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Last updated : Nov 2009
The Philippines - Reputation a Bum Rap!
Rating :

Dec 20 '99

Pros: Friendly, Kind, Honest People
Cons: none

After reading Lonely Planet, and talking with Filipinos in our home town who warned us against going, we were a little apprehensive.

Upon landing at Nino Aquino Airport in Manilla at midnight, despite all of the guidebook and friends warning, we had a wonderful experience hiring a taxi driver to take us on a nine hour taxi ride to Banaue, the rice terraces. We quickly settled on what appeared to be a very fair price. Throughout our two week trip on various islands, and at different airports and ferry ports, we encountered no taxi driver problem.

In some places they spent so much time driving us around to look at different hotels until we found an acceptable hotel, and they did not raise the initial price that we had first agreed upon. In some cases we used the same driver to take us back to the airport to fly to another destination. One driver even came back to our hotel at 4am to take us to the airport. We had an unbelievable experience in Cebu City with a taxi driver who deserves the taxi driver of the year award!

The fearsome foursome, Don, Celia, Wendy and I, piled into a taxi at the ferry port heading for the bus station. Upon exiting the taxi, Don had realized he left a bag on the ledge of the rear window. Total panic set in, and Don frantically headed back to the ferry port to look for the driver who had dropped us off. Within ten minutes, the driver returned to the bus station with Don's bag intact. Fortunately for Don, all of his return plane tickets, both national and international, Travelers Checks, and other valuable items were in this bag. Nothing was disturbed, and I asked the driver to wait until Don returned. Don returned more than an hour later, dejected and disgusted. Upon seeing the driver and me with his bag, a big smile from ear to ear came over Don and Celia's faces. Don whipped out a fifty dollar US bill and gave it to the taxi driver. When we got to the next town, some two and a half hours away from Cebu city, this tale had already surfaced with the Americans giving the taxi driver a fifty dollar bill, and needless to say, everyone wanted to be our driver, guide, etc.

We had never been to Manilla, and despite the guidebook and internet warnings not to use jeepneys unless you are a veteran in Manilla, we used them to get around all day long with no problem. The drivers and fellow passengers were very helpful as to where to get on and off. All jeepneys are all clearly marked with destination signs.

Guidebooks spend pages talking about the crime, pickpockets, tricksters, and the knockout drug Ativan used in drinks, but we did not run into any of this. Maybe, we were just very fortunate, or due to the fact that we were two couples, or we were not single looking for any romance, we did not have any prostitutes or tricksters approaching us in bars, clubs, and restaurants. We did not have any hidden charges on any bills in any of the restaurants, hotels or bars.

We met friendly, kind, honest, and helpful people in our two week adventure in the Philippines.

Recommended
: Yes