Gretchen Ho was travelling with her sister in London when the unthinkable happened. Her sister was off on a tour while Gretchen chose to go around the stores to shop.
“Meron akong dalawang bag ng shinopping ko na, tapos nag-fit ako sa dressing room. May maling size, so pinalitan ko doon sa rack. Para hindi na ako bumalik sa dressing room, doon ko na finit,” she recalled.
To fit the dress, she put her things next to her and piled her other clothes on top of it. Unfortunately, it took but a second for a thief to grab her bag. “Siguro nagmamanman na siya sa’kin. May inabot akong jumper, tapos pagtingin ko, wala na ‘yung bag ko.”
A frequent traveler, Gretchen knew how crucial it was to have her passport, and she held on to the hope that the thief would at least give that back.
“Actually, naghintay pa ako sa store, kasi sabi nila usually ‘yung bag, binabalik with the passport,” she said. “Tumawag pa ako ‘nung gabi, tumawag ako ‘nung morning. Wala na talaga. Pumunta pa ako sa mga basurahan, tinignan ko pa.” Unfortunately, her bag and her passport never made it back to her. Gretchen thinks it may have something to do with the fact that she actually got a look at the robber.
“I felt distraught. For several days, in shock ako. Hindi pa ako nakakarecover. Nawalan din ako ng gana sa mga pinalano ko for the trip. Iba talaga ‘yung feeling when it happens to you,” she said as she recalled the stress she went through.
She was at her wit’s end when fellow Filipinos happened to take notice. “Hindi ko alam ‘yung gagawin ko, pero buti nalang may mga Pinoy na saktong dumaan,” she said. Seeing her in distress and recognizing her as a fellow Pinoy, they stopped and offered their help. “Kung hindi ako tinulungan ng mga Pinoy doon—pinahiram ‘yung phones nila para tumawag and everything—siguro umiyak nalang ako doon.”
Aside from her fellow kababayans, citizens of other nationalities also came to her aid. “Meron ding Sri Lankan, Uber driver ko, na nung nagkukwento ako, sabi, ‘Hey, you want coffee? I’ll treat you to coffee.’ Tapos may isa pa na Egyptian na binigyan ako ng libreng kape.”
After everything, Gretchen remained thankful for the good that came out of the ordeal. “Nakakatuwa lang ang blessings ni Lord. Umaapaw.”