The Taxi Drivers of Davao City
By Apolinario Villalobos
Davao for a long time was notorious as a city where rebels had the gall to challenge the authorities even at daytime, especially, in the Agdao district. Just like any other cities, it had its own share of dishonest taxi drivers, sex workers who cruised Recto, San Pedro, and Boulevard. But those now belong to the past with the emergence of the Dutertes at the city’s helm.
Davao today is the only destination city whose no-smoking regulation is announced during the taxiing in of commercial flights, as they approach the city’s airport. As one goes out of the terminal, he can find taxis in a neat queue waiting to be approached by passengers. Drivers just ask the passenger for the destination without any complaint even if it is just a few hundred meters from the airport.
As a frequent traveler to Davao, myself, I have experienced first- hand, the kind of courtesy the taxi drivers of the city extend to their passengers. With courtesy enhanced with cordiality, one cannot help but sincerely give a generous tip. The drivers are not allowed to give hints for tips. And, they feel it an honest obligation to return fare change to their passengers, to the last centavo. But how can one take back thirty pesos from a taxi driver who joined the long line of queue and patiently wait for incoming flights and finally get a passenger after six hours, and whose destination is sometimes just a couple of kilometers away? For one who understands, he should add a few pesos more to that change, to make the tip realistic, instead.
If one asks the taxi driver for the most affordable hotel in the city, the latter obliges by bringing the former to suggested accommodation facilities from pension to small hotels until the right choice has been made. It happened to me, when I took a last flight to Davao and arrived in the city at the height of a heavy downpour and despite the unholiness of the hour when I finally set foot on the city, taking a taxi did not give me any qualm at all.
I know that there are issues on how the peace and quiet of the city has finally been painstakingly achieved. But the proof of change is very evident. If only for the sake of the natives of Davao city who, for long, had been longing for a quiet life, and the visitors who are beginning to appreciate the “home of durian fruit”, the detractors are asked to take a boat or flight or bus and visit the city for a first- hand appreciation or just keep their mouth shut.