“Dili lang kamo taga-drive sa taxi but you are also the eyes, the ears, and the mouths of the government (You are not just taxi drivers but you are also the eyes, the ears, and the mouths of the government),” Engineer Neil Balaba of the Office of the Civil Defense 7 told Metro Cebu taxi drivers yesterday.
The Department of Tourism (DOT) 7 conducted yesterday morning an orientation seminar for taxi drivers on the upcoming Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) 2015 Summit and 5th International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) in Cebu.
Balaba added it is an honor for the entire Philippines especially for Cebu to hold two international events.
APEC is the premier forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asia-Pacific region.
According to Balaba, taxi drivers would be of great help to the Task Group Emergency Preparedness (TGEP).
TGEP is a subcommittee under the Committee on Security, Peace and Order and Emergency Preparedness of the APEC National Organizing Council.
Balaba said taxi drivers could help track delegates and report incidents such as fire, flood, see mishap, and aviation. He also told drivers not to leave APEC delegates despite language barrier instead let delegates write their destination.
“Ang mga (taxi) drivers adunay dakong tulumanon para atong lugar mag-malinawn (Taxi drivers have a vital role for the peace and order in Cebu),” Balaba added.
According to Nestor Tesoro of Jocellemer Taxi, passengers often look down taxi drivers.
“Bisan kami drivers lang aduna pod kamiy matabang sa katawhan (Eventhough we are just drivers we can also help our people),” Tesoro told PIO.
Tesoro shared that a passenger once left her phone in his taxi. The owner called and Tesoro returned it to her. He said it happened again and he did the same.
Tesoro said he also learned from the seminar to report medical emergencies such as heart attack and bring the patient to the hospital for free.
“Pinaagi sa among nakat-unan sa seminar, mawa ang ilang ubos nga pagtan-aw kanamong mga drivers (Through our insights from the seminar, they [passengers] will not look down on us [drivers] anymore),” Tesoro added.
The Department of Foreign Affairs representative Doctor Angel Espiritu II said APEC’s primary goal is to support sustainable economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Espriritu II added the success of APEC can be seen from its membership; from 12 (Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, New Zealand, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and the United States) economies in 1989 to 21 (Chile, People’s Republic of China, Hongkong, Mexico, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Russia, Chinese Taipei, Vietnam) at present.
“Hosting APEC 2015 can raise international stature of the Philippines and deepen recognition of the country as a vibrant, dynamic, energetic, innovative economy,” Espiritu II said.
He said he wanted to teach taxi drivers on how to deal with people from other countries. He asked for volunteers from the participants to help him demonstrate proper handshake and sitting position if foreigners are present.
APEC 2015 meetings in cebu will last from August 24 until September 11, 2015.
The 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) with the theme “CHRIST IN YOU, OUR HOPE AND GLORY” will be held in Cebu from January 24 to 31, 2016.
“We are expecting around 15 000 visitors from different countries next year,” said Marlon Barrientos of DOT.
IEC is an international gathering of people which aims to promote awareness on the central place of the Eucharist in the life and mission of the Catholic Church.
It normally takes place every four years and is not the same everywhere. It is characterized by a life of faith and by the culture and tradition of a particular country. All these must be seen during the Congress.
Barrientos added that the seminar would also inform taxi drivers on the upcoming activities in Cebu. In this way, drivers will be prepared to accommodate visitors.
“Taxi drivers have to be part of the support team of the government,” Barrientos said in his discussion.
According to Ken Taxi employee Cerelo Sundo, despite the exhaustion from driving he is thankful he attended the orientation.
“Hinaot nga ma-apply namo ang among mga nakat-unan para matarong namo pag entertain ang mga delegado (Hopefully we can apply the things we learned [from the seminar] so we can entertain our delegates well),” Sundo told PIO.
Barrientos also reminded the drivers to always put in mind that every passenger is their responsibility.
A total of 131 taxi drivers from different operators participated the APEC and IEC seminar. DOT will have the 2nd batch of attendees on the afternoon of July 1. The 3rd and 4th batch will have the orientation on July 2. CJ Matarlo (UP MassCom Intern)