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Manila’s Last Honest Cab Driver? [Flashback* 07.26.2016]

honest manila cab driver

During a recent trip to Pasay City, my asawa and I might have discovered Manila’s last honest cab driver. At the Stone House Hotel, our base of operations, we used taxis to travel to nearby Mall of Asia, MOA. Not one single driver would go on meter, aside from one honest soul on our last trip to MOA.


Before our trip to Metro Manila via a Dimple Star bus, my asawa suggested that we don’t even bother asking the cab drivers to go on meter. She probably recalled our past trip to this mega-metropolis where I refused to take any taxi who didn’t turn the meter on.

Plus my wife reasoned that if we did take a taxi on meter the driver might take us the long way to bump up the fare. Like the top of my fat head, she had a point.

So instead of haggling with confused cabbies who claimed they didn’t know our destinations, we tried a different tactic this trip. Ask “how much” as soon as we stepped into a taxi.

The highest price we were quoted was 300 pesos, 6.38 US Dollars,  for the three kilometer drive to SM Mall of Asia. We refused those two offers and were quoted charges of P250, $5.32, and P200,$4.25. We accepted those.

Two drivers asked for P150 and P100. We accepted those without any haggling and tipped the drivers an additional 50 pesos.


The front desk at the Stone House Hotel would arrange a cab for us to MOA for the rate of P250. Our first day in Manila we took that option and paid the front desk as requested.

By the time we added on a 20 peso tip to the security guard and an additional 50 peso tip to the driver, the ride cost 320 pesos.

From that point on, we cut out the middlemen, and hailed a taxi ourselves. Plenty of cab drivers buzzing around the front of our hotel and we never had a problem finding one. A large kano, foreigner, like myself, always attracts attention.


So when my wife and I climbed into a taxi for our last trip Mall of Asia, I immediately asked “how much?”

To my amazement my spouse pointed to the meter which was actually running!

I was dumbfounded.

“You’re one honest driver, “ I advised the burly man behind the wheel.  His size and Mr. Clean look were intimidating. This is one guy I wouldn’t have argued with anyway. I know when to keep my mouth shut.

The total fare only came to 98 pesos, a little over two US Dollars. I instructed my asawa to tip the man an extra 100 for being so honest. I took the following picture after we left his taxi but never asked his name.

God Bless Him. He might be Manila’s last honest cab driver.

honest cab driver manila

13 thoughts on “Manila’s Last Honest Cab Driver? [Flashback* 07.26.2016]

  1. One in a Million! I like you just want to be treated fairly and really appreciate when it does happen. Because of the tip it cost about the same but it sure leaves you feeling so much better.

  2. Good day,eh?I too have had really bad experiences riding Manila cabs.On two occasions the rad of the Toyota started to boil,very unusual for a pressurized cooling system.But considering Phillipine maintenance standards,I guess that’s acceptable.Another time I almost passed out from fumes inside the cab.The driver blamed the heater which was stuck open.He said most cars don’t have heaters,but his did,and it worked only too well.Apparently a mechanic had fixed it the day before.That was comforting to know.Please,people,do not go to Manila unless you REALLY have to.Joe.

  3. I live in Manila and take cabs regularly. I have rarely had a problem getting a taxi to meter. I have taken cabs to the Mall of Asia, back from the Mall of Asia and everywhere in between and I would say maybe 10% of the time I try to flag down a cab they don’t want to meter, but after telling them I will not take a taxi without the meter on they almost always turn it on. I am not sure why I have been so lucky.

    One thing I want to say in defense of some of the taxis (certainly not all) is that the meters simply do not compensate them for the horrible traffic in Manila. Not even close. So here is a good tip to get a taxi to meter almost all of the time…simply say “meter plus 50”. Almost all of the cab drivers will go for this as the PLUS 50 goes to them.

    I am not defending bad taxi cab drivers, I have run into them. But I just simply have not had the issues that most have had. I was in Baclaaran about a month ago. Ruby and I got off the bus and hailed a cab. Told him where we wanted to go and he said 300. No way in hell I was going to pay that. So I said “meter plus 50” (you can add whatever YOU want) and he was fine with it. The meter read around 145 when we got to our destination so I just went ahead and gave him 200 instead of around 195. He was happy and so were we.

    By the way, these cab drivers don’t just refuse to meter the ride with foreigners, they also do it with filipinos. Yes, it can be frustrating but we should also look at it from their point of view. Because this country is so poor with most filipinos barely making 250 pesos a day (even though the minimum is supposed to be 300 a day, lol) the meters are metered really strangely to me.

    Gas prices in Manila are approximately $3.37 a gallon, which is more than many places in America! Yet a taxi cab ride from Makati to the Mall of Asia will be around 150 to 175 pesos depending on traffic. That same cab ride in America, where I used to live, would be at LEAST 1645 pesos. I simply have no idea how cab companies make money here. So I do understand the cab drivers wanting to get more money per ride but they MUST meter the cab! And letting them know that you will give “meter plus 50, plus 75 or whatever” usually gets them to meter it. But most of the cab drivers I have used, and that is many, meter it anyway.

    1. Damn Dave! Ya, I missed you when you were here. I have been so busy with our online businesses I didn’t pay attention. When I found out you had already been here I was very disappointed. My fault though.

      Ruby and I plan to come visit you, but we have not figured out the date. Hopefully soon.

      As far as driving in Manila…LOL…no way I would EVER try to drive here unless it was an emergency situation. My goodness it is chaos here most of the time.

  4. I gave up on metered taxis, so when my wife and I are stuck in Manila and trying to get to Cavite, we go by past experiences for our rates.

    When I first arrived, the cost from the airport to our place was 1500 pesos. That could be upwards of two or three hours if it is a heavy traffic day. It also included a stop at the hotel my wife and I were staying, while my mother-in-law took the taxi to the house.

    When MY mother arrived, we went to Trinoma in tbe taxi. It was about an hour or two and cost her a flat $100 (she didn’t have pesos and didn’t want to make change).

    The second time I came back, the taxi cost 1200 peso to the house.

    The third, after we spent all our money in Thailand, cost us 700. The driver was probably the nicest taxi driver I have ever had outside a cabbie in Minnesota, and he was asking about the route. He hadn’t been in Cavite for years, it seems. He sounded a bit nostalgic and inquisitive.

    I don’t know if 700 pesos would have been anywhere near our two hour journey but it was the cheapest taxi and friendliest driver we ever had. I told my wife this guy must not be hurting for money today or he is someone who likes to explore. Personally I feel it was the latter and I went ahead and tipped him the extra 300.

    My wife refuses to wait for metered taxis. One of her favorite phrases is, “no, that’s impossible.”

  5. Good day.I didn’t mean to offend the big-city boys,but I,m with Dave.I hate big cities and their cabbies,no matter what part of the world.In the Phillipines there is always the comic relief that comes from Spanish “Manyana” married to Yankee “Greed”.Or something like that.Joe.

  6. I am with Todd on this one. We don’t take taxis often since we have our own car here in the Metro, but in the almost 4 years we have been here I have never had to demand that a driver turn on his meter. I watch pretty carefully. Having said that I will admit I don’t understand what might pass between the Asawa and the driver. I am wondering if it might have anything do with where you get the cab?

    The good news is (according to the rumbles making the rounds) Metro taxi drivers are starting to toe the line a bit more what with the increasing numbers of Uber and Grab cars running around they are not the only game in town anymore and are feeling the pinch.

  7. Good day.Eh.Speaking of John Cougar,he was a guest on the Canadian comedy show SCTV back around 1980.Does anyone remember the MacKenzie brothers,aka,the hosers?We Canadians aren’t really like that,but,yeah we are like that.We still miss the stubby brown beer bottles that existed only in Canada.The government wanted to counter American influence of long-neck beer bottles.The stubbies were like really Canadian,eh?And it was true that if you put a mouse in an empty stubby,and sent it back to Molson, they would send you a free case of Golden.Beauty,eh?Joe.PS it didn’t matter if it was Golden or Export PPS we also had Export A cigarettes,found nowhere else

    1. Joe,
      Sure do remember Bob and Doug Mackenie when i was growing up in Ohio. Always got a good laugh from them.

  8. Dave,
    We’ve had a few dishonest taxi’s in our metro manila travels, especially when the airport is involved.

  9. Good day.I must say to Scott h your line about rumbles is pure poetry.Gotta remember that one,and pass it off as my own…I know that’s a BAD thing.Also really happy that you’all remember the hosers!Joe.

  10. I use uber and grabtaxi most of the time when I am in Manila. It costs a little more than a honest cabby but they are a lot more convenient.

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