Filipino pedicab driver Benjie Ordanza E. Japson (left)
Honest Filipino pedicab driver Benjie Ordanza E. Japson (left) was honoured by Manila Mayor Isko Moreno (centre) and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna Image Credit: Facebook / Screengrab

MANILA: A Filipino "padyak" (pedicab) driver was honoured recently after he returned a bag he found containing Php1.26 million (about Dh90,000) to a Chinese tourist.

The pedicab driver, whose family lives in Baseco, a Manila slum, was identified as Benjie Ordanza E. Japson.

On the day he found the bag, 42-year-old Japson approached Darwin Sia, a councilor of Manila’s Second District, to return a black backpack containing the huge sum and a precious watch, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno said.

Pedicab driver Benjie Ordanza Japson 0121
Pedicab driver Benjie Ordanza Japson with Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna. Image Credit: Facebook

The bag belongs to a Chinese national, Zhang Lei, whose passport was also found inside.

"This type of fellow is very rare," Moreno said, when he introduced Japson during a press conference.

“Times are hard, and it’s easy to be tempted... especially if no one’s looking. He could have done (something) other than this (returning it). It is literally very rare, especially nowadays," he said.

Sia, with the help of Manila police who later located Zhang, returned the bag to the Chinese tourist.

Cash reward

The “sidecar” man was given a reward of 100,000 pesos (Dh7,142), which Moreno said came from him and his vice mayor, Honey Lacuna.

Along with the cash reward, Moreno also gave the pedicab driver a personal jacket, and an offer of a permanent job at the City Hall.

“Find a job item for this man, so his family can live in peace," Moreno told his staff. "That’s what you get for doing a good deed. You can feed your family on your table, in a dignified way of living," said the mayor in Tagalog.

Benjie Ordanza E. Japson with Isko Moreno
Manila Mayor Isko Moreno puts on his personal jacket with the patch of the City of Manila, on Benjie Ordanza E. Japson, 42, who returned a bag with 1.26 million pesos (about Dh90,000) to a Chinese tourist. Image Credit: Facebook / Screengrab

He reminded Japson to continue to lead an honest llife and avoid the temptation to do wrong once he becomes a City Hall employee.

As for Zhang, Moreno said: "I hope you continue to believe that Manila will be better again. You are always welcome to Manila."

Moreno also lauded the police officers who helped in the return of the items, saying he hoped they continued to protect visitors to the city.

Japson is a resident of Manila slum called Baseco.

Moreno, whose real name is Francisco Domagoso, was a former defeated former President Joseph Estrada in the May 2019 mayoralty race, and has quicikly become a social media star with a huge following, holding regular live sessions.

What is a padyak?

Pedicab or Padyak or foot-pedaled tricycle is a man-peddalled bicycle with a sidecar for passengers. It is a popular "last mile" mode of transport in cities, but also in rural areas — for short commutes from the central town to the villages.