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How to do phone booths (OSM Series Part 2)

Note: Unless specified, “payphone”, “pay phone”, “phone booth” and “phonebooth” are used interchangeably.

Phone booths have become obsolete in a country where virtually every person has a mobile phone. Despite the technological advancements, they are still used in various places in the country, especially in areas where the populace tend to congregate.

Unlike certain online maps, OpenStreetMap displays  (renders in layman terms) phone booths. There are two kinds of phone booths: payphones and emergency phonebooths.


Payphones are found in various places – schools, churches, malls, convenience stores, public markets, government offices, and a bunch of other places.

Emergency phonebooths

Emergency phonebooths are outdoor phonebooths used in at least two places – large universities in North America and Europe, and motorways.

In the Philippines, only the North Luzon Expressway has such devices. They are usually found one or two kilometers of each other (two kilometers from Balintawak to Bocaue, one kilometer from Bocaue to Santa Ines, Mabalacat)

How to get the phonebooth’s telephone number

Note: this will not work with emergency phonebooths.

Like regular phones, phone booths have telephone numbers. Retrieving them is fairly easy – if you have a mobile phone or a Caller ID device. To access them, you need to have coins or a telephone card.

In the Philippines, phone booths operated by the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) can be used through both options, while phone booths operated by the Digital Telecommunications Philippines, Inc. (Digitel) can only be used with the latter option.

To get a telephone number from the phone booth, dial the “receiving number (e.g. mobile phone)”, then put some coins on the slot (the cost of making a call from a payphone to a mobile phone is PHP 8.00). If your mobile phone receives the call, reject it after the second ring. Don’t forget to hit hit flash and/or coin release. Don’t forget to keep your mobile phone away from suspicious persons (and take down notes on the phonebooths that you’ve visited)