22 Jun2013


Many years ago, a cousin of ours FELL INTO an OPEN MANHOLE on a darkened sidewalk near the Cultural Center of the Philippines. She fell into the sewer, over 6 feet deep, and only suffered minor cuts and scrapes, thank goodness, as she could easily have suffered very serious injuries. At the time, it was explained that people stole all-steel manhole covers in order to sell them as scrap metal… In other work locally, I once read a report that some retail stores in the Philippines had amongst the highest levels of pilferage and shoplifting in Southeast Asia, and losses to employees and mostly customers/thieves were significantly above our Asian neighbors. For armed murders, The Philippines ranks in the world’s top 5 countries, not to mention other crime categories, and somehow we are the only majority Catholic nation in these parts… hmmmm. So let’s just say I wasn’t REALLY surprised, but still shook my head, when I went to take a leak, only to find the urinal bound in chains… :)


It seems that “urinal hardware thieves” had recently entered the bathroom at a strip mall (where we have a restaurant) and quickly took off the stainless steel mechanisms at the urinals and fled with their loot. Each urinal’s stainless steel hardware can fetch as much as PHP3,000 on the black market, so thieves have taken to stealing them from public restrooms. That’s OUTRAGEOUS! Not to mention leaving the water gushing onto the bathroom floor. It has already happened twice at this same location, hence the chains and locks. Of course if these guys are ever caught, they will probably spend years waiting for the justice system to mete them their punishment. But if it were up to me, which it isn’t, I would force them to spend the rest of their incarcerated life in a cell without a toilet or urinal. And you can read this old post about the theft of electrical wires in broad daylight… and the result of that poll in 2006 where I asked what the punishment should be? A majority of readers picked “ban them and all their descendants from future electrical connections…”.



  1. ntgerald says:

    Upscale mall with no CCTV?

    Jun 22, 2013 | 11:04 am


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  3. onix says:

    why dont they use waterless urinals.. though i heard they cost 20k each

    Jun 22, 2013 | 12:48 pm

  4. Mimi says:

    Last year I read an article about Jaimie Oliver complaining that customers were stealing his Crapper toilets in his UK restaurants. I think he may have also chained or welded them to the wall/floor.

    Jun 22, 2013 | 3:27 pm

  5. Betchay says:

    Yes, manhole covers, electric/telephone wires,water/electric meters even the vaulted garden chairs in public parks! Probably junk shops should be investigated and regulated because that’s where most of these things end.

    Jun 22, 2013 | 4:05 pm

  6. meekerz says:

    Do you still have a link to that report regarding pilferage and shoplifting? Very interested to read that.

    It is true, pilferage here is crazy. And mall operators have wizened up- suppliers are now all on consignment basis. We’re a small mom and pop type of business, and from our estimates, we lose a brand new car in losses every year.

    Jun 22, 2013 | 4:54 pm

  7. Marketman says:

    meekerz, it was a privately commissioned report, and definitely not publicly available on the net, but yes, it had some disturbing takes on pilferage in the Philippines. It’s the probable likely reason that many drugstores work on a “counter basis” rather than the open set ups in places like say Thailand (though there are more open set-ups in big malls these days). ntgerald, I wouldn’t exactly say upscale mall, more like neighborhood strip mall… but they do have roving security and some cameras, but apparently didn’t catch these thieves in the act. Next I wouldn’t be surprised if they had cameras facing INTO the bathrooms. :)

    Jun 22, 2013 | 5:50 pm

  8. Footloose says:

    I would not drag the Catholic Church into discussions about propensity to rob, haven’t it suffered enough bad rap about cover-ups of pedophile priests already? Would not blame poverty either, pilferage of cutlery and washroom fixtures has plagued hotels and restaurants since the beginning of time. Particularly, high-end establishments. The rich are different from you and me, as Hemingway once said, they are quite picky about the quality of the terry robes and towels they take, you know.

    Jun 22, 2013 | 8:41 pm

  9. KC says:

    This is bizarre.

    On another note, surely you can distinguish between Catholic in name and Catholic in practice? Clearly if we practice our faith to the fullest (this goes for anyone in any country) there would be no need to draw associations to crime…

    Jun 22, 2013 | 9:12 pm

  10. Dreaming says:

    My observation is that “Catholic” is strictly here in name and show but not in practice.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 8:17 am

  11. Marketman says:

    I guess if it isn’t religion or poverty, then it’s just nationality perhaps that leads to a higher than usual crime rate, theft rate, etc. than neighboring countries…?

    Jun 23, 2013 | 9:20 am

  12. andrew lim says:

    @Marketman, @Dreaming,

    I share your frustration in your observation that in a country where outward religious fervor is demonstrated vigorously (Sto Nino in Cebu, Black Nazerene in Quiapo, etc) it is a paradox why criminality and corruption persists at high levels.

    One can cite anecdotal evidence to support either side of the argument on this one, like what Footloose cited. Obviously, the Catholic doctrine does not teach wrongdoing as @KC cited, so it cannot be causing it. But it makes you question its effectiveness in forming consciences.

    I leave you with Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index, where the Philiipines ranks in the bottom half. Italy and Spain rank poorly as well compared to its neighbors. And Latin American countries rank just as bad as the Phils. The countries that are able to keep corruption at low levels are not Catholic dominated. Hmmm……..

    This is a food blog, so I will not venture beyond this post. :)

    Jun 23, 2013 | 10:49 am

  13. Footloose says:

    There was, I believe, a member of the Quirino cabinet who was branded a thief and countered that there was nothing wrong with being a thief since the Lord, after all, died between two thieves.

    Could it be that the expedition headed by Magellan was a few hundred leagues off when they called certain islands along the Marianas trench Islas de los Ladrones? The natives who boarded their ship just took whatever caught their fancy.

    I guess if a restaurant can show data of disappeared cutlery like the Michael Jordan Steakhouse in the Grand Central did once it stops being anecdotal.

    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:16 am

  14. Marketman says:

    Footloose, interesting indeed, so while Islas de los Ladrones apparently refers to the Marianas inlcuding Guam, the recent sainthood granted to Pedro Calungsod a Cebu based (?) citizen, was a guy who worked in Guam and the Marianas islands, and for several hundred years while under Spanish rule, the Marianas were “under” the Archdiocese of Cebu… bizarre. Obviously my history is weak, but this little tidbit is interesting indeed. And if you go back to this old post of mine from 6 years ago, the first map in that post features mythical islands to the east of Mindanao… probably placed on maps to throw off other explorers… On a much lighter note, when the website hotels.com tried to figure out who the most “dishonest travelers” were, they came up with an amusing list of nationalities who nicked hotel items when they shouldn’t have — here. Colombians, Mexicans and Spaniards ranked first, second and fourth overall, with Indians taking third. So there is that Spanishy/colony thing again… :) andrew, you capture my sentiments completely… certainly a “hmmm…” moment. :)

    Jun 23, 2013 | 2:46 pm

  15. Natie says:

    Oh my! Hello, the Louvre just added a Study in Red…a bit modernistic..it has a human gray and black, with bright red background… “Beware of Pickpockets”

    So, if one endeavors to take urinal, he brings the wall along with it….

    Jun 23, 2013 | 11:35 pm

  16. Footloose says:

    Met a Filipino thirty years ago who was a catholic deacon in Guam who told me that Guam belonged with the Cebu archdiocese until that time. Can’t confirm since Wiki entries I checked are all silent on this claim.

    @Natie, any pissed (pardon the locution) guest would be sorely tempted to yank off the wall this one-of-a-kind urinals: http://www.clarkmade.com/urinals.html

    Jun 24, 2013 | 12:08 am

  17. Natie says:

    @Footloose:At those prices, I’d be ‘pissed’ if husband brought one home…hmm they would be nice as Birdbaths…sans plumbing for flush….

    Jun 24, 2013 | 4:37 am

  18. Victoria says:

    Not unique to the PH. I saw a bound public toilet in a heritage area in Puebla, Mexico when I went there in 2010. I was so amused to see it, I took a photo, and showed it to my family.

    Jun 24, 2013 | 1:20 pm

  19. Marketman says:

    Victoria, hmmm, Mexico, another ex-Spanish colony… :)

    Jun 24, 2013 | 4:44 pm

  20. Mart says:

    It is interesting that there could be a link to Spanish colonies.
    Taking it a step further, maybe the cultural makeup of the indigenous people that were colonized by the Spaniards did not have a concept of private property?
    Private property and ownership of land were “white men” ideas.
    Sorry, no links to provide right now. I’ll post again with links when I find the time at home.

    Jun 25, 2013 | 12:44 am

  21. Dragon says:

    Here’s a non-Spanish/non-Catholic anecdote: pilferage is very high here in Melbourne. A friend, who is a manager of a grocery chain told me of how high (no numbers but more than customers) the employee pilferage is while on duty…and, new realty developments are always done in for kitchen and bathroom goods (installed)…

    Jun 25, 2013 | 3:38 pm

  22. Getter Dragon 1 says:

    I wouldn’t say that its the Catholic Church per se, but it is interesting on how Catholics in the Philippines practice their faith as opposed to here in the west. I think its the concept of ‘forgiveness’ that has taken on its own meaning which leads to things such as this. Christianity in the Philippines is taught and practiced at such a juvenile level that it sets a precedent. Even more so that it comes back to itself where, for example, as a person grows and is in line to receive the sacraments, that they are poorly prepared in their Catecheism to fully understand and appreciate for what they are to receive.

    Jun 26, 2013 | 1:07 am

  23. tercer says:

    Rather than religious or ethnic influence, I think this klepto virus can only be controlled but never eradicated from any society. Innoculation can only be achieved through exterme measures and generations to achieve. Taking as the best example the Japanese culture and its renowned reputation of discipline – from what I have read and learned of their history, they mostly achieved this societal conditioning by meting out punishment with the full use of their legendary swords and knives. Steal a smaller item – cut-off fingers or hand. Steal something bigger, cut-off head. And justice is dispensed and enforced immediately by any passing samurai. A few hundred years of such justice and I’m sure even the most incorrigible Filipino would become enlightened.

    Jun 26, 2013 | 3:02 am

  24. Renan Ferrer says:

    Here in Brazil is very common for criminals stealing high voltage cables and then melt the copper is inside them. Copper is valuable here in Brazil. Really these things only happen in third world countries. Here in Brazil I would say the fourth world.

    Very good post.

    Thanks for sharing with us!


    Renan Ferrer

    Jun 26, 2013 | 3:23 am

  25. Danney says:

    I wonder why Scandinavian countries don’t have this major hassle? I’m also impressed of Russia where their subways are full of treasure trove examples like paintings, sculptures and more yet people don’t steal them even though there are so many gypsies nowadays. These treasures are out in the open and no security guards around.

    Strangely enough I had bad experience in Naples where a motorcycle tandem snatch my red beret. I live in Los Angeles and never experience robberies and snatching yet I’m very very careful walking with my wife everywhere.

    I’ve been to Sta Cruz, Avenida, Divisoria, Binan many times and no one snatch or rob us. I’ve been to SM malls and yes someone open the front zipper of my backpack and what did they get? Folded toilet paper and facial tissues. Ha ha ha!! Mas maraming sikwat o magnanakaw sa mall dahil alam nila na may perang pang shopping ang tao. I think the reason is “Dala ng pangangailangan kaya nagagawa ng tao ang magnakaw o part sila sila ng sindikato ng mga magnanakaw. Poverty is the main cause of this evil thing.

    Look at the helpless children sa calle na pinababayaan ng magulang na manglimos. Anak sila ng anak e hindi naman pala nila kayang buhayin? Tapos sasabihin nila biyaya ng Diyos.

    Jun 26, 2013 | 8:27 am

  26. Footloose says:

    @Renan Ferrer, they oftentimes get a charge out of doing that. I travel and live a large portion of my year in Brazil and it has a lot of good things on offer. Brazilians and Filipinos can learn a few things from Jamaicans. They are proud, even if their mangos they rave about at every opportunity are husky as their coconuts.

    Jun 26, 2013 | 9:33 pm

  27. Monique says:

    Good grief! One time we were playing golf and one of our caddies mysteriously disappeared. We didn’t know where she went. Apparently while looking for an errant golf ball by some plants she had fallen into an open manhole. Someone had stolen the cover and because the plants were overgrown, no one knew there was an open manhole underneath. She suffered injuries and was never able to caddie again. It was a good thing she kept shouting for help and the next golf players were able to hear her.

    Jul 5, 2013 | 3:40 pm


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