This week, I’ve been around several scams in the Philippines. I’ve not been a direct party to any of them myself. I’m not going to mention names to keep the innocent and me safe. Easy to get sued in the Philippines for writing anything negative about someone else. I hope I’ll be able to write about one place before too long. It’s a travel agency and full on fraud. I think I’ll start with that one.
Before I get started with that, I want to make it clear, that I love the Philippines. People do bad things all over the world. Where salaries are miserably low, more shady things happen. Foreigners are often behind the scams and shams in the Philippines. People will do what they have to do to feed themselves and their families. Soon I will write a new article about the things I love about the Philippines. Keeping it short will be hard. The Philippines is as close to paradise as you can find but finding that here depends mostly on how you see the world. It’s not paradise though. As I always say, you gotta die to have any hope of getting there. I find that the reports of being scammed here are very overstated but it does happen and this information will help you to stay safe in the Philippines.
Travel Agency Scam in the Philippines
A few days ago a frequent visitor to the Philippines left the hotel we are staying in and was headed home. A few hours later he was back. He told us “The travel agent messed up his ticket”. When he got to the airport he was told that the ticket was not valid because it had no reference number. Alarm bells went off for me immediately. I thought, there is no reference number because they took his money, printed out his bogus forms and no ticket was ever actually purchased. It appears that’s exactly what happened.
Now before you start trashing Filipinos, you need to get your facts straight. This firm is owned and managed by foreigners. I’m told that it is owned by Koreans and Japanese. When my acquaintance went to the police station the next day, he was told they have had a lot of complaints about this location. He did go to the travel agency first and they did not agree to refund his money.
He’s lucky he’s not hurting for money. The last time I saw him, he planned to stay until he had it resolved. He seems to know his way around the Philippine but I wonder if he understands that could take months or longer. Maybe it won’t. The travel agency might have messed with the wrong person this time. He’s got contacts here that can help him out. Hopefully, I can share names later.
A travel agent that many trust, includind myself here in Cebu is Travelways.
Trouble with Tacloban’s Work for Cash Program?
I know someone that was selected to work in the typhoon relief project “Work for Cash” in Tacloban, Philippines. They were cleaning the park in the city. Hard work, they told me her hands were bruised from the work. They also got hit by debris from one of the lawn mowers and their leg was cut enough to bleed. Plus their time, getting to work at 5am and also they had to go to school and then back to work so they had additional expenses for getting to work.I was concerned about this too from its very start. They told me they were supposed to be working eight hours a day but they were working only four hours a day. The workers were to earn about 3500 pesos for two weeks of work. That’s above average pay for this type of work. I figured from the start that they would only get half the money and someone else would get the other half.
After about a week, they were told to stop work because there was an “Anomaly”. Seems they had to use the money to pay other workers for work that was done in the past but those people were not paid. The individual I know said they would now get paid for their work but in 15 days. They are in serious need for cash. There really is still massive need for help in Tacloban.
Seems to me that people are getting paid from the next group’s money and it’s just being rolled over. I don’t know that but seems like it. I can think of a reason this might occur.
A few years ago I read in the local papers that two people on Bantayan Island had been charged or accused of graft. They had billed the province or the national government for new buildings or repairs of some buildings. When the auditor showed up, the buildings were not there or no repairs had been done. The same thing could be happening here. This way workers did show up and maybe they will get paid some of they are supposed to be paid but what will happen to the rest? I don’t know.
Of course, I don’t know that anything is going on but it sure sounds like it. My friend in Tacloban was showing some massive disrespect toward the people administering the program when I spoke to them about it. Cleary, they thought there was graft in play. Something is certainly not the way it should be. I’ll leave it up to you as to what you think.
Bizarre Beggar Girl Behavior
Well not really a beggar but a girl that works the street. I have to be careful about how I word things on this article as to not offend my sponsors. Not a pleasant thing to admit but necessary all the same. One of the guest of the hotel was approached by a girl working the streets near our hotel. That’s really the worst part of staying here. These girls are all over the place in the area known as Downtown Cebu City.
It seems one of the guest of this hotel offered one of the girls some cash but brought her inside for some reason. He didn’t want her services or time, he was just being a nice guy and wanted to help her out. I’m not exactly sure why she was in the hotel. Maybe she followed him or he needed to get money from his room. My guess is she followed him. I’m surprised the hotel let her in. She must have managed to make it appear that she was with him if she just followed him.
Anyway, as I was coming out of my room, I saw this sexy but not really pretty girl in a dress in the hallway staring at me. A bit of a glare. So I said hello. She paused and waited for me to get closer before she started down the stairs. She’d turn around and gave me that glare again. I said hello again. Again, nothing in reply. I shrugged my shoulders and went on my way.
When I got outside, she was there talking to a guy that often ask me if I want a girl. Back in November, I figured out with him, if I said “I don’t want a girl” very loud, he’d leave me alone after that. Did the same thing with him a few weeks ago and he leaves me alone now. She was talking to him and acting very angry. I tried to get her picture a few days later, that is one nasty behaved woman but she still asked me for cash because she was hungry. That was a lie, I know the man that owns the place where she lives. She’s fine.
They entered the hotel and I was surprised the guard let them in. I told him there was going to be trouble so he started following them. They went to the front desk and spoke to someone there. I guess the front desk called his room as the hotel worker told another guest that they guy didn’t want a girl, he just wanted to help her out.
It is best to just not have any dealings with the girls working the streets. Your chance of trouble goes way up. They are just trouble. I learned last week that an expat that frequents this hotel got his jaw broke last year by one of the men that work with the girls. There was some kind of argument. You’ve been warned, things can go very badly with this type of companionship. If you’re looking for that kind of thing, I suggest you visit the bars on Mango Avenue and it will probably go much better.
The people pictured in the article are not the ones involved in the scam. The first picture is a travel agency near my hotel but you should not consider their inclusion as an endorsement. The first Filipina that is highly animated talking with her friends made one of my favorite pictures of the week and maybe the year. I love that shot. The man pictured is a guy that can probably sell you anything you want. He lives next door to the hotel I’m staying at. He provided some excitement earlier this month or late last month when his house caught fire. It was a small fire. Often fires result in the whole block burning down. The young woman just above on the left is my special friend. I’ve known her since she was a teenager and she still is but now she’s grown up. Very sweet. Her name is Analyn. The picture of the Filipina’s big friendly smile is one of the things I love about the Philippines. She was just a victim that strayed to close to my lens. The largest size of the pictures is desplayed below. I suggest you click the slide show link to view them. If you like them please share them on Pinterest.
If you have any questions or insights, please leave a comment below. If you leave a comment, please keep my requirements about sponsors in mind. If you don’t, I have no choice but to delete that comment. You can do it though, follow my lead on word choice only spell them proper. I really need my human spell checker but I don’t have her any more. I do the best I can. I write an article over the course of an hour two. Go spend an hour or two on photos I’ll use with it and then read the article again. I try to wait a day before I read them again as I catch more mistakes that way. I just don’t see word form mistakes until after I publish them haha. I don’t know why I am this way, it’s just the way I am.
Filed under: Safety In the Philippines
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