By Art C. Dela Cruz, BCBP National Treasurer
“Where is the man who has the strength to be true, and to show himself that he is?”
– Johann Wolfgang Goethe
The quotation that accompanies this article comes as a worthy and timely subject, seeing that these days, all valuable commodities, including (especially!) truth, are counterfeited. I write this piece as a tribute for a man, who, in spite of his obscurity, dared to be true; a man whom I shall call Mr. HONESTY.
Last October 7, around 11o’clock A.M., I was on my way to the BCBP office in Makati when suddenly, the airconditioning in my car malfunctioned. Instead of going straight to the office, I decided to bring my car for a thorough look over to the aircon/electrical shop in Evangelista, Makati, the car shop where I go for auto aircon/electrical check-ups and repairs. Since it will take some time for the electrician to diagnose what’s wrong, I left instructions that I am going to leave the car and come back for it when it’s done.
I then took a cab to the office, and in my haste to alight, I did not notice anything amiss. I was already in the office when I remembered to make a phone call. Alas, I couldn’t find my phone! I tried to recall when I used it last, and I vividly remembered putting it safely in my bag, along with my laptop. The BCBP office staff and I frantically searched for it, but to no avail. To trace its whereabouts, Loy, our executive director, dialed my number. My phone kept ringing, but no one was answering. Loy kept dialing after every few minutes.
Thankfully, when he re-dialed for the nth time, someone answered! Loy gave his phone to me, and I talked to the man on the other end. Upon my inquiry, the guy who answered mentioned that he was the cabbie’s son. He recounted that the phone was left in the cab that his father was driving. His father couldn’t answer earlier because he did not know how to use it (my phone is a rather complicated gizmo!). And so, as it was his father’s lunch time, he had brought the phone home.
Fortunately, the son was there to answer when the phone rang. I introduced myself to him and told him that I was the owner of the phone. I then talked with the driver, Mr. Rol Vasquez. He apologized that he could not return the phone immediately since he still had to ferry passengers, but assured me that he would bring my phone to the BCBP office by 5:30.
True to his word, he was at the office promptly. I could not contain my pleasure at seeing him with my phone, and as a gesture of my utmost gratitude, I offered to reciprocate his honesty, but he humbly declined. In my subsequent conversation with Mr. Vasquez, he shared that a passenger who boarded his cab after me saw the phone and asked if he could have it. Mr. Vasquez told him “No”, that he was going to return it to the owner.
Upon interview, he disclosed some of his experiences as a taxi driver. According to him, this was not the first time that he returned valuable articles left in his taxi. In 1978, he was featured in the Manila Bulletin and commended for honesty when he returned very important documents left by a passenger. At another time, he discovered a plane ticket in his cab and found the owner who was supposed to leave on the same day. He also couldn’t forget the incident in which he fought and overcame hold-uppers who tried to rob him of his day’s earnings. For him, these are unforgettable adventures of his trade. However, his most memorable coup happened when a Japanese journalist hired him to wander around Manila’s most perilous places to gather news. He must have done a fantastic job because the journalist rewarded him with an all-expenses paid trip to Tokyo plus some monetary remuneration. He used the money to purchase a taxi of his own. However for some reason, he sold the taxi after five years. He is now driving a taxi owned by his neighbor.
Mr. Vasquez hails from Bacolod, and is married to Rosa of Ilocos. He resides at No. 32 P. Narciso St., San Juan, Metro Manila. He is a proud father of four children. He was able to send them all to school, and all are degree holders. His eldest child, a girl, works at USAID. At sixty-three, he is an accomplished man – fitting for someone who carries out his job with integrity.
I will forever be grateful to this man, who in his simplicity, has demonstrated that honesty is still alive in a society where every Tom, Dick, and Harry is perceived to have a Watergate, and anyone can get ahead in the world with lies and dishonesty! I salute you, MR. HONESTY! You are someone whom we can all emulate! Thank you for being a bright light in the midst of looming darkness! May the good Lord continue to reward you with all His abundant gifts!
(For those who are interested to hire the services of Mr. Genaro “Rol” Vasquez, you can contact him through his mobile phone # 09215475939 or through his operator, Mr. Danilo Acebo of Dannylyn Taxi, landline # 7458371).