Getting Mugged In The Philippines

getting mugged in the philippinesMost days here in the Philippines things move along pretty smoothly.  Maybe once every two months you might have some minor inconvenience in the day.  But you know the day has taken a bad turn when you find yourself getting mugged by three men intent on stealing all your stuff.  That was pretty much how my day went from bad to worse two days ago.

It all started the night before.  I had made plans for an overnight trip to Bogo to check up on my piggies and see what there was to do in Bogo.  I’ve heard there’s a large expat community there but I guess I was looking in the wrong place.  After leaving the farm and securing an ‘ok’ room in downtown Bogo, a female companion and I went for a stroll to get something to eat and later did some karaoke over at the pier.  Now, in order to get to Bogo and have time for the farm I had to get up at 4:30am that day.  That’s tough enough for a night-owl like me, but it was further exacerbated by the fact that I didn’t go to bed until 3:30am.

So, that gave me about an hour’s worth of sleep before I took a quick shower, packed my stuff, gulped down some oatmeal and coffee to then jump on the back of a motorcycle at 5:30am for a bumpy ride to the pier, on the island of Bohol.  I slept a bit more during the 2-hour ferry ride to Cebu where I then caught a ride to Bogo after some bbq chicken for a post-breakfast snack.  (I do love that bbq, any time of day.)  It was about another 2 hour drive up the coast of Cebu to Bogo and then another 20 minutes or so to the piggy farm.

So.. there I was.  At the pier in Bogo at a karaoke place on a meager amount of sleep at around 9pm trying to sing ‘Sweet Caroline‘ after the vitamin B tablets had long worn off in giving me any boost to keep me going.  The beer wasn’t helping either.  I was toast.  My ladyfriend and I retired to the hotel and got some sleep, eventually.  The next morning I got my first clue it was going to be a rough day.  My throat was scratchy.. I’d caught the cold/flu she’d just gotten over.  Oh well, these things happen and besides.. totally worth it.  On the positive side, I did sleep well for about 8 hours which is more than I usually get.

I stopped along the way back to Cebu to shoot some video of a huge statue of the Virgin Mary atop a giant hill.  I was reminded how out of shape I am as I climbed the 100 steps or more to reach the top.. with a full bladder.  By the time I reached the top I not only got some pretty nice footage and photos but.. now I really, really had to go pee.  Normally I’d just find a bush and do my business.  But when you have a giant Virgin Mary statue looming right over your shoulder it seems best to just hold it in.  So I made my way down the cement steps again thinking I’d do the respectable thing and pee at the bottom of the hill, near the road.  But half-way down those steps as my bladder bounced with each step.. I just couldn’t take it anymore and with her looking on disapprovingly from above and behind me.. I stopped and found relief along the path.  I figured, “She’s a nice woman.. she’ll understand.”, and I made my way back to the road.

The drive along the coast is very pretty.  Lots of trees to the right and the blue ocean constantly peeking in from the left.  Small province towns along the way and vendors along the road selling everything from fruits to roasted nuts and handmade crafts.  It was a great drive but.. I could feel it, this cold/flu thing was invading my head, throat and lungs.  With each mile I could feel the life draining out of me.  Life sucks when you’re sick.  My eyes got all dry and itchy.. this was really starting to suck bad.

Now, a few days before this trip I’d made plans to meet with another one of my readers of the blog here.  I figured I’d be back from Bogo around 5pm and could meet up with him either at Ayala or SM mall for a beer.  He was already in Cebu and I had his number savedcrime in the philippines in my phone.  I finally got to Cebu and found myself at sundown in the Fuente Circle area after starting in the Mango Square area.  I normally stay at the Mercedes hotel, out by Pier 1, but I was open to the idea of a cheap room near Mango Square where this reader, George, and I could see what was going on as the clubs opened up that night.  Maybe grab a few SMLs and talk while the pretty girls pass by.  Having a place in walking distance made the most sense.  He already had a long-term room at one of the bigger hotels in the same area but all I needed was a place to lay my head for one night.

So I texted him and.. the text wouldn’t go through.  After several tries I finally figured I must have entered the number in wrong.  So I went to an internet cafe, logged into my email to double-check the number and.. no, I had it right.  But my texts weren’t go through and neither were any voice calls.  I tried some various prefixes like +63 but nothing worked.  Around 8pm I got a text from him but when I tried to reply.. still wouldn’t go through.  This was really getting frustrating.  I was sick, I had walked about 3 miles downtown and now I’ve got this tech issue with the texts not going through.  Things were not looking good.  The evening of a few beers with a new friend and checking out the local girls was beginning to fade away quickly as I found a place to sit in the mall and give my tired feet a break.

As my thoughts became more muddled from the nasal congestion and headache, I analysed the situation.  No communications possible with George, so that meeting up with him seems like it wasn’t gonna happen.  So, scratch that plan.  On to a new Plan B.  Since I didn’t find a room I cared for in this area of downtown, best to jump on a jeepney and get some dinner over at Ayala Mall.  The cool air-con would do me some good.  So off I went to Ayala where I enjoyed a slow, leisurely meal with some comfort food from Pizza Hut.

I decided that since I’d be catching the ferry the next afternoon from Pier 1, it made sense to find a room near there since I would most likely be feeling even more sick in the morning.  So I tried to exit the mall to get to the jeepney terminal and.. wouldn’t you know it; that particular exit was under construction.  So I had to drag my tired, sick self around the mall and back to get to the terminal.  I couldn’t find a jeepney that specifically said “Pier 1” so I asked around and they told me to catch the ride to the SM mall and just rap on the roof when I was ready to get off at the Pier in Cebu.

So there I am, bouncing along in the back of a jeepney just wishing for a nice room and some meds as we rambled on into the night.  I started to doze off and suddenly I heard people yelling and pointing at me.  Apparently we’d reached the Pier and the people who I’d asked had to remind the driver to stop so I could get off.  That was nice of them since otherwise I’d have ended up at the mall instead of the pier.  Things were looking up.  Sort of.

It was now around 9:30pm as I stepped off the jeepney at the park near Fort Pedro.  fort san pedro at night - philippinesThat’s sort of the “lover’s hangout” for the local kids.  Supposedly a hangout for ladyboys as well but the place was pretty much empty for blocks around on this Thursday night.  I got my bearings and began my walk to the Mercedes Hotel, which is about six or seven blocks from the park.  I’d walked that stretch before in both the day and night-time.  Tonight seemed no different.  So I hoofed it on through the dimly lit streets which skirt just along the edge of the Carbon Market area.

Now, as I’ve mentioned before here on the blog.. the Carbon Market is no place to be after the sun goes down.  It’s a pretty dark and desperate portion of the city that is only questionably safe during the day and definitely no-muy-bueno after the sun goes down.  If you’ve ever been around the garment district in LA or Skid Row after dark.. that’s what the Carbon Market is after dark.  People sleeping on the cement.  Others shuffling around with questionable intentions.  Scantily clad skinny girls who look like they haven’t slept in days.  Not a good place to be.

But where I had to walk was on just the outskirts of all this.  It’s kinda-sorta lit along the way and the brightly lit main street is in view only five blocks up the street with the promise that ‘normal’ city life was always just within reach.  So I strapped on my backpack, summoned up my strength, wiped my nose and began the trek to find a room for the night.

I got within two blocks of the main street, still in the sketchy area and I saw a sign for a room and figured I’d check it out since it was so close the the main drag.  I asked to see the room first and it was basically, a room.  Four walls, a bathroom and a bed.  It wasn’t the Mercedes Hotel, but I figured it would do.  It had air-con and it’s own bathroom.  Many of these places you only get a fan and the bathroom is shared, down the hall.  I figured it would do the trick for a night’s sleep and I got the room.  On a piece of cardboard above the scratched up glass where the clerk took payment it read; NO REFUNDS.  Hmm.

So I take my key and get into my room.  Compared to outside the room seemed cooler in temperature.  But between my growing fever, congestion and tiredness it seemed the longer I stayed in the room the warmer it got.  But.. like my Mom always says, “It could always be worse so, be thankful.”  I figured I’d make the most of it with a refreshing shower and then go to the nearest pharmacy for some cold/flu meds.  I went to the bathroom (which I’d failed to check during my initial inspection) and turned on the water.  After a few moments.. water began to slowly trickle out.  “Oh.. hell, no.”, was all I could say out loud.  At the rate it was dripping out it would take about 30 minutes for it to fill up a soda bottle.  Well, that sucked.  I put a pail under the trickle and figured I’d at least get enough water to wash my face by the time I returned from the pharmacy to finally get some sleep.

Leaving my backpack in the room, I locked up and went down the two flights of stairs back to the gray pavement that awaited me.  I knew there was a Rose Pharmacy just two blocks away and began walking there.  As usual, sketchy characters lurking about with nowhere to go.  Life had dealt them a bad hand and it led to them hanging out in this sultry, moist air with nothing much more than sheer desperation to keep them going.  “Well.. I can’t fix the entire world’s problems.”, I told myself.  And besides, this was no place to be seen handing out free cash.

So I made my way to the pharmacy, which fortunately was still open since the other ones I’d passed earlier had already closed down for the day.  I got a blister pack of BioFlu and a bottle of water which I then took soon as I got done paying for it.  I was already in the well-lit ‘safer’ area of downtown so I walked around a bit.  I was running on fumes but still doing okay.  But not okay enough to even entertain the idea of going to the bikini bar for a beer.  I stopped to look at some bootleg DVDs just out of sheer boredom and before I knew it, the vendors there recognized me from last month and all came to greet me.  Two of them were 15 year old girls working during their school break.  

dead battery - figuresI checked my phone to see if that George guy had texted again and noticed my battery was pretty much empty and ready to shut down.  I asked if they had a charger and for 20 pesos they let me charge my phone while I sat in a chair checking out the collection of DVDs.  The ladyboy went back to work while the two girls and the gay kid began asking me about where I was from, was I married, why not.. the usual battery of questions I get when meeting new people in the Philippines.   They were all very nice though.  They even remembered from my last visit that I lived in Bohol and asked me what it was like living there.

But I could feel my energy waning and after 20 minutes I figured my phone was charged enough for the night.  The room I rented only had one outlet and I didn’t feel like turning off the alarm clock by climbing the bed to reach the phone charging up behind the roof-mounted television with crappy reception.  I thanked them for their help and shuffled myself the two blocks back to my room.

It was on the way back that I began to think to myself.  I’d really picked out a crappy room.  As sick as I was I knew I’d be feeling even worse in the morning and not being able to take a shower until after doing a 2-hour ride on a ferry followed by a long walk through the jungle road just wasn’t a pleasant idea.  I really needed a room with a working shower.  I figured I’d have to kiss that money goodbye and just go for a room at the Mercedes Hotel like I usually do.  I figured I’d just grab my backpack, remember to get the money I’d hidden in the room and leave.

As I got within half a block to my room some wild-eyed, 20 year old, cranked-up street girl ran up in front of me.  She did her best to sell me on the idea of some sex or a massage.   I just kept on walking as she buzzed around me.  If she wasn’t on crack.. she was on something and I wanted no part of it.  I made my way up the stairs and she stopped following me.  I grabbed my backpack, hidden money, double-checked I’d not forgotten anything and dropped off the key at the clerk’s desk near the top of the stairs.  “You returning tonight, Sir?“, he asked.  “No.”, and with that I went down the stairs again leading to the street.

I almost got to the corner, and no sight of the crazy girl.  But I did notice that three Filipino men in their 20’s suddenly decided as I passed by to walk along-side me.  I kept on walking.  To my right was the building.  To my left was a metal fence about mid-waist high.  I didn’t have any option to suddenly change course, I was stuck in this sidewalk with these three guys walking shoulder to shoulder next to me on either side with one right behind me.  I knew this did not bode well.

I began to feel an irregular tugging on my backpack, which I had slung one strap over my left shoulder.  I began to turn to my left and the man on my left is smiling as he has his hand resting on the strap and my shoulder.  If there’s one thing I cannot stand, it is when someone touches me without my permission.  Anyone who knows me from my younger years knows.. I only touch or hug people I’m okay with.  Other than accidental bumping in crowds.. I begin to go kinda ape-sh*t inside when someone touches me that I don’t know.

So, there he is with his hand on my shoulder and backpack strap and we’re looking at each other eye-to-eye as I’m still walking.  In a very stern voice I told him, “What!?!  You need to remove your hand, right now.”  And then all hell broke loose.

I turned further to my left and now I could see that the man behind me was trying to open my backpack zippers.  I began to pull away from him when I felt another man reaching in and out of my pocket with my wallet in his hand.  At this point I stopped walking and as the guy on my left was pulling the backpack from me I looped my arm into it and began to wrestle with the guy on my right for my wallet.  After a few seconds the wallet fell to the cement and I quickly got it back and turned to my left.  But as soon as I did, the guy on my left snatched it away from me again.  I got my hand on it again but by now he’d pulled away my back pack and it was lying on the cement behind him.  I kept glancing to my right to keep an eye on the the two others as I faced off with the one who now had my wallet.

In these few seconds as everything transpired, I can honestly say I was far too angry, tired and pissed off to feel afraid.  These people were robbing me.  Nothing more complicated than that.  They had invaded my personal space and I was not going to leave without some form of satisfaction.  In my mind went so many thoughts so quickly.  My goal:  Avoid injury.  Disable attackers.  Leave.  That flashed in my head without effort.  I instantly recalled from years ago my tae kwon do instructor telling me, “What we do is for competition.  In a street fight, it’s not a long fight.  The only way to stop the fight is either run away or disable your attacker quickly.  Competition, we have rules.  In street fight, you are not bound by rules.”  It was like my mind was racing and everything was moving in very slow motion.  It was a very strange moment to have so much flooding my mind in those few nano-seconds of activity.

I expected one or both of the two others to either jump on my back or stab me from behind.  I knew if I got superficially stabbed my adrenaline and shock would get me through about 2 minutes of fight-time, barring a mortal wound.  The man and I were in a deadlock for my wallet and I didn’t have much time before the other two jumped in.  I looked at our body positioning and instantly I saw my clear shot.  With no obstructions I pulled my right leg back and kicked upward right between his legs and clocked him square in the balls.  He never saw it coming.  I kicked him so hard his back end went up.. he let go of the wallet instantly and before he could even grab his balls he fell face first into the pavement.

One thing about landing a punch or kick.. never assume it’s over, always follow up.   I side-stepped to the left so he couldn’t grab my ankles and where I’d have a clear shot at his head or a side-shot to the other two guys on my right.  I had nobody on my left-side since the fence was there.  But I looked for motion and from what I can tell, he must have knocked himself out on the pavement.  Normally he’d be either curling up into a fetal position after a hit like that or rolling and groaning.  But he wasn’t moving and not a sound was coming out of him.  Apparently, reflecting on it later, I’m guessing he was the leader because when he went instantly from wrestling with me to down and unconscious.. the other two backed off immediately.  Holding my wallet in my right hand and grabbing my backpack off the cement with my left hand I stepped away about five paces and turned around so they couldn’t attack me from behind again.  The other two just stood there and as it became clear they were still confused about what happened to their cohort, I yelled at them loudly;  “You F*ckers!“.  I was so pissed off and worked up I was actually wanting the other two to come at me.  When I saw they began to check out what damage the other one had I took that opportunity to begin sprinting up the street to the bright lights two blocks away.  Just before the final corner I reached an armed guard outside some business and, gasping for air as I spoke I told him as I passed by.. pointing behind me,  “Three guys just tried to rob me.. those f*ckers!” and I kept going.

I kept looking back to see if the other two would try to find where I went, but no sign of them anywhere along the street from there to where I was, near the pharmacy.  I quickly made my way another block around the corner to the Mercedes Hotel, walked past the guard at the door and immediately got a room from the clerk.  Alfredo, the 60 year old bellhop I see every time I stay there, led me to my room and set up the t.v. for me like he always does.  I tipped him and as he left I made sure to use the deadbolt on the door along with the doorlock.  I was sweaty, congested, full of adrenaline and paced around with excess energy as I tried to wrap my mind around what just happened only minutes ago.

Here I was in a neat, clean hotel room with cable t.v., a real bathroom with real hot and cold water, a bed with fresh linen and as I looked out from the sixth floor window down into the dark alleys of downtown below I knew I was lucky to be alive.  Had they been armed I’d be lying there down in that darkness hoping I somehow got to a hospital in time.  I’ve had several close calls in my life before, but not for a good fifteen years or so.  But now, this.  Well, this put my crappy day of inconveniences back into perspective.  I was alive!  I was still standing.  I peeled off my shirt and checked for injuries.  Not even a scratch or bruise.  This could have gone extremely bad.  And yet, here I was.. alive and ready for a much needed shower.

I took a hot shower for the longest time.  I just kept closing my eyes and tried to get refocused on something else.  Little by little I calmed down, dried off and got into some comfortable clothes to see what was on t.v.  I was too hyped to sleep still.  I spent about an hour distracting myself with the Discovery channel.  Some show about a guy who travels the world taking on food-dares.  In one clip he’s eating the world’s hottest pepper.  In another he’s preparing his own blowfish meal which if done incorrectly would kill him from eating the fish’s poison.  I actually caught myself thinking, “Wow.. that guy’s crazy.”

Well, this is the part where you get to tell me I had it coming for being out late at night.  It’s not like I had no clue this might happen.  I simply chose to push the odds and on this night, the odds pushed back.  But I’m not completely insane.  Next time I need to get from the pier to the Mercedes I will most likely take a cab.  I may not recognize them but they might recognize me and want some payback.  Much better to get some curbside service straight to the hotel.

But just to put things into perspective.. I grew up in Perris, CA.  Try going to the Perris Walmart at night and tell me that’s safe.  I lived in Hemet, CA.. try walking past the empty Walmart parking lot there after dark.   When I told a friend of mine here what had happened, she said that she’d been robbed in that same area years ago.. but in broad daylight at knife-point.  In broad daylight.  With crowds of people walking only a few feet away from where she’d been pulled into an alley.  People get carjacked, in first-world countries right there in the mall parking lot during business hours.  Murrieta, CA.. once voted the 2nd Safest City on the West Coast only 7 years ago.. now has had several reports of men attempting to abduct young girls off the street and a drug manufacturing issue to deal with.

My point being.. those 3% who commit the majority of crimes, they are in any city with people in it.  Yes, walking the street at 10:30pm is not a smart idea.. but walking that same street at noon is no guarantee you’ll have a crime-free day either.  Sometimes crime literally comes right to your doorstep, into your home through a locked window as you do the dishes or watch t.v.  Life itself comes with risk.  We risk life or death every time we drive down the road hoping the oncoming driver isn’t either drunk or texting at the wheel.

mugged in the philippinesI’ll try to manage my risk quota a bit more proactively, but simply remaining in the Philippines will probably be considered a crazy idea to some people.  There’s crime in my old home-town, there’s crime here.  Desperate people do desperate things.. no matter what country they’re in.  I love the Philippines.  And a few bad apples have not swayed my plans at all.  We can’t judge the entire US simply by the desperation that infests Los Angeles Boulevard after dark.  By and large.. the Philippines is a wonderful place to be.  And I intend to see more of it.


Henry “Reekay” V.


Author: Reekay V.

Since 2012 I’ve been traveling through various islands of the Philippines as a full-time Expat and spent 1999 living in Vietnam.

Share with me my ongoing adventures of life in the Philippines. Hopefully you find my observations helpful in your own adventures.
— Reekay


  1. Henry, I'm glad to hear you were able to fend off the punks…. take care Brother , I enjoy reading your adventures.

  2. Henry I’m glad you were OK. I was in Cebu in April and stayed at the Tune Hotel. Very clean and only about 30 USD a night and they have great security.

    1. I saw that place at one point during the night. It seems to be a rule of thumb that hotels that can’t afford security probably need it the most. ha!

  3. If you were a true journalist, U would go back and interview that mugger and ask him how is it having the voice of a falsetto now lol WTG, SUPER HENRY!
    Stop putting yourself at risk….get in a cab and ride on out!
    I too am happy you are OK

    1. Yah.. only in hindsight did I see how dangerous a situation it was. At the time, I saw no weapons so I was mostly ticked off.. and having the flu didn’t help my attitude either. : / As for the guy who got his nutz compressed, I really don’t feel sorry for him at all. He brought it on himself the moment he decided to violate another person.

  4. Damn Henry… what some people do for a little excitement…. glad to hear that you were not hurt….you are right crime is every where.. just practice common sense!!

  5. Hey Henry – Quite a story! Glad to hear it had a happy ending and you weren't hurt. I fully understand the running on anger thing. No sympathy for bad boys. If there's a next time, tatoo him by grinding your heel into his face after he's down.

    1. Once he’s disabled and can’t fight, I got no time for him. But if the other two had come at me, at least then I’d see it coming.

  6. WOW Henry!!!!!! you have gone out of your way now to impress your readers. never read any adventure like this one in any other expat blog. it was truly keeping me on the edge of my seat. my goodness, the literary fairy is giving you exciting adventures to write about. I bet the guy with the bruised balls thinks about them next time he tries to pull that kinda sh*t again. I am proud of you Henry and glad it all worked out ok and you are safe. I will speak with the literary fairy and see if she can just “chill out” a little and give you a break.

    1. ha! Fortunately I’m just about done with the flu/cold thing, so I’m happy about that. Today is some Fatima festival in the village where I live. I ended up at a neighbor’s house a little while ago and they invited me in for lunch. Roasted Piggy (Lechon), lumpia, rice, siomai, pancit, shrimp.. mmm, it was a very nice treat. They were to surprised to hear that I’m not married. Later tonight is a pot-luck dinner so I guess I better cook something up in a few hours. 🙂

  7. When I was young I used to walk late at night on the streets of NYC. Come to think of it I got mugged once for just that reason. I too am a bit of a risk taker but I hope you will take care of yourself. We need to hear from you for years to come or at least till I retire in PI.

    1. I’ll do what I can. Being single and on my own recon, I end up in places that I’d never take other people to chance on. I won’t risk other people’s safety. As for me, well.. I got stuff to work out still.

  8. Wow! Superman.
    Glad you are OK. Really enjoy your writings. Would have been a bummer if it had scared you away from Phil 🙂

    1. No chance of that. I love it here. I’d be dealing with the same chance of criminal element back home wandering the streets of Riverside eventually. So I’d rather be here enjoying the tropical weather and awesome beaches. 🙂

  9. Glad to hear you’re okay Henry. Please be careful, we want to read more of your happenings over there.

  10. Glad your safe. I guess it wouldn’t hurt now to polish up those Tae Kwon Do skills for future use, huh? Better yet, just stay off the dark streets Henry. Daytime fiestas and pot-luck dinners are much, much safer! 😉

    1. Interestingly enough, the day before the attack I was just telling a friend of mine that I need to exercise more. My plan is to do Zumba off Youtube here at the house and practice Bo short staff, which I already know.. but I want to learn Eskrima/Kali since that is the traditional Filipino stick-fighting method. I can also do double-nunchaku fairly quickly blindfolded. But the advantage with Eskrima is that practice done with the sticks are the same movements without them.. so the actions are the same even when unarmed. Tae Kwon Do is good for kicking, I was only lucky there was enough room in that tight sidewalk to do my kick. So, in close quarters Eskrima would be more practical along with TKD knee and elbow punches. Hopefully I never have to fight again, but the exercise at home will help keep me in shape. 🙂 And speaking of fiestas.. I just went to a Fatima gathering a little while ago.. lots of Lechon, mmmm!

  11. as Forrest Gump’s mama would say”life is like a box of chocolates…you never know what you’re going to get” especially when walking around seedy neighborhoods late at night.but holy bat testicles!!! being jumped by three thugs!that’s enough for me to question my sanity for even considering a move to phils.luckily for you though,your go-go gadget foot and batman like reflexes saved the day(or night) for you.I guess his gobstoppers really got turned into a cherry mash huh.ha!And you even got away with all your stuff!good to know you’re ok henry.i have just 1 question for you.what.exactly. did transpire between the time you arrived at the hotel with your lady friend and the time when “eventually” arrived..hmmm??i mean geez…you were running only an hour of sleep and you still managed to reach into your bag of tricks and pullout enough stamina for some extra cirricular activities?wow!!! i bow to you .Henry.i need some cohorts like you to keep me inspired during what i believe maybe an intense courting period once i have arrived and settled in philippines.and i don’t have your defensive training or superhuman capabilities to fall back on.i guess i will have to be doubly rides only for me then!

    1. Well, regarding what happened before ‘eventually’ getting some sleep.. a gentleman never reveals a lady’s secrets. 😉 But suffice it to say I was ready for sleep after using up what reserve energy I had left in me. Be sure to look me up when you get to Cebu or Bohol. I’ll show you a few moves and you’ll be ready to give anyone “what-for” if some thugs bother you. Although you’re more likely to end up with some cutey on your lap instead. ha! No need to fight them off. 😉

  12. Henry, glad you're ok…as I said before, be careful out there….looking forward to reading more of your adventures…..

  13. Hey Henry, you are very lucky to be alive after the mugging. Those three muggers will be much more prepare next time because they will learn from their mistakes. I am glad you are Ok. Mercedes Hotel and Century Hotel are not in a good area. Cheap hotels are not cheap because safety does cost a lot if you get stab or shot. The hospital bills will cost more than anything lost to the muggers. I would not stay in a hotel located in a bad area in the USA because there are more bad people in bad area. My chance of getting hurt will increase a lot more in a bad area day or nigh. Fighting back will get you kill because muggers are desperate. In Cagayan de Oro we have passenger get killed inside the Jeepny during daytime because they fight back. My girl friend get mugged inside the Jeepny around 9:00PM. She lost her cell phone and lucky not her life. I told my girl friend to throw the cell phone and money as far as she can in all direction then run. A life cost a lot more than a cell phone and couple thousand of peso. Enjoy the good life in the Phil but it is possible if you are alive.

    1. I hear your logic about not fighting back, and I think everyone has to decide for themselves what they will do. But statistics show that most rapists want a cooperative victim and will abandon an assault when it gets complicated with a fight or resistance. For this reason women across the US take defensive training against attackers.

      If thugs, rapists, murderers were reasonable and rational people who were engaging in some sort of fair contract then I suppose their intentions could be trusted. But that’s far from the case. Willfully cooperating is no guarantee they will simply take the items and leave. Now that they know this person is afraid, it is very reasonable to presume they will see what else they can take.. not just belongings, but rape and possibly murder now that they have a pliable, fearful, willing victim who will do exactly what they are told.

      Some victims get killed because they resisted. Many victims get killed because they complied with their attacker. Every person has to choose for themselves.. just how much do they trust the intentions of their attacker. Me, I don’t trust them. I’m not about to leave my fate hanging in the mercies of a criminal and hope for the best. So long as it’s possible to defend myself with a reasonable chance of success, that is what I’ll do.

    2. In regards to ‘good’ and ‘bad’ areas in relation to crime.. Ayala Mall would be considered an upper-scale, ‘good’ area to be in. And yet, plenty of drug-addled prostitutes clean themselves up enough to go hunting for naive expats there every day. Pickpockets as well. SM Cebu is another supposedly ‘good’ area and yet I wouldn’t be surprised if I were to find out that people have been assaulted and/or robbed right in their parking garage. Thieves go where the money is. Beverly Hills, Malibu, San Diego, Manhattan.. it really doesn’t matter how ‘nice’ or ‘good’ the neighborhood is.. it’s just the very bait that attracts criminals. Bottom line, crime is everywhere. That’s why we lock our cars at the mall and check for our wallet every so often.. even in ‘nice’ areas.

      1. You are right about Ayala Mall. I was approach by a filipina unknown to me inside the mall. I was standing at the rail looking down the floor below and drinking my cold coffee to pass the time. She approaches me and tries to strike up a conversation. She suggested that we go outside and have a drink. I can sense that something bad is going to happen if I take up her offer. I could have drug in my drink and more if I take her offer. Fighting back works in some case but does not work in other case. No bank allows its worker to fight back bank robber to protect bank’s money. Banks just let robber takes what they want and let the police do the rest. It is not easy to break into a mansion with all the security measure in place. I have not heard Bill Gate’s mansion get broken into. But mansion is not crime free either. Good neighborhood has lower crime rate (not crime free), better school and better police responses. Property in good neighborhood is more expensive too. All the professional wants to live in good neighborhood. Only those who cannot afford it is stuck in bad neighborhood. Even drug king pin wants to live in good neighborhood. Even policeman wants to live in good neighborhood. Even mugger wants to live in a good neighborhood instead of where they come from. Fighting back has the most to gain in case of rape. It depends of what kind of crime is committed. It is not cool to walk at night in dark places US or the Phil be it good neighborhood or bad. I just do not want to depend on luck for my longevity.

        1. Yep, my very first time visiting Ayala Mall.. I was on the property only 8 minutes and some crack-Pro was hitting me up as I got off the escalator to look around. They know the new faces from the regulars. They’re like sharks. And some of them are working with guys who show up at the room.. a whole pre-arranged robbery. Can’t trust ’em.

  14. An article worth looking at; [quote]

    “Almost all studies show that resistance is successful in preventing the completion of a personal crime. This holds true in rape, robbery, and assault. Resistance is an especially effective tactic in preventing most rapes. A woman who physically resists a rapist doubles her chance of escaping rape.

    “Another study asked resisting victims of violent crimes whether their resistance helped or hurt their situations. The responding victims overwhelmingly stated that resistance helped them in the majority (63%) of cases. This statistic holds true for all of the crimes examined (rape, robbery, and assault). Resistance only hurt their situations about 9% of the time.” [end quote]

    1. You might start teaching self defense over there Henry. You will have 2 students for sure when we get there.

      1. About a month ago a Filipina was asking me to teach her some basics of self-defense that women can use. She has been attacked before and as I told her a few things she can do, which do not require a lot of strength, she was very surprised. For a woman, to be able to even temporarily disable an attacker long enough to break free and run is worth knowing. I am making plans to give her actual hands-on training next time I see her. There are some videos on Youtube for basic self-defense against attackers, but they must by physically practiced with a partner to build up ‘muscle memory’ so that it is a reflex, not a mental effort. The mind may panic, but if the muscles have learned the moves, it will kick in. “Practice. Practice. Practice”, was my teacher’s constant advice. 🙂 link:

  15. Henry, Nice information about resistance not being futile. Now I know you recently turned fifty, and I am a few years older than you. Let me just say, you’re too old for this type of nonsense. Be safe.

    1. All the more reason I need to stay in shape. When I was in California I saw a guy at the beach doing para-surfing.. which requires a lot of strength to hold the sail up on a surfboard. As I met the guy when he came to shore, it turned out he was in his late 60’s and he had rippling muscles.. he could definitely still take care of himself. I know there comes a point where age and sickness make us basically helpless. Definitely into our 70’s and beyond. But I’m not there yet. 🙂 Even so, check this out..

  16. So if you would have just stuck to your normal routine and go to the Mercedes Hotel to begin with instead of trying something different, then you would have saved yourself some money, not run into a problem and things would still be the same as usual. You’d still be doing the same old, same old.
    What I’m wondering is, now that it’s over and you didn’t get hurt, are you glad it happened? Does it further help you put things in perspective? You now know how you will react in a situation that many will never experience, not that we want to. Did it help you learn anything about yourself?

    1. Good questions, and yes.. I’ve been reflecting on the incident a lot now that my body chemistry has calmed down. I’m glad it happened in a sense because my luck had been so good for 15 years that I think I’d become too complacent about the risk. It’s the way we humans think.. “if it’s never been a problem, it probably won’t be a problem”. But just like flipping a coin, past data has no affect on the current toss. (I learned that the hard way at the roulette table.) I watch people more closely now. And I do profile. The 70 year old woman ‘might’ be a mugger in disguise.. but I really doubt it. Mostly I keep an eye out for shady looking men between 16 and 35 years old who seem to be loitering. Problem is.. here in the PH, there are so many incredibly beautiful women at every turn to distract me. ha!

      So, basically.. I’m more alert. And I know that there is no time for hesitation. No point in starting conversations like, “What are you doing?”, “Don’t take my stuff.”, etc. When someone grabs you or attacks you, time for ‘talk’ is over. The only communication they’ll pay attention to at this point is some form of excruciating pain. That is why I believe training and having that knowledge ahead of time is so important. In my incident, my hands were busy getting my stuff back. If it had been solely self-defense, it doesn’t take much to put someone into a world of hurt. It just comes down to who is most prepared and acts the quickest. For instance.. take two or three fingers and grab about an inch of flesh in your underarm and give it a good twist. Feel that? Now imagine someone practically lifting you off the ground with that much force.. just from two or three fingers. It won’t kill them, but it will give you the chance to distract them with enough pain to make an escape.

    2. By the way.. I’m not really into getting stuck into ‘ruts’. It’s too easy to find a nice place to eat and then keep eating there. Gotta try out new foods, new places to eat.. new places to stay, visit, etc. Some people like the security of ‘sameness’ and routine. Me, I like to mix it up and see what’s out there. Yah, it comes with some risk.. but it also comes with the reward of meeting some really cool people and finding some really nice places to visit. 🙂

  17. Greetings Mi Amigo – Glad you are safe and sound……….as we have much to do in July.

    Be safe, enjoy su vida, and take a cab next time!!!!!!! You have far too many good times ahead, to take chances! Julio is coming!!!!!!!!!

    Esta Listo???? Buahahhahahahhahaha

  18. Just read this Henry. Crazy and glad your safe. Never quite like a Van damne

    1. Yah, my weekend during the 1st of June I decided to take a cab from Pier 3 to my hotel. I’ll tussle if my back’s against the wall, but discretion is definitely the better part of wisdom.

  19. I just recently came back from a US trip and I skipped a similar incident right in front of SEATAC. In Manila I love the security of being in my own car and usually stick to taxis when I go out of Luzon places such as Cebu, Bohol, Leyte or Davao.

  20. Cebu is the mecca of Arnis/Kali/Escrima (different names, same martial art). Google it, Henry. You might want to visit..or not.

    1. I’ve heard it called Kali and Escrima and I’m very interested. For now I’m on Bohol, only get to Cebu maybe once a month. There’s a small dojo near Tagbilaran, might check that out soon.

  21. Yes Henry, Cebu is a cesspool, you have to know where you can and cannot go at certain hours of the day. I am 65 and have a military (Marine Corps) background. I like to walk at night because it's so cool in the evening and little humidity. I also had several instances in the 8 years I've lived here where muggers thought I was easy prey. When you kick off your slippers and take up a fighting stance it takes the wind out of their sails and they usually go look for easier prey. I never had to fight, they always were discouraged that I didn't voluntarily hand over my backpack and wallet. I know I am very fortunate that most the muggers never had weapons. one had a knife but didn't know how to use it and he eventually just ran away.

  22. I did a video about how it seems any big city, anywhere, produces the worst out of people when there are more people than resources (food, shelter, jobs). Carbon Market is the worst part of Cebu. It has it's better points, Taoist Temple, Mountain View Park, etc. But the inner city.. even in the day-time I'm watching anyone near me. Even when wearing my backpack I've felt people behind me messing with it. Like you said, you confront them and they back off. Most are opportunists without a plan.

  23. I like your teachings on self defence, Reekay. Especially, the baton in the backpack, in a ninja sword position ready to go. I thought I would need to sneak a taiser in with me, but the flashlight/taiser sounds great, and can be tucked away for access after a good beating with a stick.

    While we are happy you made it out in good shape, if it happens again, God forbid, could you video it for us? 😀 We can dub in some Jacky Chan sound effects 😀 Biro lang!

  24. Bob here's a nice flashlight for your walks.Guard Dog Special Ops 8 gds8000bk 1 39.50
    Million Volt Stun Gun/
    Tactical Flashlight
    Combo- Black

  25. thats a real crappy area you stayed at . that whole area sucks mercedes hotel . even the pier for the boats the park is all crystal meth heads hang out! I know because my wife went to college right there !

    1. The Carbon Market area as well as the area near the E-Mall (Elizabeth Mall).. both are bad areas of town. Lots of shabu-junkies, dealers, pickpockets and phone-snatchers in both those areas. It’s all kinda relative though.. the inner part of any big city, Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, New York, Miami.. they’ve always got some area where all the desperation seems to collect in one spot. It’s not a Philippines trait, it’s a ‘big city’ trait. Even so, I’ll take Cebu over Manila any day. I still visit Cebu every month.

      1. I ‘ve been surfing the net in search of a good site about Cebu that wasn’t a travel site when I came upon your page. I watched a couple of your videos as well as reading some of your tales and adventures thank you for sharing. I be keeping up with you through out the year while planning my trip to Cebu this sept, 2015. i’ll use your tips and warnings thanks again and i’m glad that you got out of your situation unscaved

  26. This type of thing is one of the reasons i enjoy being 6’4, no one usually f*cks with someone that is that tall, especially in a country where most of the residents are 5’0. And the ladies don’t seem to mind tall guys either. 😛 Great job Henry, glad you didn’t get hurt.

    1. I just now got back (March, 2014) and am on Bohol.. but I’ll be in Cebu next month and check it out. I’ve stayed at Mercedes a lot, I personally think it’s a great deal despite the neighborhood. 🙂

  27. Wow, Henry, you are lucky. 3 to 1 in the dark, in a foreign country, nobody else around, I’d have started HITTING, hard, and fast, not grabbing anything but testicles or throats. 🙂

  28. This is a great blog mate. Keep up the excellent work. Love reading about your adventures and its great information and inspiration for people like me who are researching a place before they arrive. If you’re in Manila between the 25th April to 2nd May please let me know would be great to have a beer. Feel free to use my email here to contact if necessary.

  29. glad your safe, had a person from a hostel I stayed at, went divisoria (unsafe at night risky in the day, lot of snatchers) got on jeepney then one grabbed his wallet as he went to pay, grabbed for his wallet, seems the rest on the jeepney thought he was fair game, got stabbed and thrown out of jeepney, was found next day floating in the river, walkers passing by just threw his body there (I shop there every trip but keep to main areas)

  30. Grew up in So Cal too. Close call. Age 20-30: Nothing good happens after midnight.
    Age 31-40: Nothing good happens after 11PM
    Age 41-50: Nothing good happens after 10PM
    Age 51: Well, I won’t go there.
    Glad you’re well.
    You recommend the Mercedes in Cebu?

  31. These kinds of real life stories make me wonder if I actually already live in a paradise despite the cold weather and short summer… in my country there are zero places where I wouldn’t feel safe to walk at any time of the day or night, and the chances of getting mugged are virtually non-existent unless you are very drunk and actively seeking for confrontation. But then again THE paradise with all the beautiful girls and tropical weather is very appealing.. just visited the Philippines for the first time a couple of months ago. Thanks for all the articles and videos!

  32. Carry a couple of full cans of pop or beer in a cloth bag inside a plastic bag doubled up. The plastic bags you get at all the stores and street vendors. Put your hand through all the straps and twist it, then grab the twist. Hit some one up side the head and they will stop for a second. Also they have super high powered little flashlights that I will carry in my fist, blinds a guy quick. I live by Tacloban, but always keep my head turning and always keep my wallet hidden. A friend carry's a fake decoy wallet with a few 20 peso notes in it. It is more dangerous in a big inner city in the US. Most people here can't rub 2 pesos together, don't have the 50- 60, 70,000 or more pesos a gun costs or more. I love Filipinos but they are short on planning, no slur just a fact. Everyone in the US is armed and I have to carry there.

  33. No way I would risk getting killed over some dumb shit like that. I read way too many stories about people over there getting killed because they chose to resist. Shit place aint america where its legal to kill someone thats trying to rob your house or murder you. I would be too damn scared that the laws in another country would prohib me from fighting back. Especially since their cops is way worse than the ones here in america. I mean I would love to live in Cebu or visit one day. But if a group of guys there ever tried to mug me. Im giving the shit up. Money can't bring you back to life. Then again Im the type of man that would be seen walking them streets with a fuckin Rott Reiler or a German Shepard. Two of em. But from what heard the Phils have a lot gun ownerships so yeah man Angels had yo back.

  34. I like to travel to Dumaguete but I dont know where to start. I am a filipina living in Germany no relatives in PH. I need a travel companion. Please help.

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