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The streets of Metro Manila are both dangerous and safe. I can walk confidently because I’ve seen the ins and outs of commuting. I’ve been commuting long distances alone since I was ten. I usually took busses, jeeps, trains, shuttles and tricycles. As I was growing up I had several fears when I’m out.

Someone will rob me. Someone will take my money. Someone will take my phone. Someone will take everything I bring with me.

During my senior year in high school, my mom and I were mugged in a shuttle. Each of the robbers were seated strategically in the vehicles exit. One of them was armed with a gun and driving the shuttle. I wanted to test a new weapon I just bought but even if I was successful at fighting them facing the driver with the gun would risk all of our lives. Even if I won, this would result in the shuttle crashing. The robbers took everyone’s phones and wallets. In a lot of cases they just took the cash. I only had my fare with be because back then I spent all my allowance at the gym. My phone wasn’t taken because I left it at the bottom of my bag. I had a bad feeling when we entered the shuttle because we were tired then and there was no shuttle available so we took the first one. The shuttle already had the robbers inside when it stopped at the loading area and is only capable of taking in five more passengers. A typical shuttle can take 11 people including the driver. There were guns and knives pointed at me. I told myself that I should have paid more attention. I smelled oil as I entered the shuttle. The oil is similar to the ones used for gun cleaning and small machines. Th3 arrangement of people didn’t seem right. This is one of the reasons why I only take shuttles that have several cute girls when commuting.  Alternatively children and elderly are also safe. I hated not being able to download anything about the situation. I spent several years preparing for a similar incident. I wanted to meet one of them again and beat the crop out of them. I never got the chance to. To this day I’m still scared of being robbed but these days I’m confident that I’ll be safe whenever I commute. 

Here are the rules I follow : Don’t flaunt your valuables. Don’t pull out your phone in an area that has suspicious looking people. Phones and other gadgets are easy to sell and gives then an indication of your income level and sets their expectation of how much they can take from you. Be aware of safe spots. There are safe spots to text or make calls. A place with a security guards. In a not so ghetto part of town. Away from where people can get close to you. Apply common sense and don’t have your eyes glued to your screen. Put your valuables in a spot where you are aware of them and you can check regularly. Have unusual money locations. Whenever I go to work I only bring enough for fare and food and a few hundred pesos.  I have my money hidden somewhere and my fare for the trips in exposed areas. That way I’m tempted to spend less and I don’t get all my money taken from me when I’m robbed. Be confident and aware of your surroundings when you walk. When it is obvious that you are after something the thing you are after shies away from you. Robbers are good judges of characters. They want to rob someone who will not put up a fight or someone they can trick or whatever. If you are alert then you can see them long before they reach you. If they see you as confident and alert they are less likely to go after you because they would rather go after someone careless, harmless and easy to intimidate. Regularly look around. Always surround yourself with cute girls or grannies or someone with a kid when you commute. Goons look exactly how you expect them to look. A student uniform or a uniform or someone who’s well dressed is less likely to be a hidden crook. When close to other people use your hands to cover valuables and watch the hands of people close to you. Enough said.

These are a few simple things that had helped me stay safe as I commute around Metro Manila. 

Thank you for reading.

Post written by Kevin Olega” connect on twitter and facebook

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