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Friday, November 19, 2010

Joy Ride courtesy of the Ipit Taxi Gang

(updated with photo)

A couple of years ago (a year after I got married), I became a victim of a car highjacking group called Ipit Taxi Gang.

I hailed a cab in front of the hotel where I used to work. When I got in, the driver told me to move to the innermost part (behind his seat) because his shock absorbers have problems. That was his drama - later on I would realize he wanted me to make space for his 2 other cohorts.

After making a U-turn at ADB and right at Ortigas, the driver stopped the car in front on the rotten-decaying-abandoned Philcomsen building and two other men jumped into the car much to my surprise (and later on fear).

They pinned me down when I tried to scream to catch attention. They made sure I saw their gun and commanded me to close my eyes.

They rummaged through my bag; I could hear them going through my things. When they searched my wallet, they asked me which of my ATM cards had funds. They reminded me not to lie or else I will get hurt. So I told them the Metrobank one had some funds and promptly gave them the PIN. After withdrawing money from my ATM, I was asked to remove all my jewelries and my watch (which happened to be an expensive one, a gift from my Dad who then just came from a trip in Singapore).

Closing my eyes in a way helped me relax and stay focused. I noticed that the goons threatened me more when I seem very afraid but when I respond to their queries casually, they seem to calm down too. Therefore, staying calm and even friendly to them became my game plan and it proved to be successful. After all, what choice have I got? Even if their guns are fake, they could beat me or strangulate me to death. I have no chance of survival with 3 men in a very compact place such as a taxi.

And sorry to say this but I also have no faith that anyone who would witness the crime to help me. That only happen in action flicks (and I know Mel Gibson is nowhere near Ortigas). Besides, after having experienced the passiveness of most Filipinos, I'm not going to keep my hopes high in that aspect.

What I did was to run several scenarios in my head, and started preparing myself for the worst. But to be honest, it never crossed my mind that I will not survive. My faith that I will come out of the incident unscathed was very strong that what played in my mind were scenes of me being reunited with my husband and family.

However, I was very scared; I felt my knees shake and my hands trembled like I have Parkinson's disease. Despite my fear, I vividly recall that I told the goons that I will give all the material things they want and I will cooperate just so they won’t touch me. I was very worried of getting raped, more than anything.

Being alone with armed, dangerous men made me feel very helpless and all I was able to do was to pray. Strange thing was I couldn’t finish any of the prayers. Confusion, panic and fear overwhelmed me that the prayers Our Father, Hail Mary and Glory Be were all mixed up in my head. And you know the joke that when you are in dire need, you'd be able to call the saints in heaven? That's very true. I implored help from all the Saints I can recall, even from Santa Clause, no kidding!

I was like their hostage for over an hour. We drove around to where I had no idea. My eyes were tight shut because when they asked me to close me eyes, I was keen on obeying everything they say - I didn’t even take a peek.

During the entire time, the crooks tried to engage me in casual, friendly conversation, perhaps to help me relax a bit. And boy, did I relax! Believe it or not, I did not cry at all when I was with them, although my hands and knees never stopped shaking. I remember them asking me about my cell phone, a new Nokia. They asked what model it was and how much I got it for. I then proceeded to tell them that it was free from Globe if you subscribe to a monthly plan, and I even went to the details of how to apply. Silly me, wasn't I?! Why would they buy when they can just take it from anymore?

Anyway, after what seemed like eternity, the driver finally asked me if I want to go home. I replied, "Yes, moron." "Please, yes, I want to.” But then it started to drizzle so I heard him ask again, "Ma'am, do you have an umbrella? We don’t want you to get wet" (in tagalog, of course).

Haha! These guys were funny. After stealing all my valuables, they’re showing concern of me getting drenched. But that was not the end of their joke. “Ma’am, we’re giving you Php100 so you can take a TAXI going home.”

The stupidity and irony of what they said made me chuckle, and then I mumbled an equally moronic response to the moronic statement…. I said. “Thank you.”

They actually thought I enjoyed the ride!

Lessons and tips from this ordeal:

1. Stay calm. Hard as it seems but keeping calm will help you think better. The crooks get nervous and fidgety too when we panic and we don’t want them getting fidgety with their guns, do we?

2. Don’t fight for your valuables. They are just materials things. Your safety, your health, your life are irreplaceable.

3. Do your best to get details of the incident as best as possible (plate number, identifiable marks, etc) and report to the police.

4. Pray.

It’s Christmas season and these criminals are aware you have just received your bonuses. They want a share from the fruits of your hardwork instead of finding a decent job.

So please stay safe everyone!

NOTE: I searched the internet if there are recent incidents similar to mine and here's what I found... this is the driver! It's been a long time but I will never forget his face.

growing old and still EVIL!


Ligaya said...

Hi, I'm a friend of your Tito, Gerard Sison. I was held up in 2011 in the same way by the same man and his crew, and I've been able to blog about it here: They're still out there, I found out they got away on April 2012. Mga hinayupak, sana talaga ma-karma sila. I know you might not want to talk about it, but as someone who's been in the same situation I can tell you it's better if you do so you can process it. Hope you're well.

BratinelangKikay said...

Hi Ligaya, Thanks. I don't know any Gerard Sison :) but I am glad to know you were able to escape and come out OK from your ordeal. You are BRAVE. I don't know if I could do what you have done. What happened to me has left me traumatized for life. Now, I couldn't even take public transport without getting very paranoid. I don't take taxi anymore. God Bless and keep safe!

Unknown said...

I live in Jakarta and a similar thing happened to be here in 2006 but the guys that look me had a knife, not a gun. It was a scary experience.

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