I took the bus from Robinsons Galleria to SM Manila when I was working at the CBD of Ortigas. One time, I chanced upon the “Honesty Bus” of G-Liner. There was no bus conductor to hand you your bus ticket and collect your fare.


The passenger had to check the fare matrix, get the appropriate trip ticket from the display rack, pay the exact amount by dropping their payment in the fare box. You will notice the big framed photograph of the black Nazarene on top of the fare box, along with the words “the Lord sees what you are doing”.

Luckily, I had enough change to cover my bus fare that day. Those who didn’t have sufficient change, had to ask their fellow passengers for help.

Last March, another bus line attempted to replicate this, but after 10 days they announced that they will discontinue this practice as they (the bus line) were losing money. It seems that people weren’t paying the exact amount or even paying at all! According to the news, more than 30% of the passengers didn’t pay.

Netizens had varying opinions left and right, but the general sentiment of the people were “disappointed” but “not surprised” by the outcome. Someone even commented “this is why we can’t have nice things, we can’t be honest”.

This brings to mind the question, “ARE FILIPINOS HONEST?”

In the workplace, Ive have experienced instances wherein employees in the office would clock in early, but would loiter around the nearby mall and come back an hour (or more!) after actual office hours. There were also times they clocked out late and filed for overtime but can be found in the salon / arcade within the building complex.

I know an organization that even implemented work from home policy, with the expectation that their employees will work and be more productive at home, but when a progress report was asked to be submitted, their employees couldn’t come up with one. Some even had their time trackers manipulated.

But I have also experienced strangers returning to me things I have dropped or left behind. In fact, in one trip to Davao, I even left my whole luggage in the back of the taxi and not a single item was stolen or taken from me.

Just last night, I read a post by a well known photographer Raymund Isaac narrating the most likely reason why Filipinos are notorious for standing up as soon as the plane lands and hurrying to the nearest plane exit to disembark. It turns out that  passengers – especially the “balikbayans” are afraid for their luggage and valuables so they come rushing to the luggage carousel. He told the people he talked to that their luggages had claim tags, they replied back that it (claim tag) is never a guarantee that your luggage is safe.

Is honesty a vanishing trait amongst us Filipinos? Has honesty become so rare as a hens’ teeth that deeds or acts of honesty are treated as heroic and become viral instead of it just being the norm? 

There is a proverb that says “the first step to being great, is honesty”. Maybe for us to be truly great as a nation, we need to relearn along with many other traits- the virtue of honesty.