99% of the time, my life in Subic is pretty suburban and idyllic. This tranquil environment is one of the reasons why I love it here. BUT there are still incidents that make up the remaining 1%.
It’s funny how things here can get rather extreme. When it’s peaceful, it’s eerily peaceful. Think Brady Bunch meets Stepford wives (the part before it was revealed that they were maniacal robots). Husband comes home from work, we feast on the hearty meal I prepared for us, we have pleasant, after-dinner conversation and we’re in bed by 8, 9 at the latest.
Once in a while however, we go through crazy, surreal stuff that I don’t think anyone I know has ever experienced.
Among all the weird stuff, I think there is one in particular that takes the cake. Whenever we recount the story, people have no idea whether they should laugh at us or be horrified for us. I was reminded of this incident again, when I had to narrate it blow by blow, to a fresh set ears (my aunts) last weekend. I’ve decided to write about this in my blog, because not only am I getting a bit tired from repeating the story, (at least when it’s written down I can just give my blog url and say, “Here! Read about it”), I’m also afraid it will get turned into a sitcom without us getting royalties. 😛
Anyway, around June or July of last year, a couple thieves broke into our house. But they weren’t your ordinary, run-in-the -mill kind of thieves (Given our telenovela story, that’s just too much to ask for from the universe).
They were tranny thieves.
Fully made up.
In hot pink (and bright blue respectively), tight pants and wedges.
And here’s the clincher: We found one of them under our bed.
(I apologize to friends and family who have heard this story over and over. You can go ahead and stop reading now).
So here’s what happened: Around 9 pm, my husband and I go up to our bedroom. Since it was a Friday, we decided to go crazy and stay up until around 12-1 am watching TV (Yes, we’re living on the edge. Sadly, this is now our idea of the concept YOLO).
Around 4 am, my husband wakes me up, and asks if I went to the bathroom. I groggily answer “no”, slightly annoyed that he was waking me up for such a trivial matter.
Then he goes and says, “Minumulto ata tayo”. (Highly likely since we did have a phantom girl singing “A Pocketful of Sunshine” in the other house weeks before, more on that next time).
So I wake up with a jolt to find our bedroom door slightly ajar. The light from the hallway was streaming inside the room and we could hear the exhaust fan in the bathroom humming steadily, breaking the dead silence that usually pervades the house at that hour.
It’s funny how being befuddled can mix up our personalities. While my usually logical husband thinks ghosts, the first thing that goes through my usually more right-brained mind was, “baka nanakawan tayo.” Take note, past tense. It did not occur to me that the robbers were still there. I verbalize this thought to my husband and he goes out of the room to investigate.
He finds my oversized zebra bag that I usually keep in the spare room near the top of the stairs (I HAVE to mention my zebra bag, because out of all the bags kept in that room—my husband’s black nondescript luggage, my canvass and overnight bags and my other purse – the tranny robbers were only interested in my animal print tote. That, and my black patent Kate Spade clutch). My husband then opens the bedroom lights and decides to look for his phone, which he usually leaves on his bedside table. He couldn’t find it. So he looks under the bed.
For as long as I live, I will never forget the words that came out of his mouth.
“Holy mother of Christ, there’s a guy under our bed.” He says this in a tone that was completely deadpan so it took me a while to understand what he was trying to say.
“What?” I dumbly ask, completely confused.
In an effort to get through to me, he explains further in the same expressionless tone, “There is a gay guy under our bed”.
I have no idea what happened next, whether my husband shouted at the guy to come out (will refer to him as “intruder no. 1” or “the guy” alternately from now on), or whether he just scrambled out from under the bed. It’s also debatable who between my husband and I, had the more frightening experience– My husband, who had the first look and probably the shock of his life, when he found a tiny man in girl’s clothes under the bed, lying on his back with his arms forming an ex across his chest— or me who, after half peering down, saw the guy up close, with his pale foundation- caked face and wide mascara-streaked eyes staring at me as he tried to squeeze his way out from MY side of the bed.
It was nuts!
Anyway, I screamed. And intruder no 1 tried to explain himself. (How he thought he could get out of a situation such as this I have no idea). My husband and I were both panicking and listening to him at the same time. So there was a lot of incomprehensible yelling and pleading.
The thing was, our maid had a friend who lived a few houses away from us. He’s also gay, and although we’ve never seen him, our maid would fondly describe how he also occasionally wore clothes for women.
Apparently my husband and I were both thinking the same thing while we were listening to this guy stammer out his excuses: Could this potential intruder be our maid’s friend? Maybe he got drunk, wandered into the house in his dazed state and found his way to our bedroom by mistake. This sounds terribly dumb and sexist, I know. But when you find a transvestite under your bed at the crack of dawn, you try your best to grasp for a logical explanation.
It did not help that he was screaming “Ate!” half of the time. We thought he was screaming for our maid (later on, we find out that he was screaming for the other dude).
Anyway, the rest of the stuff happened in a blur. The next thing I know, my husband was chasing him down the stairs.
This part I gathered from my husband’s version of the incident. Intruder no. 1 runs out from our room down the stairs. There is a moment where the guy almost trips and my husband thought of pushing him down. But because Moe is a lawyer not a fighter, all the criminal cases (describing how home owners were charged with homicide after accidentally killing their robbers) came rushing back at him. So instead of pushing him down, he actually pulls intruder no .1 back up and they continue chasing each other down the stairs to the empty room on the first floor.
My husband also wasn’t sure if intruder no 1 had any weapons on him so he keeps his distance. After a while, he corners the guy near one of the windows and was able to shove him up the wall.
Then remembers his missing phone. And because he had all his important information in that cellphone, he wanted to secure it first. (Sidenote: Moe has a love affair with his phone, I swear. In their law school Blue Roast, his classmates wanted to nominate him and his then-phone in the “sweetest couple” category.)
“San na telepono ko?” he demands from intruder no. 1.
The guy gives him the phone and takes advantage of the distraction to run out of the house. (He was pretty limber for someone wearing wedge slip-ons. He did lose one trying to get away though).
My husband thought of chasing after him. Then he remembered I was still upstairs. He immediately panicked and thought, what if there was another intruder inside the house? So he rushes up, only to find me gone. He went through a crazy, melodramatic moment, thinking I was kidnapped. So he was freaking out and shouting my name as he searched for me the second floor.
SO WHERE WAS I?
I’m tempted to make you all believe that I was the highly logical and capable woman who sprung into action in the midst of the chaos. But the truth was, I was in shock. I probably spent a good few minutes just staring into space trying to assimilate what was happening. When I finally came to my senses, my husband and the guy were well -immersed in the action.
I mentally go through the stuff in the bedroom trying to find a weapon or some magical concoction I could put together to help the situation a la Mac Gyver. The thing was, I’m not very agile and have the dexterity of a toddler, so physically helping quickly became a non-option. Neither am I a science whiz, so I could not come up with something that I could make explode (Why is it that when MacGyver gets trapped in a situation there’s always baking soda??? Mental note: Must keep baking soda in every room of the house from now on). Then it suddenly dawned on me that there was a police precinct two houses from our place.
I rush down the stairs to head to the police station (was berating myself for not bothering to keep their number on my cellphone to begin with). I could hear my husband chasing intruder no 1 in the spare room. I hurriedly shout where I was heading and leave (I guess Moe was too preoccupied to hear me).
I bump into our maid outside. She was awakened by the commotion and was coming to investigate (her room is outside the house and has a separate entrance) so we rush to the station together.
By the time we got back with a couple of policemen in tow, intruder no 1 had already escaped.
The police went around the house and took our statements.They then inform us that the investigators from the main precinct were coming to check our place more thoroughly. Meanwhile , they made us describe intruder no 1 in detail and deployed some guys to go around the village to look for him. (It was a gated community, so they were able to radio the guards in the gates to seal all the exits. The problem was, our area is HUGE and we have a lot of forests. So there was still a big chance we might never ever find him).
While the police were there, we were able to go through the rooms for the first time. It was completely surreal. The living room was in disarray. Our cushions were on the floor. The drawers were open. And there was dirt everywhere.
Here’s the weird, creepy part though. I usually leave my cigarettes on the center table. I found that the intruder (s) had smoked a couple of my sticks and had left cigarette butts around the house. We found one on the kitchen floor, and another one on the center table. (There was even a burn mark on the table!) Our pack of Skyflakes was open and the butter was taken out of the refrigerator. Holy crap right? Best guess, they (although during that time we thought there was only one guy) hung out in the living room for quite a while, waiting for us to fall asleep.
How f***ed up is that??
Thankfully, because my husband woke up when he did, they were not able steal a lot things. Moe got his phone back and intruder no 1 was in too much of a panic to go for the bags he fancied. My pink laptop, which I left charging on the dining room table, was missing however (that and a couple of packs of skyflakes).
Stupid me, I painstakingly gathered all the cigarette butts and stray hair I could find thinking that we could use them for DNA later on. Ofcourse, I failed to take into account that we live a third world country. I blame this on my overexposure to CSI.
Several minutes later, while we were talking to the lead investigator, the other policemen came back with a potential suspect. We had mentioned to them earlier that intruder no 1 was male, possibly of “of homosexual orientation”. When I heard they had caught someone, I immediately rush out of the house, excited that they had found him so quickly.
The problem was, they had brought a different gay dude.
The police and my husband decided to detain him anyway (we shall call him intruder no 2).One because he was inside our gated village, a block away from our house at 4 am, with no ID (he also gave a fake name from what I recall) and two, because he was found lurking outside an empty house. He claims he was waiting for a taxi. But there was a waiting shed right across the street from where he was found, so it behooved anyone why he would opt to wait for a ride in the dark, behind a massive tree. Plus, as mentioned earlier, in his rush to get away, intruder no 1 left one of his wedge slip- ons behind. Intruder no 2 was wearing the exact same ones (Great minds have the same fashion sense?).
When asked what he was doing in our area, he claimed that a certain Robert, an American who supposedly lived inside the village, had picked him up in the Central Business District. They were doing the nasty until “Robert” found out that he was male and had sent him packing (This in itself was dubious. Even I could tell that he was dude and I’m blind as a bat. I was too polite to point out this fact however).
That was his original story, but he changed it many times in the next couple of hours. When pressed to show them where the American lived, he adamantly maintained that he couldn’t remember. He then changed his story and said that he arrived in the village in a taxi alone, and was just about to meet the American guy. When he got to “Robert’s” house however, it was empty.
When he noticed me looking at the grass stains on his pants, he changed his story again and suddenly blurted out that he got the stains because he and the American were having sex in one of the empty lots.
The only thing consistent was his insistence that he was nowhere near our house and he had nothing to do with the break in.
Intruder no 2 had balls though. He had the gall to ask me for a cigarette when he saw me smoking ( I willingly gave him one. I really thought we could match the residue with the cigarette butts found in the house. Was feeling pretty smug and clever when I handed my “evidence” to the investigator. It was then that he gently shattered my illusions about our police equipment. I’m dumbass, I know).
Plus, in an effort to distract me, he claimed that he would see my husband in the gay bar where he worked. (Husband says it took all of his self -control not to punch him when he overheard us talking). I went along with the story, thinking it would be best to glean out all the information from him (where he worked etc) just in case the police decide to let him go for lack of evidence (I watch Law and Order, all the different versions. I know how it goes).
When the sun finally came out at around 6 am, the investigators decided to go around the empty house where intruder no 2 was hiding. And surprise, surprise! All the stuff was there. My pink laptop was hidden under a bush, there was a purse with our skyflakes hidden behind another tree. They had even found the other pair of the wedge sandals intruder no 1 had left behind.
That kinda sealed the deal. Intruder no 2 was charged and brought to the main precinct, despite his continuous denial that he had anything to do with what happened.
For the rest of the day, the police worked tirelessly to look for intruder no 1. I could see them coming in and out of the detachment, combing every corner of the village ON FOOT (our area is HUGE. As in hectares huge), since they did not have the luxury of having vehicles. Their superstar captain was also there the entire time, supervising the search.
Finally, after 12 hours, they found intruder no 1 hiding in another empty house.
Since we could positively identify him, intruder no 1 confessed immediately. He also confirmed that Romnick was part of the dumber and dumber heist. (Yes, we found out when 1st guy was caught, that 2nd guy’s name is Romnick. As if our experience wasn’t surreal enough, our robber had to be named after an 80’s teen star. 1st guy’s name is Michael, like my husband. :P).
Anyway, this entry is getting too long, so will save what happened next for Part II.
Could not emphasize enough how grateful we are to the Subic Law Enforcement Department though. They were all heart despite the lack of equipment and vehicles. Some of them even went to work (Captain included) even if they were not on duty. Props to all of you!
On a final note, we could laugh about this incident right now, but at that time, it was pretty traumatizing. It took me months before I could sleep through the night again. Just the thought that someone could sneak in our house and creep into our bedroom while we were peacefully sleeping was enough to keep me awake for several weeks on end. Until now, I still panic when my husband comes home late from work.
Meanwhile, Moe still does a “tranny” check under the bed before going to sleep. And, every so often, he would wake up and do late night rounds, making sure that every corner of the house was intruder-free.
We have also made an effort to make our place more secure. (Will not get into specifics at the off chance that robbers are following my Desperate Subic Housewife blog and come up with ideas to bypass our security measures. You can never be too safe. 😛 ). I have to admit, I let the suburban atmosphere lull me into a false sense of security. And before the tranny robbers, I would laugh at my husband whenever he would berate me for leaving the door unlocked in the middle of the day. But I guess you can never be too paranoid when it comes to these things.
We’re still grateful that this was the only thing that happened to us. At the end of the day, trauma and bruised ego aside, we’re both unscathed and unharmed. The universe still loves us to give us just a slight boink on the head, maybe enough to teach us a lesson but definitely not enough to kill us.