May
14

The night I was arrested & almost sent to jail in Manila.

It’s been 7 months since this happened and the reason I never wrote about it on the road was because I honestly didn’t want this story to get back to my mom. I know I have written many crazy things, but I know this would have made her want me home immediately. I am finally sharing it because I think I’m finally caught up on all the wrap up post you know like how much it cost to travel the world for 2 yearsrandom travel statisticsanswering all your questions, my toe touches around the world and what my passport looks like now.  Well here it is the post about the night I was arrested and almost went to jail in Manila. Oh & yes I’ve told my mom she couldn’t believe it and thanked me for not telling her until I was home safe.

It was Sunday, November 4th when it happened, the entire day leading up to the night I had told myself I was not going to drink, because the night before had already been crazy and fun enough. I also mentioned that I needed to get the fuck out of the Philippines because with rHum and Beer so cheap I have no self control and just drink and drink. Oh & also get naked at hostels. A few of us from the hostel went out for dinner and even then mentioned we weren’t going to drink. After dinner we were back at the hostel with nothing to do so what do we do? We start drinking beer at the hostel bar downstairs. We order a bucket of Red Horse Beer our preferred beer because it’s good & “extra strong”.

Red Horse Beer, Philippines

—One of my favorite beers in the world.—

One bucket lead to another and another after that. Now we all had a good buzz going and decided to go out to one of the clubs nearby. Since it was a Sunday night we didn’t think much would be going on anywhere. We walked into one club & is was completely empty so decided to cross the street to another, we walk in and hot damn it was full and in full swing. I was done drinking I told my self I had had enough, but then one of our friends bought everyone a beer and well I am not one to say no to a free drink (unless I am driving). The night was young and we danced away, laughed and had a blast. I even met a few men from Iran and we chatted away about politics and then they too bought a few of us a drink. We were having a blast, and it eventually got late and everyone was ready to head home. I wasn’t just yet so stayed behind and kept dancing and then thought I had the brilliant idea of visiting a gay bar that was behind our hostel.

Manila Night Club

—Inside the club in Manila.—

So I made my way to the gay bar. I got there and they had a 400peso ($10) cover charge. I couldn’t justify spending that much for going to a gay bar. So stayed outside talking to a guy for a while he then later asked me to go to quieter street to talk so did. I didn’t think anything of it…

Then out of no where cops stormed us and handcuffed us. I was so confused… no clue what was happening they weren’t speaking English  I kept asking what was going on and they said I had drugs. I entered into panic mode and for some reason I don’t know why when that happens I am in full control of my actions. I said I had nothing on me… I was scared shit-less, I know my face showed it, but my voice didn’t. They insisted I had drugs on me and was trying to sale marijuana to the other guy because he had marijuana on him. I let them know I did not have any drugs on me and don’t do them. They asked me “what are you on?” I told them “I’m on RED HORSE”… I repeated that a few times and kept telling them “NO…I CAN’T GO TO JAIL”.

In my head I knew for a fact I had to get the fuck out of this situation or I could spend the rest of my life in jail in a developing country with a corrupt system for no reason. I know this sounds ignorant, but I’ve seen enough of Locked Up Abroad and heard horror stories of shit like this happening around the world. I kept telling myself calm down and find a way to get out of this. I still couldn’t believe I was in handcuffs in Manila about to go to jail.

They said I must accompany them to the hospital to get tested for drugs and then go to jail. I needed to get on their motorcycle to do so. I said “look you have arrested me for no reason I have not done anything at all and you know it. I won’t get on the bike unless you unhand-cuff me. If anything happens I will die because I do not have my hands free.” I had a plan in mind already I knew the hostel was going to be around the corner it was going to be crazy, but I didn’t give a fuck, I know how helpless it feels to be in jail and was not going to go through that again and much less in a developing country.

They made sure I was going to cooperate with them unhand-cuffed me I got on the bike… and pretended I was scared. He said “hold on” so I did. He accelerated and as soon as we turned the corner at full speed I saw the hostel. I  jumped off the bike, he grabbed my hand I tugged down almost making him fall off the bike and ran inside the hostel.

I yelled at the receptionist “cops are trying to arrest me for no reason don’t let them take me”. I ran upstairs to get my friend Robyn (I met her in Koh Tao and she was from Houston too). I barged into the girls dorm and couldn’t even think of her name. I woke her up and asked her 3 times “what is your name?” and then let her know what was happening. I was still in panic mode. I gave her my  wallet my card pin numbers, my passwords for everything (checking, savings and retirement accounts)… I thought I was going to jail and knew once I was in I would have no contact with the outside world. I also got all the cash I had in my wallet and made Robyn give me a bit more making it 1500pesos ($37.50). I let her know how much money I had in my accounts and in my retirement account and let her know that I didn’t care how much it cost to get me out of here, she must get me out of here and that I am a man of my word and will pay every penny back.

I had been upstairs a while when the receptionist came and let me know that I must go down and speak to the cops. I was so scared I need to use the toilet. I was so scared that I used the toilet with the door open so that the receptionist and Robyn could be my witness that I was not flushing anything down. I made my way down and had one thing in mind “I CAN NOT GO TO JAIL”. I stayed away from the cops and asked what they wanted? I let them know again… that they knew I did not have any drugs on me. I mentioned to them that I had been traveling for over 20 months and had not once done drugs for this very reason.

I ended up talking to the cops for over an hour, I don’t even know what the hell we talked about for that long or how I manged this. I was getting tired and finally said “Look you both know I did nothing, but what can I do to make this problem go away?” They said “Oh no no we are not like that we don’t accept bribes. I then repeated myself showing some cash in my hand that time he said “You’ll need to talk to my boss.” I said “okay call him over”. I talked to the boss for a bit and then put the money in his hand and said, “Look you know I did nothing so please take this and let’s make this go away”. He laughed and hugged me and then walked away with 1500 pesos in his hands.

I couldn’t believe any of that… I was still in shock, my mouth was dry so dry it really looked like I was on drugs because I kept licking my lips as if I was on ecstasy. I drank a lot of water ran to my dorm got my laptop and messaged my family and friends of what happened with all my information. I was still scared they would come back for me and act as if I never gave them money and continue saying I did have drugs on me. By this time it was already past 6am and I was exhausted… I was so scared I made Robyn sleep with me on my dorm bed & she did.

The next day I was still scared and trying to analyze everything. Nothing was making sense, but I called the US Embassy in Manila anyway. I wanted to make sure they knew what happened and had my side of the story documented in case anything happened. They suggested I change hostels, because if they were cops and did come back I would have to obey them and go with them so did. I packed my things let Robyn know I was paying for her bed in the other hostel and also cab from the airport, because I did not want her to leave my side until I was safe at the airport and about to board my plane out of the Philippines. I was so scared I even looked up tickets to fly home, had they not cost $1,200 I probably would have just left. The entire day I was scared shit-less… and just ready to leave the country. Lucky for me it was the following day. I spent all day scared so decided to go to sleep early because I hadn’t slept much anyway and knew it was the only way to shut my mind down.

The next morning I got up more ready than ever to make my way to the airport. The time finally came and we took the cab. I arrived at the airport checked in said bye to Robyn and thanked her for everything. I made it through customs and had never been happier to get a visa exit stamp from a country and couldn’t have felt more relieved. My plane finally took off and I arrived at Kuala Lumpur safe and sound.

The thing about this though is that I later learned this is actually very common in Manila. Cops set up tourist that are alone to take advantage of them and try and get money from them. Lucky for me I gave them less than $40 and got away with it. I heard some tourist have had to give thousands of dollars. The reasons the cops do this is because they are not paid a living wage. Not that it justifies what they are doing, but it’s just alarming that they are not paid enough to sustain themselves and their families. This is also the reason I do not do drugs on the road, it’s just not worth the risk.

What I still don’t understand is how I was able to jump off a motorcycle moving full speed to run into my hostel? I would never do that in my right mind. I know it was the adrenalin and fear I had in me that allowed me to do that. Only thing that kept crossing my mind was I can not go to jail in the Philippines. If I hadn’t jumped off the bike I know I would probably still be in jail right now or wherever else they were going to take me. I also wonder how in the hell I got the balls to bribe a cop.

Now that I am home safely I honestly look back at this and laugh, because it’s just one more crazy adventure that happened during my trip around the world. Like the time I was held at gunpoint in Costa Rica, or almost died rolling down a volcano in Nicaragua or got off a train crying because I thought I was going to die in a train ride in India.

So what do you think… would you have jumped off the motorcycle? Would you have bribed the cop? Would you have gone home? Would you have been as scared as I was? Has anything like this ever happened to you?

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Comments

  1. I’m so sorry you had to go through all that and for the blatant incompetence of our cops here in the Philippines. They’ve been like that since time immemorial. They’re one of the Major Le Facepalms of our country, actually. But at least you’re home now. Yay! :)
    Kenneth | Echoserang Lakwatsera recently posted..Taking the Plunge: 28 Days of Solo Traveling

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Kenneth, no need to apologize. I understand why it happened and honestly it could have happened anywhere. I’m just happy I am safe at home and well that it wasn’t worse.

  2. Hi, I’m from the Philippines and I’m sorry for what happened to you. Unfortunately, you have to see the bad side of the Philippines, but if you decide to visit next time, I suggest visit Palawan or Boracay or Bohol those are awesome places if you love sands,waves and relaxation. :) I like your blog, makes me want to take a long vacation and travel for a long period of time :)
    Joan recently posted..Another Hobby

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Joan, no need to apologize because I know every place has a bad side. I actually did visit Palawan and Boracay I loved them both and didn’t have enough time to get to Bohol. I wanna go back to the Philippines one day and see more of it. Glad you like my blog and if you ever need anything let me know.

    • you have to go to Panglao island Bohol.. I’ve been there 3x it’s heaven

  3. Jaime, I am so appalled this happened to you. Sad but it is one which is lamentable and i apologize for those corrupt cops who hounds at you to get your cash and still get away with their crimes.

    I know it the worse experience to be in and i am glad you are safe.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Wends, don’t be it could honestly happen anywhere. I’m just glad it all happened the way it did and I got out of it. I hope they needed the money more than I did.

  4. Jaime! OH GOSH! welcome to the world! I was mugged by some “cops” in Nairobi, many years ago, and I was scared shitless too! ( the USA embassy told me that scams like that are common so I calmed down ) Were the cops that wanted to arrest you cute at least? Maybe you would find some fun guys in Manila jail? ( JUST KIDDING!!!)
    I have other fun sizzling stories in DIARY in my site http://www.vagaybond.com ( some about cops too!) tell me your ideas and opinions!
    THANKS for sharing your stories with us!
    JIM

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Jim yup this is the world for sure. Well glad we are both okay from out lil incidents with the cops. I don’t think I would want to know what the guys are like in any jail around the world. I know I wouldn’t survive a minute in jail. I’ll have to check out your stories.

  5. Jaime, u had an awesome experience in el nido & boracay; bad & scary in manila. That is my beloved Philippines. It’s a contrast of everything…. good & bad, rich & poor…

    I like d kick of RED HORSE!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Ah yes Louis that is the Philippines a little bit of everything. I think that is how most countries are. As for the Red Horse, yes it sure does have a kick to it and I miss it!

  6. I would be SO scared! DAMN! Don’t know if I’d be able to jump off that motorcycle. Don’t think you know until anything like that happens to you… but I hope to never found out!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Sofie I seriously still have no clue how I did it. I mean I jumped off the damn motorcycle going full speed. What was I thinking? Oh & I agree yes you don’t know how you are going to react until it actually happens to you!

  7. You are crazy! Lucky too :)
    I guess they are just trying to make a living – glad you didnt end up in any real trouble :)
    Sam @ Travellingking.com recently posted..Ayutthaya Kingdom -The Ancient Capital of Bangkok (PHOTO BLOG)

  8. Wow! That is a crazy story. I don’t know if I would be able to get myself out of that situation. I would be way too terrified and when that happens I clam up completely and freak out. But good on you for going into hyper drive and getting yourself out that situation!
    Adelina recently posted..Dear Mom

    • Jaime Davila says:

      The truth is Adelina you have no clue how you will react until it happens to you. So who knows maybe you would go into hyper drive too and get yourself out of the situation as well.

  9. Holy cow! Glad you’re ok! And glad that you survived jumping off a motorcycle at full speed! I honestly have no idea what I would have done in your situation. It’s also a good lesson in making sure people know where you are, even when you’re traveling alone. What would you have done without your friend Robyn at the hostel?
    Aaron @ Aaron’s Worldwide Adventures recently posted..Zion National Park: A Hiker’s Paradise

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Aaron, I know it was freaking crazy. I still don’t know how I did it, but am so glad I did jump off that bike. I also don’t know what I would have done with out Robyn. She seriously was amazing. I was a mess and so damn scared. I didn’t even want to leave the hostel at all and because of that she went for me and bought me lunch and dinner. Then she accompanied me to the airport, I mean she was just amazing. Plus I’m glad I had someone there to give all my info too in case something happened. I hope nothing like this every happens again.

  10. I’m glad you managed to survive that ordeal. I’m so sorry I should’ve met you that night!

    Anyway, just think of the fun times in Boracay and El Nido ;)
    Micamyx|Senyorita recently posted..Cruise Ships Have Come a Long Way

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I know we were supposed to meet up that night Mica, but it’s okay. I’m alive and home safe so no need to worry now! I have so many more amazing memories of the Philippines that I will not let this ruin.

  11. Omg!! It had to be the alcohol, jump off a moving motorcycle!! Glad you weren’t injured in that alone! I have been waiting for this story, it was worth the wait! We might skip manila, would you suggest that? Crazy $40 bought them off! Did you then have to go change all your passwords? What you did was smart, havubg someone have to access money to help you was smart but to get off for $40 amazing :-) glad you got your get out of jail free card!
    hannah @getting stamped recently posted..My Digital Protection Plan

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I know Hannah, it really must have been the alcohol. Even though nooo I think it was the damn fear. I was so damn scared, it’s insane. I’m so glad it all happened the way it happened that I wasn’t injured and that it was only $40 I lost.

  12. I was reading your story and it was like watching a thriller movie – I knew it would end well, but still, you really built up the tension! That’s a pretty scary experience you had there! I honestly don’t know how I would react, I guess I would bluf with my supposed ‘contacts’ and try to intimidate them, and yes, try bribing too… I’d rather not find out!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thank goodness Juana it ended well. It was a horrifying experience I was so scared it was crazy! I didn’t even think about bluffing… I was so caught up in all the drama I wanted to just get out of the situation.

  13. What a horrible experienced Jaimie. I assumed you’s stayed in Malate, Manila wherein satefy is questionable. That kind of set-up is common here but in case you will visit next time. Choose to stay in Makati City, it’s safer compare to other cities in Metro Manila. I salute you for being so braved jumping off the bicycle. For sure, the kick of Red Horse made you to do that.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yes Tony it was horrible. I forgot what neighborhood I was in, but it was near a lot of bars & clubs and also had a lot of hostels near by so thought it was safe. Either way I know this can happen anywhere so I hold nothing against the Philippines. I’ll be back one day for sure.

  14. Melissa Koh says:

    I was reading and on the halfway mark. I thought the guy whom you spoke to, on the quieter side of the street, had actually stuff some drugs into your pocket. In cahoots with the police. I was expecting that..

    Glad it wasn’t so!

    What i take my hats off to you, after reading this, is the whole process of jumping off, falling onto the ground from the bike and REGAININ COMPOSURE and running (in full speed i suppose!)

    Maybe you should be glad you had red horse.
    Otherwise,perhaps without the alcohol and much more adrenaline, you would probably be trying to negogiate with them in the police station.

    Looking forward to reading more!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Hi Melissa, oh man I am so glad the guy didn’t put anything in my pockets. That may have been worst. Thanks for the hats off because I seriously hve no clue how I did it, but I am glad I did. I think I should be glad I was drunk and well that I was able to get out of this horrible situation the way I did. Hope you come back and read more.

  15. holy sh*T didnt know about this… good thing that you were able to think fast… i actually dont know that this kind of “scheme” exist…

    glad you got out of that trouble …

    sorry to hear this Jaime…
    flipnomad recently posted..Flipnomad’s Photo Thursday – Lhasa Gonggar Airport

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Yeah Flip it was bad, but yes good thing I was able to think fast & get out of it. I’m glad I was able to teach you about the “scheme” & well hpe you can share it with others. It’s all good now, I’m home safe & sound saving for more adventures.

  16. Jamie, I so love you! LOL. Too funny. I would have died. Right there. Just up and died. They would have called for assistance or walked away because I would have been no more good. I’ve been in that situation before in the US but I was in the wrong – or friends of mine were in the wrong. Thankfully I was released at the scene and sent along my merry way. I almost had a heart attack sitting on that sidewalk, late at night, in the US, so seriously, I would have croaked in the Philippines.

    That being said, thank God you were a little inebriated. I do believe alcohol has saved just as many men as it’s crushed. Otherwise, I don’t think a sane mind would have jumped off that bike. And that’s definitely when your story took a turn for the better.

    I’m overjoyed you weren’t arrested and your story is something to laugh about today. Hugs Jamie.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Jajajaja thank you so much Shari for the love & amazing comment. Trust me when crazy things like this happen you NEVER know how you will react so you may not die…lol. No really you just don’t and your brain just kicks in and makes everything to get you out of the situation. Well at least that is how it’s been for me. So glad I made you laugh & well hope I can keep doing that and well along with the occasional tears.

  17. I’m behind on reading your blog – sorry – so I just got to this. This story is just chilling. I guess being arrested for drugs in another country is one of the worst things that could happen to you. It sounds like you did everything right, including jumping off the motorbike. Although they followed you, at least you tried your hardest. It’s so great that you only lost $40 in getting them to leave you alone. I’m so glad you got yourself out of that situation!

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Ah no worries Sabina, I am so behind on EVERY ONES blog. I have been so damn busy it’s crazy. Anyway yes being arrested for drugs abroad is probably the worst thing that can happen to anyone ESPECIALLY if you didn’t do it. It was just so crazy, but yes I’m glad I gout out of it for only $40. Even though I still think I shouldn’t have had to bribe, but oh well had no choice. Glad I reacted the way I did.

  18. Wow! What a story! Glad you made it out in one piece and didn’t get thrown in jail. I think I would’ve just paid them off too. Corruption like this really disgusts me.

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Thanks Bethaney, I hate that it happened, but am happy it happened the way it happened and I got out of it. I never thought I’d have the courage to bribe cops, but in that moment it was all I could do to get out of the situation.

  19. Wow that story is really full on. I was on the edge of my seat the whole time reading it.
    Your really brave, I don’t know how I would have reacted in that situation. It’s amazing the things we are capable of doing when we are scared and running on adrenalin. I’m glad you got out of everything ok :)
    Brendon @ Nerd Travels recently posted..My Next Big Adventure: Asia & Europe

    • Jaime Davila says:

      Glad I was able to keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time Brendon. It’s crazy the things we are able to do when we are scared and running on adrenalin. I still don’t know how I managed to do that. I mean it’s just insane.

  20. I told you to come over for dinner in Makati! I hope you would still go back to the Philippines after this?
    DJ Yabis | Dream Euro Trip recently posted..A day at the Calatrava Nerdplex

    • Jaime Davila says:

      I know I remember and I was, but then this happened. Oh & yeah I so wanna go to the Philippines again… just not sure about Manila. So much to see and do there it’s crazy!

  21. Wow!! What an experience. At least you got out okay thought it was crazy sh*t. At least this one will go as one of those experiences you’ll never forget.

    Just started reading your blog and I can’s stop reading!! :)

  22. Anywhere you go you have to be careful when consuming alcohol .ANother thing is anywhere in the world you have to choose the places where you go to, you just dont enter a bar without researching if its safe to go there(and thats why you have to be sober to know exactly where you are). I would advise even if you go to the safest parts of the world not to drink too much since you’ll never know what really happens when you are drunk.

  23. lol.. the second time I was in Manila me and my gf were waiting in line to get on the plane… a cop asked how old my gf was (she was 18) but looks very young.. I told him 18.. he said she is very pretty .. then he asked me.. do you have American dollars? ok so I don’t want to go get questioned if my gf is of legal age which is something they would do to make me miss my flight.. so I gave him $10..

  24. Wow, crazy story… My heart rate went up reading that! Glad to hear you made it out relatively unscathed.

  25. If the same thing happen to me in a foreign country, I would totally jump off the motorcycle. I feel sorry this happen to you in my country, but I hope you would still go back here.

  26. I saw korean tv . and they talking about” set up by philippine cops ”
    the target is foreigner for money
    the cops put on the jail many korean

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