"..a bardy view!"

Honesty in the Philippines…….


"Is it so unusual that Filipinos display such honesty that the world and his wife should learn about it?"

A Manila calesa driver has been applauded for his honesty
and his action was reported in the Philippines national press.

Jaime Mayor received a reward from the NPDC for returning a wallet to some French
tourists who left it on his carriage after a trip around Rizal Park.

The National Parks Development Committee said they
hoped that Filipinos emulate Jaime's example of honesty.

The wallet contained
4,000 euros. This comes within a week of a janitor at Ninoy Aquino
International Airport handing in a bag with P600,000 (almost £9,000) in cash
and valuables mislaid by a passenger heading for Cebu.

The reports between news media are conflicting, but the
Philippine Inquirer states that the calesa driver will receive a Rizal Park
, as well as P10,000 (£150) plus a "Makabayan" (Patriot) watch
with the face of national hero Jose Rizal on it.

The average calesa driver around Manila earns a commission
between £3 and £8 per day, and the French tourists paid him £3 for the
trip in question. Not bad money if he gets around 10 fares a day, but the
keyword is "commission".

The bulk of the fare will be paid to the owner of the calesa
(carriage and horse), and that is unlikely to be Mr Mayor, or the hundreds of
other drivers in the business. It's a similar arrangement that the motor tricycle
drivers have; for example let’s suppose I buy a second hand tricycle for £1000.
I'll employ a driver on commission who will collect the vehicle every morning from my
house, he will go off and work as many hours as he can ferrying people around,
collecting fares, and at the end of the day he will return the tricycle to me
with his earnings for the day, and I will then give him his cut.

It's in his interest to be honest and hardworking and look
after the vehicle – else he will find himself without a job. After about 3
years, my initial investment would be returned, and everything after that is profit.
My tricycle driver will literally be providing money for me daily, and he will
get a fair share depending on my generosity. If my driver is honest, decent, reliable, fit and able he will always have a job with me. 

He is responsible for the route he takes, and also for the
fuel. I will be responsible for the maintenance of the vehicle – so he better
look after it whilst it's in his care. Too much expense on maintenance could indicate that
my driver was careless with my asset, in which case it would be goodbye to him
and hello to someone else.

There are plenty queuing up for the opportunity to drive a
tricycle. They cannot afford to buy their own unless they obtained a bank loan,
and that will not be forthcoming to someone who has limited opportunities or no capital.

Similarly the principle is the same for the calesa drivers
although on a much smaller scale. Calesa's are only profitable in tourist
areas, and will be rendered useless in busy commercial towns and cities.

I don't own a tricycle by the way, but I'm familiar with the
system. Indeed there are many who have grown substantial businesses this way by
owning a fleet of them, but the competition is getting tougher – there are far too
many on the road, and legislation will make the practice less profitable or
practical. It's only a matter of time when more restrictions will be in place,
and control over polluting emissions of which tricycles are particularly major

But back to our Manila calesa driver and airport janitor (as
a side thought I'd be curious who would be carrying nine grand of cash and
valuables through an airport with relative ease – but that's a separate issue).
Whilst both should be commended for their honesty, it's rather worrying that
these stories should make prominence in the national press. Is it so unusual
that Filipinos display such honesty that the world and his wife should learn
about it?

The news, although commendable, actually has a negative
effect. It implies that honest Filipinos are so rare that the when one commits
an act of kindness it should be exploited, and in this case hijacked by the
Philippines Department of Tourism as a propaganda piece.

Are there any other countries which would broadcast an act
of honesty in an attempt to tell the world that their citizens are jolly good

Can you imagine if a French taxi driver was given a medal
and a financial reward just for returning a passengers wallet? Or a Heathrow cleaner
given a bonus for handing in a bag of cash to the lost property department?

The implication is that the most natural behaviour for our
Filipino workers would be to have pocketed the stuff and kept their mouths
shut. The fact that they were honest is regarded as so commendable that the
action needed to be exploited and broadcast to the nation.

If I was a Filipino I would be grossly insulted. My
experience of Filipinos (which is considerable) is that they are inherently
honest, exceptionally helpful, and think nothing of performing an act of
kindness. It is fundamental to their nature. Their problem is that they are
ruled by people be they in government or quasi autonomous organizations who
have received an excellent academic education but devoid of intelligent thought
and basic common sense.

You can take a horse to water, but you can't make it drink.
Equally you can give a man an education, but you can't make him think! In the
Philippines such a person becomes a politician.


September 14, 2012 - Posted by | Culture, Education, The Philippines, Travel | , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. Very interesting read and I for one am delighted with the honesty involved here. There was a time many years ago when this was inherent in most people or perchance because, if you were caught stealing the consequences were swift and dire.This of course is no longer applicable in most of the world today, in fact the opposite, the more you steal, the more you are respected. So, repeating myself, bravo, and long may it continue.


    Comment by spookmoor | September 14, 2012 | Reply

  2. “Is it so unusual that Filipinos display such honesty that the world and his wife should learn about it?”
    I had a very similar thought. I completely agree that it’s doing more harm than good to make a big deal out of it. Last time I checked, it was quite the norm for most Filipino men and women to be honest, hard working, welcoming, dedicated individuals.
    Carrying (and misplacing) 9 grand in cash would have been news worthy. It gives the impression as if it wasn’t unusual that anyone would carry that much and be so comfortable that they lose it…..


    Comment by Liziel | September 15, 2012 | Reply

  3. Thanks for your input Liziel. Yes, the cash at the airport story appeared to be completely overlooked. Strange priorities!


    Comment by Bar De Ness | September 17, 2012 | Reply

  4. I’ve always though that such news were too “show off” for the media but it never occurred to me that it may do harm.
    But I agree with both you and Liziel. Such honesty is not really that rare in the Philippines. Just tune in to your local radio stations FM and AM and it is not uncommon to hear “advertisements” saying that someone left his stuff or whoever is the owner of the property can drop by the radio station and pick up his stuff. But then, these people aren’t taken to the news headlines.
    My mom had an experience with this. She basically left her wallet in a jeep. Later that afternoon and jeepney driver came to our house looking for her. He returned my mom’s wallet with all the cash and stuff in there. He really took the pains coming to our house
    I guess you are right that this is a government propaganda. Come to think it, I think it is to counter the reputation of taxi drivers in the Philippines. Almost everyone, Filipinos included, are complaining. But by creating such headlines rather than running after corrupt taxi drivers, it’s just sweeping things under the rug


    Comment by Mat Mfara | February 20, 2013 | Reply

  5. Not quite related, but I suddenly remembered Angelo de la Cruz, the illegal Filipino in Iraq who got kidnapped? If I remember right, when he was released, politicians has been giving him tokens as if he were a hero and gave him cash ans scholarships so that he will “not need to go abroad” anymore. (Yet the same people are the ones who send Filipino women for prostitution iN Japan and Korea!)
    Philippine government at its finest in hiding its misgivings to the Filipino people, ha. Beat that.


    Comment by Mat Mfara | February 20, 2013 | Reply

  6. I failed to mention in this post that in the previous April I arrived in Rome with a few relatives, and we took a cab to our hotel. The driver drove like crazy, and I was holding on for grim life, but after dropping us off, he returned thirty minutes later with a bag which we mislaid. It was an important one – with medicines. No one was aware of it until the hotel receptionist brought it to my attention – the driver didn’t hang around – he just returned it and left. Had I been there at the time I would have given him a reward in gratitude. I certainly didn’t call the press. But I did leave something for him when I checked out – because the chances were he was known to the hotel and they would have give him it. A significant honest act of kindness from a Rome taxi driver with no fuss or expectations. It probably happens all the time but the Italians don’t see a need to broadcast such things!
    Thanks very much for your comments. I appreciate your input.


    Comment by Bar De Ness | February 20, 2013 | Reply

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