By Ruth M. Floresca


“It’s your government-given right!” I’d always point out every time one of my sons tells me a tricycle or jeepney driver hadn’t given him the correct change.

It irritates me that we have a law indicating that students are entitled to a 20% discount on public transportation fares and yet there are still drivers who choose to ignore this directive. I am all for paying the right amount for fares and services. I even return money to drivers and bus conductors every time I receive extra change. But I am not in favor of having my kids pay more than what they are supposed to.

Three of my boys take public transport when they go to school. I really dislike it when drivers insist that students don’t get fare discounts when there are no classes. Even though I still don’t get why not (since their status as students doesn’t change just because it’s Saturday, Sunday, or a holiday), I pay full fare for my boys when we ride PUVs on those times and during summer vacations just  to avert unreasonable arguments.

But now that classes have resumed, I remind my boys to insist on their rights. “Imagine poor kids who can’t afford to pay regular fares. If you let drivers think it’s OK with you if they don’t give you the correct change, you are doing a disservice to many other kids, especially those whose parents can’t afford to pay extra.”

I also tell them to compute how much they’ll be able to save in just a week, in a month, and in a year if they pay the discounted amount every day. That got them thinking, particularly my firstborn who’s already in college and is more conscious nowadays when it comes to budgeting his allowance.

To avoid hassles as much as possible, hubby and I save the coins we get as change whenever we go out. This way, we can give our kids the exact fares they should hand over to drivers so they won’t have to insist getting the right change every time they pay.

I believe that what I’m doing is one way to teach financial responsibility. Alas, honesty should go both ways. Still, it’s always better to stay upright on our end even if there are others who refuse to do so. While they are young, I want my kids to always remember that.