I knew when my asawa came to Australia she would need a driver’s license. Having the freedom to be able to hop in the car and go where you want to, when you want to is a big deal; one you don’t really appreciate after getting your license until that ‘deal’ is taken away. That might be because your car is off the road, or it might be because you lost your license due to poor decision making but whatever the reason, if you have known freedom then lost it, it sucks.
My wife had a Filipino driver’s license, as did I, but we both knew simply getting that transferred and a New South Wales license issued wasn’t going to address the other issue. Not the legally able to drive issue… the actually capable of driving safely issue. Asawa had been taught to drive by me and a ‘professional’ driving instructor in Cebu City. Thinking it would be better to have a local instructor ‘polish’ her skills for the test, I paid for ten hours of instruction. What I didn’t know was the instructor wanted to rip through the ten hours in three sessions! Given my wife was seven months pregnant and we had a three hour drive to the city from the province, she was exhausted after driving in the heavy traffic for three hours. Fortunately her instructor was fresh as a daisy as he spent a lot of the time either on his phone or fast asleep!
Getting a Philippines Drivers Licence
Getting our driver’s licenses in the Philippines was just as ‘Filipino’. There is no practical test and the written test is supplied with the answers. I have no idea why, it defies logic, but I swear this was the official procedure for everyone, not just Kano’s. We lobbed up to the LTO at Danao and were ushered inside, past the long line of waiting locals. There was a row of clerks writing with pens, then a row using typewriters and at the back, a couple of computer terminals. It was like we were travelling through time! We were allowed to wait in the air-conditioned office, then sent for a urine test. We paid the fee, gave the samples and were given the receipt with the samples left untested on the sink! In a few months the licenses were available for collection and in the interim we had a paper license telling the world we were fit to drive on the nation’s roads.
So you can see why I wasn’t about to let my wife loose among Sydney’s world renowned, polite, considerate and thoughtful drivers. She might scare them. She had driven our car, ‘The Red Terror’, a few times, mainly to make a great arrival impression in her barangay, but not often. That was a manual, in Sydney the first car we bought was an automatic, so right away I knew there would be confusion. I took her for lessons, despite my better judgment and experience screaming at me to pay a professional; but the memory of the dozing dong was too fresh in my mind. We tried a couple of instructors but she didn’t feel comfortable with them, until we came across Wally.
Filipina getting Australian Drivers License
Wally proved you can’t get just anyone to teach your Filipina how to drive. The instructor needs to have empathy, not just for the student, but for the Filipina. Luckily for us Wally was well used to teaching Filipinas and the wife passed second time. Funny thing about our local RTA, every female friend of ours, except for the anglo ones, all had to test twice or more to pass. One had thirteen attempts but I admit she was useless; the others, though, they were fine and I do wonder about bias although it is virtually impossible to prove. Nonetheless, she passed and has been driving for ten years, accident and fine free. She now pedals a Pajero with gusto and panache and wouldn’t be without her car and her freedom. Getting your Filipina mobile is one of the best gifts you can give her. Don’t worry about her driving off into the sunset, most of them can’t navigate to save their lives and even with a GPS they don’t necessarily want to go beyond the horizon in case they sail over the edge or something. But as they say; if you love something, set it free. If it comes back, its yours and if it doesn’t, it never was. Or she got lost.
Perry Gamsby, D.Lit, MA(Writing), Dip.Bus, Dip. Mktg is a writer and lecturer who lives with his Cebuana wife and five Aus-Fil daughters in Western Sydney. The author of a series of best-selling ‘self-help’ books for expats and those married to Filipinas, he is also a Master of Filipino Martial Arts and a former World Stickfighting Champion who has lived, worked and vacationed in the Philippines since 1988. Perry and his family return to the Philippines on a yearly basis. You can read more of his writing on Philippines topics at www.streetwisephilippines.biz