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Why your Locked Luggage is not Safe Against Thieves or Laglag Bala Scam

Friday, November 27, 2015

Nowadays, getting a lock for your luggage is not enough to deter thieves or laglag bala scammers from tampering with your stuff. This guy demonstrates how easy it is to open your luggage's zipper. Using this technique, it's ridiculously easy to steal your belongings or worse, place a bullet or drugs inside.

Scary huh? All they need is a pen to open your luggage.

Scams in the Philippines

Saturday, November 14, 2015

This is kinda related to my "laglag bala" scam post earlier. Though there are lots of scams around the world, since I am from the Philippines and I am sick and tired of what's going on with this country, let me enumerate the scams here that I've experienced or that I have heard of. I'm not doing this to make my country look bad but something for us Filipinos to reflect on.

1. Laglag Bala Scam

Airport personnel planting bullets on people's luggage. How do we justify this act? Whenever pinoys hear of other kababayans doing some scamming, they automatically blame it on poverty. In this case, is poverty to blame? These airport personnels are earning decent wages (maybe not enough for a super comfy living but decent enough to be able to live).
Let's take an example with airport porters..they earn basic salary plus tips from travelers. I myself give them like 100-200 pesos tip whenever they help me with my luggage. Let's say they helped 20 travelers a day and earns 100 pesos tip per traveler..that's 2,000 pesos worth of tip a day already. Even with just an average of 50 pesos per traveler can earn them 1,000 pesos a day! Why do they need to plant bullets for? Simple. Most are greedy bastards who probably have gambling or womanizing problem or in case of women, they probably like to show off and look sosyal in front of their friends or whatever.

I'm not singling out airport porters. It could be airport security too, or those at the scanner section. They are all earning decent wages and if budgeted properly, they can still survive. They resort to scamming because they are plain greedy and it's easy money for them.

2. Pyramid Scams

Pyramid scam is one of the most common scams in the Philippines. It differs from network marketing. While network marketing is a legitimate form of business wherein members earn from products sold , pyramiding recruits people and charge them a registration fee and then the members are ordered to recruit someone and recoup their investment through the registration fees of their recruits. What if you don't know anyone who is willing to pay that "fee"? Then say goodbye to your investment.
Stay away from these get rich quick schemes and do a lot of research before you invest into something. I know it's common sense. But how come lots of people still get victimized even after much publicized pyramiding scandals all over Philippines? Greed.

3. Online Romance Scam

This mostly targets foreign men and occasional Filipino men living and working abroad. This isn't exclusive to Philippines only. It happens around the world but since this is about Philippines, let me tell you how it works here. 
You've probably been to an internet cafe (they are all over) and have seen Pinays chatting online with foreigners. You'll see some of them with multiple chat windows and all calling them "honey", "babe" etc. These women chat with multiple men, tells them sob stories and get them to send her money. Pretty common scam. And yes, its not just women scamming these poor guys. You will also see transgenders doing it. And heck yeah, some can look pretty convincing (maybe even better looking than some real girls). 
Most of these scammers think that foreign men are rich and scamming them won't really hurt them financially. Just so you know, not all foreigners are rich. Some may even have bigger debts than us. They may earn more than average Filipinos but their cost of living is way more than ours. 
But also, not all Filipinas are into that scam. Only a small percentage does that. Most of us are proud women who likes to be successful career wise and frown on those who does the unthinkable. And no, not everyone are looking for foreign men. 

4. Real Estate Scam

Again, it also happens around the world. (Source: http://www.lamudi.com.ph/)

The Out of the Country Scam

In this common scam, the prospective landlord or current owner says they are out of the country and unable to show you the property before you sign the lease or contract. They usually promise to send you the keys in the mail once the deposit has been paid in advance.

Title Fraud

This type of property fraud can be extremely devastating. Essentially it is a form of identity theft in which the scammer poses as the homeowner and uses fake documents to transfer the property into his or her name. They then get a new mortgage against the property, take the cash for themselves and leave the homeowner liable for the repayments.

Information Brokerage

This is a scam involving two real estate agents colluding to increase their respective commission fee once the property has been bought. An example of this is one agent representing the buyer and another representing the seller. In this setup, the owner and the buyer do not know that they are dealing with two different brokers since they are not introduced. This will create a scenario where there are two agents in-between the transaction and this would result in distorting the value of the property since the commission will be shared by the agents.

This practice is a clear violation of the Code of Ethics and Responsibilities for Real Estate Service Practitioners. Buyer and sellers must be able to tap trustworthy brokers who will protect their interests and would not deceive them.

5. Spiked Drinks Scam

Some criminals add knockout or ‘date rape’ drugs (known locally as Ativan) to drinks or food to subdue and rob their victims. It is best not to accept food, drink or rides in private vehicles from strangers, even if they appear legitimate. 

6. Phone scams

This scam mostly targets the local Pinoys with house helpers. 

The perpetrator makes a telephone call usually to a the victim’s home and tells the person answering (usually a member of the domestic staff) that the resident or resident’s guest has been involved in an accident. The caller says the resident or guest is in distress and that money is immediately needed for the urgent medical treatment. (Sometimes the reasons for the immediate need of money vary, e.g. to pay off somebody so the media doesn’t get involved.)

The caller advises the staff member to leave the telephone off the hook, search the house for money or valuables such as jewelry, and take it to a rendezvous point.

Domestic staff should be warned about this type of scam. They should be trained not to comply with such demands and given advice about what to do if called.

As a Filipino, how do we help put a stop to these scams?

Is Laglag Bala Distracting Pinoys from Bigger Issues?

Photo by: Interact Images

You've all probably heard about the "laglag bala" incidents in NAIA. I have been traveling a lot these past few years in and out of the country with my family and never had a problem with "laglag bala" scam. Have we just been lucky? How long has this scam been going on? It seems like each week, there are new victims.

Airport workers are allegedly been planting bullets in unsuspecting traveler's luggage and extorting ridiculous amount of money from them in order to avoid jail time. Most victims just give in and pay them bribe money to avoid serious hassle. If I were them, I would secretly record my conversation with the airport personnel, never touch the bullet, and demand for it to be fingerprinted. And yes, call my lawyer, get the names of those people asking for money, maybe even take a photo of them, and call a journalist friend to feature them in the newspaper. These crooks should be publicly shamed! Don't pay them the bribe money and don't let them intimidate you coz if you do, you are just enabling them to victimize more people.

But considering the amount of bail for illegal possession of ammunition (Php 150,000), I guess most victims would rather just pay them the bribe money they are demanding which is $500-$1,000 (depends on your haggling skills) instead of dealing with all the hassle like missed flights, non-refundable hotel charges and tour packages, lawyer's fee, bail money, and etc.

Some have been saying that this "laglag bala" scam is just being used to distract Pinoys from more important issues like the massacre of the Lumads in Mindanao, PDAF, INC scandal, and etc. But what about the "luggage wrapping" companies at the airport? Lol. They are the ones who benefit from this issue the most. Heck, maybe I should franchise one too!

But it does make me think, with all the media coverage that the airport is getting right now, why haven't they stopped? It seems like the more media coverage they get, the more people become victims of this scam. I feel for the Lumads who were not getting the media attention they deserve considering the seriousness of their problem right now.

So what's the solution? I don't know...maybe fly through Clark airport instead? If only they have more international flights like NAIA! I think the best thing to do right now is avoid bringing luggage with outside pockets or if you do, make sure to wrap it up good before going to the airport and never let it out of your sight.

Are you a victim of laglag bala scam at NAIA? Share your experience in the comments section!

Most Dangerous Places in the Philippines for Foreigners

Monday, October 12, 2015

It's more fun in the Philippines--NOT ALL THE TIME! You are probably thinking of retiring here and wondering where to live. You've probably been here dozens of times and stayed for a month or two each time. Do you feel safe? Visiting is different from actually living here. As a tourist, your activities are limited and your knowledge of the area only revolves around what you actually experienced during your stay.

Crime against foreigners are increasing. Recently, news about kidnappings in Mindanao has alerted expats living in the Philippines. Just to get some ideas, here are the most dangerous places in the Philippines:

1. Zamboanga

Zamboanga city hall. Photo source: www.zamboanga.com

Zamboanga city is the 9th most dangerous city in the world according to the website www.destinationtips.com. After a series of abductions by terrorist groups, Zamboanga is regarded as the most dangerous place in the Philippines for locals and foreigners alike. Victim of kidnappings varies from foreign tourists, town Mayor, public school teachers, and etc. 

2. Cotabato

Cotabato city. Photo source: www.cotabatocity.net.ph

Just like Zamboanga, Cotabato is also considered extremely dangerous. From bombings to kidnappings, you wouldn't want to visit there. In 2013, a car bombing occurred in Cotabato city, killing 8 people and wounding 40 others.

3. Basilan

Lampinigan beach, Basilan. Photo source: www.rappler.com

If you want to keep your head up (literally), don't go to Basilan. Aside from kidnappings and bombings, Basilan is also known for the 2007 beheading of 11 members of the Philippine Marines.

4. Jolo

Jolo, Sulu. Photo source: www.waltokon.org

Just last May, there was a twin explosion near a Mosque that injured at least 18 people.

5. Davao del Norte

Samal Island. Photo source: www.samal-island.com

Davao city may be one of the safest places in the Philippines but its neighboring towns aren't as safe as you'd think. On May 2001, Abu Sayaff members attacked Pearl Farm and killed two employees. Just last September 21, two Canadian nationals, a Norwegian, and a Filipina were kidnapped from a fancy beach resort in Samal Island. 

6. Manila 

Manila. Photo source: www.boring.ph

We all know Manila is dangerous but compared to those places in Mindanao, it's actually safer. Opportunistic crimes here are common but easily avoidable if you take proper precautions. 

7. Angeles City

Fields Avenue. Photo source: www.theville.com

Known for its nightlife, male tourists flock here to have a good time. There has been a series of crimes against foreigners in this city ranging from robbery, carnapping, assault, and murder. Personally, I don't think this place is an ideal place to retire if you are a foreigner (particularly white) since the crime rate is increasing each year.

Crime against foreigners in the Philippines

Like other countries, there are hundreds of crimes committed each year against foreigners in the Philippines. From petty crimes to violent ones, there is really no surefire way to avoid them as each situation is unique. But if you plan on living here, here are some tips:
  • Do not live in a secluded area. If you are white, you will be a target no matter where you live. Living in a secluded area makes it easier for criminals to rob your home as there will be no neighbors to help you. Live in a secured guarded village or condominium. For me, condominiums are much safer.
  • Do not hire maids (if you can). Most crimes committed in a household here are by maids or their boyfriends as a way to "get rich quick". Even locals here are wary of hiring maids because of the increasing crime committed by them.
  • Do not tell anyone about your finances (even your girlfriend). 
  • Do not post too much information about yourself in the Social Media (for obvious reasons).
  • Keep your doors locked at all times and do not open your door when somebody you don't know knocks especially at night. A foreign retiree was stabbed in the stomach when he opened the door to check who was outside.
  • Do not join a drinking party with locals (unless they were your trusted friends).
  • Secure your bedroom door with a good deadbolt lock and keep it locked at night.
  • Do not walk in dark alleys. Avoid going out late at night. 
  • Only withdraw money from ATMs inside malls.
  • Do not be too friendly with locals. You are always seen as the "rich one" and some will attempt to borrow money from you. If you decide not to lend them money, they will hate you for it and you can be a target for crime.
  • Avoid dating younger women as you can be a victim of extortion. There are syndicates who use underage girls as baits. These girls will pretend to be of legal age and lure unsuspecting foreign men.

Why I love Cats

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

My furry baby boy

What I love about cats

1. Cats are liquid. They conform to the shape of a container. Yep. Just like this:

Source: www.learnsomething.tips/

2. They don't need much to be entertained. Boxes will do. 
Source: www.breathefreelitterboxmate.com/

3. They are cute and cuddly. Yep. Even the big kitties are cute. 

Source: 2.bp.blogspot.com/

4. You don't need to buy them a bed. They will sleep anywhere. 

Source: www.webodysseum.com/

5. They can train your dog better than you. 

Source: www.londonbeep.com/

Cats are often misunderstood. They are mysterious and adorable at the same time. Most people I know who tells me they don't like cats are instantly converted as soon as they see my cat! Well who wouldn't like a kitty like him? He's a ball of fur! :)

My cat
Do you like cats? Tell us why in the comments section! 

Why Aldub is a Hit Among Filipinos

Monday, September 28, 2015

Alden and Yaya Dub

This split-screen TV love story has become the latest trend online and offline in the Philippines. What is with this kalyeserye that makes every pinoy so kilig?

At first I was like "Oh that's so baduy!" But that was before I watched an episode on Youtube. I had a hard time maintaining my "Poker face" while watching Alden and Yaya Dub on screen. What is with this couple that makes everyone feel giddy?

I think it's the incorporation of new-age "online romance" and long forgotten Filipino values that many Pinoys have been missing. In this fast-paced world where "ligaw" (courtship) is almost non-existent (couples hooking up only after a series of text messages etc.), Aldub offers Filipino viewers something refreshing.

Television's Responsibility to the Youth

Effects of television to the youth is tremendous. Kids nowadays are more exposed to TV programs that contain not so friendly themes for the youth. Parental advisory may be recommended but that doesn't mean parents are there all the time to supervise.

What are we teaching the youth of today? I see lewd actions or remarks on TV programs everywhere. Dating becomes so easy with the birth of social media and text messaging. Kids as young as 12 go out on dates and who knows what else they do behind their parent's backs. Our youth has lost most of our Filipino values. Teenage pregnancy is on the rise. What can media contribute to the youth?

What you can Learn from Aldub

Aside from each character's charm and hilarious lines, Aldub kalyeserye is also resurrecting Filipino Values that we have long forgotten. 

1. Traditional Filipino Courtship
It teaches us how to respect women and the rules set by her elders. Unlike modern courtship where couples are "nagliligawan sa kalye" or wala nang ligaw ligaw at diretso na sa dating, traditional filipino courtship can make people more "kilig". Just when you thought chivalry is dead, Alden's character in kalyeserye resurrects it. 

2. Elder's guiding their young
This is what youth of today needs--strict elders guiding them. I think we have become more liberated over the years and opinions of our elders do not matter much anymore. The Lola Nidora character reminds us of our Lolas and titas who once used to uphold the rules. 

My favorite quote from Lola Nidora:

"Walang kakahantungan ang mga bagay na minamadali."

-It teaches us why we should never rush things. Good things come to those who wait.

Other Things to do in Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Sunday, September 27, 2015

On the way to El Nido, we stopped at Puerto Princesa for 3 days. We stayed at this nice and cozy hotel called "Deep Forest Garden Inn" which is only less than 10 mins away from the airport. They have this lovely garden setting and a nice pool. For only Php 2,400/ night on their Deluxe room, it was a good deal.

When you talk about Puerto Princesa, places like Underground river, Honda Bay, Mitra Farm, and etc. comes to mind. But if you've been to Puerto Princesa before and have toured these places already, what is left for you to see?

Deep Forest Garden Inn at night. Photo from: Agoda.com

BM Beach

Just a few minutes tricycle ride from our hotel is BM Beach. We came in pretty early around 7am and there were no people around besides the caretaker. Entrance fee is Php 25.

BM Beach Puerto Princesa

The water is very shallow and you will have to walk further for the water to reach your waist. 

Nice clear water on a foggy day
To get there: If you have a car with you, drive along Puerto Princesa North Road from the City Center and just before you reach Robinson's near Kia/Nissan dealer, turn right to BM road. Drive all the way down and you will see the sign BM Beach Resort.
By tricycle: Just tell the driver BM Beach (they usually know where to go). Tell them its along BM road near Robinson's

Click to enlarge map

Pristine Beach 

Pristine beach is another lovely beach in Puerto Princesa. It is just a few minutes walk away from Deep Forest Garden Inn. Entrance fee is only Php 20.

Pristine Beach Puerto Princesa
Just take a tricycle to get there. The fare is only Php 10 per person. But be prepared to walk quite a ways from the gate of the resort since tricycles aren't allowed to go in.

Sunset at Pristine Beach

Crocodile Farm

Wanna see Lolong's relatives? Go to Palawan Wildlife Conservation Center (Crocodile Farm). It serves as sanctuary for Philippine Crocodiles. 

Crocodile skin
Wanna eat some crocodile meat? There's a food shop inside where they only serve crocodile meat.
Entrance fee is Php 40. It is located in Puerto Princesa South Road and from the city center, you can just take a tricycle for Php 500 roundtrip. 

You can even stop by Ihawig Prison or Baker's Hill since its both along the way. 

Do you know more places to tour in Puerto Princesa? Pls share in the comments section! :)

How to Register Online and Get Philhealth ID Easily

Friday, September 25, 2015

Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) is the most affordable health insurance in the Philippines. It is a social insurance program that provides a means for the healthy to pay for the care of the sick and for those who can afford medical care to subsidize those who cannot.

Every Juan should be a Philhealth member. It doesn't take much to apply.

1. Go to https://eregister.philhealth.gov.ph/

2. Fill up the registration form and attach a scanned copy of your birth certificate

3. Wait for the confirmation e-mail

4. You will then receive your Philhealth number after a few days.

5. After receiving your Philhealth number, just go to Philhealth office near you and get your ID.

Get your Philhealth ID

Go to the nearest Philhealth office near you and ask for the Philhealth Member Registration Form or PMRF. Fill up the form and submit it. They will print out your ID in just a few minutes.

In my case, I went to Robinson's Otis and got my Philhealth ID. Go there on a Thursday or Friday to avoid long lines. I got mine in less than 10 minutes! 

Digital Footprints Left by Our Loved Ones Who Passed

Thursday, September 24, 2015

source: www.indiatimes.com
It's been a year and 5 months since my mom passed away but I can still feel her presence (not in a paranormal way) but in a digital way. We used to email each other or talk via yahoo messenger. Sometimes I still email her and tell her about my day. I still read her old emails and also our conversations in Yahoo messenger. Somehow, emailing her helps me emotionally.

Examples of Digital Footprints She Left Behind After Death

1. Facebook

There's a debate whether to keep your dead loved one's account and continue managing them in order to keep their memories alive or just delete them upon death. In my mom's case, my stepdad deleted my mom's Facebook right away. I felt bad because I needed time to heal.  I wanted to keep her Facebook and see her activity history like posts that she liked, photos she shared, her comments--her whole activity while she's alive. 

2. Email Account

I still email her from time to time. There were some things I left unsaid and this is the only way I can tell her...

3. Yahoo Messenger

This one makes me sad. Sometimes I would randomly click on her name and this pops up.
"Mama appears to be offline and will receive your messages after signing in."

How I wish she will sign in again and message me.

5. E-cards

E-cards she sent me and I sent her.We used to exchange e-cards. In fact, I still send her sometimes. But since she wasn't able to view it, I get an email from the e-card company "E-card not viewed by Mama". I get a dose of reality whenever I get that email and yeah it makes me pretty sad.

In this day and age, digital footprints left behind by our loved ones would either comfort us or make it harder to move on. But the question remains whether we should keep it or delete it. I don't think I will delete her digital footprints. It reminds me of what we were as a mom and child. Reminds me of the good and bad, regrets, raw emotions we shared, and so much more.

ArmyNavy--It's a Burritoful World Indeed!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

I always pass by ArmyNavy Burger + Burritos in Harbour Square but I never get a chance to try it out since I have a habit of going to Starbucks or Icebergs instead. Recently, they opened a branch in Waltermart Makati but they were always full. I couldn't stop thinking of Burritos and somehow I gotta have them asap!

I looked up their website and found out that they deliver! Yay! To satisfy my Burrito cravings, I called their delivery hotline 333-3131 and ordered. In less than 30 minutes, my food delivery came and I get to finally taste their Burrito!

My food
I ordered their Chicken Burrito (flour tortilla with chicken, spanish rice, frijoles, onions, lettuce, and cilantro) served with salsa and a slice of lime.

Chicken Burrito
Since their French fries seem inviting, I ordered it too!

Freedom Fries
And their Nachos. Crunchy tortilla chips with cheese jalapeno sauce, salsa, beef toppings, and minced jalapeno.

Here's the Armynavy pricelist and menu:

armynavy menu

ArmyNavy has two branches in Makati:

New Glorietta
Space 2-017 2/F, Glorietta,
Ayala Center, Makati City
Tel: 808-9095

Waltermart Makati
Ground Floor

Well all I can say is, it's pretty good. Now excuse me while I order some dessert! :)


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Certified foodie. Crazy cat lady in training.