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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

How can I tell dad my mom got shot in Cebu!

When I think of the many experiences for me and my family in the Philippines I have to chuckle when I read the new tourism campaign slogan
"It's more fun in the Philippines".   In my Mom's case back in December of 2004 when she visited me in Cebu she had more fun being close to a crime scene!  lol Thank God for his protection!

My mom had just arrived on a connecting flight from Manila and I had picked her up at the Mactan Airport in Lapu Lapu. We checked her into a hotel near the Rain Tree mall at Fuente Osmena' and then headed to Rain Tree mall where I showed her around. This is a small two story strip mall with a huge tree in the center. A nice shady place. At that time I had a bodyguard who was my right hand man in Cebu and he was with us that day.  After a BBQ lunch at the mall we headed up stairs to the office where I showed my mom around the various units I was interested in renting. I had a meeting so we decided to send my mom and bodyguard down stairs to go to the Robinson Mall across the street.

It was only moments after my mom and bodyguard left that I heard a distinct loud popping sound outside. One bang and a serious of other "bang" "bang" "bang". At first I was oblivious to what was happening because I was in shock. I had hit the floor and crawled under a desk instinctively and then I realized it was gun fire just out side the door.  I thought to my self "Oh my God, my mom just left seconds earlier!". I crawled on the floor over to the curtains where I closed them so no one could see in the office. Then I dialed desperately my bodyguards number. The thoughts kept racing as I analyzed the situation. I thought carefully what kind of "bang" did I hear. It was too deep to be like my bodyguard's handgun. I thought to my self it must have been a  357 magnum or AK47.  Whatever it was, it was loud and strong. It echoed in the hallways and shook the windows. I keep trying to call my bodyguard over and over and still no answer. I was getting panicked. I had no firearm yet my mother could be just outside wounded. All kinds of thoughts raced through my mind including "how can I tell dad mom got shot in Cebu!" I kept peaking through the window and about 5 minutes had passed since the shooting. I could see other security guards walking around. I determined if they were walking around the bad guys were either neutralized or ran away. So I went out the door to look for my mom. I was so worried. "she is 76 years old"  I thought to myself.  I prayed so hard at that moment for mom's safety. I pleaded with the Lord for her life.

I had great confidence in my bodyguard's ability to fire back if he had the chance and I know he would take a bullet for my  mom. He was like that. A great person. But the thoughts kept racing what if they were ambushed and he had no time to fire back? I kept trying his phone. After about 15 minutes he answered it and was oblivious to what occurred. Apparently they had entered the mall across the street at the exact same time the shooting occurred at my location. And he told me because of the crowds in the mall he could not hear my desperate calls.

When I explained to him what happened he left my mom at the mall where she was safe and came over to investigate the situation. Apparently a group of bandits held up a money changer downstairs and had an exchange of fire with a security guard. Something like 9 shots were fired. No one got injured or killed. Apparently the bad guys got away with a load of money.

My mom is amazing. She took it all with a grain of salt. She never appeared shaken or wanting to leave. She walked around with us examining the bullet holes in the cement walls and columns. It was kind of adventurous to her. So I guess there is some truth to ...

"It's more fun in the Philippines".
  What a way to welcome my mom to Cebu!


Obviously what happened during my mom's visit to Cebu was a rare instance. I had spent off and on over 10 years in the Philippines and that was the only time to experience such an incident. The Philippines like any place can be dangerous if you are not well informed. But generally it is safe for tourists and visitors who want to go there and enjoy a country of warm and friendly people. I guess my mom has such luck. Even when she went to Israel in the late 60's a war started during her trip! On a trip to Nepal a revolution started too. LOL  I wonder if PNOY will blacklist her so she can't come back and bring bad luck! LOL

Here is a news article on the incident.

CEBU CITY Six robbers, including a woman, hit a foreign-exchange shop at busy Raintree Mall in Fuente Osmena here yesterday morning, divesting the establishment of more than P200,000 in cash.
It was the second time that a moneychanger was robbed near the Fuente police station in less than one week.
The robbers, armed with high-powered firearms, disarmed three of the four security guards manning the mall area, while the female robber, with a male companion, announced the robbery in the Ace Investment office at past 9 a.m. yesterday.
The other robber acted as lookouts.
Fuente police station Chief Noel Gillamac said the robbery took place in less than five minutes as the other robbers waited outside with their getaway motorcycles.
The robbers destroyed the wires of the shops alarm system before they fled.
One security guard, however, managed to fire at the fleeing robbers using his service shotgun, but the robbers quickly fired back at him, prompting the guard to immediately seek cover.
No one was hurt in the exchange of gunfires but stray bullets hit two parked vehicles.
A policeman detailed at the Regional Intelligence Office also responded to the commotion when he heard a burst of gunfires as while was inside a shoe-repair shop.
"I tried to block the road and identified myself as a policeman but the robbers immediately fired at me so I shot back," said the policeman, who did not want to be identified. He was not hurt though.
Another policeman fired at the fleeing robbers, but the robbers fired back, prompting him to take cover.

1 comment:

  1. Safety of any individual is the most important in a ones a place where they want to enjoy. How can we invite tourist if we are not secure? Your post has a lot of worthy points that Tourism should know. Hope this incident will not happen again. Big thanks for sharing.

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