So I was in Davao City over the weekend for their Philippine Councilors’ League gig. Since I’m a certified Dabawenya (born and raised in Davao City!), I was the self-appointed “tour guide” of sorts during our two-day stay in the largest city in the world.
Now what I’m about to share is NOT to lambast anyone. Instead, I’m hoping that somehow this could serve as a wake-up call not only for the City Tourism Office of Davao City but also for the hundreds of taxi drivers in Davao City as well.
You see, on our first night in Davao, our group, composed of five people, caught two taxis from Matina Town Square (MTS). Ches and I rode in one taxi while the other three rode in the other one. I won’t name the taxi company anymore. Suffice it to say that it may take me a while before I flag down one of their units the next time I’m in town.
Anyways, from MTS, we were supposed to go back to our hotel, which was located along Magallanes Street. Our taxi fare was P42.50. When Ches and I alighted from the cab, we sort of wondered why the other taxi hasn’t arrived yet (the other taxi trailed us when we left MTS) We then just went straight to our hotel rooms, thinking that the other three band members could arrive in just a few minutes anyway. Lo and behold, after about 10 minutes, Jovy sent me a message and asked for the street where the hotel was. I told him Magallanes Street and asked why. He said that they GOT LOST. Confused, I immediately called him and asked where they already were. He said that they were on a bridge somewhere and that the driver claimed that he lost track of OUR taxi. So I said we were already at the hotel and gave Jovy instructions for him to relay to the driver. Within minutes, their group arrived. I was told that the taxi fare already reached P102.50! Fortunately, Nilo was quick on his toes and refused to pay. The taxi driver then just conceded and somehow acknowledged that it was his fault and only asked for P40.00
While I somehow laud the taxi driver for his honesty and for the fact that he did acknowledge his fault (he apparently pretended that he knew where the hotel was but when he lost sight of the taxi Ches and I rode in, he sorta panicked), I also feel that cab drivers should be more honest these days. If you don’t know where this or that is, then don’t pretend that you do. I hate to think that the driver thought he could just circle the three boys around and perhaps receive more money that way (maybe he somehow knew that his passengers weren’t from Davao anyway). Unfortunately for him, his passengers knew whom to contact (in this case, me!) just in case something irregular happened.
Speaking of too much honesty from a taxi driver…my next rant is about a Davao City taxi driver who’s TOO HONEST. My boys and I were at the Gaisano Mall of Davao and we flagged down a cab (again, I won’t mention the name of the taxi company) I told the driver that we wanted to go to People’s Park. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t People’s Park already a well-known tourist spot in Davao City? I mean, it’s right smack in the middle of the city, it’s supposed to be controversial (with all the hullabaloo surrounding its development), it’s where hundreds of families go to for outings or to spend their Sunday afternoons at.
I mean, if you’re a Davao City taxi driver, shouldn’t you at least KNOW where People’s Park is?!
Because apparently the driver of the taxi we rode in DID NOT KNOW where People’s Park was. The first time he told my group that he didn’t know where People’s Park was, I thought he was joking…apparently he wasn’t. So I explained that the People’s Park that I was referring to was the area beside Apo View Hotel, right in front of Casa Leticia, it’s right along Camus Street and it’s near Penong’s (how’s that for a site location? LOL) Anyways, even if I already gave those details, he still claimed that he didn’t know where it was.
So again, I had to give instructions. I had to guide the taxi driver. Can you imagine that?!
I mean, really…why drive a taxi if you don’t know where the major tourist spots are? Why place yourself in a situation where you’re expected to KNOW something but you know squat about?
The experience was really disappointing. Can you just imagine if a tourist rode those taxis? What will those tourists say about Davao City? What will those tourists say about the taxi drivers?
Taxi drivers, truth be told, play a major part in an area’s tourism efforts.
If they’re not well-informed or well-equipped with (at least) basic knowledge about their city, their city’s tourist spots, their city’s leaders (at least the most important or major ones) and even their city’s urban tales or interesting stories, this can somehow affect the city’s tourism efforts. More often than not, taxi drivers can be a tourist’s best friend or constant companion, so to speak. They can serve as “frontliners” and somehow “represent” the city and its people.
Let’s just hope that my experience will serve as a lesson, in one way or another.