The Thieves of EDSA, Myself and Tips for Safe Travelling in Manila

This is EDSA. Nope. this is not the place were my phone was stolen. I don't have a photo of the area.

It was Saturday morning, 7th of May 2011, at Manila’s busiest thoroughfare, EDSA. Southbound lane at the loading and unloading area just across our office at EDSA Central. It was one heck of a humid morning. My office-mates/colleagues have already alighted a Ayala Ibabaw-bound bus. I am waiting for my bus bound for Dasmarinas, Cavite. I have kept away my important belongings in my bag: wallet, my cellphone, and my ID. My headphone was inside my shirt. I do this everytime I’m on that area-just for safety. For numerous times my important belongings have been stolen, I need to be vigilant. Yet the following unfortunate scenario happened…

EDSA-Estrella Southbound Bus Stop

Then came the bus bound for Cavite. I walked towards it. In front of me was a woman and a big man who disembarked first. Then, I alighted the bus. The man and the woman were arguing with the conductor and the driver. I dunno what were they fighting for but they were coming down the bus. All of a sudden, a surge of five men went towards the door and pushed me hard against the door. I was crushed by two conflicting forces whom they were making a rowdy and scandalous scenario that “they were in a hurry.” At that instance, I knew I was being robbed. My focus shifted towards controlling the rowdy bunch but I felt that my cellphone was being stolen at that time, since my phone was connected to my hidden headset. When I felt it, I suddenly screamed, “Hoy, cellphone ko! Cellphone ko! Asan na?!” (Hey, my mobile phone! Where is it?!). Then the rowdy bunch let go of the door and dispersed in the crowd. I managed to pull one of them but I opted not to inspect his bag-they were in a group. Too risky…they may attack and stab me to death. I just let them go. The crowd, they were just standing, probably afraid or doesn’t seem to care at all.

EDSA-Estrella in Makati

After that, I reported the incident to the nearest police station (which was a few meters away). Even though those thieves wouldn’t be captured and my phone wouldn’t be retrieved, (or even trust the police in solving the crime, if you thought so) I think it is still the best way for us citizens to mitigate and fight crime and hopefully wouldn’t happen to others. And so, I therefore conclude, the Ipit Gang was behind my unfortunate fate.

And as for me, I lost my phone and I continued my life. I’ve done everything, even if I was alert. Yet safety was still the utmost priority. Never mind the phone, I value my life more. And for thousands of commuters like I, lets be vigilant.

Here are some tips on how to be safe on commuting or taking public transport in Manila:

  • Put valuable things on your bag and not on your pockets.
  • Bring your bag in front of yourself.
  • Watch your surroundings for any suspicious people on the move.
  • Go on  well lighted area.
  • Don’t show off your latest iPod, Blackberry or any precious belongings on the street.
  • Be vigilant. Huwag tatanga-tanga.
  • If possible, have yourself accompanied.
  • And if the inevitable comes, its better to surrender your belongings rather than fight them-especially when they attack in groups.
  • After the incident, report it to the police immediately.

This is the reality of living in a big mega-city mired with overcrowding and poverty. Tourists and local commuters alike should always practice vigilance at all times.

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2 comments to The Thieves of EDSA, Myself and Tips for Safe Travelling in Manila

  • Hawayano

    Wow-so disappointing…major cities have their share of crime and pickpocekts, but for some reason, those incidents seem to target foriegn tourists. However, in your case, even the most vigilant and cautiously prepared local citizens are victims! Of course, it is a blessing that you weren’t injured or worse…thanks for sharing the caveat-despite the unfortunate personal experience that you had to undergo.

  • You’re welcome. This is not making a negative statement against PH, this is on managing how to take care of yourself in the reality that most Filipinos face every other day. :)

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