Philippine Ventures & Destinations

Read about business opportunities and interesting travel destinations in the Philippines. Learn from the experiences of seasoned Filipino entrepreneurs and business executives. Explore places where you can listen to music, watch cultural performances, and simply have hours of fun. Check out where and what to eat while in Metro Manila, on the road or in the provinces. The following essays contain personal insights on Philippine culture and life particularly in the provinces.

Location: Philippines

A statistics major, Leticia Subang spent the first 10 years of her professional career as an economic reporter covering for the Philippines' leading business paper. She later opted to become a free lance writer while working for her Masters Degree in Development Management. In the next ten years, she worked for a number of leading government agencies - the National Power Corporation, Public Estates Authority, Departments of Trade and Industry, Agriculture, Labor and Employment, and Energy.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Tinay and other honest Filipinos

The February issue of California-based Filipinas Magazine ( featured Cristina "Tinay" Bugayong, the 12- year old student who returned at least P 300,000 (US$6,000) worth of cash and checks accidentally dropped by a messenger. The celebrated case only disproves the common belief here in the Philippines is that once you lose something valuable, it is lost forever.

My own experiences show that ordinary Filipinos – in my case, a mechanic in a Caloocan machine shop, a waiter in a restaurant in Greenbelt, Makati and a taxi driver roaming around Metro Manila – would go out of their way to return valuables they unexpectedly find.

My first experience was in May 1985. It was raining and I was fumbling with my umbrella while my boyfriend (now husband) and I got off the bus at the corner of EDSA and Quezon Avenue. We boarded a jeep and in a few more minutes, we were in the University of the Philippines. Then I realized I lost my purse. Despite the rain, I went back to EDSA, desperately hoping to find it. I had a few hundred dollars in there, as I, then business reporter, was preparing for my first trip abroad.

A week later, an owner of a machine shop based in Caloocan called the office to inform me that one of his workers, who tried to call my attention when I dropped my purse, had turned it over to him. He assured me that his employee, who just went home to Quezon Province for the weekend, would drop by the office to return my purse.

Indeed, the mechanic had left my purse, my dollars intact, with the guard. He also left an assurance he would pay back the loose bills – amounting to P80 – which he used to pay his fare to Quezon. I called his boss and said the mechanic need not pay me back. I owe him more than that.

Sixteen years later, in April 2001, I met an honest waiter. We were having a despedida dinner for one of our officers. Since our office was just across the street, I left my bag and decided to just bring my wallet with me. The dinner at Jade Garden, a Chinese restaurant in Greenbelt, went well.

I realized I lost my wallet only the day after, when I needed to buy something for my children.

Our secretary called the restaurant to inquire if they had, by chance, found a brown wallet. After confirming some of my personal details, the cashier confirmed that one of their waiters found it. I was assured I could pick it up anytime. As she handed the wallet back to me, she asked me to inspect it. No need, I said. I was sure the P12,000 I had was intact.

Too bad, in these two separate occasions, I did not have the chance to personally meet and thank those honest people.

The third was my encounter with an honest taxi driver in 2003. I decided to take a taxi after the air conditioning unit of our van conked out. As I boarded the taxi, my cousin, who drives for the family, reminded me of the leather bag with a laptop that I was carrying.

I got off in front of the restaurant, just right across my office in Makati, for a quick lunch. As I entered my room, I realized I did not have the bag and the laptop – a top-of-the-line Toshiba Portege, a personal unit of my boss, then Trade and Industry Secretary Mar Roxas, who lent it to me. I remembered only the name of the taxi – Lulu – and nothing else. I called the taxi’s office but without the body number, they could not possibly identify the driver. Our media relations staff called the leading radio stations for a “panawagan.”

I was hopeful – Mr. Roxas’ name and contact details appear on the screen once the computer is turned on. A week later, as my hopes of getting back the laptop started fading, I got a call from Mr. Eddie Mayor, the pastor of Home Missionary Baptist Church in Mayamot, Antipolo. The driver, Ronald Diendo, sought his advice and requested him to contact our office. He said Ronald would bring the laptop to my office that same afternoon. I asked Mr. Mayor to come along.

The next passenger actually picked up the bag as she was getting off his taxi, Ronald later told me. But he remembered me, his passenger who boarded earlier in Katipunan. “Hindi sa inyo yan ah,” he confronted the woman who was then holding my bag. The woman immediately gave it back to him. His next passenger who claimed to be a computer technician offered to buy the computer but Ronald decided to seek the advice of Mr. Mayor instead.

After all these experiences, I am convinced that despite what we read in the newspapers, see on TV and hear on the radio everyday, the ordinary Filipino is basically an honest person. I hope our political leaders will follow their examples. May Ronald’s and Tinay’s tribe continue to multiply.

(Incidentally, I lost $4,000 sometime ago in Schipol Airport in Amsterdam to two young men who were pretending to help me in the left luggage section.)