Crime in the country never occurs if anticipated. It happens when least expected. That is how crafty and stealthy criminals are. A lot of victims swore that they never felt they were being wronged at all. The offenders are almost like professional magicians. They knew when to attack. They can outsmart anyone they intend to target.
When a friend proposed that he would visit me in my area, in a remote provincial town—-a good 1,500 kilometer distance from his place and he intends to travel by land, which means a 5 day ordeal on the road, he intends to challenge the gods of luck and yes, go through a period of backbreaking expedition. It is not the tiresome journey though, because the sights are exciting but the travails of being victimized by crime that matters actually. That was my principal concern. But it was never a matter of significance according to my friend. He can smell danger a mile ahead so no worry.
A trip to memory lane
And so my friend took a provincial bus and commuted. We grew up in an urban area, virtually rubbed elbows with bullies and delinquents, exchanged notes and even participated in petty offenses, we were as smart as street smarts can be. No one can fool us unless we play the fool ourselves. No one can push us unless we allowed it. With that in mind, my apprehension for my friend, who, like me is already a senior citizen and therefore physically helpless to indulge in a cat and mouse run around with crooks, has been subdued.
I could monitor his pictures on Facebook since he would post photos where he is. He would pose in every landmark of the province he would stop by for a station break. And he was indeed a picture of a kiddo during its first field trip. Traveling on the South Road was a treat he pledged to himself. He has seen almost the entire US as a Federal worker, he might as well see the whole of his country of origin since he has retired and has all the time in the world to offer in adventure. It was also his first time to travel southward.
Onwards to the countryside
He was confident that he could muster everything to reach his goal. He is still healthy and has no physical irregularity that would impede his movement. His mind is stable since he plays the chess regularly as a ranking contender and reads a lot. On top of that, he has got the mullah, the dough, the fund making him liquid in every activity he would lay his interest on. He receives his monthly pension in dollars and that means a buck is almost 50 times greater than the ordinary peso in the currency. The implication there is the fact that he is bigger if not greater 50 times than his local neighbor.
Such confidence allowed him to defy convention and went ahead to check on friends even if they are situated at the ends of the earth. For my friend, he thought that I was in that situation. He must see me before I fall off from the precipice. He knew me. We came from the same neighborhood. We are urbans boys through and through. Unless there is a very important reason, he will never believe that I would choose a remote area to spend my time. And that reason may perhaps be that I am hiding my miserable condition from my peers. He wanted to check how I am and if possible rescue me.
Off he goes in the continuing journey or a friendly crusade. Mid way through his tour while stretching his aching body on the inter-island barge, he dozed off only to realize that his expensive gadget has been plucked out. Realizing that he lost a valuable item and that it was intentionally fished from him, he made a little commotion, short of a scandal, until the unit has been returned to him. It was a minor breach inside the barge which should give my classmate a friendly reminder to be alert all the times. But excitement drowned whatever upheaval he may have caused.
He reached Davao on the fifth day together with a fellow retiree. I immediately drove to the Bus Terminal to see a good friend. It has been a full year since we joined a celebration which allowed us to see our elementary classmates we never saw for the last 50 years.
We were so glad to see each other. My friend was hale and his cheeks were still pinkish, a sign that he has lived in a cold climate for several decades. He was generous too. He instantly gave me an expensive wine! It was a token, a symbol of superiority. I reckoned and responded accordingly by volunteering to take them around as their tour guide and driver.
I brought them to my house and later took them to a food trip, the finest gourmet in the city. I escorted them to see the city’s botanical and zoological garden. I could have taken them to more but my classmate begged off. Aside from checking my situation, he also wanted to see more of the countryside. I volunteered to assist him but he wanted to proceed on his own. He was that assertive and self-assured. The next thing I heard was his scheduled trip. He went to Mati, Davao del Norte and experienced up-close how it was to receive the first break of dawn. Davao del Norte is the first province where the eastern sun would show on the horizon. And he was there for a couple of days.
A case of the missing wallet
And then, as quickly as his posts on internet, he was already in General Santos City (Gensan). He was about to turn around, reaching the goal, the farthest, the southern tip of the country, when he felt there was something remiss. He enjoyed watching how yellow fin tuna are harvested, transported and then presented in sliced pieces for export. He relished the tropical wind, the thick vegetation, the innocent looking beautiful lasses he would meet. He was about to declare that he was in paradise until he felt that his wallet is gone already!
Gone were his Identification Cards, bank notes, cash and a handful of dollars. He could not believe what happened. It was impossible that he would be duped. It was equally untenable if someone would snatch his valuable in broad daylight. If at all he would be emptied of his resources, it was because he threw a big party in the terminal and like Willie Revillame, gave out cash for no reasons at all. But he was just an ordinary traveler that day.
He alarmed the terminal personnel and asked if there was CCTV in the area. I had the same experience at Manila Airport where my shoulder bag was ripped away, without my awareness, although my bag was right there in front of me all the time. I sought the CCTV footage to check how it happened. In my case, at the precise time when I was waiting at the bay area and the camera was about to zoom in, it zoomed away as if it eluded that significant frame how my bag was snatched. The CCTV gave nothing to me. I lost almost half of my lifetime savings that time. I could only blame my katangahan. How I wish to know who the fellow who did it to me not to exact vengeance but for me to offer him my respect. He was that adept and skillful!
There I was priding myself as one of the five brightest thinkers in the field of Philippine Corrections in the country and there I was virtually conned.
From the looks of it, my friend never saw what happened to him on CCTV also and how his wallet was forked out. He could only proceed to the police station to have the incident blottered.
History on Thievery
I remembered reading an article about Philippine History. Sometime in March 6, 1521 Ferdinand Magellan marooned his ship in an island in the Philippines and tried to mix and greet the natives. When he returned to his ship, he found that the natives had a grand time ripping away their valuables. Before the country was christened as Philippines, Magellan referred to it as Islas de los Landrones (Islands of Thieves). He was baffled because the natives that he encountered were economically prosperous. They have abundant foods and organized. Yet he felt that probably the culture that defines the natives was one of thievery.
Well, I don’t know if there is any connection with ancient culture but from the looks of it, the criminal culture has not left us since. Our country, for victims, may as well be fittingly called Islas de los Landrones!