The Consumer

With crummy airport and mercenary taxi drivers, it’s not fun in the Philippines


Tourism Secretary Ramon R. Jimenez, Jr. will have to get airport authorities to improve their services, particularly transport, if we are to convince visitors is it, indeed, more fun in the Philippines.

Last week’s column on overcharging taxi drivers stirred a hornet’s nest. The feedback I received would make travelers, including Filipinos, want to take the first flight out of the country to return to where they came from rather than put up with overcharging and scheming drivers.

I do not know if the author Dan Brown ever came to the Philippines but putting up with the alleged chicaneries of airport taxi drivers could very well have given him the impression he was entering the gates of hell.

Even Inquirer reporters agreed the situation in all Philippine airports was badly in need of improvement.

Vicky Choa said she had “tried all means to get to and from the airport… I do not take regular cabs as I feel they are not safe so I take either the yellow metered taxis or the coupon taxis.”

Long way home

But Choa said, since the taxis belonged to different companies, a passenger encountered both good and drivers. How bad was bad? “One driver of a metered taxi got my coupon so I could not report him. He insisted on taking a route that was longer or where traffic (was worse). I told him I knew how much the (fare) would be. He was rude and did not help me (get) my luggage from the trunk when I reached home.”

To add to Choa’s frustration, “I tried but could not find a site to report bad taxi drivers.”

She suggested that taxi companies should display in a spot inside the vehicle that passengers could not miss the driver’s picture, name and the company he worked for.

No fun

A reader from Mindanao, who said he had been traveling since he was a student said getting a ride from the airport made it no fun in the Philippines.

“Naia (Ninoy Aquino International Airport) is the lousiest airport,” he said. The service was lousy and often inconvenienced passengers, he said. “Naia is an embarrassment (as) a window to… the rest of the country—broken toilets, shameless people waiting inside and outside… hustling for a dollar or two from tired and weary travelers.”

He wondered why Naia, like other airports, could not have cheap, air-conditioned buses to bring passengers to where it would be easier and more convenient to get a ride to their destinations.

“Why are passengers/ tourists/our compatriots (being exposed) to these thieves waiting outside the doors of the Naia? Are there people inside the airport who are in cahoots with taxi operators?”

He said, “If Naia managers (would) try backpacking to other countries or even domestic destinations on a modest budget, without limousines to (bring them to and from) airports, they might understand what convenience is about with buses right outside airport doors.”

Good old days

Efren Wee remembered the efficient and effective system at the old domestic airport, with only a security guard to keep things in order. There was a waiting area where arriving passengers could take ordinary metered taxis.

A lone security guard would hand out a slip of paper where he had written down the plate and body (if available) numbers of the taxi so it would be easy for the passenger to file a complaint and/or trace the cab in case of problems, like a left package.

I remember the setup, too. In fact, seeing how well the guard was able to keep everybody in line, I always felt like giving him a tip for a job well done.

Wee said, “Yellow cabs are fine but they are also more expensive than the ordinary metered taxis. The consumers should be given a choice.”

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  • BruinBearDad

    I have always wondered about the politicians in our country. They travel all over the world and see all the decent, clean, airports and infrastructure to promote not just tourism but investment. Yet, we still have toilets which are disgustingly dirty, old, stink without any seats and/or sometimes water. The airport for PAL (Naia 2) didn;t have any toilet seats! What the heck! And yet, they don’t understand that merely keeping these up to par with the other airports will be worth every penny in tourism dollars that will increase because of this. I went to Bohol, which was beautiful. The airport restrooms? DISGUSTING! Now, the subject of taxis…I used one, thankfully he was on the up and up but I paid a pretty penny to ensure so. Taking a cab in the Philippine airport is pretty much opening yourself up to swindlers who will take advantage. That and you put your life on the line. I love the Philippines but it sure is not more fun to vacation in the Philippines.

    • dodong1

      our politicians does not notice hardly anything when they go abroad , because they are whisked out of the airport and go to their compadres waiting for them to drink and mingle with young blonde girls…

    • Cue_Vas

      why would politician care? he has an SUV and a chauffeur waiting for him.

  • Jane Tan

    Off-topic but the writer seriously needs someone to proofread her work.

    And yes, cabs are dangerous here in the Philippines. The better option is to have an acquaintance in the Philippines and have him or her pick you up.

  • 56u4puvv

    I feel the same way what mr bruinbeardad, the only different is that iam a filipino but residing and working abroad, in my point of view and to make my comment short, NEED MORE Improvements in terms of physical developments like infra. Literally media does not work well when the gate of entry is rooting. I myself do not ride a taxi or FX to avoid opportunist. i took my private car to bring me home.

    • peach black

      English, please. . . ?

  • gadino

    I agree.

    The one “modern” airport we came up with, NAIA 3, was riddled with controversies and does not have enough parking space.

    Taxis refusing to use the meter are still rampant. I personally experienced this with those cabs waiting at the KFC parking lot at the corner of Coastal Road and MIA Road. I reported it to the LTFRB. I don’t know if they did anything.

  • on_hindsight

    yes, about time they put the airport in order including taxi system. our airport is one downside of travelling, how we wish we get to the plane pronto to avoid the hassle of lining up at the airline counter to check-in the luggage and ouch, and ouch again the immigration window! i don’t need to say a mouthful,dalawang pila pa lang stressed ka na. sana ayusin nila talaga yan.

  • WeAry_Bat

    The suggestion on dedicated buses is a good one.

  • kilabot

    that’s what makes it fun.
    reverse psychology.

  • catlover27

    Dan Brown was right

  • hrva

    Taxi drivers in Manila won’t automatically give you your change. If you ask for it, they never have change with them. And if you insist for your change, they will rudely tell you to have it broken yourself. I had better experience in Cebu where the cabbie automatically gave me my change… to the last centavo.

    • September04

      same here when I went to visit Baguio City . . .taxi there are using the meter and giving change
      nagulat pa kami nung nagbalik ng sukli ang driver . . .”taga maynila kayo ano?” =D

      • hrva

        Also, years back, I reported a taxi driver for refusal to convey passenger via the text hotline. No reply after 4 messages sent. I called the number, no one answered. Maybe taxis should have signs: “Not allowed, passengers: with lots of baggage, travelling long distances like QC to Pasay/Manila, travelling short distances, during traffic jams or heavy downpour”. Pls pay PhP 20 on top of the meter reading. Driver is not required to return change.

  • paul

    i like the way they do it in singapore, macau, vietnam. in front of the passenger front seat are the meter (visible to your eyes), the identification card of the driver (which includes his picture), and the address of the cab company. can we adapt it here….

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