10 Jan2007

That should be the headline of the local papers tommorrow. Cebu is crazed with final preparations for the re-scheduled Asean Summit. I find myself in the midst of the “headless chicken syndrome” that has descended on parts of the city. Worse, my regular home/hotel in the city is one of the hosts to the Asean delegates, so the foolishness extends there. The city is CRAWLING with police, army personnel and plainclothesmen, all with ID’s the size of a notebook cover hanging around their necks. They seem to be stationed every 100 meters or so along the ceremonial route, an artery of roads that connects the hotels with the venues and incidentally, when blocked off, effectively cuts off any Cebuanos on the North side of the road from crossing to the South side of the road. It would be like forcing everyone in Manila to stay on one side of EDSA or the other, period. I am sure you have all heard about the fleet of BMW’s that was brought in for the dignitaries (lots of 5 and 7 series cars). At least we spent almost nothing for these as they have been “pre-sold” to highly liquid Filipinos who want a car previously sat in by some fat cat, literally or figuratively… But guess what I came across as I exited my hotel yesterday just before the biggest dry run of convoys in Cebu… the 5-series BMW assigned to the Australian or New Zealand contingent already has a bumper ding on it. The driver miscalculated and the front fender is seriously scratched. Yikes! I hope the buyer is prepared to accept his car already damaged before it hits 100 kilometers in use…boohoo for you! Once the dry run got under way there was one accident along the route, one of the hagads or motorcycle troopers flew off his motorcycle at a corner near the convention center. He is fine, but can you imagine if the Sultan of Brunei were in his convoy?

But even better is a typical “This could only happen to Marketman story.” I think it is amusing. Lighthearted fun, really. But the hotel was discombobulated… Two nights ago I arrived at the hotel crawling with security. The parking lot alone felt like a PNP Christmas Party. Then at the doors of the hotel, they asked me to check in my drenched umbrella, for which they gave me a claim tag and I noticed they placed in a LOCKED umbrella stand, along with 25 other umbrellas. Each umbrella was individually locked, it wasn’t just a big collective closet. Then the next day, I tried to claim the umbrella but it seemed to be missing. Hungry and low on sugar, I told the doorman to look for the umbrella and I would claim it after I had eaten dinner at a restaurant outside of the hotel. I got very wet on my way to the car and back to the hotel. Two hours later, I returned and it seems they still couldn’t find the umbrella. Increasingly, the staff seemed at a loss for this petty theft in the making. Ironically, to GET INTO the hotel, I now had to pass through a metal detector system, strip myself of goods that were to be xrayed and subject myself to a serious body pat-down, not a cursory Shoemart mall “feel the small of your back hipo routine.” Such high security was in preparation for the summit guests already trickling in. Inside the lobby, security lookouts on the mezzanine, probably snipers on the roofs, you name it were there to make sure we were all safe! All this and my umbrella was stolen!

So more than just amused, I took my claim stub to the front desk and told the folks there that I was appalled that with all the bloody security in place and all the security checks I was subjected to, they couldn’t keep track of a simple umbrella! I asked that they send a brand new umbrella up to my room before 1 hour was up and that I hoped they didn’t lose a delegate who was checked in in the days ahead… All the ASEAN type flunkies were all ears with my minor Marketman drama/outburst and scurried over to see what major security breach had been discovered. Thank God I am not one of those folks that fancies their parasols and carries a $300 Louis Vuitton number, it was a freebie bank giveaway instead. About 40 minutes later, a knock on my hotel room door yielded the duty manager and a new hotel umbrella to replace my lost one. He apologized profusely and I let him off the hook with a light scowl. But he was so stressed out that he launched a full-fledged investigation into the case of the missing umbrella, interrogating the three doormen and four guards at the umbrella stand area and I had visions of a SWAT team arriving with fingerprint experts in tow…heehee. They never found it, by the way. They were so put out by the incident they came up to the room with another umbrella so that I could have 2 for the lost 1. Heehee. Stay away from Cebu for the next week or so. It is just crazy as can be… I am flying back to Manila now…



  1. Mon C says:

    not a cursory Shoemart mall “feel the small of your back hipo routine.” Love it! Trademark MarketMan lingo. Keep ’em coming!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 3:57 pm


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  3. tulip says:

    Funny but truly an irritating experience huh? I had quite some laughs reading the post. I can imagine you giving the “light scowl”. hehehe

    Jan 10, 2007 | 4:03 pm

  4. TOPING says:

    You’re a riot, MM! Sakit ng tiyan ko sa katatawa…

    Jan 10, 2007 | 4:44 pm

  5. Lei says:

    Hahaha, after the post on those irritating lamps, on this post I was laughing myself silly on your descriptions like “feel the small of your back hipo routine” , “and I had visions of a SWAT team arriving with fingerprint experts in tow.” Probabyly they can even employ the help of the FBI to help them solve this mystery. Oh well! =)

    Jan 10, 2007 | 5:11 pm

  6. lizechev says:

    A ‘serious body pat-down’ huh? Well, they must have wanted a better feel of 007. :)

    Jan 10, 2007 | 7:56 pm

  7. mikel says:

    MM, luv reading your posts daily. but this one abt the umbrella..well abit too much whining. stuff happens. now u have 2 umbrellas.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 9:42 pm

  8. Marketman says:

    mikel, I agree stuff happens. But as I mention in the post, I actually thought this was more amusing than not. I actually didn’t whine, more likely “barked” to have them replace the lost item and they did in fact do that quickly. Too many Filipinos don’t bother to raise a stink when they are in the right, therefore, they end up with the short end of the stick. If someone takes an item from you and checks it in with a lock no less, they should look after it. Demanding action is not whining, at least not in my book. Besides, if your car keys or those of the head of the Chinese delegation’s brand new BMW 7 series were left with the valet in a locked box in the same booth as my locked umbrella, and watched by the same security personnel, and THEY WENT MISSING, would we chalk that up to stuff happening? I think not. Order of magnitude is irrelevant, really. Whether its PHP10 or 10 million, theft, if it was theft, is wrong.

    Jan 10, 2007 | 9:58 pm

  9. Erlinda says:

    I just noted that my unfinished comment has not been posted, so I presume, it just disappeared into the ether somewhere. Anyway, MM, what I wanted to say is that another title for your experience could be:
    “The Case of the Missing Umbrella Remains Unsolved”! What a terrible experience. Aren’t you glad you, at least, got another umbrella?

    About the Summit, did you by any chance, noticed in the local press whether it is being received with enthusiam by the Cebuanos? Or by the delegates? In a newspaper article I read yesterday, it was stated that several delegates have cancelled due to the previous postponement, and that ones attending are not as eager as before about this summit. In fact, supposedly, the Indonesian president and the New Zealand prime minister will immediately return home after the reception, and won’t even be present during the entire summit. This is rather too bad, as the Philippines’ reputation is again on the line. What’s the use of having a summit, if only a few delegates come?

    Concerning your “Tagalog Bistek” post yesterday – it reminded me of a “Food” news item I read quite awhile back about a German chef who’s married to a Filipina, and who was interviewed because he’s become famous and all that.

    Question: “Do you cook a lot at home”?

    Answer: “Not, very much. I only cook simple meals at home. My wife does most of the cooking”.

    Question: “Does she cook Philippine food”?

    Answer: Yes, in fact, only Philippine

    Question: “What is your favorite Philippine dish”?

    Answer: “Philippine Bistek”.

    MM, don’t you agree with that old adage -“Love is through the stomack”? After I read that article, I said to myself: It must have been the “soya sauce”.


    Jan 10, 2007 | 10:03 pm

  10. millet says:

    MM, this is too appalling, I don’t even know how to react. Yes, I raise a howl and a storm when things like these happen. It’s simply a matter of people not doing what they are supposed to do, and THAT is sooo irritating. But for this to happen during a supposedly high-security gig, and in a supposedly super-high security fancy hotel…..aaaaarrrrghh!!

    Jan 10, 2007 | 11:24 pm

  11. lojet says:

    The incident, given the circumstances, just screams ” inside job”. Yeah, have an investigation, starting with the person who holds the key to the umbrella locks. LOL

    Jan 11, 2007 | 1:04 am

  12. Maria Clara says:

    Glad to hear you got a replacement of your missing umbrella and heading back to Manila leaving the jam-packed heightened secured area of Cebu!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 1:32 am

  13. Jacqui says:

    If they cannot even address a simple umbrella mishap, how can they provide adequate security to the delegates, or their other guests? You were right in raising hell with them about it. It is about time customer service in the Philippines is raised to a higher level.
    Erlinda, a friend from Cebu’s local media was sharing how the entire summit bruhaha is bringing so much trouble to Cebuanos, like last December everyone was forced to contend with the policy on the closed businesses, including banks, and roads, near at the Summit sites. Authorities claim it is for security reasons but the policy just brought too much trouble to the locals.

    Jan 11, 2007 | 5:12 am

  14. kaye says:

    hehehe!! this post really made me laugh.. i know how you feel MM.. it’s so surprising under all that security and number tag attached to it that a bank-freebie umbrella gets lost.. i could just imagine how the manager must’ve felt when you gave him a light scowl.. it might have been a nice looking umbrella..

    Jan 11, 2007 | 6:03 am

  15. consol says:

    bravo, MM! nadagdagan na naman yung mga classic MarketManisms mo. ever consider compiling ’em in a book, mala-Eraptions?! or try being a standup comedian?!

    bwahaha! sa tindi ng kapabayaan nila, dapat eh gold-plated yung umbrellas na kapalit! kung isang el cheapo na payong di mabantayan ng maayos, pano pang maaasahan silang bantayan yung mga leaders na dumayo pa para sa Summit? tsk, tsk!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 7:51 am

  16. sha says:

    think you will soon need a subdomain for this kind of posts

    murahin lang payong mo? hehehehe
    I was discussing with my ex boss’ butler about umbrellas and he said “I warn you she will buy those one with leather handles for 250quid and u will get a headache checking on them hahaha!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 9:14 am

  17. miej says:

    yeah MM, i agree with consol. why not come up with a book of all your posts? i’m a latecomer and just discovered your site latter part of 2006. since then i’ve been reading your previous posts beginning 2004, it will be great to have everything in one book. i’ll be one of the many who’ll be lining up to get a copy!

    Jan 11, 2007 | 3:29 pm

  18. emz says:

    it gets really annoying if people lose the stuff that you entrust to them for safe keeping… its good that you asked them to replace it. which i think is just about fair. they lose something, they replace it. by the way, nice work with the “light scowl” hahaha. they got so scared of the “light scowl” that they gave you another free umbrella. geez, i wonder how people would react if you gave them the full on thunder, lightning and brimstone type of scowl hahahaha!

    Jan 12, 2007 | 3:48 am

  19. Mike says:

    Hi MM, i am in stitches after reading this post. this reminds me a lot about my past work as a ‘hotelier’ in Brunei especially when we hosted the ASEAN summit ( and loads of other regional summits ) a few years ago with all the brouhaha and yes – the ‘headless chicken syndrome’ . . . i will never forget all those scowls – ‘light’ or otherwise that we’d get from irate delegates . . . hehehe . . . at least i never encountered a lost umbrella complaint – hehehe . . . but was caught in a really serious diplomatic tussle between two countries over room allocation and signage issue . . .

    Jan 12, 2007 | 8:52 am

  20. mikel says:

    yes MM, i agree with your comments. but lets keep this in perspective…it was just an umbrella. it could have been misplaced, damaged & disposed off, given out by mistake, etc.
    yes you were whining. such a lengthy post on such a triviality.

    Jan 12, 2007 | 9:58 pm

  21. Marketman says:

    mikel, I agree you are entitled to your opinion. But trivial to you may not be so trivial to me, and even if it was, I’ll write about it if I feel like it. Just skip the “trivial” or “whine-y” posts in future, you have a choice as to what you read…

    Jan 12, 2007 | 10:55 pm

  22. peanut says:

    Geeeez mikel give it up!don’t you have a sense of humour?
    Anyway,it does get to be irritating but they way you write it it had it’s funny side.i mean losing something.
    i love the descriptions!
    i’m sure we can all relate to this happening.lost baggage at the airport,lost “checked in” stuff but i’m glad you saw the funny side to it.
    i’m sure mikel would love to read about the way i rant and rave about check out operators in the philippines asking you if you have change hahahahahahaahahahahah.

    Jan 14, 2007 | 3:07 pm

  23. Marketman says:

    peanut, funny you should mention “change” as rant topic, it was one of my earliest rants and a pet peeve… read the post here. Enjoy!

    Jan 14, 2007 | 3:31 pm

  24. peanut says:

    last time i was in the philippines the checkout operator gave me hard candies for change.i refused to accept it.i was told to wait as they were going to get change.after a wait of about 15 minutes i went back to her and asked for the manager.when the manager turned up,i asked the person if they were still minting the money for my change!

    then another incident,i was supposed to have a change of Php20. plus some change.i was only given the Php20.i was still waiting for the rest but it seemed the operator has finished her transaction with me!when i inquired about the rest of the change she actually threw the coins at me!i told her it’s not about the money but about simple COURTESY of being told she does not have the right change.i know this will sound trivial to mikel but it is about being courteuos to the people who are actually keeping you employed-the CUSTOMERS.

    i don’t know why but the pinoys back home seem to take being treated as such hence the abuse as “normal”

    Jan 14, 2007 | 3:48 pm

  25. peanut says:

    and yes,i went off my brain after the coins were thrown at me!but i did not cause a scene hehehehhehehe.i quietly asked for the manager took her to a quiet spot and expressed my anger in no uncertain terms.

    Jan 14, 2007 | 4:01 pm


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