Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Of Cops and Thieves (STORY # 11, 12, 13)

STORY # 11

After CRC, my friends and I put up a corporation and tried our luck with the restaurant business. We were in the center of Ermita, the melting pot of foreign tourists. One day, a group of money exchangers and an American sat in one of our tables and ordered soft drinks. I saw them talking and one of them counted some pesos and gave the money to the American. The American in turn gave them his dollars. Then they left the restaurant and went their own way. One of my waiters told me "Naku, Ma'am. Kawawa naman ang Kanong yon. Naisahan siya ng mga hustler. Nabawasan na yong pera bago binigay sa kanya."

Only a few minutes later, the American came back with a policeman looking for the group of money exchangers. We told the police they all left with the American at the same time. The policeman told me that they swindled the tourist. When the American went back to his hotel and counted the money again, a considerable amount of money was already missing. The angry American even thought that we were in cahoots with those money exchangers. We calmly told him that we're not.

A week later, the same group of money exchangers came in with a foreigner. I told the foreigner that such kind of transaction is not allowed in our restaurant. We don't have a license for money exchange. In a subtle way, I conveyed to him that he should go to a legitimate money exchange shop and not to trust people on the streets of Ermita.

STORY # 12

After many years of avoiding Baclaran, I had to take the jeep from there going to Harrison. I had Jobo bills in my bag which I will convert to cash in Central Bank. I only brought a small bag with me so I could clasp it with my two hands. From the time that I sat on the jeep I was almost not breathing, consciously looking at the hands of the passengers beside me. I was continuously praying that I arrive Central Bank without any thief trying to rob me. Then I noticed the passenger in front of me got a small paper from his boots. He then unfolded the small paper and it turned out to be one whole page of newspaper. It completely covered him and the person beside him. Then before we reached Buendia he took off. We were crossing Buendia when the man beside him shouted "Para, Mama. Nadukutan ako!" He went down the jeep although it was still running, trying to catch the thief that slashed his back pocket and took his wallet. Maybe when the robber spread the newspaper before him, he also tried to read it, not noticing that his back pocket was already being slashed. I thanked God over and over again that I was not sitting beside the thief. I wonder if he knew how much the Jobo bills were worth just in case he grabbed my bag from me . . .

STORY # 13

After my brief stint as restaurateur, I decided to pursue my childhood dream of managing a garments business. I prepared for it by studying everything first before I formally start opening one. One fine day, I went to Harrizon Plaza with my friends Angie and Charo like we normally do after (sometimes during) school. From there, I took the jeep going to Baclaran, then another one going to Philamlife Village.

Traffic was at a standstill for almost 30 minutes and when the jeep finally moved, I just felt a pain in my neck. A young boy grabbed my gold necklace with a gold heart pendant which my Kuya Johnny gave me when he arrived from Saudi. It wasn't even visible, since it was inside my closed-neck shirt. I was able to grab his arm and for a while we were like Bruce Lee and Chuck Norris in "Enter the Dragon". Unfortunately, the jeep increased its speed. For the third time, I was a victim in Baclaran.

Many years after, my master cutter went to Saudi. I sent him a drawing of the exact shape of the heart pendant so he could buy it for me there. I didn't tell Kuya Johnny that I lost his gift so as not to hurt his feelings. Thank God I received the exact replica of the heart pendant.

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