Life & History Lessons from a Septuagenarian Cabbie!

It’s not every day that you get to ride a cab with a septuagenarian behind the wheel!

I was on my way to meet the ChinoyTV crew in Binondo for an interview. I was running really late—I had to take a cab. And I’m glad I did. The cab ride turns out to be a nostalgic tour of sorts!

That’s him!

Mr. “Tatay” Mazo, of Mauban, Quezon, has been driving since the 1960’s. I knew that I could extract interesting historical bits from the man. So I was ready with my little notebook to write down notes.

When we reached San Marcelino there were these massive wheeler trucks stucked in the middle of Quirino Ave. No problem—Tatay knows. He made a quick right turn before Calle San Marcelino and we came out in Calle Nakpil.

I told him that I was about to meet a group of Filipino Chinese in Binondo. He smiled and relates, “You know, one of the first man who ever showed me around Manila is a Chinese. He speak Tagalog but have difficulty pronouncing some words.” Calle Jose Abad Santos was aba-la-lo and Misericordia, mi-se-co-la. The Chinese was a regular customer.

“Back in the day, we would go around to find passengers in Binondo, that’s where the action was for us taxi drivers” Tatay said, noting that it was the shopping center back then and people swarmed the borough especially during weekends and holidays.

“If you want to treat your wife, you take her to Escolta and your friends would tell you, wow pare pang-Escolta pala si misis.” But those days are long-gone. “Manila just have too many problem, traffic, name it, they rather go to Quezon City and Makati.” The best thing about the city then according to the ol’ man was there’s hardly any traffic—now it’s everywhere.

I asked if he miss the ol’ Manila days. “Yes, of course, coming from Mauban (Quezon province), seeing it for the first time was like being abroad.” I reminded him that he’s lucky, to this he just laughed and told me, “no you are, you can afford a taxi, I can’t!”

I asked him if the changes in the street names confuses him and he said no but he finds it stupid and irksome. “They don’t have better things to do, so they change the streets.” I dare test his knowledge, while passing Nakpil, I asked if he remembers what was its old name, “Calle Tenesse, oh, no, Vermon(t).” Now that’s impressive! Of all the changes, there’s one that’s unforgivable to him. “When they change Calle Tayabas in Tondo to Yuseco, who’s that!” Of course, he likes the old name better—he’s a Tayabas boy.

And he’s got something to say about the Binay fiasco. “Some politician used to poke fun at him. That he (Binay) could not even afford a cup of coffee at the Manila hotel,” and that the poor guy was “an abogadong walang asunto.” I’ve never heard of these being reported anywhere, or perhaps, I was still not around when these happened but Tatay believes that such insults drives some people’s dogged craving to get rich.

And about the Bangsa Moro deal, “We will regret it, thank Heavens, I’m too old to fight them in the future!”

What about life, what does he feel about the quality of life today compared to his younger days? “I would buy fish for .50 cents, that’s a planganita, so many that you could not possibly consume it in a day.” He continues, “Your question about the past, well, we can’t bring it back. So many of us doesn’t have discipline, we’re lazy—just look at those idiots, without shirts drinking, they’re young, I’m old but those men does not want to work! The people see their government is a joke, so, why take their life serious?”

His final advice was to be always productive and enjoy life. “A little good food here, some beer there, family and friends are good—remain productive, and everything should be alright.”

How I wish I had my recorder with me — what a pleasure getting stuck in traffic with a 70-ish wise old gentleman!

Life, indeed, is full of surprises!


2 responses to “Life & History Lessons from a Septuagenarian Cabbie!

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