Recently, a video that aims to illustrate how rampant harassment is for women who are out in Manila at night has been making the rounds on social media. Created by Kami.com.ph, the video depicts a social experiment in which a girl standing on her own in Quezon City at night is approached by five different men, four of whom insist on talking to her, inviting her out, and even getting her inside their cars.
While some netizens have cast doubts on the video’s authenticity, ask any female if this kind of thing happens to women when they’re alone in the streets at night, and expect to hear a resounding “OO NAMAN!” Worse, they’ll say it even happens during the day, even when they’ve got company, and even when they’ve got the rattiest, most unappealing clothes on.
We got eight Pinays to share their experiences with street harassment that are similar to the ones shown in the viral video. Read on for their stories, and try not to let your faith in humanity dip a notch.
“I thought I was safe. After about a minute, I heard a car from behind me and realized it was the same car.” –Bianca*, 25
“I was coming from a friend’s house in Hardin ng Rosas in UP Diliman and was on my way to Route 196 in Katipunan. There was no Uber back then. I was walking towards the exit when I saw a car approach me and slow down. I kept walking, but the driver rolled down his window and asked me where I was going. I told him I could manage on my own and kept walking. He drove off. I thought I was safe. After about a minute, I heard a car from behind me and realized it was the same car. The driver rolled down the window and insisted that he drive me to my destination. This happened one more time, and then another time. I don’t know how many times he did it before he finally gave up.”
“He kept beckoning to me to get in, saying, ‘Tara na.’” –Trina*, 24
“One night in Davao City, I was headed home from a company outing dressed in an oversized T-shirt and shorts—not quite an outfit you’d expect to be harassed in. Since my house was just about 500 meters away, I decided to walk home. While I was walking, I noticed a car behind me that had its hazard lights on. I ignored it, thinking that the driver was just waiting for someone. But as I continued to walk, I noticed that the car had been following me, running slowly by my side. The driver had the passenger side window down, so I saw that it was a man in his 40s. He kept beckoning to me to get in, saying, ‘Tara na.’ I was stunned at first, and then I grew scared. I shook my head, then turned quickly to the nearest store and pretended to buy something. He eventually drove off.”
“He kept insisting that we go out, saying, ‘Libre ko naman; tara, sandali lang.’” –China*, 34
“I was 17 when I had a terrifying experience with a pushy FX driver. I had just moved to Manila for college and was still unfamiliar with the place. From Muntinlupa, I rode an FX to Biñan, Laguna where my older sister was based. Since most of the seats in the FX were occupied, I took the spot beside the driver. He had already been looking at me as I was just getting inside the FX, but I paid him no mind. When we got to Laguna and every other passenger had gotten off, I realized how terribly unlucky I was to be the last person on board, because he started talking to me and inviting me to go out. ‘Miss, gusto mo mag-Jollibee?’ I still wanted to be nice, so I declined politely. But he kept insisting that we go out, saying, ‘Libre ko naman; tara, sandali lang.’ I panicked because I was trapped in a vehicle with a complete stranger who could very well do whatever he wanted to me, so I kept saying, ‘Inaantay na po ako ng ate ko; kailangan ko na pong umuwi.’ He kept urging me to join him and I kept declining until we finally got to my stop and I was out of there like lightning.”
“I said no, but he kept trying to convince me to ride with him. He even said, ‘Kahit hanggang MRT lang.’” –Jane*, 30
“I was waiting for a cab along Taft Ave. This was before Uber and Grab, and there would be days when I’d have to wait long. A car stopped in front of me and the driver asked me where I was going. Not knowing any better, I answered, ‘Ortigas.’ Then he said, ‘Hatid na kita.’ I said no, but he kept trying to convince me to ride with him. He even said, ‘Kahit hanggang MRT lang.’ I was much younger then and didn’t quite understand why he insisted on getting me to ride with him; all I knew was that it was not safe. He finally left when a security guard of DLSU approached us, but he still returned one more time to ask if he could give me a ride. I said no again, and then finally I was able to hail a cab. Surprising thing was, he looked very decent and clean—not the type you’d expect to be picking up random girls on the street.”
“I started to move away from him, but he continued to walk beside me.” –Cheska*, 32
“I was in Ortigas trying to book a Grab after pole class. It was taking so long, so I decided to drop by Family Mart to buy something. When I came out of the store, this guy started walking alongside me before saying, ‘Miss.’ I started to move away from him, but he continued to walk beside me. He told me, ‘Sorry kung natakot ka; hindi naman ako nakakatakot.’ I continued walking and stayed silent. He looked at my phone and said, ‘Nagta-try ka ba mag-book ng Grab?’ I answered him with more silence. ‘Ako nga pala si Eric,’ he said. Still more silence from me. He kept walking alongside me until he finally got the hint and walked away.”
“He just followed me some more, driving alongside me and continuously talking through the window.” –Maureen, 25
“I was walking around Shaw when I noticed a red car following me around, so I walked faster. The driver rolled his window down and called out to me, ‘Miss! Miss!’ Thinking he was going to ask me something important, like ask for directions because he was lost, I stopped to talk to him. He was wearing office attire and looked very respectable. He said, ‘Where are you going? Do you want me to take you to the place? Do you need a ride?’ I was taken aback and I refused, but he just followed me some more, driving alongside me and continuously talking through the window. I was so scared that I went inside the nearest establishment to lose him.”
“The next thing I knew, he had pulled his shorts down and his penis was out.” –Angelica, 29
“I was at Starbucks along Pearl Drive in Ortigas studying when I had to pack up because the coffee shop was about to close at around 12:30 a.m. I decided to walk to my condo which was very near and would take a five-minute brisk walk to get to. I thought it would be safe because the street was still alive; there were a lot of fast food places still open and call center employees were loitering at the foot of the buildings.
Just as I got to the part of the street that was dark, a black Toyota Fortuner that had been running slowly stopped right ahead of me. The driver got down, which was weird because it was raining. He came over to me and said he wanted to ask me for directions to a building nearby. I told him how to get there, but then he said he wasn’t familiar with Ortigas; at the same time, I noticed him trying to get under my umbrella. Feeling creeped out, I backed up and said that I couldn’t help him. As I turned to go, he suddenly grabbed my arm, pointed at my shoe, and exclaimed, ‘Ano ‘yan?!’ I panicked, looked at my feet, and the next thing I knew, he had pulled his shorts down and his penis was out. I screamed ‘Yuck!’ and ran to the nearest building where I could see a security guard. I heard the Fortuner speed off, and in my panic, I realized I had failed to get the plate number. I cried, then stayed at the lobby of the building until I had the courage to continue walking home.
I feel bothered by it until now; every time I remember it, I feel so harassed and ashamed that it had happened to me. And by the way, the guy looked decent. If he hadn’t been all creepy with me, I wouldn’t have thought at all na manyak siya.”
“Again, the police officer told me to hop on, or else he’d take me to the police station.” –Alla, 34
“This incident happened at Roces Ave. near Tomas Morato in Quezon City more than 10 years ago. I used to visit my tita and cousins who at the time were living there. One night, I was waiting for a cab to take me to work, as I was working the night shift then. I saw a policeman in a motorcycle across the street, and he was waving. Of course, I did not mind him, thinking he was waving at someone else. He disappeared from my sight, but what I didn’t know was that he had taken a U-turn to get to where I was.
The next thing I knew, the cop was telling me to hop on. ‘Hatid na kita,’ he said. I was stunned, but I told him politely, ‘I’m good, thank you.’ He then asked me, ‘Saan ka papunta?’ I answered calmly, ‘I am going to work,’ but I was looking around hoping someone would notice that something was amiss and would interfere. Again, the police officer told me to hop on, or else he’d take me to the police station. I raised my voice this time and asked, ‘Did I violate anything?’ I started rummaging through my wallet to show him two IDs to prove that I was not a minor, but he did not want to look at them. I tried to remain calm and strong, but I could feel my knees shaking.
I was contemplating running away when I heard a woman’s voice from behind me say, ‘Boss, anong problema? Pamangkin ko ‘yan.’ I turned to see that the woman who had come to my rescue was not my tita, but my tita’s neighbour. ‘Saang station ka? Anong pangalan mo?’ my tita’s neighbor kept asking him. The police officer all of a sudden went mute, apologized, then later left.
That cop took away my feeling of safety. Until now, instead of feeling safe, I stiffen up whenever I see a cop or even a cop mobile.”
*Names have been changed