BAGUIO CITY, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles) – In most cities in the Philippines, taxi riders complain about drivers “robbing” them of hard-earned money, either by tampering with the fare meter or taking the long and winding road to the passengers’ destination.
Not in Baguio City, the summer capital of the Philippines, which celebrates a huge cultural festival this entire month of February, the Panagbenga. The annual flower festival is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of tourists to this city which boasts of San Francisco-like weather.
It is the other way around: passengers robbing taxi drivers, with the full blessing of the government’s transportation agency!
It would have been a huge opportunity for taxi drivers to earn more income, except for one thing. They’re actually losing 5 pesos each time they take on passengers.
Plastered on the windshield of all Baguio City taxis is a sign that says, “Taxi Fare, less 5 pesos.” So if your final fare as per the taxi meter is 100 pesos, you actually will only pay 95 pesos.
There is a logical and legal explanation to all this, but it is of little concern to the taxi-riding public. What’s important is the 5-peso saving each time someone rides a cab. After 20 taxi rides, you’ll have enough money to buy you a Starbucks espresso!
MANILA, Philippines (The Adobo Chronicles) –
The Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in Manila can never seem to escape the headlines.
Just months after the laglag bala (drop a bullet) scheme was uncovered, a new scam is all but brewing. (Laglag bala was a scheme in which unsuspecting airline passengers were questioned and detained after airport personnel supposedly found live bullets in their bags and luggage — all for the purpose of extorting money).
The new scam is called laglag piso (drop the peso) and it involves what appears to be a collusion between airport security and taxi operators.
Foreigners arriving at NAIA are offered a taxi ride to their hotel or destination and are handed a rate card that quotes the fixed fare in U.S. dollars, instead of Philippine pesos. The dollar rates are not only illegal, but exhorbitant. What could be a fare of just a few hundred pesos can turn out to be thousands of pesos, in dollar equivalent.
When questioned about the newly-discovered scam, Manila International Airport Authority General Manager Joseph Angel Honrado said he has no control over the activities at the airport. “My role is merely to coordinate.”
It’s exactly what he said when questioned in the Philippine Senate about the laglag bala scheme.
Traveling to Manila? Drop the peso. Hang on to your U.S. dollar. It will go a long way. Away from your wallet, that is!