We were having dinner at the fabulous The Manila Hotel, in Manila. The thing is we try to stay in nice hotels whenever possible, especially in an old world traditional hotel like this one. It was Milose’s birthday so we decided to splurge and treat ourselves to a little luxury. The beautiful lady at the reception gave us an upgrade all the way to one of their top floor rooms, killer views guaranteed! A bit contradictory to be in such a lavish place in the middle of a city like Manila. Yes, Manila looks bad, and it probably has a lot of issues that we as tourists could never fully grasp.
Anyhow, there we were quite apprehensive and in all honesty ridiculous. The hotel is in front of Intramuros, the old colonial part of town. We had walked there in the morning. I feel a bit embarrassed just remembering this, but I have to be honest. We were scared and nervous, there were very poor people living around the wall and inside we had seen a very shabby slum. However, nothing bad happened to us. Actually, a lot of good happened to us! But that’s a different story.
Back to our dinner at the lavish hotel. We met a Spanish couple, from Madrid. Both handsome interesting artists just coming back from El Nido. We were discussing our first impressions on the Filipinos. We had arrived the night before and following advice from a friend we met on the plane (thanks Jolly!) we queued to get one of the cheap registered taxis. Our Spanish friends did not; they quickly arranged for a taxi and hopped on. They paid 40$ while we paid 8$, to the same exact location.
They were outraged and felt so cheated! How could the Filipinos do such a thing? When we mentioned that there was this queue to get a really cheap taxi they said they were simply too tired and couldn’t wait. Granted, we had to wait in line for an hour but isn’t this fact exactly what justifies paying more not to queue? I mean, they did negotiate out of free will, reached an agreement based on the services provided and paid. Why is that cheating? Isn’t a free market based on demand and offer? They demanded a taxi fast, not to queue, they got one and agreed on a price, a price that they were very happy to pay until they realized we had paid a fifth.
In any case, were they cheated or outsmarted by the Filipino guy? Airports in Europe and the US have several transportation options, from huge expensive limos to public buses, you decide what to do and pay. Just like in Manila, different services different prices and of course your own ability to negotiate.
Funny how Europeans sometimes have different standards!