Cab drivers are often caricatured as solitary, sad creatures roaming the streets and highways with their best frenemy — taxi.
Any trace of history why this image has became the national symbol of taxi drivers could only point me to the effective portrayal by Robert De Niro of … (you guessed it!) a taxi driver, which incidentally is also the title of a Cannes prize-winning film.
Martin Scorsese directed that film about a disturbed former Vietnam War soldier turned taxi driver whose redemption of sort was saving a 16-year-old teen from fully becoming a prostitute played by Jodie Foster. In short, it was a negative portrayal of a taxi driver with tons of boiling madness and pain inside him; the war waged by the most powerful nation in the world against Vietnam was to blame.
Those who already took a cab even for once in their lives will agree the stereotype is wrong and misleading. Cab drivers are people like us. With emotions like us, they have families like us, friends, memories, history, compassion and dignity like us.
Like us, you can find some funny types, talkative, and music lovers. There are taxi drivers who are like De Niro’s Travis. There are callous taxi drivers, stupid taxi drivers and foolish ones. In short, there are good and bad cab drivers. Sinners or saints, some even have promising star-like fame. Or perhaps because some have become heroes in their own rights. When local media blurt out news about a glowing award bestowed to honest taxi drivers, we rejoice. We celebrate heroism.
Taxi Drivers to the Rescue
Daniel Razon of UNTV, which is Manila’s only channel that gives priority to public service over entertainment, was the first person I can think of – past and present – who puts his badge of confidence in what taxi drivers can do beyond being a commuter wheel driver. He thought taxi drivers can be trained to provide emergency and rescue response assistance to people.
Dubbed in this Youtube video as “Tulong Muna Bago Pasada”, the volunteerism project is reminiscent of another equally successful endeavor that Razon has introduced a few years ago, the “Tulong Muna Bago Balita”. A project that initially received unpopular support on claims that journalism cannot be performing the role of both a reporter and rescuer.
Today, the success of Tulong Muna Bago Balita project has become a model for how public service journalism can be executed – where lives is more important than news, says Kuya Daniel, a moniker he is most popularly called among his constituents.
Like the media staff of UNTV who were equipped with the right training to render emergency and rescue response to victims of road accidents, calamities and tragedies, the same goes with cab drivers for the Tulong Muna Bago Pasada.
Now, my worries are lessened. And the answer is provided by this very timely and significant public service commitment. So Congratulations to UNTV, Kuya Daniel, to our new heroes: cab drivers!