Tuesday, September 28, 2010

One of those Scary Cab Rides

Most of us ride cabs no matter how expensive a ride costs. The P30-70 flag down rate, depending on which cab you're riding is probably nothing to the comfort a taxi ride provides compared to jeepney or bus rides. I personally prefer bus rides because I feel it falls in the middle of jeepney and cab, inexpensive and comfortable, especially those traversing EDSA. I'd rather get stuck in traffic, than get squeezed and dry-humped in jam-packed MRT rides. But there are days (mostly nights), no matter how much you don't want to ride cabs, you will always end up riding one, especially if there are no other available means of transportation from where you are from.

My job involves a lot of events and most of these events happen at night. No matter how much I'd rather ride a bus, I don't think it would be really possible (and safe) to go and find a bus, say at 12mn. It is also awkward to ride one in heels and dress. So to avoid the hassle and given that we have transportation allowance on some of our events, I take cab to get home. 

But this one story struck me. There has been a lot of modus-operandi involving cab rides, but this new one got me a bit scared since on the coming months, I know I will be jam-packed with events and most of those nights will require me to ride cabs. My former mentor, Ms. Quel posted this link in her Facebook account. The story scared me. I think it's best we read her daughter's and this particular story to warn and make us all be a bit wary during cab rides.
From:mary ruth causing [mailto:causingmaryruth@ ...]
Sent: Thursday, October 09, 2008 10:59 PM
To: mary ruth causing
Subject: Warning of a Modus Operandi
Dear friends,
I’d like to share a story of what happened to me last Monday, October 6, which appears to be a modus operandi done by people with criminal intentions. My purpose for sharing this with you is to forewarn you of such incidents so that you may keep yourselves safe.
At about a quarter to 7 in the evening, last Monday, I left the office and walked out of Tektite building towards San Miguel Avenue , Ortigas, to ride a cab. It was just right after a brief drizzle, so the roads were almost empty of cars and people, although it was still a bit early. I’m accustomed to going home by myself if I feel like it, and riding cabs without any problems for the longest time.
I was walking along Exchange Road in front of our building, and have already crossed Pearl Drive , when I saw a cab slowly cruising along Exchange Road from San Miguel Avenue . It was an old, a bit dilapidated, white (seemingly) Toyota Corolla, with a yellow-lighted “taxi” on the roof, with black scrawl of the taxi’s “name” on the side (I didn’t notice the name written there). It didn’t have any passengers on board and I thought it a bit odd that a passenger-less cab would be coming from San Miguel Avenue towards Tektite at a time when taxis are supposedly full. I was more accustomed to seeing taxis with no passengers coming from Pearl Drive towards Tektite on its way out back towards EDSA or in the opposite direction of C-5. But it didn’t quite get to me. I was tired and needed to go home to rest. I just thought that the driver was trying to get passengers.
I flagged down the slow moving taxi and got in. I said I was going towards EDSA, so the cab went its usual familiar route of rounding the one-way Exchange Road , out to San Miguel Avenue , left to Megamall, and right towards EDSA. I normally would text Tony of the plate number of the taxi, but at that time, I didn’t. I normally would check the locks of the car doors, but this time, I only locked the ones on the front and back passenger seats (right side, because I saw that the left side door was locked). Everything was normal, except that
it was still going its slow pace. The driver was a slim-built, middle-aged man, with balding head (some hairs on the side), wore a baseball cap and a worn-out but decent white polo jacket.
Near the foot of the flyover towards Ortigas Avenue and EDSA, he requested me in a kindly manner to please move to the other end of the passenger seat because “ma-fla-flat na po yung gulong ko. Spare lang yan e.” where I was sitting. I was sitting at the right side of the passenger seat at the back, and promptly moved to the left side. I was even able to converse with him, saying “a ganun ba? Hindi ba delikado yun na tumatakbo tayo sa EDSA na pa-flat na gulong n’yo?” “Hindi po, malapit lang naman po kayo, di ba? Kaya pa po yun,” he smilingly said. And, all along, we were slowly moving across the flyover at EDSA. After the flyover, he slowly veered towards the inner side of the yellow lane, but I thought it was because “inaalalayan niya yung sasakyan.”
When the taxi crossed the gate of Corinthian Gardens , it further slowed down, and I saw from afar two men seemingly waiting for a bus. When the taxi neared the two men, they gestured towards the taxi, and it suddenly dawned on me that this could be a hold-up. I initially tried getting the lock of the door to my side open, and was stricken by horror that it didn’t budge. It seemed to be jammed (or perhaps child-locked, on hindsight). And the horror of horrors happened. The taxi stopped by the two men, and the driver announced, “‘wag ka gagawa ng iskandalo, hold-up ‘to,” and promptly opened the locked doors on the right side doors of the front and back passenger seats. Everything went fast.
The two men briskly went in, one at the front passenger seat, the other beside me on my right. I thought in horror “this can’t be happening to me!” All I can scream was “ay! ay! Diyos ko! Diyos ko!” The driver said to the two men, “wag n’yong sasaktan ‘yan, mabait si ma’am.” And, to me, “pera lang ang kailangan namin. Hindi ka masasaktan kung susundin mo kami.” One of the two men was also middle-aged, slim-built, with balding hair. The other was younger, about in his mid- to late-twenties, gaunt-looking, with high cheek bones, with a thick head of hair. He struck me as someone who was taking drugs.
The next two hours were a gruelling ordeal. They rummaged through my bag and got my money, ATM and credit cards, cellphones, and my jewelry, including my wedding ring. They gave back my bag and wallet, though, but without the money and the cards. We spent the hours going around EDSA from Kamuning to Quezon Avenue , stopping at banks where one of the men went to the ATM machines to try and get cash from my savings ATM and credit cards. They didn’t let me out of the taxi to do the transactions. While one man did the transactions at the ATMs, the taxi kept going round and round the Kamuning and Quezon Avenue u-turns. They took away my glasses so that I can’t see where we’re going. But I was familiar with the places we passed – Timog Avenue , Agham Road , near the Napocor area, and back again to EDSA to go to the ATMs for transactions. They pressed me for the PIN of the credit cards, but I didn’t memorize them, but gave them some numbers that I’m not even sure of.
Towards the end, they were pissed off because they couldn’t get through the credit cards, and I was afraid that they’d do me in. But, in the end, they let me go, the driver warning me sternly, “wag kang lilingon sa kaliwa o kanan. Dire-direcho lang, kung hindi, babarilin talaga kita.” They gave a 100 peso bill “pamasahe para makauwi.” They dropped me off at Agham Road , near the Philippine Children’s Medical Center (formerly Lungsod ng Kabataan) at about 9:30 p.m. There was no one in sight, another light drizzle has already passed.
One of the men accompanied me out of the taxi, pushed me forward, and ran back to the taxi. That’s when I ran and ran towards Quezon Avenue until I boarded a jeepney at a stop light. The kindly jeepney driver motioned me to a mobile police patrol when we passed by one, and I finally came to the police precinct at Kamuning EDSA to tell my tale. I didn’t even get to see the taxi’s plate number.
They informed me there that that has been a modus operandi of these criminal elements, plying the route of Quezon Avenue , Timog, Agham, even Kamuning areas. They also would give some money for “pamasahe.” They would say it’s for a sick wife, etc.
I have talked to some employees of a company in the Ortigas area who fell victim to the same modus operandi. Same taxi, same description of the driver, same alibi about a flat tire, requesting the passenger to move to the left side of the passenger seat, where the door’s lock is jammed. Same giving of the 100 peso bill at the end of the hold-up. Last December, an employee rode the dubious taxi at SM Megamall at about 9 p.m. and the hold-up was announced when some men boarded the taxi at Star Mall. The person was held-up until 11 p.m. The other, with the person’s 6-year old child, boarded the taxi at the Robinson’s Galleria and was also held-up by men who went inside the taxi. I myself, boarded the taxi near where I work, imagine that. And, the security guards were just a few meters away.
Please be forewarned of this modus operandi. We’re facing harder times, and December is nearing. Take extra care, friends. As for me, I believe it was the prayers that helped me. All throughout the ordeal, my Savior was there, guiding me in what to say or do so as not to aggravate the situation until freedom came. They didn’t touch or harm me. Praise God!
God bless us,
Ruth

As much as we all want to get home safely, it sucks that some people have to do these things. We all work hard to get our own money and we all have something to pay for. I don't understand why they have to harm people, to the extent of not just threatening, but killing their victims.

These things happen when we least expect them so the best thing we can do is always, always be extra careful. Do the drill, text people the cab plate number, be alert, lock all the doors, and if you feel, even for just a bit, uncomfortable with the ride, I guess it's safer if you get dropped off to a safer place and get one of those trusted cabs. I am keeping records of these numbers right now, in case I have to ride taxi at night. I guess we all should. 

Basic Taxi 643-7777, 900-1447, 900-1448
Dollar Taxi 921-2383, 927-8718
Xavierville 788-0204
Avis 718-4064 to 66
(Letter and cab numbers from Momblogger)
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