A year ago, I once commented, “I have always been very proud of our Baguio taxi drivers. This is another reason why I love to hear their stories and adventures in the streets of our very own city of Pines.”
And I missed those times conversing with almost all of those taxi drivers I have had an opportunity to ride.
I have never been so confident and comfortable taking a taxi than in the Summer Capital of the Philippines.
Indeed, I have no qualm in agreeing that “Baguio City is home to the most honest taxi drivers in the Philippines.” I have the higher level of trust on Baguio City taxi drivers than in many parts of the Philippines, perhaps even in the world.
Hear me out. This does not mean there are no bad-apples (or strawberries) in the city of Pines. But Baguio City has more uplifting news when it comes to the stresses of the roads and streets.
For example, a taxi driver, Mr. Reggie Cabututan, found out that a recent passenger left a luggage behind. He immediately returned to his previous stop and searched for the owner. An Australian, Mr. Trent Shields felt elated to find all his stuff intact, containing a Macbook Pro, passport, money, etc.
Such “collective honesty” among Baguio’s best taxi drivers is nothing new in the Cordilleras. My friend, Atty. Eric Ueda, also confirms, “This now [is] becoming common news here in Baguio. Let your tribe increase more!”
After a while, Mr. Cabututan did increase! The City Mayor Mauricio Domogan recognized him for his act of kindness. When Mr. Trent knew about the ceremony for this honest taxi driver, he left the airport, forfeited his flight, and went back to the city and attended it.
Added to this, Mr. Shields gratefully offered Mr. Cabututan a course scholarship worth more than US$4,000 and a guarantee to work for an Australian company.
Mr. Cabututan, the recipient of the “honest taxi award” is now a certified App Designer.
Culture of Care
There are many Baguio taxi drivers who exemplified honesty, even going an extra mile just to return someone’s lost belonging. A certain Mr. Paul William is known for going back twice to the drop-off place where he believed the passenger left a smartphone in his car.
In one occasion, both the driver and a passenger demonstrated honesty without a second thought when they returned a bundle of money amounting to P421,791 (US$4,000+) left by an OFW–Overseas Foreign Worker.
I’m deeply convinced, this kind of virtues among Baguio taxi drivers is deeply rooted in the Cordilleran culture of care for one’s neighbor.
Of course, some may question these regarding their history but it all depends on whose lens of history people look at. But living there for almost half of my life, I’ve seen this.
Cordilleran parents teach their children honest hard-work and respect for others, especially the elderlies. They are a close-knit family-oriented, peaceful, and considerate people.
People of Benguet and neighboring provinces are one of the most hardworking people I know, as well as one of the most courageous tribes in the country.
No wonder, when I reflect on my previous decision to raise my kids in the highlands of the Cordilleras, I’m confident that when they journey in this life, they will be able to uphold the virtues that would take them to their dreams.
Like St. Paul who instructed Jesus followers to “labor, doing honest work with…[one’s] own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28).
Who says honesty is obsolete?
Glenn Plastina (c) 2018