Street Portraits – Trike Drivers, Philippines (and a friendly security guard)

DSC_0168-2In many parts of the Philippines, the Trike, a small motorcycle with a side car and typically a 100-150cc engine is one of the most common forms of transportation.  Jeepney’s run set routes, while Trike drivers, like taxis in the larger metropolitan  areas, can go anywhere for a price.   It is an interesting form of versatile transportation but not necessarily the smoothest ride.   But it gets people places for not too much money.  Now mind you, there are no meters and the driver sets the price.   Shorter routes will  run P20-30.   Longer trips are at the discretion of the driver so always ask the price before you leave. Most drivers are honest but some will try to rip people off, especially foreigners.   On a recent trip to Angeles City, I encountered many “expensive” trikes.   So be careful and ask the price beforehand.   Angeles an average was about 2-4 times more expensive than many other  places.   There are honest drivers there too, but also many drivers who are rip offs.  Always make sure the trike is licensed.   These drivers are from Tarlac Province.   Most experiences there and in other localities have been positive for me.   Angeles City was the worst with some drivers there wanting fees nearly on par with a Makati Taxi.    Subic i find to be very typical with most drivers being honest.  Below are a series of good drivers I have met.   Oh, and one very friendly and helpful security guard.   

If you are a foreigner, be good to your trike driver and they will be good to you.   I have a few who now are happy to go out of their way for me.  If I have a good driver, I tip.  If I get a bad driver he gets what he asks for and no more and I will avoid him in the future.  10% tip is sufficient in most places.   A really good driver will get more.  It is worth it to build relationships in the various community I visit.  On holidays I am more generous.

Oh, and if ever in Angeles city, do not get a ride from a driver who seeks you out on the street.   Go to a trike stand, major hotel or normal pickup zone, unless you know the driver.  Always make sure their trike is licensed (it will be clearly marked in paint)  In tourist areas expect you will pay a lot more.

There are rip-off artists everywhere, but in the Philippines I find that the majority are honest hard-working people.  Treat them with respect and you will receive respect and an honest deal back.   And you might always find a few regular drivers you can depend on if you are staying in a particular place for a long time. Many have cell phones and you can text them for a personal pickup (tip more)  if you find a few good ones.   That is handy, especially in Monsoon season when it is easy to get caught in a drenching downpour.

FYI in many smaller communities you will not find taxi’s, so your option for public transportation is Jeepney and Trikes.  Taxis are normally found in larger metropolitan areas such as the NCR (National Capital Region), but not in smaller provincial cities.   FYI.  In Subic Freeport  you can get a taxi.  Most hotels and businesses can call one for you, but they are much more expensive, they don’t run meters and will quote you a price to any location on or near the Freeport.  Subic Freeport is the area that was the old US Naval base until 1992.   It is now a thriving, business, industrial and tourism zone with many fine hotels, and a large variety of activities.  It remains a major shipping port.  Portions are also Eco-tourism areas for those who want love outdoor adventures and some very fine scuba diving.    Outside the Freeport in Olongapo and other areas it will be very provincial with Jeepney’s and Trikes being the public transportation.   However the Jeepney’s are a little easier to figure out as they are color coded.


Security guard, tarlac, Philippines

Okay, he is not a trike driver but a friendly and helpful security guard. You will find security guards (most are armed) everywhere in the Philippines. Most are happy to assist you or give directions if needed, just be nice and treat hem with respect.

Trike Drivers, philippines

You will see a lot of Trike drivers that appear to be wearing a second shirt or jacket backwards. This is just a practical thing, as they drive unprotected on roads with a lot debri. It protects their arms and upper torso. You will also see a lot with pull-up scarves they pull over their mouth and nose as they drive. You will also see many with goggles or sun glasses. Again, this is common sense protection from rode debri and pollution. Trike driving is a hard job and without protection a person can quickly be worn down.

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