“Don’t Put Your Wallet in Your Back Pocket When You Board a Jeepney!” Brother and Sisters, that’s what I thought when I read a recent article in The Panay News. Some Norwegian guy, 35, remembers placing his wallet in his short’s back pocket. He had boarded a Leganes public utility jeepney, PUJ, bound for Iloilo City. That begs the question: What’s the safest way to carry cash while traveling in the Philippines?
I’ve been on a Leganes jeepney and probably hundreds of other PUJ’s in Iloilo and Guimaras during over the past six years of living in the Philippines. I NEVER carry my wallet in my back pocket. When I had to go to Chicago or Vegas in the States, that wallet went into the front pocket of my relaxed fit Levi’s immediately.
Listen, I’m sorry the Norwegian got ripped off. He lost P3,800 in cash, 80 U.S. Dollars, an ID and a credit card.
He resides in Barangay Man-it, Passi City, so he should have been aware of the dangers of riding a jeepney in the Philippines, though I’ve never had one single problem while riding a PUJ.
The victim remembered a man boarding the jeepney from the Jaro district. The man sat beside him and shortly thereafter got out of the vehicle on the Sen. Benigno Aquino Jr. Avenue.
The Panay News stated “this is bad for Philippine tourism.”
Disagree. Doubt that it will make even one tiny ripple.
But what’s the safest way to carry cash?
Independent Traveler.Com has some good tips.
They don’t recommend carrying anything valuable in a purse, which is too easily snatched, or a backpack.
I agree. A backpack can be ripped open with a razor by someone walking behind you at a crowded mall in the Philippines or while riding a jeepney. You won’t even know it.
The website states that even a wallet kept in your front pocket can be taken by an experienced pickpocket. Guess I should reconsider where I put my money then.
IT reports that wearing a money pouch that can be concealed under your clothing is a must.
I’ve always used a money pouch or money belt while traveling by air. Some pouches attach to your belt, while others are worn around the neck, waist or calf.
I do have a new money pouch that I can wear around my neck and should retrieve that out of my luggage and start using it again when traveling to Iloilo City.
If you’re traveling with a companion, make sure each of you has some cash and a credit card on hand in case you’re split up or one of you is robbed.
Now, Independent Traveler recommends that if you’re traveling alone you should keep a backup credit or debit card in a separate pouch from the one you’ll be using most often. You may want to keep a small amount of pesos in that separate pouch where it’s easily accessible.
That way you’re not flashing your cash each time you want to make a small purchase. I’ve done this in the past and think’s it’s an excellent safety tip for traveling in the Philippines.
Another good tip from the website is to make two copies of your passport, driver’s license, credit cards, ATM cards and any other important documents you might be carrying.
Leave one copy at home with someone you can reach in an emergency.
Keep the other set with you in a safe place separate from the originals.
Another option is to scan your documents into a computer as a PDF file and e-mail it to yourself. This will allow you access to your documents from wherever you have an Internet connection.
And don’t fall for this scam that I’ve heard is used on jeepneys in the Philippines. Someone will drop some coins next to their intended victim. As the Good Samaritan bends down to help pick up the coins, another member of a pickpocket gang will lift the victim’s wallet.
Another Option, Attack the pickpocket
Last month the Panay News reported that a man caught a jeepney passenger trying to steal his wallet.
Antonio Tabingo, a 57-year-old resident of Bankers Village, Barangay Quintin Salas, Jaro district, told police a pickpocket jumped out of the Jaro-Liko jeepney they were in after the thief was exposed. (My wife and I have been on a Jaro-Liko jeepney dozens of times on the way to the SM HyperMarket.)
OK, at least the newspaper account didn’t say the guy “exposed” himself.
Tabingo attacked first because the suspect had a sharp object and was trying to rip the wallet out of his trousers. Another positive, at least he wasn’t trying to yank something else out of the guy’s pants.
I give the guy credit for having balls. He grabbed the pickpocket’s hand holding the sharp object and began punching him on the chest.
But if you’re an old expat geezer like me, you might just want to get that money belt, and avoid a tussle.
What do you think? What’s the best way to safely carry cash in the Philippines in your opinion?