I supposed the best place to cheat people is at the airport. It is a definite fact that I was scammed yesterday upon arriving at Ninoy Aquino Airport @ Manila International Airport. One man with a friendly smile saying "hello, hello, taxi, come I take you wherever, cheap" became his offer for a cab ride. Then I told him that I was looking for a phone. He was disappointed that I was not interested in his taxi service. It probably struck him gold at the opportunity to make money in other ways. He escorted me to a girl who was standing in the corner. She is not a hooker if that's what you're wondering. I call her Miss Mini Market.
Miss Mini Market and Taxi Man exchange words in Tagalog and she there was a sudden brightness in her eyes. That's when I knew I was about to get scammed. She turned to me and ask what kind of sim card I wanted and insisted Globe was the best. I read about it online - Globe is fine in the Philippines. I agreed and she told him 200 philippines peso for one card. Even in Malaysia, that price is ridiculous for a starter sim card. The Taxi Man insisted that he takes my 19 kg luggage aside as it was in the way. My baby face feature may make me look stupid but I am not naive. The last thing I need is some Philippino man half my size running away with my bag of unddies and instant noodles! I simply walked away but he could see the desperation in my eyes.
Then he told me I could use her telephone for 30 peso per call. Apparently I later discovered making locals calls is about 5 peso per minutes. I refused that as well and just returned to the entrance of the terminal.
The next person I approached was a office working person who wore a tag of a local airline. In my heart I am sure she would understand and protect me from such scams. Guess what? She brought me to the same girl and insisted that I could buy a sim card here.
It was already dark and my phone was almost dead. Luckily I brought an extra phone and a power bank. It is a life saviour! Now the price was 150 phillipines peso. I paid for something that I later realized would cost much less. I realized the clerk girl was offered a free cigarette. I feel so scammed.
In that moment I knew I had to be smart about it. I insisted on activating the simcard first and not move an inch until the credits came through. Amazingly the simcard did not work because there was no credit in it. I insisted that she sent me credit enough to send a text. I also insisted in using her phone to call my friend. If I am going to pay so much to be cheated, might as well get my money's worth.
My advice is that you should always bring an old phone that is not a smartphone as it gets a better signal. I brought my Nokia Lumia 820 and the signal was flat. I hate that phone sometimes. My old blackberry did wonders and I was able to text and call people although you can't really surf the Internet with an old BB.
As for making phone calls for pick up from the airport, it is best to bring small change and pay between 10-20 peso per call.(note that this is not inside the airport and it is located outside the terminal).Stay with the owner of the phone until your friend comes back. I advise you to ask a person who seem to be working like selling things as they are not rushing anywhere and will remain at the same place.