Mindanao, Philippines

Why You Should Go to Davao and Ride Their Taxis

“Thank you!” (with a sarcastic smile)

The taxi driver told me when I gave him 100 pesos for my 80 peso bill. It was a sign. It was his unusual way of telling me, he’s not going give me my change.

Come on. I am used to this. Most of the taxi drivers in Manila are like this, so I really intended to tell him to keep the change. He didn’t need to trick me and flash that mocking smile.

Again, I was about to tell him to keep that f*ckin’ change!

So I was really frustrated by what he did. His “thank you” should be intended as a way of gratitude and not as a way to deceive me. I was about to give him a chance to be nice and fair, why did he do that?!

He revved up the engine.Then I was left there at the corner of the street – silent, dumbfounded.

I remember telling myself, why is this happening? why?

I was really angry, to the point that if there was a wall there, I was about to do some walling. LOL! Manila, what is happening to you? The seat of the national government is here, and yet people are living like this? MRT, traffic and these drivers?

I want to make it clear that I am not generalizing the taxi drivers. There are some nice drivers here, but honestly, most of them are the likes of the one I am sharing in this story. And some of them are even worse! Like one passenger attacked by a cab driver with a samurai sword?

Do we really have to live like this? Don’t we have a choice? I was telling myself when I was at the elevator going to the office. Is it really possible for us to live in peace, be nice and fair to one another?

Then something, a memory just hit me. It was a vacation, I had like two years back. A proof that what I was thinking and hoping, is possible.

Davao City Duterte
Credit: Davao – Keith Bacongco / Creative Commons


A Trip to Davao

Two years ago, I had a chance to visit Davao with my officemates. We stayed in the apartment of our manager provided by the company who was based there for a while. We used the taxi as a way to roam around the city. That afternoon, we hailed a taxi going to our company’s Davao office.

Since we all scored some free accommodation from our manager, the only way for us to contribute for the expenses is by paying our taxi fee alternately. That time, sitting at the front seat, I knew it was my chance to contribute.

When we arrived at the building, I gave the driver 100 pesos. I think I still had some coins as change. So I told the driver, “Okay na po” as a way of telling him to keep the change. To my surprise, he held my arms and with a smile gave me the coins. I told him to keep it, but he insisted me to get it.

Wow. Just wow!

When I got off the taxi, it was like a few seconds of time has stopped for me. It was a rare experience. To someone from Manila who is used to taxi drivers who are seemed default to always put up a fight that was really a different one.

I was so amazed that I kept sharing about the experience with some of my friends in Davao. Well, they just shrugged about it and told me that it’s just “normal” in Davao. Uhm. Okay kayo na! LOL!

One friend even joked about it and said, “Huh, takot lang nila kay Duterte.” And that rings a bell for me. They (drivers) are honest because they are afraid of Duterte, their Mayor? That led me to more research. Naks!

It turned out that there is a city ordinance ordered by the Mayor for all taxi drivers to be honest and fair to all passengers. Contract fares is strictly prohibited. And so it was then clarified by my friend in Davao that being afraid of Duterte was just a joke in the city, but what they really mean is to follow the city ordinance.

After 4 days of exploring Davao and observing all our cab rides, all the drivers were honest and nice. There was even one who got out of his taxi to give us our change. Wow!
People in Davao are not actually afraid of their local government. Actually they speak of high regard of their Mayor for keeping the city organized and the people disciplined. One Davaoeno even told me that their Mayor is keeping the city safe for all of them.


A Slap in the Face Realization

People in Manila are living in hell, with the daily struggle to commute, traffic and all. The seat of our national government is here yet the people are stressed, harassed. A government that is ruled by politicians who are so good at talking but no action. Politicians who are actually “elitists” who never experienced to commute, ride the MRT, try the public transport yet they’re talking as if they really understand.

Having a nice and fair taxi driver is just a simple and basic right of every commuter and yet the abuse of commuters is still going on for years. We have the LTFRB, LTO, local government and the national government but why Manila residents are still struggling every single day? Aren’t you tired of all of this?

Is there a way? Is there a better choice? Yes, There is! look at Davao.

If you’re still in doubt, go to Davao and ride their taxis for you to realize how stupid and useless our government is. By intently looking at Davao when I was there, I realized that the simplest struggles of every Manila commuter is not rocket science. It’s just a matter of law enforcement and discipline. And of course, have someone up there who actually listens and understands.

Again, if you are just tired of what’s happening in our beloved Metro Manila. Go to Davao to have a different travel experience, a different perspective. Compare and you’ll realize that Manila, our country, deserves better.


  1. Robert

    I am An American staying in Davao City .On & off the past 10 yrs. Never Have I had any problem here with a taxi driver they are all very Business like> I feel very safe living here in Davao. I like it more then living the USA. One expection that being the BROWN OUTS ! 🙁

    1. jontotheworld Author

      Hi Robert,

      Happy thet you enjoyed staying Davao. yeah about the brown outs, that’s really a national concern all about shortage of electric pwer in the Mindanao area. We’re all hoping that brown outs will be resolved soon.


  2. An interesting account of taxi drivers in the Philippines, something to definitely be aware of in your country and also around the world when travelling. It is important to be a little wary of your surroundings.

    1. jontotheworld Author

      In a way I felt bad about being honest about the taxi experience here in Manila, but as a blogger I also feel the need to tell the truth. philippines is amazing all in all, especially nature and beaches!

  3. Ganyan yang mga taxi drivers sa Manila. Kpag hiningian mo ng sukli, kala mo niyurakan mo na ang pagkatao nila. Kainis lang eh. Jane is from Davao and she’s telling me good stuff about the city. They really are progressive and lucky they have Duterte. Hopefully, with the coming election, Duterte wins. Yay!

  4. Dahil dito mas lalo akong naexcite sa upcoming trip ko to Davao. I am quite impressed with the honesty and the discipline of their drivers. Mapapaisip kang talaga eh, and it would really make you wish sana ganun din sa Manila.


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