Many Filipinos work abroad, and a big concentration can be found in the Middle East. There are nurses, engineers and domestic helpers. However, there is one exceptional work that no one would think a woman can handle notably in the male-dominated outdoor work.
Ms. Elsa Fortuna, 43 years old, and a Filipina drives a taxicab in Abu Dhabi. Another unique thing is that, their company caters exclusively to female passengers and families.
Ms. Fortuna used to work as a driver of an Emirati family for about three years. When her contract ended, she landed a job as a driver for one of the taxi cab companies who prefer lady drivers instead of men. She began driving a Camry family taxi in January of 2010, followed by an eight-seater Innova the succeeding month.
The company TransAD launched its pink-and-lavender taxis solely for women and/or children under 10 years of age in February of 2010. The taxi fleet’s main features are its pink-roof and purple-shaded, lights and logos. The company started with 16 family taxis in Abu Dhabi and 3 in Al Ain all driven by veteran lady drivers. These drivers earn a fixed salary with commissions.
According to Ms. Fortuna, she works about 8 to 9 hours a day and takes home about AED 5,000 a month. She starts her day with a cup of coffee before hitting the road. She breaks for lunch at 1 to 5 p.m. taking a rest from the tiresome morning shift and respite from the midday heat. After which, off she goes for her night shift again. Most of her passengers at night are those who made phone bookings or people familiar to her. She also stated how much she loved her job and the flexibility of its timing. She also added that the parents trusted her so much that they allowed her to take their children to school and then fetch them again after classes. However, she also addressed that there is a need especially for Abu Dhabi residents to learn the existence of family taxis and that their charge is at par with regular taxis.
Another Filipino taxi driver, Raymundo Florendo Gapuz, 40 years old, agreed that there is knowledge deficit regarding family taxis. He recalled that some of his passengers asked him if they can ride a family taxi and he said yes. Moreover, he added that most passengers think that the family taxis charge more than the regular ones because they make use of highly sophisticated vans.