Scamdinavia, Metro Manila

I’ve been waiting for this day. I’m glad it finally came. Now my suspicions have been confirmed.

I’m riding a jeep, on the way to work. Someone gets on. Judging solely from his voice, as I didn’t look at him, he was an older teenager, around 16. He seems very shy.

He hands out his version of a child beggar’s envelope. He has his stash of colorful pens.

The piece of paper he distributes says selling pens is how he makes money to send his siblings to school. It’s an honest living, sure. If you need a pen, you’re probably glad that he came to you. The convenience of shopping while you wait is worth the extra cost. And you helped someone. Aww…

But this isn’t the whole story. Two weeks ago, I was on a bus. Somewhere along EDSA, a man gets on. He says he was fired from his job as a security guard. He’s selling pens to be able to pay for his kid’s tuition. Hey, maybe the teen on the jeep today is his son. Yay, family business!

The man’s notes were printed in colored ink on yellow paper. It asks you to please not fold the page. He has pens that are 10, 20, or 30 pesos each. I didn’t take a picture as it was the first time I’ve heard this angle, and I wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt. He carries an array of colors too. The 10-peso bit might even be a pencil. I didn’t pay much attention to the details.

People selling stuff versus simply begging for money, admirable. But when they have a fabricated backstory, tsk! Simon Sinek did say that people buy your why and not your what. I guess these vendors listen to what Simon says 🙂

Preying on people’s emotions, that’s a skill that should be put on a resumĂ©. Imagine how many employable con artists we would have.

Death is an especially effective trap, an oldie but a goodie. Guy’s relative apparently died and Guy has the death certificate to prove it, complete with a protective clear plastic envelope. Able-bodied and with presence of mind enough to threaten me, he chooses to beg. He brings his best friend along for the ride. You never know when you’ll need backup after all.

This is the same “death of a tricycle driver survived by labandera wife” story that wife’s brother will use to ask you for money.

Any jeepney drama has had its opening night on a bus. GMA and ABS-CBN should forget about talent-search programs and just pick these high potentials from public transport. It would save them a lot of resources.

So it’s your money, your decision. I’ve defaulted to giving zero fucks in these types of situations. I don’t like being lied to. I’ll be doing something else to help the poor and try to stay away from those using poverty as an excuse to swindle people.

Good luck on your travels through Scamdinavia. Bring cash.


1 thought on “Scamdinavia, Metro Manila”

  1. Naalala ko yung matatanda na pinagsabihan ako nang magbigay ako ng Php 5.00 dun sa matandang nanlimos. Tinotolerate ko raw kasi yung mga tulad nila. Sa isip ko naman, hayaan na. Basta hindi yung mga batang laging may envelopes na hawak.


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