A few years ago I went to Manila to meet my future wife who I had been introduced to through her uncle, who was my landlord at the time. It was my first trip to Asia and while most people I met did not speak much English I was not bothered as I was simply overwhelmed with taking in all the sights and scenes. Like a child playing with new toys I was simply in a world of my own.
My wife to be and I had a really good couple of weeks travelling around the place, including Boracay. I was staying at her Lolas house which, while nice and big and modern, was surrounded by slum type houses. In these houses were her extended family and the poverty and hardships these people were living in really hit home for me on how good we have it in the first world. In fact when I returned home I just ate cheap shitty food for three months as I was humbled by the daily struggles her family have and felt very grateful for what I have.
While staying in her Lolas house I soon realised this is not where she lived and it was all set up because she was too ashamed to show me her house. She eventually did and it was a real hole of a house. A plywood box at best with no water or electricity and a dirt floor it became obvious why they ran to Lolas concrete house when a Typhoon blew over, or if they needed to shower or use the CR. Being the naive Westener I was I took great pity on them and there living conditions and asked how much land cost. To my surprise the average lot of land cost around 300k, about half of what I paid for my now beat up work ute 5 years earlier. So I got the family to look around and find something they want. They ended up finding two large blocks that were next to each other for 900k and while I was reluctant at first, my idea of having two houses and the family together made me say ok. The trouble was no one knew who owned the land so the future mother in law goes to see her aunty and they go off to see someone who works in the bank. They claim the land belongs to pag ibig and they are for sale. If we put down 20% we could pay it off over 15 years. I liked the idea of a mortgage in the Phils because it was so cheap, I spend more on cigarettes in a week than what our monthly payments were so I gave them the deposit and it was a done deal. The surveyor pegged the land and we were issued with title for two large blocks next to each other. Within a year I had a small house built for the in laws and had plans drawn up for a big family home for us with a swimming pool in between and 80 square meters of lawn. Sound great right, wrong.
A year and a half later the manager shows up at the in laws house. She informed the in laws that she had scammed us all along and the title was forged. She did not work for the bank and we had been financing her lifestyle for 18 months. The good news though was the land the house was built on was up for sale through pag ibig and she had bought it and put it in her own name and if we want the one land then it is 750k cash and we have one month to pay even though she paid (apparently) 480k. The mother in law told her that is crazy only to be told “750k is nothing to a Kano”. This put us in a tricky situation as I had already built the house.
Well as you can imagine things erupted pretty big. The father in law was ready to kill her and went on a drinking binge and had to be restrained numerous times to stop him killing her. I wanted to send the wife home and call it quits but she had just fallen pregnant and I did not want her stressed while pregnant. To put things down I told her to just send her brother to BDO and get a loan and I will sort it. The bank agreed and all I had to do was e mail all my remittances and tax return and it is done. The night I was to send this info off I decided no, this woman is scamming us, it is illegal and she must be punished for what she is doing so told the wife to take her to court because I will only pay what a judge orders me to pay. The timing of all this could not have been worse; the wife was pregnant, we had just bought a nice house in Oz, were due for a new car and I really could not be bothered with it.
As everyone knows the wheels of justice turn very slowly in the Phils. First there is mediation meeting in the Municipal to which the scammer does not show up. Then there is the ombudsman who claims they only deal with Government employees and then there are lawyers who discover I am Kano and make it not worth defending. So I tell the scammer if she wants the land that bad she can have it. This worked well and she shit herself as the house is small as it was designed for just her parents to live in and although concrete it is quite shitty and not quite finished. The house is small and is in one of those areas where the houses takes up the whole land so it is not worth much as it would have to be demolished to build a decent size one. I could go into details but then this will be the longest post on this site but in the end I am ready to walk away from it, all 700k I have spent building and paying off that block. The wife is devastated and so is the family but what can I do. I refuse to buy into this chaos; why should I pay a scammer and the amount she put on it we could buy a block in the area free hold. I refuse to deal with a criminal. This scammer woman lives in the neighbourhood and has actually done this to a couple of people now yet walks around free. I told them she can keep the house if she gives us back our deposit and repayments but the wife says there are fees involved; what we have to pay fees to a scammer? are you insane woman? fees for what? being scammed? I have told the wife and her family if they want it then they have to fight for it. I have told them that me buying them a house is the only ticket they will ever get to get out of squatting and they have blown it as I will not be buying them another one and they have no other daughters to marry off to a Kano and they will never earn enough to buy some land. I had a lot of difficulty understanding how this could happen and I blame the mother in law for it was her that thought she knew everything and could take care of it all. If she loses the house then she may as well think of me as dead as I will never see or speak to her ever again. Kind of good though as I no longer care for them and have stopped sending them anything. Sadly when they say Pinoys are uneducated they are right, they don’t even know how to go about buying a property and as soon as you say you want to the scammers line up. Either they sort this out or it is back to squatting.
Something I have learnt is that EVERYONE in the Phils is corrupt, they are born and raised this way to the point they think it is normal. The wife got all angry when I refused to pay and it took her a while to see that I am right and corruption is wrong. It is like in the Phils scamming is normal and you just pay. There is no justice. The problem with this corruption is it spreads to everyone. Pinoys have no qualms about lying and stealing because that is how their country works and it is all they know, they don’t know what normal is and accept being scammed like it is just another fee to pay. Even at the Ombudsman the scammer walked up to the judge and put 5k on his bench, in front of everyone, only for him to return it. The corruption is so blatant and shameless it really is mind blowing to a first worlder. I had a plan to move there, build a nice sized house and have a go at starting a call centre, all those ideas are gone now and I refuse to ever return to that hell hole of country and will not allow our soon to be born child to ever travel their either. Having decided to go and buy two cars recently here in Oz for 35k aud (1.2 million in peso) it is not like I can’t afford to pay the 750k but I just refuse to, it is not right. Sometimes I feel bad about it but stuff them, I am sticking to my guns. While the wife is upset she has to consider my feelings to. She has to choose between me or her family. If she wants to get angry at me is that because her family is more important? Does she not love me and put me as number one? I am young and will out live her parents by a few decades so she should think about the future. If she is pissed and wants to go I will print her a ticket within 10 minutes, one way, direct, non stop, business class if she likes because if that is her attitude she can go. There were many things I did not like about Flips but this is the icing on the cake. I do not like them anymore, I do not trust them. They are a corrupt people who have no empathy, lie, cheat, steal and think it is normal, even worth celebrating and I can not operate with people like that. The Philippines will never be a first world country until the attitudes of the masses change and if change is even possible it will take generations to get rid this corrupt attitude because it is in their blood and sadly the way they think; that all their bullshit is ok. You can not be of first world status if the masses do not respect the law. To someone from the first world, it is not ok because in the first world you would be in jail if you were even brazen enough to try your bullshit here.
As Dan Brown describes Manila, in his book Inferno, “Welcome to the gates of hell”.