In fact, I did not want to write about the burglary on Siquijor in the Philippines anymore. I wanted to forget that bad experience. I wanted to erase the incident out of my mind. On the other hand, I want to share with you what happened because you have the right to know. What did we learn from the burglary? What do we do differently next time? How can you protect yourself? And why travel insurance is so important?
We got robbed. It’s a nightmare
We’re shocked. We feel grim and can hardly believe what happened. After 9 years of intensive travels we never lost anything of value nor did we get robbed. We were very lucky. Not this time. The worst we feared just happened.
Is it wrong to believe that people are good at heart?
Travelling through the Philippines for three weeks is our plan. We start in Manila where we meet the first Filipinos. We experience them as super friendly, helpful and polite. First impression of the Philippines: We like it. And we feel safe.
The first five days we spend in Dauin on Negros. We want to explore the Visayas above and under water. Diving is fantastic in Dauin and we have a perfect start of our holidays.
Our next stop is the small island Siquijor. We find the perfect accommodation, a bungalow right on the beach. Amazing view, a spacious terrace, friendly staff, everything is perfect. We’re happy that we booked for five nights. We really love it. We even extend our stay for three more nights. That turns out to be a big mistake.
We feel safe. Too safe?
Burglary on Siquijor – Our bungalow was the target
December 19th is a day we would like to erase from our life. About a week before Christmas someone has broken into our bungalow on Siquijor.
The worst of all is that we were at the restaurant right next to our bungalow which is about 20 meters away. How could that have happened? Why did we not notice nor did we hear a sound? Well, there was a power cut for approximately 15 minutes. Did they break in during the complete darkness, took all our belongings and carried the full bags outside while we’re having dinner? Is it possible?
After dinner, we return to our bungalow. Our door is open. Wide open. Our hearts stand still. Within a second we know what happened. We got robbed. Some bastards took all our belongings. Just like this.
We feel lost and it sends cold shivers down my spine. The shock comes first, followed by swearing, I nervously run to and fro and finally the realization. Shit (sorry for swearing), everything is gone. Yes, everything! Clothes, laptops, cameras, our watches, my sunglasses, Marcel’s shoes, his red T-Shirt and, and, and… Our bungalow is empty.
We are distraught! We run back to the restaurant to inform the staff.
Calm down. Breathe. Keep cool. Now what? We have to contact the police. RIGHT NOW. The staff suggests checking the neighbourhood while waiting for the police. Great idea. Together we check the surroundings and about 20 meters from our bungalow, somewhere between the palm trees, we find two of our backpacks. The thief or thieves left our diving gear and some of our clothes in the dirt. It looks like the bags were too heavy to carry. We continue our search without luck. Our gadgets like laptops and cameras are gone.
About 20 minutes later the policemen finally arrive. They first search our room and then they check the surroundings. After that, they come back to the resort and we answer all their questions. Two hours later the policemen are ready to go. They have all data they need for further investigation. We ask how we can get a police report. “Come to the San Juan Police Station on Monday. Tomorrow we’re off, it’s Sunday. But Monday you can pick up the report”, one of the officers says.
It’s impossible to sleep after such a terrible experience. We analyse every single noise. We feel paralysed and helpless. A stupid bugger entered our bungalow, rummaged in our personal belongings and took things that don’t belong to him. We are hopping mad.
Of course, nothing happened to us. That’s the most important thing. But anyway, we can’t accept that we can’t take good photos anymore. We want to write articles for the blog and post great pictures, we wanted to write a Christmas Newsletter and answer Emails. We can’t do that for a while.
But well, we are alive. That’s the most important.
Always trust your traveller instinct
The scales fell from my eyes. Why didn’t I listen to my instinct? In the afternoon, before the robbery, I’ve noticed something suspicious. Marcel and I were working on our laptops on the terrace. There was a young man walking along the beach staring at us.
I thought: He‘s watching us. Something is wrong.
Or is it my imagination? Or not? Did he see that we have two laptops and planned the break-in? We may never know. But one thing is for sure: Next time I will trust my traveller instinct. I’m going to listen to my inner voice.
Two of my favourite travel bloggers just published a post about listenting to the inner voice. Earl from Wandering Earl is writing about Why I Always Trust My Traveler Instinct and Caz published yesterday why she pulled out of the World Tourism Forum in Istanbul. Both posts are very good reads and give you something to think about.
The horrible day after
A psycho day follows. Deep in our heart we want to leave Siquijor immediately. But we can’t. We need to wait until Monday because on Sundays the police do not write reports.
Well, we need some distraction. We rent a motorbike and explore the island even if we’re not very motivated to do sightseeing. We don’t have a proper camera and can’t take good photos. “Stop moaning”, we tell ourselves.
Finally, we find a purpose. We go to the harbour and get two ferry tickets to Bohol for the next day. We haven’t been to Lazi, another reason to drive along the streets on Siquijor. But it turns out to be a torture. Whenever we see a red T-Shirt we think it could be the stolen T-Shirt from Marcel. We look at people’s wrist to check if someone is wearing our watch. We even look at men’s feet to check for Marcel’s shoes. Maybe we catch the thief? Hope dies last.
What does Miss Universe have in common with the Siquijor Police in San Juan?
First thing on Monday we show up at the police station in San Juan. Before the investigating officer starts writing a police report we need to go to the treasurer’s office to pay the fee. The fee for a police report costs about $ 1. A police officer accompanies us.
Back at the police station, we have to wait. It’s everything but boring. On the television (yes, the San Juan Police watch TV during work) the election of Miss Universe is broadcasted. The police officers (men & women) are glued to the television. We were bubbling over with laughter when the women police officer said: “Wow, Miss Philippines has big boobs“.
Half an hour later the police report in English is ready. We are relieved and we have the important document for the insurance.
Siquijor is known for theft. That’s why you should beware of burglary on Siquijor!
Before we leave, we ask the investigator about the next steps in our case. The friendly officer confirms: “We are on the way right now to investigate and search for the thief or thieves.” If he’s telling us the truth or if he just wants us to feel better, we don’t know.
We are curious and ask if burglaries are reported often. Unfortunately, the answer is yes. It seems quite common, especially in tourist resorts. Charisma Resort, the one we have been to, is the only one that never had a break-in. It’s a known problem. We don’t want you to scare and please, go and visit Siquijor but be cautious and take care of your personal belongings.
Before we travelled to Siquijor we did some research. We’ve read blogs and travelogues but we found no information on burglaries. After it happened to us we heard from different travellers that they got robbed on Siquijor too. Could it be a gang or even organized crime? Or is it just a poor soul who needs money?
We don’t know. But we know that we are going to be extra careful for the rest of our trip and we learned a lot for future travels.
Do we advise against travelling to Siquijor?
No, of course not. Siquijor is a dream island. An untouched little paradise with super friendly people and amazing beaches.
Go there. Visit Siquijor and get to know the friendly locals. The only advice we have for you is: think what you leave in the bungalow, trust your instinct and be extra careful with your valuables.
We were unlucky and we learned our lesson. Never show what you have (as far as possible). In the future, we will think twice before we leave both our laptops in the room, especially if there is no safety box in the room.
Buy insurance on time
Make sure you have travel insurance before you go on vacation or a longer trip. Check what is covered and if you need extra coverage for your gadgets or expensive gear.
Our favourite is travel insurance from World Nomads. We are happy with their offer and coverage. It is so easy to buy travel insurance from World Nomads. You can also extend while travelling in case you stay longer than expected. We wrote a post about Why we extended our travel insurance with World Nomads and our experience with it over the last years.
Do you need travel insurance? You can get a quote or buy travel insurance from World Nomads using this link: World Nomads
What to do when you get robbed
Curse. That’s what you probably do first. That’s ok. Let the anger get out. We cursed as well and it helped to calm down a little. There is anger but also desperation. It’s important to stay calm and keep cool.
Contact the owner of the resort, restaurant or club if you get robbed. Ask them to immediately contact the police. You need a police report to make a claim with your travel insurance.
Note everything that got stolen. The police requires all details and the value of each stolen item. They also question you about the incident. Describe what happened and tell them what you know.
Look forward, think positive and learn from the event
Talk to friends about what happened. They can give you comfort and that helps a lot.
World Nomads – Easy and reliable
Having a reliable travel insurance which covers us in case we need medical help for sudden illness or injury, an emergency or if our gear gets stolen or lost is very important to us.
A few years ago we bought World Nomads travel insurance. Luckily we didn’t need the insurance for years. Not until last month. We are glad that we are covered properly.
How to make a claim
After the incident on Siquijor, we immediately check on World Nomads website what we need to do.
We need a police report with details of what happened and receipts of the stolen items. A burglary is not an emergency. Therefore, it is not necessary to contact the insurance right away. We can make a claim after we return from our trip.
The communication with World Nomads is in English which means the Police report must be written in or translated into English.
We contacted World Nomads as soon as we organised the receipts of the stolen goods. Making a claim was easy. We filled out the form with details about the incident, filled out the list with the stolen items including age and value. One day after we transferred the claim, we received a message that we have to send all receipt by email. We also got a note about a €70 deductible per person.
We are happy with the outcome
Two weeks later World Nomads confirmed that the maximum insured amount has been transferred to us. That’s fantastic news. We are very pleased with the handling.
The process time took 3 weeks only. From making a claim to the confirmation of refund.
What was your worst travel experience? Did you get robbed too or even hurt? Share your story with our readers.