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How a Filipino Hold Upper Made My Day in Cebu City, Philippines

Thelma is a Filipina Expat living in Germany. She shares her Philippines life and travel experiences about her beautiful home country.

Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

Cebu City

Cebu City is one of the big cities in the Philippines. It is the capital city of Cebu. The language is Bisayan. Cebu or Sugbo (an old name of Cebu) is located in the Visayas Island, an eight hours overnight ride on a Super Ferry from Nasipit Port, Mindanao. Well, it depends on how big the ferry is. If the super ferry makes a stop in Surigao Port, it will be around 12 hours.

When my friend Melva invited me to come with her and her friend Jinky to Cebu for a short visit, I did not hesitate to say yes. It was a chance for me to see Cebu City again but for the first time with friends. Sightseeing, shopping and of course my goal was to write a travel hub about the city. So I wanted to go. This was my second visit to Cebu City. But then plans are plans and what happened next was the future that I did not foresee.

Superferry 20

Superferry 20

Super Ferry

On that Sunday evening at eight, Melva, Jinky and I were on board on the Super Ferry bound for Cebu. We were so excited. After bringing our luggages to our cabin, we went strolling on deck taking photos mostly of ourselves. It was nighttime so we could not see the ocean.

The Superferry 20 was not bad at all as what I have thought. It was different to what I was used to take in Europe. There were a lot of apprentices on board, giving services and offering help to the travelers. The "food court" seemed like a market place to me. There were sandwiches and other Filipino food and drinks for sale. Every salesmen and salesladies were suggesting what you can have for dinner. There seemed like a competition between them. The best thing was (ironically): We were "allowed" to get our hot water from a machine after they gave us the 3 coffee powder in a sachet with milk and 3 plastic cups. Great, is it not? After we had finished enjoying our food, we then went to our cosy, petite and air condition cabin with toilet.

A Jeepney

Philippines jeepney

Philippines jeepney

The Hold Up

We woke up the next day at 3 a.m, fresh and ready for our adventure. Our ferry arrived at Cebu Port at 4 a.m. Then we went to the super ferry shuttle to drive to the next taxi stand, so we went to our hotel with a taxi. Our hotel room was at the third floor or was it at the fourth floor? I wonder how many stairs I have stepped on as I did not have the "mind" to count it anymore.

After making ourselves fresh in our hotel room, we went downstairs to the reception to ask information how we could go to Santo Niño Cathedral or Basilica del Santo Niño ( a doll of the Baby Jesus) and in going to Chinese Taoist Temple. The receptionist told us the way and which jeepney we could take in case we don't use the taxi. We decided to take the jeepney in going to Santo Niño and a taxi in going to the Taoist Temple, as it is more cheaper that way.

Jeepney is a travel transportation in the Philippines. It has two parallel seats where 8 persons must sit side by side. All 16 passengers. In the entrance is a conductor (if there is any) who collects the fare. If there is no conductor, everybody has to pay to the driver. In front is a driver and one or two passengers. It depends how big the passenger is.

The jeepney we took was almost full. It was still seven in the morning. It was the Chinese New Year as we found out. Then the jeepney stopped because of the red traffic light. I was busy looking at the streets. Some of the passengers left the jeepney when the traffic lights went red and some came inside. I did not know how many.

The green traffic lights came and the jeepney continued to move. Then suddenly I heard a man shouting. "All jewelries here...faster, faster." I looked up. I saw a rugged man in front of me. Then I saw the pistol. A silver-colored pistol. The pistol was pointing at me and Jinky, who was sitting left beside me. Melva, who was sitting crossed legs next to the hold upper, just looked at him with a mocking face and laughing. I thought "Oh, My God, this is the end." Then I saw the hold upper touching Jinkys' bracelet and pointing at her rings. I automatically pulled my bracelet from my right arm and two rings from my both hands and said--"here, keep it". I did not want the hold upper to touch me. I was glad that I put my passport and some important documents in my tiny pouch belt travel bag under my clothes.

Melva, on the other hand discovered that it was not a joke. She gave her ring as well and hid her other arm where she had her watch. Seeing that, I too hid my left arm where my watch was. Then, I saw a hand with coins in front of me and I heard- "this is the only one I have, fare for the jeepney." It was the woman sitting right beside me. --"Faster, faster!"--The hold upper shouted again. Then he jumped out of the running jeepney. Somebody was shouting at the hold upper and for the police. We saw the hold upper behind a man who was driving a bicycle. Getting farer and farer. We called a man who looked like a police. He just said calmly and feeling bored, "I'll get a police."

Well, you might ask where the driver was. Of course he was driving and did not notice that we were hold up. Do you believe that? He said, he only heard the "faster, faster" words. Then he realized, we were hold up. Then he continued driving until we reached the Basilica de Santo Niño.

What if one of the passengers had fight with the hold upper because that passenger had a problem and at that time exploded and all his rage was then directed to the hold upper? What if??? Just like in the film with Michael Douglas, long time ago. I forgot the title. Well, I was thankful that we, the passengers, were all calm at that time.

Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City

Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City, Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City, Philippines

Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City

One of the altar in the Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City, Philippines

One of the altar in the Basilica del Santo Nino, Cebu City, Philippines

Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City

Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

Chinese Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

Another Chance In Life

Actually, we went to Santo Niño Basilica to be guided by God in our in Cebu City. That He will not put us up in danger and to thank Him for the blessings that He give us. Instead, we were very very thankful to Him that besides the danger that we have just encountered, He still care for us and give us another chance in life. It was not our time yet.

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We went to Taoist Temple after that and I was automatically functioning. I am not a Buddhist person but I prayed a thankful prayer in every Buddhist God and Goddesses in the Chinese temple. For me, there is only one God.

With the jewelries that were stolen, it was nothing compared to our lives on this earth. Yes, the hold upper might have earned a living from the stolen jewelries but his life will always be the same. Unblessed living, day after day, until the day he will realize how traumatic his deeds to the people he had cause from stealing them and that he will change his life.

In the two days we were in Cebu City, I was mentally not in my mind. I was quiet and was scared to ride a jeepney again. We were riding taxis since the incident.

A Shrine at the Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

A Shrine at the Taoist Temple, Cebu City, Philippines

Chinese Taoist Temple Shrine, Cebu City

Taoist Temple Shrine, Cebu City

Taoist Temple Shrine, Cebu City


Here are some tips when you are traveling:

  • Be aware that thieves are everywhere
  • Don't put all your cash in your handbag
  • Use a shoulder bag where you can put it across your shoulder and use a tiny pouch belt bag under your clothes.
  • Use only a fashion jewelry when you are traveling

Thanks to my friends Melva and Jinky who allowed me to mention them in this article. Maybe someday, we can travel again with only joyful experiences in our bags in going back home.

© 2012 Thelma Alberts


Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on April 06, 2017:

Hi Mona. I am glad nobody was hurt but that ugly experience made me careful when riding a public transportation after that. Thanks for your comment. Nice to meet you.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on April 05, 2017:

Wow, this story is compelling. I've heard so many stories of jeepney robberies, but this is the first time I got a detailed story of how it happens. I am very glad that nobody was hurt.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 08, 2015:

Yes, I was glad about that too. Jewelry is nothing compared to life. Since the holdup, I am very careful when travelling. Thanks for you comment Vellur. Have a great week!

Nithya Venkat from Dubai on September 07, 2015:

Glad you and your friends were okay even though the jewelry was stolen.

Take care.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 16, 2014:

Hi, Joy! I´m glad you were not hurt. It´s very dangerous going to a bank machine at night time. Yes, those robbers are lurking everywhere. Be careful next time. Thanks for visiting my hub. I appreciate that. Have a nice day!

Joy on March 16, 2014:

Robbers are lurking everywhere and any time of the day and night. I went to an ATM machine one night at around 8:00. I was not planning to withdraw some money because I have a cash card. I only wanted to check if the money I transferred was credited to my account but the robbers didn't see it that way. They thought I got some cash and met me by the gate and grabbed my purse. They fled in a motorcycle.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on November 23, 2013:

That was very courageous of you Mcdo. It´s good to know that there´s still a man like you. I´m glad there was nobody hurt from the passenger and you, too. Thanks for your visit and have a nice weekend.

Mcdo on November 22, 2013:

I had that experience before. I realy hate to see somebody being rubbed that the reason why when i saw one of my co passenger in a jeepney being rubbed by 3 guys i then exploded and took a fight with the guys. Im not a trained to fight but i was able to take the 3 guys down. Thats were i learned that its rare for a holdoper to have a watch guy, if you see 1 robbing somebody theres an 80 percent chance that hes alone...lets fight back if we can...

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 07, 2013:

Yes, their lives are in danger too, but that´s their choice. The robbers should change their job. Thanks for your visit Denden. Have a nice week.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on July 07, 2013:

Sorry diyomarpandan for answering this very late. Yes, I have heard about that. It still remains scary. Thanks for coming back. Have a nice week!

denden mangubat from liloan, cebu, philippines on July 07, 2013:

but the lives of those robbers is in a scary situation to hell if they don't change.

diyomarpandan on September 09, 2012:

That's what they say, anyway. And interviews with Rodrigo Duterte (currently vice mayor) seem to prove it rather than dispute it. Frankly I don't think majority of Davawenyos would have it differently.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 09, 2012:

Yep, it was a scary story. I have heard a lot nowadays why Davao is peaceful. Is it really true that the local government are getting rid of the criminals through killing them? Oh my! What a....I don´t know what to say.

Thanks for dropping by;-)

diyomarpandan on September 08, 2012:

Beautiful pictures, but scary story. I've heard a lot of stories about robbery, supposedly happening even just in the pier of Cebu. Such stories are even more rife in Manila.

Fortunately this rarely happens in Davao, which is my big city. You can understand why Davawenyos don't seem to mind the local government getting rid of (as in killing) criminals without putting them through due process. Makes the city peaceful. You can go out of the street in the middle of the night and nobody's going to rob you.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on September 04, 2012:

Thank you James for stopping by. Yes, the Basilica del Santo Nino and the Taoist Temple are beautiful.

Yes, it was a hair-raising story. It was the scariest real moment in my life beside the "ghost" that I have encountered while staying in my friends house. I´ve written the story here. I´m glad you enjoyed reading my hub. Take care.

James A Watkins from Chicago on September 04, 2012:

Wow! The Basilica del Santo Nino is so beautiful! And the Taoist Temple is as well.

What a hair-raising story! You did the right thing, methinks. I am glad you were not injured. I enjoyed your article. God Bless!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on May 07, 2012:

Hi cebutouristspot!

Yes, it was sad but I still managed to have a bit of fun. I am thankful that my Guardian Angel is always with me.

cebutouristspot from Cebu on May 06, 2012:

So sad that you have a bad experience here in Cebu :(. Hope even with that experience you still manage to have a little bit of fun

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 14, 2012:

Welcome to Hubpages Kababayan cymbelline! I hope this problem will be solve in the future. Thanks for your good comment.Have a nice week!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 14, 2012:

Yes, it was a scary time for us in Cebu city tillsontitan. But thanks God, He was and is always with us. Thank you for your visit. Have a great day!

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on March 14, 2012:

Thanks moonlake for your kind comment. Yes, we are thankful to God that He was and always with us. Thanks for SHARING my hub to others.

Cymbelline from Cebu City, Philippines on March 13, 2012:

Hello! I'm sorry to hear about your unfortunate incident. I'm from Cebu and I'm afraid this is a few of the problems that our city suffers from. I only hope that these incidents will cease in the coming years. But I'm glad that no one was hurt. It's wiser to give away material belongings rather than to lose a life. Take care on your next journey to Cebu.

Mary Craig from New York on March 13, 2012:

What a scary time for you and your friends. God was with you in keeping you safe. The pictures in your hub are beautiful, and your advice very sound.

moonlake from America on March 13, 2012:

I really enjoyed your. So sorry you were robbed. Just glad that you and your friends are safe. Voted Up SHARED.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 28, 2012:

Thank you SweetiePie for stopping by and for giving a comment. Yes, the jeepneys have their own character and they are a very unique transportation which I think can only be found in the Philippines.

SweetiePie from Southern California, USA on February 27, 2012:

I liked seeing the video with the jeepneys. Those trucks have character.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 15, 2012:

Hi queen cleopatra! Sorry to hear about the theft. I hope your daughter is careful now. The things that were stolen are worthless compared to our lives. Thanks for your stopping by and for your follow.

EC Mendoza from Philippines on February 14, 2012:

You were all wise to give without a fight. My youngest daughter lost her mobile phone last December 2011. The suspected pickpocket was looking at her eye-to-eye while taking out the phone out of her bag's outer pocket. The theft was discovered when my daughter got home. And I thank God for that because worse things could happen. Some robbers are heartless enough and hurt their victims...

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 07, 2012:

Dear reader,

I am very sorry, I have not noticed that this hub was unpublished for a day or 2. There was a black out here. I have not seen it until this day.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 03, 2012:

Hi Efs! Everything is fine although I'm a bit afraid of riding a jeepney now. Regards to all of them. See you in Germany again or where ever might be. Thanks for your comment.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on February 03, 2012:

Hello munchwaffle! Thanks for your comment. Yes, this can happen anywhere. We are lucky to have save our life. Have a great weekend.

efsica Bandelow on February 03, 2012:

Hi Thelma , I just read your Hub and your experience in Cebu, That is true anywhere you can encounter those bad incidences but the only good thing is you and your friends are ok. How are you? Think of you always, and best regards from Randy Emmie and tessie.


emievil from Philippines on February 02, 2012:

Same here. I seldom get to meet anybody from Mindanao here. Glad I met you.

emievil from Philippines on February 01, 2012:

Same here :). I seldom see hubbers from Mindanao in HP. I'm always glad to see one here.

munchwaffle from Philippines on January 31, 2012:

Oh no :( I've been to Cebu City too last November for a visit. Anyway, crimes can happen anywhere in the world, I'm glad you and your group are fine.

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on January 31, 2012:

So, you are a Butuanon.I went to college in Butuan City before I went to Germany. The world is getting small! Nice meeting you here in HubPages.

emievil from Philippines on January 31, 2012:

I was actually born in Butuan City. I grew up there but I finished college here in Manila. I actually lived there for 4 years - from 2007 to 2011. :)

Thelma Alberts (author) from Germany on January 31, 2012:

Hi emievil! No, it will not stop me from going back to Cebu someday. Thanks God, nobody was hurt. Yes, I am from Agusan del Norte. How about you?

emievil from Philippines on January 30, 2012:

I'm sorry to hear about your experience in Cebu. I'm glad to read that nobody was hurt. Hope that won't stop you from going back to Cebu someday.

By the way, I was curious why you mentioned Nasipit? Are you from Agusan del Norte by any chance?

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