You know that a country is fairly doing well when they have mercedez benz converted into taxis roaming their busy streets. Taxi service, drivers and units here are very interesting scenes, they complete the island nations landscape, just like our Jeep do back home you see them everywhere. Drivers here are multiracial, most are very kind and knows a thing or two about tourism so you could ask them for recommendations and they would give you accurate information. They are also equipped with state of the gadgets. They take care of business here because the more tourist means more passengers. Majority speaks english and just like in any parts of the world, they tend to engage their passengers in subjects ranging from the simple stuff around like the best places to eat to national politics or if your lucky, a mystic of a cab driver that can foretell your destiny. I have been talking to them a lot that I already know the mechanics of how to own and operate these cabs, the downsides and its long term benefits. Like our drivers back home, they get a kick out of ‘having no boss‘, here drivers lease their cabs, so technically they own it.
I got an interesting cab driver tonight, I came to shop and dine at Little India, a place similar to Chinatown, of course the difference is instead of Chinese you get Indian, the place was awesome, so many great bargains. I also feasted my eyes on those old buildings and structure of the old Brit empire. I finished touring the place at around 7 pm Realizing that MRT’s would be jam pack I flagged a cab to take me back home. I got an Indian guy, I was lucky – it would be the continuation of my educational tour of Little India.
Uncle is what they call male senior people here, a term of endearment similar to our ‘Manong’ back home. This Uncle speaks with a heavy Indian accent but his words comes clear to me. When he found out that I’m Filipino he was quick to respond, “Filipinos are everywhere, they’re in HK, Malaysia and Taiwan also, Singapore has a lot of Filipinos and in time they would have a big community here”, I could feel the anxiety in his voice but he tried to hide it of course, he doesn’t want to disappoint his good looking passenger. He was probably worried that Filipinos could out breed everyone here, I guess reputation precedes us sometimes. Filipinos are probably the most hardy and adaptable race on earth, I told the Uncle that if there would be a nuclear holocaust, I’ll bet good money that Filipinos would continue as a race and finally rule the world! (he didn’t find the joke funny, no complimentary laughter here). He was probably observing the influx of Filipinos for sometime, you know this cabdrivers are the man on streets (tambay sa canto sa atin) so they see things normal people don’t. In the last decade there seems to be a change on the waves of Filipino immigrants here, today Filipinos are no longer confined to being domestic helpers but now joins Singapores work force in different sector. This condition is somehow aided by the island nations openness for foreign skilled workers.
The Taxi man continued to amaze his passenger, he spoke about the difference between Diosdado Macapagal and Marcos, how the economics of the old Macapagal is better and that the reason he lost is that Marcos was the better speaker (like Obama) , by this time he already had me glued to what he was saying, I didn’t even know that our leaders ever had good economics, how can a man from here know these things. When asked how did he know all of this he replied, “I have been listening to BBC radio for a long time, I know what’s going on even in the South Americas”, it seems that the BBC made this guy aware of the what has been happening around the world – he could pass as a political analyst if he ever decides to go that way.
He then continues to lecture the amateur historian in me by discussing Asian economy and what could make the impoverish Asian nations better. He knew that 3rd world countries are victims of corrupt leaders and the so called ‘globalization’, he said, “the poor does not know what to do because they’re not guided, they can farm lands, catch fishes and make crafts but instead of getting better the government and the corporations uses them and give them so little returns, they should instead make corporations out of these people and guide them, further educate them, from here everything will follow, let them succedd in what they do best – and then later on they would begin to go out and in time start new things on their own, let the tax money set up everything for them”.
Yes my friends, this is a cab driver speaking. I was thinking if he had just too much free time that he figured out how the world works or he just picked up all this stuff from the BBC radio like what he said – which by the way is not a bad choice at all. I’m sure that all of this talk could be an over simplification of the complex Filipino problem but I get it when he said “help” the people, I mean these days it seems that the government is busy assisting Filipinos get out of their home country so that they can send remittance and this of course gives them good dollar points, but isn’t this an aimless policy? while other nations are trying to keep their homegrown talent home, we are losing ours and nothing really is being done to stop it, the people need the kind of help that would make them do well in their towns, positioning Filipinos to make a living and be at home with their families.
I have to admit that he made sense, as if his theory was not enough he gave me a real story. Some barrio in Malaysia raises worms to sell for medical science he say, and the people became rich because the government funded their small enterprise – the government also protected the small farmers from outside competition by prioritizing the local products over the cheap chinese produce, he again stresses what seems to be his solution to world hunger, “the government need to guide the people not give them charity”. He’s so certain that this “hand outs” is the surest way to spoil people. Of course, I’m telling myself, we know that already but he then gave me something to think about. “The government in most cases do things for camera not really for the people to be sufficient, the government and the rich people their the ones to blame here, you see this even in America. How come there’s only a small percentage of wealthy people? they try to keep it that way because it works for them”.
Its no secret that we had been victim of bad leadership. We had leaders killing each other since we claim to have won the first republic in Asia. Now, we get lectured all the time that “we” the people must change but I don’t think the people are at fault here. I think the cab driver was right, we need leaders that can show the way, take inititatives, better policies, make conditions favorable so we never have to see daddy go to Saudi. We need programs that really looks after people, uplifting not only lives but morale. Right now, sadly, we are down on everything. While the world is busy making economic adjustments and combating terrorism, what we see on local news is Jocjoc Bolante and some coup de’ etat in the senate, its sickening. What has become of our leaders these days?
The Filipino today no longer believes in the government but politician could care less, for them, there is an election that needs to be won. They see government as an enterprise where they can get money, enriching themselves is top priority. No Filipino today takes their government seriously, that’s why I can’t blame majority of our countrymen who see Filipino politics as a joke and an entertainment similar to the popular telenovelas we see on TV. The Masa is often blamed for not changing for the better, I say we now, what we need is not a change of men really but a change of leaders.