I recently got a note from a reader who had just visited the Philippines. He wanted to submit an article for LiP, and I agreed to publish it. He asked that his full name not be used, only his initials, LB. So, here is LB’s article, I hope you enjoy it. You take it from here, LB, and thanks for your article submission. MindanaoBob
Dear LIP readers, i will tell you about a funny scam i discovered during my last stay in Metro Manila.
Before I go into the details, a little introduction: i am married to a wonderful Filipina and we came to visit her parents in the province. I love the provincial life, in a remote rural area, where you can hear the silence at night, where the air is clean, where you can enjoy the company of the hardworking farmers.
As most of you know, now and then you’ll need to spend a few days in the big city, maybe because you need some paperwork done (NBI, NSO, DFA, Embassy etc.).
This time we got stuck in the big city for more than 10 days (meeting some relatives who live and work here added to the time required to have the paperwork done).
I had lots of time to look around, while the papers were being carefully checked, double-checked, red-ribboned, legalized and what-elsed. Usually i went to get samples of different kinds of coffee that I’d then analyze. There are lots of kanos these days in Metro Manila and i am surprised to see that.
There are lots of kanos these days in Metro Manila and i am surprised to see that, unlike those who are accompanied by a Filipina, most of the single ones look very confused, very tired or both.
Since my observation takes place in a tourist area, you’ll understand why the scam is sometimes successful.
Let’s say you’re a tired and confused kano, having a hard time adjusting to the heat and slightly dumbed down by the roar and exhaust of the jeepneys all around; you’re trying to decide where to go to have breakfast and somebody (S) approaches you (Y).
S: “Hey, how are you?”
Y: “…” “err”
S: “I saw you at the hotel”
Y: “Oh, hi”
S: “I work there, by the way my name is Tony”
Y: “Nice to meet you, Tony, i’m Joe” (sorry, i couldn’t help the Joe joke)
S: “You know, Joe, today is my son’s birthday but my paycheck is due the day after tomorrow; can you help me with a few hundred Pesos to buy him a gift”.
So this is how it the Tony Scam works; they don’t look like homeless or squatters, they are clean and well dressed, they speak good English and they like to make a few hundred without having to work.
They pretend to be either head of room service, chef cook, security or some other high level employee; clearly they don’t want you to think that they are poor, just having a bad day or week.
They know that some tourists are actually overheated and confused and won’t probably remember the faces of all the real hotel staff.
If you stop them while they are playing you and ask “Sorry, which hotel?” they’ll find an excuse and say they have to go.
Another way to break their play without being unpolite is walk away really fast; they can’t or don’t want to keep up.
They all say their name is Tony, that’s why i call this thing “The Tony Scam”.
My advice to those who stay in a tourist area here in Metro Manila, especially those who like to take a lonely walk to have breakfast or just stroll in the mall, is be aware of this Tony Scam; try to memorize the faces of the staff in the place you’re sleeping and keep in mind that the real hotel staff would never jeopardize their job approaching guests out of their workplace. They are probably more than happy with their paycheck and the occasional big tip.
Anyway this is my 1st contribution to LiP; thanks to Bob for having me here and, if you meet him, greet Tony for me.