You know that sinking feeling you get when you lose something and think to yourself ‘I aint never getting that back’
So after a few San Miguel Lights at one of my preferred watering holes in Cebu, Philippines, I decided to call it a night. I walked to the taxi rank and asked the driver next in line to take me home from Ayala Mall to Talisay.
What? I hear many of you ask, OK I was having dinner and drinks in the Mall at Ayala in Cebu City, in order to get home I have to take a 45 minute taxi ride and remain sober enough to direct the driver through the maze of narrow streets once we hit my holiday residence in the city of Talisay, keep up with me.
Now every sceptic will tell you to be careful of the deceitful taxi drivers, watch the meter, make sure they are not adding on extra pesos…. Well after a month here and having taken umpteen taxis around this beautiful place I have only encountered polite and cheerful drivers. This particular evening the driver told me I looked like Kenny Rogers and immediately tuned his radio to a country music station so we could sing together on the journey. I have been growing a beard you see, and a handlebar tache just so you know. The other evening I was approached by an overweight American ‘gentleman’ who told me I had the look of Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, bloody cheek, I much prefer to be likened to a country singer any day.
So anyway we get back to mine and I pay the driver 400 pesos (£5.92) for a 45 minute journey, think about that one for a minute. Actually here’s some information about these hard working taxi drivers. Firstly they are not rich enough to own their own taxis, most are owned by rich Japanese who then rent them to the drivers. The driver pays around 1,000 to 1,500 pesos a day to rent the taxi and on top of that he has to pay for his own fuel. So by my reckoning he’s got to drive for around 3-4 hours solid just to cover his rental costs, hence he works an average 12-13 hour day non stop driving and for six days a week in order to pay for his kids to go to school, yes they pay here !!!!!!!
So I bid my singing partner a happy goodnight and go in to the house to make my cup of tea. It is then that I realise to my horror that I don’t have my new local mobile phone with me……SHIT!!!!……. and a few other choice words I’m shouting to myself…… I dig around and find my UK phone and switch it on, I had written down my local phone number on the inside cover of ‘The Art of Thinking Clearly’ by Rolf Dobelli, my latest read, I kid you not. I dialled the number (that cost a fortune) low and behold my singing partner answered and said ‘Sir, I have your phone, I will bring it back for you, I was already half way to the city, I coming back now sir’ they all call you sir here…
Fifteen minutes later there is my new buddy, at the gate with my mobile in hand and a huge smile on his face, he said ‘I wanted you to know that Cebu taxi drivers are honest sir’ I exchanged my phone for 1,500 pesos (£22.22) as a reward and he could not have been happier, that will have paid his car rental and fuel for the whole day and everything else he had made that day was now his. To say he was overjoyed would be an understatement, I had made his day worthwhile.
My day was better than his, I was poorer in pocket but richer in heart. This was a lesson learned, don’t always believe what you hear, just because of one bad apple, don’t burn down the orchard. My faith in humanity has been restored yet again in this beautiful country and I will never forget the time I have had here. I cannot wait to return and continue my adventure among these simple and wonderful people. They really do believe in the idea that you only get back what you give out, a great many of us could learn a lot from these humble and beautiful people.