How A Filipino Hold Upper Made My Day In Cebu City, Philippines
Cebu City is one of the big cities in the Philippines. It is the capital city of Cebu. The language is Bisayan. Cebu or Sugbo (an old name of Cebu) is located in the Visayas Island, an eight hours overnight ride on a Super Ferry from Nasipit Port, Mindanao. Well, it depends on how big the ferry is. If the super ferry makes a stop in Surigao Port, it will be around 12 hours.
When my friend Melva invited me to come with her and her friend Jinky to Cebu for a short visit, I did not hesitate to say yes. It was a chance for me to see Cebu City again but for the first time with friends. Sightseeing, shopping and of course my goal was to write a travel hub about the city. So I wanted to go. This was my second visit to Cebu City. But then plans are plans and what happened next was the future that I did not foresee.
Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City
On that Sunday evening at eight, Melva, Jinky and I were on board on the Super Ferry bound for Cebu. We were so excited. After bringing our luggages to our cabin, we went strolling on deck taking photos mostly of ourselves. It was nighttime so we could not see the ocean.
The Superferry 20 was not bad at all as what I have thought. It was different to what I was used to take in Europe. There were a lot of apprentices on board, giving services and offering help to the travelers. The "food court" seemed like a market place to me. There were sandwiches and other Filipino food and drinks for sale. Every salesmen and salesladies were suggesting what you can have for dinner. There seemed like a competition between them. The best thing was (ironically): We were "allowed" to get our hot water from a machine after they gave us the 3 coffee powder in a sachet with milk and 3 plastic cups. Great, is it not? After we had finished enjoying our food, we then went to our cosy, petite and air condition cabin with toilet.
Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City
The Hold Up
We woke up the next day at 3 a.m, fresh and ready for our adventure. Our ferry arrived at Cebu Port at 4 a.m. Then we went to the super ferry shuttle to drive to the next taxi stand, so we went to our hotel with a taxi. Our hotel room was at the third floor or was it at the fourth floor? I wonder how many stairs I have stepped on as I did not have the "mind" to count it anymore.
After making ourselves fresh in our hotel room, we went downstairs to the reception to ask information how we could go to Santo Niño Cathedral or Basilica del Santo Niño ( a doll of the Baby Jesus) and in going to Chinese Taoist Temple. The receptionist told us the way and which jeepney we could take in case we don't use the taxi. We decided to take the jeepney in going to Santo Niño and a taxi in going to the Taoist Temple, as it is more cheaper that way.
Jeepney is a travel transportation in the Philippines. It has two parallel seats where 8 persons must sit side by side. All 16 passengers. In the entrance is a conductor (if there is any) who collects the fare. If there is no conductor, everybody has to pay to the driver. In front is a driver and one or two passengers. It depends how big the passenger is.
The jeepney we took was almost full. It was still seven in the morning. It was the Chinese New Year as we found out. Then the jeepney stopped because of the red traffic light. I was busy looking at the streets. Some of the passengers left the jeepney when the traffic lights went red and some came inside. I did not know how many.
The green traffic lights came and the jeepney continued to move. Then suddenly I heard a man shouting. "All jewelries here...faster, faster." I looked up. I saw a rugged man in front of me. Then I saw the pistol. A silver colored pistol. The pistol was pointing at me and Jinky, who was sitting left beside me. Melva, who was sitting crossed legs next to the hold upper, just looked at him with a mocking face and laughing. I thought "Oh, My God, this is the end." Then I saw the hold upper touching Jinkys' bracelet and pointing at her rings. I automatically pulled my bracelet from my right arm and two rings from my both hands and said--"here, keep it". I did not want the hold upper to touch me. I was glad that I put my passport and some important documents in my tiny pouch belt travel bag under my clothes.
Melva, on the other hand discovered that it was not a joke. She gave her ring as well and hid her other arm where she had her watch. Seeing that, I too hid my left arm where my watch was. Then, I saw a hand with coins in front of me and I heard- "this is the only one I have, fare for the jeepney." It was the woman sitting right beside me. --"Faster, faster!"--The hold upper shouted again. Then he jumped out of the running jeepney. Somebody was shouting at the hold upper and for the police. We saw the hold upper behind a man who was driving a bicycle. Getting farer and farer. We called a man who looked like a police. He just said calmly and feeling bored, "I'll get a police."
Well, you might ask where the driver was. Of course he was driving and did not notice that we were hold up. Do you believe that? He said, he only heard the "faster, faster" words. Then he realized, we were hold up. Then he continued driving until we reached the Basilica de Santo Niño.
What if one of the passengers had fight with the hold upper because that passenger had a problem and at that time exploded and all his rage was then directed to the hold upper? What if??? Just like in the film with Michael Douglas, long time ago. I forgot the title. Well, I was thankful that we, the passengers, were all calm at that time.
Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City
Another Chance In Life
Actually, we went to Santo Niño Basilica to be guided by God in our in Cebu City. That He will not put us up in danger and to thank Him for the blessings that He give us. Instead, we were very very thankful to Him that besides the danger that we have just encountered, He still care for us and give us another chance in life. It was not our time yet.
We went to Taoist Temple after that and I was automatically functioning. I am not a Buddhist person but I prayed a thankful prayer in every Buddhist God and Goddesses in the Chinese temple. For me, there is only one God.
With the jewelries that were stolen, it was nothing compared to our lives on this earth. Yes, the hold upper might have earned a living from the stolen jewelries but his life will always be the same. Unblessed living, day after day, until the day he will realize how traumatic his deeds to the people he had cause from stealing them and that he will change his life.
In the two days we were in Cebu City, I was mentally not in my mind. I was quiet and was scared to ride a jeepney again. We were riding taxis since the incident.
Chinese Taoist Temple Shrine, Cebu City
Here are some tips when you are traveling:
- Be aware that thieves are everywhere
- Don't put all your cash in your handbag
- Use a shoulder bag where you can put it across your shoulder and use a tiny pouch belt bag under your clothes.
- Use only a fashion jewelries when you are traveling
Thanks to my friends Melva and Jinky who allowed me to mention them in this article. Maybe someday, we can travel again with only joyful experiences in our bags in going back home.
Basilica Minore del Santo Nino
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© 2012 Thelma Alberts
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