The Consumer

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


01:19 AM June 19th, 2013

By: Linda B. Bolido, June 19th, 2013 01:19 AM

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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