Tuesday, August 19, 2008


These days, ever since the price of gas has skyrocketed, I have been riding the jeepneys more so than usual.

Commuting via public transportations certainly has its pros and cons. For one thing, it's cheaper to ride a jeepney than drive to downtown Manila. A whole day's parking fee alone can set me back a hundred pesos, though unarguably, it's more convenient and safer to drive my car than ride a jeepney full of strangers, especially after dark.

As in any large metropolis anywhere in the world, there is always the chance of getting mugged; therefore, I've prepared myself to give up whatever item is demanded from me.
I know that even a moment of hesitation may tick off a nervous thief. Making a habit of not carrying anything of great value whenever riding a jeepney or bus helps in this respect.

I've also psyched myself not to negotiate with a perpetrator should I find myself in a stickup situation aboard a jeepney. Chances are, he's strung out on shabu (methamphetamine) and that he's accompanied by one or two similarly drugged-out accomplices; not to mention that more than likely, they would also be armed with weapons that can inflict serious harm, or worse, end my life at an instant.

Nevertheless, for some people, especially the young ones, the shock of finding one's self in such volatile situation -- coupled with the disgust they suddenly feel for someone trying to rob them -- might impel them into a momentary lapse of reason; thus, we'd hear about young people getting seriously hurt, if not killed altogether, for resisting to give up their prized possessions.

About a year or so ago, a young UP coed was shot to death when she refused to give up her cell phone, while more recently, a 23-year-old graduate of the Ateneo de Manila -- Tara Santelice -- was shot in the head by a thief whom she wrestled with to keep her bag that contained a laptop. Both incidents took place aboard a public utility vehicle.

The following is a GMANews report by Johanna Camille Sisante about this tragic incident:

08/06/2008 | 08:56 AM MANILA, Philippines - A 23-year-old woman is now in critical condition after being shot in the head early Wednesday morning after she attempted to wrestle her laptop away from a thief in Cainta, Rizal. A report by radio dzBB’s Sam Nielsen said the unidentified thief used a .38 caliber pistol to shoot the victim identified by the Cainta police as Tara Santelices (not Dara Santeneces as earlier reported) of Brookside Subdivision in Cainta town. Santelices’ companion Joyce Mejias, who was riding the Marikina-bound jeepney with the victim at the time of the incident, said the suspect declared a holdup while the jeepney was moving along Felix Ave. in Cainta. But when the victim tried to wrestle back her bag containing a laptop, the assailant immediately shot her, took some of the passengers' bags and immediately fled the scene.

My heart goes out to Tara, as well as to her family and close friends. I wish her a speedy and full recovery.

You may read more about her story here.

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posted by Señor Enrique at 10:01 AM


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is my biggest concern about my kids in Manila, Eric.

Holdup incidents in Manila involves taxicabs as well. Just yesterday, there was a report about a female call center worker who was nabbed and killed, and believed to be victim of the so called 'ipit taxi' gang operation.

August 19, 2008 4:06 PM  

Blogger nerdluck said...

Getting mugged is something I wouldn't wish on an enemy. I remember getting mugged 3 years ago in broad daylight along Sucat in Parañaque (in a jeepney, no less). I remember how helpless I felt then. I was also angry at the fact that it happened less than 100 meters from a police detachment. Oh well, c'est la vie... We can all just be more careful next time.

August 19, 2008 4:28 PM  

Blogger escape said...

nakakatakot na nga talaga ngayon. pag sa jeep delikado, sa daan delikado. hirap.

kaya pag na holdup daw, dapat ay ibigay na lang talaga.

ganda ng kuha mo dito.

August 19, 2008 4:29 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Rhodora,

'Ipit Taxi Gang' I've never heard of before. You may want to tell us more about their modus operandi the next time.

What's frightening, Rhoda, is that the scenarios mentioned are also happening not only in Manila but throughout the country ... and other foreign cities as well.

So, best rule of thumb here is to never carry around anything of major value.

August 19, 2008 7:10 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Some victims in the Tutuban area have complained that the police themselves are in cahoots with the muggers, Nerdluck, because certain muggings occur in plain sight of these law enforcement officers.

That's right, be more careful always.

Trust all is well with you, Nerdluck!

August 19, 2008 7:13 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I only experienced a mugging once, many years ago, at the Blumentritt area when we took a jeepney to visit the North Cemetery on All Saints Day. Their target were the jeepney drivers only - they took all his days earnings - but it was pretty scary :(

August 19, 2008 7:45 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apparently, 'Ipit Taxi', Eric has this modus operandi: When the taxi stops for the red light, two or three persons will approach it. One will board the taxi in front while the others will take the seats at the back, sandwiching the passenger. Kaya nga 'ipit' kasi iipitin yung passenger, and will be robbed of his/her valuables. In some cases, the driver may have some participation in this frame up.

So, when riding a taxi, make sure to lock all the doors. Dapat din na ipagbawal ang mga taxi units na may central lock ang mga doors, kasi walang kalaban laban ang passenger kung sakaling ipitin siya.

My means of commute whenever I'm in Manila is the taxicab. And you know what Eric - I really pray all the way every time I board one.

August 19, 2008 7:59 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi dong!

Ayun nga ang unang payo sa aking ng mga kaibigan at kamag-anak: pag natutukan daw, kung ano man ang makursunadahan, ibigay agad.

Lagi nila pinaaalala ito sa akin lalo na ng malaman nilang mag isa na lamang akong naglala-lakad sa Maynila ... hehehe.

Pero, sinabihan ko rin silang lahat na kung ano man ang masamang mangyari sa akin (sa aking paglalakad at pagkukuha ng mga pictures sa kalye ng Maynila), huwag silang masyadong malungkot kasi namatay naman akong ginagawa ko ang bagay na nagpapaligaya sa akin ng malaki :)

Thanks, donG! I was lucky to have taken this shot at the right moment. By the way, my point & shoot camera is the only valuable thing I carry with me in my commute. Should a robber demands it, I'd gladly hand it over to him becaue even though I paid a lot for it a couple of years ago, with the recent advent of even more high tech p&s digicams with lower prices, mine wouldn't cost all that much any more. So okay lang pag hiningi :)

August 19, 2008 8:23 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I bet it was scary, BW, even though the target were the jeepney drivers who tend to charge exorbitant rates during All Saints Day. I was once charged ten pesos for a four-peso ride years ago during this particular holiday ... hehehe.

As Nerdluck has said, a mugging is something he wouldn't even wish on an enemy, because no one really knows how it will all end.

August 19, 2008 8:32 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Aha! So that's how these Taxi Ipit Gangs operate. Thank you Rhoda!

By the way, you may also want to call for a cab whenever you need one. Here's a couple of reliable and trustworthy cab services in Metro Manila:

1) R&E - Tel 362-1890

2) EMP - Tel 293-5930

3) Basic - Tel 643-777 & 642-7777

Perhaps, our other fellow bloggers in Metro Manila may know of other taxi cabs with radios which they can add to this list.

August 19, 2008 8:37 PM  

Blogger EM said...

Those situations are getting scarier. I thnk most of my relatives had at least an experience of jeepney hold up. When i was there, i had my bracelet snatched while i was in a jeepney in Baclaran. To think that we can never rely on the police during those times.

even here in Canada.. my son's bestfriends cell phone was snatched from him in the subway while waiting for the train. The difference here is that it only happens to little kids and it is a rare occurence. People can be seen wearing/carrying expensive gadgets in public transports and still feel safe.

I remember too when we were there. We bought a car and used it for taxi business... within a month it was carnapped. It was a terrible experience.

thanks for sharing Senior

August 19, 2008 9:17 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Many years ago, EM, a sister-in-law in NYC suddenly found herself in the midst of a horrific situation inside a subway car during the evening rush.

Allegedly, a young man opened fire with his pistol when the person he had his gun pointed at, struggled not to give up his wallet. Chaos ensued and my sister-in-law found herself on the floor of the subway car trying to avoid the hail of bullets. My brother said she looked like a mess and hardly recognized her when she got home that evening. And only a week before, after work, she got mugged as she walked home from the train station to their house. What made it worse was that she got paid that day and her pocketbook had a lot of cash in it. Jeeez!

Here in Manila, I am astounded at the expensive cell phones and MP4 players that local folks pull out while riding the jeepneys.

This is a more common sight on a jeepney that's mostly filled with students. And they always seem oblivious; unperturbed by the possibility of snatching or holdup. Unbelieveable!

August 20, 2008 12:55 AM  

Blogger carlotta1924 said...

my goodness. that is what i'm wary of when i take public transportation. one can never feel too safe anymore.

when i have to bring my laptop along, i make sure i use the car but if the car's not available, the laptop stays at home. as for my cell phone, well, it's too old that nobody would want to take it.

August 20, 2008 3:31 AM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

that is just awful and sad. sa mga ganyang hold-up, may as well give in and not argue. mahirap ng malagay sa bingit ng kamatayan. dba?

however, pag nauwi ako ng manila this dec. i will definitely take a jeepney ride. miss ko na yan!

August 20, 2008 7:50 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

I'm looking for an old model like a 3310 to use as my commuting cell phone, Carla, and I'll just get a second SIM card to copy my phone book. This way, I wouldn't feel too bad in case it got snatched.

I never carry my laptop with me, except when I'm driving or taking a cab during business hours only. Mahirap ng mapag-tripan.

August 20, 2008 8:54 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Hi Nell!

Simple lang din ang damit na isusuot mo pag sakay mo ng jeep dito ... at walang mga bling-bling ... hehehe.

That's right! Better not argue with these fools because most often than not, they're high on drugs. Ingat lang kahit saan.

December is just around the corner, I bet you're excited to come home :)

August 20, 2008 8:56 AM  

Blogger escape said...

oo nga. akin din. yan ang advantage sa point and shoot kasi hindi ganun ka sakit pag nawala at handy pa.

one time senor magkikita din tayo dyan sa manila. pag nakabisita ako ng recto.

August 20, 2008 10:22 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

Hi Eric,

These holdups & mandurukot are old petty crimes, can't imagine it's still going on.

Ang mga holdapers at mandurukot na mga ito ay tunay na walang takot, kahit na sa Diyos!!! Can you imagine most of these jeepneys have grand Altar above their windshield, that almost occupy & cover the whole view of the jeepney driver... Sto Nino, St. Christopher, Senor Nazareno, Madre Maria, etc... kulang na lang ay may sacristan, tuloy pa rin ang Krimen!!!

take care & upong diyes lang Eric,
ka tony

August 20, 2008 12:35 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

But the item of choice for these local thieves is the cell phone, donG. Mas mabilis ata nilang ibenta ito kaysa sa mga p&s digicams.

Sige, one of these days magkikita tayo :)

August 20, 2008 6:07 PM  

Blogger nutart said...

I also like your composition very much, Eric! Wonder how you did it...mukhang nakalabas ka talaga ng bintana?

As for riding jeepneys, I always pray for protection and guidance as I step out of the house. To whom? to my guardian angel of course :-)! Oftentimes, when I get to Manila, I carry this uber-huge frumpy backpack..so whoever i am with in the jeepney usually get cramped. They might not have enough room to shout "hold-up" or draw their guns/balisongs out (God forbid). And my celfon is usually frowned upon as baduy...but hey, it works!

Yep, get frumpy!

I'm really saddened by these stories though. So many crazed people! You cannot say they're really destitute.Usually may malaking bisyo sila. I have known of several people brutally murdered by drug-crazed individuals! Tragic for everyone---both the murdered and the murderers! God have mercy on us all!

August 20, 2008 6:07 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Lol ... that's right, Kaya Tony, but I think those sampaguita garlands are sold to them by the syndicate as "tong."

August 20, 2008 6:09 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And what's sad about these senseless killings, Bernadette, is that it seems to be a universal phenomenon. Sao Paolo, Brazil and San Juan, Puerto are two other cities burdened by such increasing cases. I know that in NYC, muggings were once perpetrated by those addicted to crack cocaine.

We can only pray for guidance when we go out to take public transportations. By the way, I was also told that provincial buses are prime targets for stickups, but incidents of which somehow don't seem to get published.

As for the photo, I was sitting at the far end near the entrance. There were only two other passengers at that time so I was able to click away. Thanks!

August 20, 2008 7:02 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Kung sabagay maski saang parte ng mundo mayroon mga masasamang tao, pero do they need to hurt or kill the victims? Nanakawan na, sasaktan o papatayin pa - these miserable losers deserved to rot in hell!

August 21, 2008 4:16 AM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

Here in Manila, bertN, many of the perpetrators are young and functioning in altered state of consciousness; strung out on shabu, that is. Hence, making the situation even more volatile.

August 21, 2008 8:41 AM  

Blogger ka tony said...

That is right Eric the jeepney drivers are force to buy sampaguita as "tong." Pati ang nagtitinda ng mga sampaguita, nilagang saging, 'garilyo, prutas, etc... hawak lahat ng sindikato. I learned that all these vendors have their own teretoryo!!! Not only the vendors even PULUBI hawak din ng mga sindikato!!!

Manila is like Panama City during the 70s and Rio de Janeiro, kailan kaya tayo muling magkakaroon ng isang "Alkalde Arsenio Lacson?"

August 21, 2008 3:25 PM  

Blogger Señor Enrique said...

And I wouldn't be surprised, Ka Tony, if some members of our police force profit from such syndicates.

A young man today with similar courage and intelligence as that of Mayor Lacson may never get elected as mayor of Manila as long as there are senators -- in the twilight of their political careers -- who lust after the position.

August 23, 2008 9:33 AM  

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Life in Manila as observed by a former New Yorker who with a laptop and camera has reinvented himself as a storyteller. Winner of the PHILIPPINE BLOG AWARDS: Best Photo Blog in 2007 and three Best Single Post awards in 2008.


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