If you planning a vacation and Philippines, then you should have a bit of a background on what the Philippines can be like. Most specifically I am talking about the fraud and the bad elements roaming around cities in the Philippines, they can be everywhere looking for chances and victims. Upon your arrival at the airport, security guards in uniforms are visible roaming around but their scope of duty is limited to airport security only. It is everywhere, fraud in the Philippines is very common.
First and foremost the taxis you’ll be hopping in will have some drivers who will take advantage of you, especially if they guess that this is your first time, and if you are from overseas. Tip: When choosing a taxi to ride in always tell the driver to use meter and not a fixed price. Some of them ask for a fixed price based on distance plus at the end they will ask for additional fee. But beware some taxis even if they run by the meter, some of their meter are tampered and set to faster and higher rate without you knowing.
You need to be cautious with people you meet, in short “don’t trust anyone in a strange place”. In the Philippines there are gangs and criminal syndicates roaming around. One is called “salisi gang”, members distract you and the rest do the robbing and quickly snatching your purse or wallets, cell phones and etc. These people are in disguise, pretending to be someone asking for directions, or just a simple chat to you while the other companies do their job. Their main targets nowadays are mobile phones, handbags, and purses. It’s because this things are often placed on the table while people are having their coffee, dining and paying. You will be amazed how quick these gangs are, some take only a blink of eye and “vouila”! Your valuable items disappear. TIp: Always keep an eye on your personal belongings wherever you are, be alert and aware on your surroundings.
Snatchers, pickpockets are common. Some snatch your jewellery straight from yours ears and neck; snatch phones from your hands while your texting or having a call in public. For males, they take your wallet straight from you back pocket.
Money Changers. If you’re taking cash with you, you need to go to money changers. There is money changer booth inside the airport the time you arrive, but if you don’t have chance, drop by in here then be careful in having transactions with money changers outside.
We had an experience before with my husband, it was Sunday in Malate. There are plenty of money changer booths line up but since its Sunday the most trusted money changer we usually transact with was closed so we decided to go to a different one.
The time you walk in the streets there are at least five people following you and offer you highest rate, they will not stop asking you until you go to the shop they represent. I tell you, they are so annoying. All you have to do is just keep on walking and ignoring them.
Anyway, we went into the counter, counted the money, and then there’s a guy at your side saying that be careful with the people in the street because they might hold you up, but it is just their trick to distract you. While you are distracted and turn your head, the teller pretends counting the money correctly but they have these technique were it looks like its correct ,they counted your Peso money at least 10 times, they let you count it and they count again, after that time we head back to the hotel. I was just curios to count the money because I’m scared counting it in open, to our surprise our money was short change about 30%. We asked ourselves, how did it happen?
I was really furious, I went back to the shop and I saw them nearly closing, because it was nearly 5pm in the afternoon. There was a lady at the door shop and I asked and confronted her about the lack of money they had given us. At first she denied it, saying the cashier already went off home and took all the money that day but when I started saying that I will report them to the police, they gave me back some, about 25% of it. You have to be very careful in dealing with these kinds of transactions, much better if you go to reliable money changers offered by SM malls customer counters or much safer in the bank.