Shangrila Hotel Incident
My daughter and I departed from San Francisco Intl. Airport on January
14, 2005 and arrived in
arrangements were made for us to be picked up from the airport by
Shangrila Hotel Makati. Upon arrival, we were met by an unmarked Shangrila car.
We checked in at 5:50 am. We were assigned Room 2704. Our luggage(4
Pcs) were brought to our room a few minutes later. Since this was a
Sunday, we had the day to just rest and visit with some friends. We ordered
room service (light breakfast) and got dressed. We left the hotel to attend
Sunday Mass at 9:30 am and returned to our hotel room at 4 pm. We were
then picked up by relatives from the hotel for dinner at 6:30 pm. We
were back at the hotel room at around 9:45 pm. As soon as we retired to
bed, the nightmare began. At approximately 10 pm the telephone rang,
in the dark, I crawled to answer the phone and on the other line the
operator asked me if I knew a certain Abdul something and that there
were 7 men wanting to go up to our room. I told her in an emphatic
way that I did not want anyone coming up and that I did not know
anyone by that name and that I was not expecting anyone that evening.
She then told me to call the head of Security (a woman named
my cell phone while she waited on the other line. As soon as I
connected to this
with the Abu Sayaf and that all of the employees were in this together
and it will not do me any
good if I attempted to call for help! That they
do this to a
lot of hotel guests and that they take care of the
At this time, fear had set in. She knew my name, and said that we should
have been kidnapped earlier but if I just followed everything she ordered me to do, we
would not be harmed. At this point, the main thing that occurred in my mind was the
recent warnings to travelers especially American citizens to be aware of our surroundings
for fear that we may be kidnapped for ransom. She also told me that our room was being
monitored by housekeeping and security. There were instances wherein I raised my voice, and
she was quick in warning me to calm down or I would get hurt! She also told me that if we
attempted to leave the room, they would spray our room. I was basically trapped with this
woman using my own cell phone.
I was worried for our lives! She asked me how much cash and jewelry we had.
She ordered me to go out of the hotel and catch a taxi not from the front of the
hotel but to walk out to the street and catch a cab. There was a cab waiting in the
corner, we got in, was ordered to go to a 7-11 store, have the cab wait, purchase
several thousand pesos of Globe and Smart phone cards. She had me read each
and every number and pin number over the phone. We rode the cab again, this time,
she ordered us to withdraw some more cash from a 24-hour CitiBank ATM machine.
Since I did not remember my pin number, my daughter used her card.
We rode the cab again and
was ordered to let the driver drive
to another city(did not realize how seedy the area was until we got there) to
F.B. Harrison, and goto another mini store and order the taxi to leave.
A woman by the name of Lisa will pick up the money and phone cards.
Upon reaching the mini
daughter heard the driver say, do you want me to stay for your
security? Taking a chance, I shushed the driver to be quiet. I signaled for him to wait.
We then entered the store, and I asked this
is. She then asked me why I told the taxi driver to wait. She obviously knew
I had asked the driver to wait because she told me that was their driver!
So we went out and told him to leave. While waiting for this Lisa,
ordered me again to purchase
more phone cards., did the same routine
of reading off all the numbers and pin numbers. After this process, she
ordered us to step out of the store, turn left in a dark alley, and walk until
we see this woman Lisa. We were walking but decided to stop because it
was getting darker. I demanded where this woman
was, so this
a sarcastic voice, told me how do you expect to see her if you stopped walking?
(They were obviously watching us). Before we handed over the cash,
she instructed us to go back to the hotel and wait for her call. Then she
ordered me to hand over my "Philippine" cell phone
to this woman.
We hailed another cab and returned to the hotel. As we were packing
since we wanted to leave the hotel immediately, the phone rang again, and
this time she told us the cash was not enough and handed over the phone
to their "Commandant". He sounded very scary and demanding. He ordered
us to call the front desk and have more phone cards charged to our room
and brought up. Once we had the cards, I read all these numbers and pin
numbers again and was ordered to flush all these in the toilet. In the meantime,
she warned us that if we told anyone about this, they knew our flight schedule
and that they would kidnap us. Then she ordered that we open another suitcase
to look for cash.
Obviously, we did not have any cash. She told us to check out of the hotel before the
5 am shift because this shift could do this to us again. Even without her telling us this,
we were so scared, we just wanted to get out of that hotel. We checked out at 1:03 am
and took a cab to go to our relative's residence at
We were both trembling all the way to our relative's place. We were
both trying to be brave for each other but in reality, we were so
traumatized by this event. We consoled each other and thanked God that we are
alive. It could have been worse. My daughter was so
traumatized that she
wanted for us to take the next flight out in the morning, but because I had several
important meetings to attend to, she agreed to stay a couple
Under the advise of my client, we
booked ourselves to return to the States
on January 19, 2005, Wednesday instead of the original date of January
21, 2005. The next day, we mentioned this to our lawyer friend, and he did a
little investigation of Shangrila Hotel, and apparently there were three other
victims the same day and all of us were picked up by the Shangrila Hotel.
We were still so scared of taking the ride to
our lawyer friend provided us with top security all
the way to our airplane.