When in Manila Lesson #010

When riding the bus and you feel a portion of your hair is being pulled out so hard, don’t turn around to complain. Instead, keep your eyes glued to your bag and hold on to it tightly. 

With all the premonitions and the vague anxiety I had the morning I got out of the office and the strange urge to hug my bag tight while riding the first bus to work that evening last October 2, I should’ve known something unfortunate was bound to happen. It was a tough week because of the unpredictable weather which aggravated the already stressful everyday Manila traffic. Little did I know that I aside from missing pre-shift overtime due to heavy traffic and thunderstorm, I was in for a series of unfortunate events that week.


We were already along Pasong Tamo in Makati. It was just a kilometer or two away from my office so I already decided to fold my umbrella and put it inside my bag when my hair was suddenly tugged back. I thought a baby did it so I turned around and said, “Aray!”. When I looked back after my hair was let go by a man who was walking to the door, I saw that my bag was already wide open. My heart pounded as I watched the three men get off the bus. I wanted to shout to the bus conductor not to let them out, but I wasn’t sure if they were what I perceived them to be and if something was stolen from my bag.

I rummaged through my bag and yup, I knew it. When in Manila, trust your first instinct and just apologize if you’re wrong. My beloved S4 was out of sight.

It all happened so fast and I had a 5-second black out after. I took a deep breath and tried hard to focus. I sent my mom, aunt, and my friend who owned the postpaid account text messages. I called Globe to report the situation when I got to the office. I’ll spare you with all the details because it was something I don’t want to remember. Bottom line: I felt horrible. Feeble, a little bit shaky, and unable to concentrate.

I often fall asleep and use my phone on the bus, but that one time when I didn’t, it got stolen. It happened so quickly while I was alert. At one point, I blamed myself because I wasn’t careful enough.

I didn’t have that phone for the sake of having it. I needed it and now it’s gone with all my notes, contacts, pictures, and important files. I easily accepted the fact that it was gone but what upsets me most is that it happened in a snap – under 15 seconds! I confronted a man who snatched my 5110 while I was in line in Jollibee when I was in Grade 5 and I kicked a man’s willy when he jumped on top of me to get the same phone the year after that. But now that I’m supposedly older and wiser, I didn’t have the chance to do any “brave act” when I was robbed.

I just pray that the thieves use the money from my phone to buy food for their children, or pay hospital bills, or buy new roofs for their house. Manila is unsafe. I should’ve known better. There was no use in filing for a police blotter because even they can’t be trusted. I still want to write more horrible things connected to this one simple crime, but I’m already starting to feel bad again and beginning to hate our government officials for doing so little for our third world country to be safer for the commuters. No matter how you put it, they have something to do with how these crimes come about.

So I’ll just trust that you take extra precaution when in Manila. Trust no one. Be paranoid in all public places. These thieves target air conditioned buses with WiFi because they know the passengers probably own smartphones. It’s a concrete jungle and you never know what traps come your way. You never know who’s watching.

Oh well, as my Chummy always says, lessons learned.

P.S. There’s a part 2 HERE


4 thoughts on “When in Manila Lesson #010

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