before.

*  *  *

Ah, Manila. It’s almost time for me to leave the Philippines. That this country and its unique take on life, food and rum left an indelible impression on me is fairly obvious by my blog entries and my perma-smile; I’m leaving but also wracking my brain as to when I can come back again soon.



4 thoughts on “A Conversation with My Taxi Driver in Manila”

  1. Jodi, so the cab driver treated you like any other Filipino national alright :D That's what we have to go through (almost) everytime we ride the taxi to anywhere. It can be funny but it's also frustrating since believe you me, there are still Pinoys who are honest and earn a honest living.

  2. My wife (a Manila native) just sent me this (over a year later)–wonderful!

    When we were there a couple of years ago, a cab driver picked us up at Mall of Asia and said there would be a 50 peso charge because it was late. I noted the statue on his dashboard and asked, “Are you Catholic?” He said, “Born and raised, sir.” I said, “Would you charge me 50 pesos extra if I were a priest?” He started laughing and said, “OK, sir, no extra charge.”

    1. Hi James, that’s a great story and quite typical of what I heard (and obviously experienced!). I really did love my time in the Philippines because of the warmth in everyone I met, even those trying to get an extra peso out of me. Thanks for reading – I’m glad you enjoyed.

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