Writing about taxi’s in the Philippines is not an easy task. There are different taxi’s all with their own specialties.
When someone arrives at Manila International Airport there are the completely yellow painted taxi’s. These are the official airport taxi’s, they can bring you to any point in Manila and surroundings. Officially they are not allowed to pick up passengers in the city to go somewhere else. But some drivers do that just the same (if the authorities or other taxi’s are not seeing it). Because they are only allowed to get passengers at the airport they are more expensive than the ordinary taxi’s.
Thousands of ordinary taxi’s can be seen all over Manila and surroundings. They are easily flagged down and will bring you (most of the time) to any place in Luzon. A passenger always have to ask first, before getting into the car a few questions: 1st: If the driver likes to bring you to your destination and 2nd: if he will run the official taxi meter. Do not accept nor get in a taxi who will say NO to one of those two questions, or asks extra money to do so. Once you are in a taxi, see to it that the meter is sealed and activated. If you have doubts about that get out or just ask to have it demonstrated to you. In such cases it is wise to note down the license plate number, which is also written inside the car, and other marks if possible. NOTE: this is for your own protection if something goes wrong. Never, I repeat: NEVER negotiate about a fixed price, because you will always pay more than the meter price. Especially to foreigners many taxi drivers try to do that.
Taxi’s are obligated to use a sealed and checked taximeter. If a driver says that it’s broken or not working just get out or say that you do not believe him. It might cost him a fine of 1000 pesos if the meter is not properly working or properly sealed.
There are also larger cars running with taxi signs on it. The so called FX taxi’s. They only drive between two places in the city and are mostly used by Philippines as a kind of more comfortable Jeepney, they have air conditioner etc. They are used to go to work in a comfortable way. These cars can be flagged down, but will not always bring you to your desired destination. They have signs at the front window, just like Jeepneys about their route.
Basically there are two kinds of taxi drivers in the Philippines. The ones who are employed by a taxi company and hire their cars from them, or the ones who owns their car.
Both like to make a decent living and work long hours for that. 10 to twelve hours a day is normal. And often they work 7 days a week. There are also drivers who share a car with another driver and continue working 24 hours. One day on, one day off.
Drivers who do not own their own car often are the worst drivers. They are often irresponsible and rough drivers. They are also the ones who (almost) never have change (even if they do), just to get more tip.
Tips, by the way, are given according to the way a driver has done his job. Most people tip around 10%, but if the driver is very friendly, helpful and a good driver, they are tipped a little more. But always try to pay the exact amount. Tips are NOT obligatory anymore, but are expected by the drivers, they might even tell you that you have to give a tip. If you are not satisfied: Do not give, and tell them why, maybe they learn from it !!
Smoking is NOT allowed in taxi’s. If you see a driver smoking: say so, or if you are allergic to smoke do not even get in when you smell the smoke !
Have the driver close the windows and put the air conditioner on. If it is too cold (most of the times) ask him to do something about it.
NOTE: Always, repeat: ALWAYS lock your doors. Street robbers or snatchers might open the door and steal everything from you or even worse ….. Also for that reason: have windows closed all the time. And at traffic signs or in a traffic jam: do not give to beggars, they might be snatchers just the same.
Although I drive my own car, sometimes I have to use a taxi (on color coding days, and special occasions when I do not like to drive).
My best experiences are with taxi drivers who owns their car. They are responsible, calm drivers, do not take risks in the street and have very clean cars. They still might try to have a fixed price, but will always take you if you say NO.
Recently I spotted a taxi who’s owner was proud to have his own car. Let the picture speak for it self.