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19 - Decision time

Journey 18

Monday 13th August

No sleep for me Sunday night - heavy discussions here at home - my wife being thoroughly wonderful throughout - understanding the emotional pressure I am now under - even offering to help pay for some of this from her own savings.
Things kick off again internationally - early in the morning - remember they are seven hours ahead of UK time.

At 5:34 am UK time, I send two emails marked URGENT to the hospital.

They have never been replied to.
I'm certain that at first this was intended to be just a simple and quick scam for money - but it had started to go wrong for them.

Here is an extract from a chat - the last one we had before the hospital incident. We were making arrangements for my visit the following week. I think Mayen has to do some quick covering up - the fact that she is friends with the money changer in BF Homes (where her old room was) after only 2 occasions that I had sent her money via WU.

tim: I'll try to change my money at the airport
mayen: why?
tim: save us having to go into Makati
mayen: is there any travellers check in iarport
mayen: money changer?
tim: I don't know - but as it's only for the flight - I might just bring British Pounds
tim: I'm sure there are money changers there
mayen: we will still go in makati
tim: yah?
mayen: i have friend in a money changer
mayen: in Bf
tim: we know where to go now
tim: he he
mayen: in makati
mayen: and i have friend also in bf
mayen: money changer
tim: but not for traveller's cheques?
mayen: they have western union there
tim: yah?
mayen: no traveller's check
tim: nope
mayen: i usually get your money their in western union that's why we are freinds
mayen: hehehe

That last remark and then the usual nervous laughter reveals a certain anxiety about what she had told me.

I hadn't seen it clearly at the time - I was about to become blinded by my own cloud of dust - if I had either walked away or payed up - which is probably what most people would do in this situation - the gang would have not had to go to such extreme lengths to fabricate their own innocence, by producing the evidence of legitimacy that I insisted on seeing.

It was only the depth of my love for Mayen, hoping still for a future together and the absolute necessity I felt to discover the truth - one way or the other - to find out once and for all if I should invest any more trust in Mayen - resolve my guilt - or to face up to my obligations - that kept me forging ahead on this painful trail.
My love, all be it for a phantom that was becoming more and more unreal, was not going to vanish overnight.
Yes - above all - this was about a human relationship - two people - professing a deep love - who had shared that love.
How could any further hellos or even a final goodbye happen until the truth were found?
Everything was in suspension - time, evolution for this love, was now standing still.
This was not so much about recriminations or blame - as far as I was concerned - it was about finding that true peace of the soul again - either way - a hello or a goodbye - words of understanding, forgiveness or of a most sincere and regretful apology could only be spoken when that truth was finally, unquestionably found.

Marivien appears on the messenger. She wants me to write an email to Mayen which she will print out and deliver to the hospital - I pass over my flight details - which Mayen had already received but Marivien needed to know as she was going to meet me at the airport.

13/08/07 03:54 am

v: Hi tim!
v: Good day?
tim: hi there marivien - what's the news?
v: Mayen ask when is your flight from UK? What is the exact time arrival her in philippines so that she get taxi for you & i be the one wait for you at the airport.please let me know
tim: I don't know yet if I can still afford to come marivien - I have this large hospital bill to pay - I will have no spending money
v: Mayen getting better but she still transfer 1bag of blood
tim: We need to get the hospital businees dealt with as a matter of priority - today - before I can know what I can do.
v: please email me your message for mayen so that i cant print it
tim: So please get them to send me an invoice - today - it is urgent.
tim: ok - I'll do that Marivien - I send you a message to Mayen.
v: okey for now dont have the exact bills because i came late evening yesterday
tim: They need to be sent to me from the hospital - directly to me via email - today please.
v: i dont know yet the exact bills because i know yet when the exact date she out for the hospital.
v: okey
tim: It is the last day I have to do anything before my flight on Tuesday morning.
v: okey email me all your message for mayen il print it then bring to the hospital so that she can read it
tim: See if Mayen has kept the email I sent her with all the flight details
tim: if not I'll resend it to you.
v: okey send it to me il print it now.
v: thanks
tim: ok - hold on a moment
v: okey
tim: It is now confirmed as GULF AIR - all the way - via Bahrain.
Flight GF2 to Bahrain. Flight GF154 Arrive Manila WEDNESDAY 15th August 10:35 am
return flight Flight GF157 departs Manila TUESDAY 28th August 18:25 pm.
tim: So I am leaving UK very early Tuesday morning - have to be at the airport at about 7:30 am
tim: yah Gulf Air
tim: why?
tim: you ask?
v: GULF air?what that?
tim: an airline
tim: Arabian Airline
v: okey.tim mayen call just right now asking if your okey she worried why you din't call her
tim: I will send you a message for Mayen
tim: I need the invoice from the hospital
tim: today - please
v: okey il print it .il go at the hospital before lunch .its near at GRami hotel thats why i can go there hehe
tim: yah - I remember seeing the hospital when I was there
tim: I'll get on with the email then - thanks again for your time Marivien.
v: okey so email your message i will print it now as soon as i recieve.okey
v: welcome my friend
tim: Marivien - are you religious?
v: yap
v: why?
v: mY mother is a religion teacher?
tim: can you swear to me before The Almighty that this is not simply an elaborate scam for money?
v: that what?dont send long message tim because i use old YM i cant read it all
tim: can you swear before The Almighty
tim: that this is not simply
tim: an elaborate scam for money?
v: oh i swear the money is for the mayen bills tim
tim: I am very, very worried
tim: very, very worried indeed
tim: not only if it's true
tim: but if it's not true
tim: I am worried on both counts
tim: you see - it is all down to trust
v: oh i understand what you feel
tim: yah - all trust?
tim: these sort of things do go on - yah?
v: okey its a big trials i pray that god has a great plan for both of you
tim: I find it hard to believe - having met you all
tim: you are all nice people
tim: but by implication if it is a scam
tim: you are all involved
tim: Adelaide, Chots, yourself, Sir Francis - the hospital
tim: it's hard to believe
v: Thanks tim, no its not. hope you could come her so that you could see mayen at the hospital
tim: but that doesn't prove anything
[Slightly confused at this point - thinking of a laparoscopy.]
tim: the operation doesn't leave any scars
tim: and by that time I will already be over there - completely at you mercy
tim: I am so, so worried Marivien - I have faith
tim: it's easy to say - trust, have faith
tim: but in the face of all this
tim: it is a very severe test
tim: and Ectopic Pregnancy is the perfect vehicle for extortion - yah?
tim: are you still there Marivien?
v: yap sorry there someone call me
v: at the phone
tim: ok
v: i cant see a scarrs beacuese there a bandage
tim: and even so - I won't be able to see either
v: okey
tim: and if it is only a small incision anyway - a Laparoscopy
tim: so how can it be proved to me that it is not a set up?
tim: Marivien - I am so worried - and so mixed up
tim: I really really love Mayen
v: no tim its not a set up much better if you could come so that you can see the situation of mayen
tim: we were planning to marry
tim: I don't know if I can afford to come though now
tim: I have very little money until my house is sold
v: okey so please email all your messages for mayen.okey I will print it all so that she can read it
v: okey i know i & understand tim that you love mayen .
v: she love you also very much that why she cried every now in then when the baby lost
tim: It is so difficult for me to talk with her on the phone
tim: I am so confused
tim: I will only upset her more
tim: I will send you an email when we finish - but please try
tim: to prove that it is true to me, please try
tim: although if it is a scam - even you are involved
v: okey tim il just do this for mayen because i know she need me beacuse all of her family is in the province so please dont think negative
v: she called me right now ask me to call you on her celphone or on the hospital she cried tim please call her
tim: I cannot talk to her - it will make things worse -
tim: she is upset already - my heart is twisted into a knot
v: okey.so please email your message for mayen.She cried when she call me i said dont cry because its not good for her situation
v: okey.i will open it & print before i go at the hospital before lunch.
tim: ok marivien - I will do it now - thank you for the time
v: okey thanks you tim
v: bye for now
tim: I am sorry I feel like I do - please understand my situation
v: okey i understand tim.dont think any negative gods know all that are true.
tim: yah - I wish He would come and tell me - he, he
v: yah.
tim: talaga
v: talaga
tim: totoo
v: totoo lahat sinasabi ko
tim: ?
tim: my Tagalaog isn't that good, he, he
v: means all i said to you is true
tim: aha - thank you - and likewise
v: okey i understand
tim: ok - I write to Mayen - bye for now - xxx
v: okey your welcome
tim: your email address . . . ?
v: okey il wait
tim: v*********@yahoo.com
v: v********@yahoo.com
tim: yah - salamat po

A text message arrive from Sir Francis . . .

SMS from Sir F sent 11:25 Aug 13
Hi tim, wil b n hosptal abt 3pm to c f we can take out mayen. I hope we can talk
latr wen evrythng s settld.

Another two arrive shortly after:

SMS from Sir F. Aug13 11:48
Tim, thx 4 ur email.I hope all wil end wel. If u r ariving tom,
fine-u can personaly settle mayen's bil. F not arivng soon, u can either
deal with hospital direct thru email & settle with them drekly

then pay me my advances latr ordposit to my hsbc $ savngs acct
no.19087736437 £968 whch s d total hospital statemnt plus my advances.Ur

SMS from Sir F Sent 11:48 Aug 13
I'm trying to understand d situation but I'm slowly getting d facts right.Many
things hav occured dat i didn't knw abt.
Anyway, i hope i don't get left hold* some text missing* [holding the baby? - not very tactful.]

So - in response to the knowledge that I have insisted on dealing with the Hospital directly - Sir Francis joins in to reassure me of the legitimacy of it all - in fact as early as this Monday morning - he already has precise knowledge of the amount owed to the hospital and tries to be casual about the method of payment - unusual to include his own bank account details though.
So they've had this information all day - but sit on it until the last moment possible to send the figures to me - while I still have time to visit the bank.

I get a call on my cellphone from Sir Francis.
He has a very paternal air, saying that this is a wake up call for both Mayen and myself - he knew nothing about Ectopic Pregnancy before all of this - Mayen was one of his favourite girls - a bit young, hot-headed - but tenacious and ambitious - her family were being no help, they couldn't even inform the hospital of Mayen's blood group - he told me there were several things going on that he hadn't known before - he wasn't aware of the fact that I was not yet divorced - he wasn't aware that Mayen had asked me to pay for her new room.
He said something about how the girls aren't used to seeing such a lot of money and go a bit out of control.
He is obviously concerned about the payment of the hospital bill - he has paid certain moneys as deposit - I tell him that I initially was expected to send the money via Western Union to be picked up by Marivien - he said "Oh that is a stupid idea."
He is probably more concerned because now I insist on dealing directly with the hospital - no photocopies - no scanned images - I want the hospital accounts department to deal with me via my email which I had instructed Marivien to pass on to them.
He tells me that my suspicions are very insulting to anyone from the Philippines - but I say that he surely must understand my cause for suspicion - this sort of thing does happen - and this is showing all the classic signs.

There was no attempt to quell my fears rationally. I said "I have already met all of you and can't believe that any of you were capable of such a thing" - but then - that is the nature of a confidence trick - they are expert at gaining my trust and confidence - something they had implicitly up until this point.
Well - to be honest - I gave Mayen the benefit of the doubt - I have had my suspicions about her, which have grown apace with my hopes - in almost equal proportions. In fact my vacillation has been due to both possibilities being in equal balance - genuine relationship or scam - the slightest change of conditions could send my mind from believing one to being convinced in the other.

I had replied to Sir Francis in a long email stating my reasonable suspicions again, also I emphasised that I was absolutely willing to honour my moral obligation, providing I could be convinced I wasn't being cheated or lied to, but that I had met them all and found it hard to believe - and ended up by saying I should come and see for myself.
He replied with:

Mon 13 Aug 2007 16:37 - 0700 (PDT)
I agree Tim, come & see for yourself what is going on here. I was with Mayen,
her brother & Vien in the hospital last night- you should be here to as soon as
possible to solve the problem.

Also I send one to Mayen via Marivien - including the following poem hopefully expressing my total confusion. I had written it in an earlier period of doubt but had thought twice about sending it - but right now - it seemed perfectly appropriate.

The mighty kampilan
Has cleft me through,
Clean from head to toe,
The keenest edge,
Both swift and sure,
Has sliced me up
With single blow.
A fair duality now there lies,
For once a mind and soul unties
Each will walk alone.

Two roving eyes
That don't combine
Impaired in vision,
Out of line.
This pair of me
Cannot unite,
Despairing in their lack of sight,
Colours fade and disappear,
The world, unclear,
If black or white.

My email to Mayen asked her to stop the emotional hyperbole - quit cursing me and accusing me of deserting her - for heaven's sake I still have a flight booked - try and evaporate my fears a bit more rationally please. Was I to prove to her that I was stupid? Did she want to marry someone who could be rash and irresponsibly blinded by his love?
I said that we were not the guilty ones but were suffering from the acts of people who did these despicable things.
In answer to her pleas for me to "Just trust me as I trust you" I said that trust is perhaps a lot easier (for her) when there is no serious risk or financial obligation attached.
The emotional risk - presumably - we both shared equally - wasn't it therefore in our mutual interest to sort this out speedily & civilly?
I also repeated that I would only deal with the hospital directly - I knew by now that the whole team were trying to keep track of each communication I made.
I think they were all quite confident that I would fly out there - maybe that explains the lack of urgency in their response - providing that I had the cash with me when I arrived - everything else could be handled, they thought, as it arose.
Marivien was to deliver the email to Mayen at lunch time - I knew that Sir Francis was visiting the hospital at 3:00pm (PH time.)

Despite me having given Marivien the information the previous day - that I would only deal directly with the hospital - nothing was done until the last minute - I felt that me wanting to deal only with the hospital was somehow awkward for them.

Flurries of SMS messages from Mayen - trying to find out if I was still coming, but also playing heavily on my guilt, my responsibility - the only means she had at her disposal - to ensure as much as she could that I did "come home." But remember they all want to know this - if there is a crime going on here - it's a highly organised one.

SMS from Mayen Sent 12:35 Aug 13

timmy pls believe me, f u luv me pls be here, y dnt u do th!s to me . . this d
moment dat i nid u but u turn away.
and ds s so hard 4 me.

SMS from Mayen Sent 15:20 Aug 13
timy pls be home, im tired, dn't knw wat to do.pls dnt do th1s to me.
SMS from Mayen Sent 16:04 Aug 13
timy juz wait, marivien s thr n d acountimg to get d invoive. . its stil in the
SMS from Mayen Sent16:47 Aug 13
ds s d worst th!ng dat ever hapend 2 me, and it hurts, coz u stil hav doubts in me..
sir f loves me coz he nvr leave me.. but ur r turning away.
SMS from Mayen Sent 16:50 Aug 13
he is here, we talked and i feel ashamed, coz hes not supposed to be involved in
ds situation coz ds s our problem.
im sufering with al ds.
SMS from Mayen Sent 17:09 Aug 13
they are gone now, they got d bil and email it to u right now ...im alone in ds
rom huhu.heartaches, pain i feel ryt now.
SMS from Mayen Sent 17:20 Aug 13
i cnt help but cry evrytime i think dat u stil dont trust me.f u luv u shud
trust. like wat i do 2u.
pls be home timmyboy i need u.
SMS from Mayen Sent 17:44 Aug 13
u tel me f ur coming home coz sir francis ask me coz of d hospital bil. but pls
i want u 2 come home, please i nid u. i luv u.
SMS from Mayen Sent 17:59 Aug 13
timy sir f wants 2 knw, coz if u cnt come he wil deal d bil first.coz he wil
setle h!s budget also
.pls tel me..
or tel sir f as son as posible
[There's a solution - but it never gets mentioned again though]

SMS from Mayen Sent 18:20 Aug 13
timy i ask d nurse the original copy is in d acounting. the xerox s with
marivien, coz she wil email u.. is it not enough?
i ask also d billing section 2 email it 2 u, but close already. maybe tomorrow i
wil try

[That explains why they were delaying - yeah - send it tomorrow when I'm
already on the plane.]

SMS from Mayen Sent 18:23 Aug 13
timy.. pls be home, marivien wil be email u d bil. pls trust me..im telin u d
truth swear to GOD..
its already 630 pm here. please believe me.
SMS from Mayen Sent 18:57 Aug 13

she took rest, my brother seaman is here with me now.nursing with me..jaz arivd
frm d province..

So - here we have Mayen, her brother, her sister, Sir Francis, Marivien - all at the hospital - all knowing the urgency of my request that I deal only with the hospital - none of them able to convince the hospital to send me an email? Something really strange is going on.
I notice now that there is no mention at all of the future excuse that they are to use - that the hospital doesn't trust me & is refusing to deal with me, or the matter of confidentiality.

I told them that I wasn't sure if I could afford the trip as well as fulfilling my obligation to pay the hospital bill - I needed to know the amount involved before I could assess that - and I needed to know before the banks closed in the afternoon as I was flying out there early the following morning.
I sent another SMS to Marivien saying "No photocopies, no scanned images" - I needed to verify as much as possible that this was all actually true.
I realised that here I had a bit of leverage over the situation - if this was a scam, they obviously wanted me to arrive with cash - but I needed the information urgently - not really much time for them to prepare a convincing "bogus" invoice.

At around the time that the hospital was closing down office business for the day I get an email from Marivien containing the details of the hospital invoice. This is it - as I received it - not very convincing is it? - and as has been pointed out to me - they need a better accountant.

August 13,2007
Medical Center Paranaque
Sucat Paranaque

Tim,I seem to have problem scanning the bills I got from Medical Center Paranaque but hereunder is the summary;

1) Deposit made by FMJ******* Aug. 10, 2007 - P10,000.00
2) Advances made by FMJ******* Aug. 11 & 12
for blood & day to day expenses - 4,500.00
3) Doctor's fees 40,000.00
Anesthetiologist 16,000.00
other doctors 1,552.00
4) Hospital bills of P27,061.39 less P10,000dep &
P375.70 pd. in cash by Mayen 16,685.69

I'll do best to have the hospital email you directly the billings. Please note that if the P74,237.69 balance as of today is not settled, it will be hard to have Mayen released.

I immediately phone the hospital using the information I had found on their website.
I spoke to the duty nurse - emphasizing discretion - that I suspected I was being scammed into paying a bill - could she verify that there was such a patient there and that these figures were correct.
She kindly offered to check with the accounts dept. Oh - there's someone still there then? I was to phone back in 15 minutes.
I prayed that this would bring it all to a conclusion - that she would tell me that there was no such patient - no such invoice had been raised.

I phone her back - she confirms it all - the patient - the figures on my email all tally.
So - again I swing back to having to believe it all - I am facing my responsibility - I'm going to have to fly the next day - drain my bank account - the amount is near to £1,000.00 - plus some spending money - I don't care - it is my obligation - my duty.
I send an SMS to Mayen asking if she still wanted me to come. Sir Francis had told me that Mayen might discharge herself prematurely - so I insisted to her that she stay there until I arrived.

Her replies:

SMS from Mayen Sent 19:50 Aug 13
yes i want to see u. please come home..we wil fix th!s th!ngs..i luv u so
much.il wait 4 u here in d hospital. ok mwaah

SMS from Mayen Sent 20:43 Aug 13
timmyboy i wil sleep now, so stressed this day. i luv u so much. be home soon,
il be waiting 4 u okay.let me know d flight details..be safe

I try to think of ways to raise some money, some support and most importantly, some company for when I arrive at Manila - I phone the Sun newspaper - a human interest story - but no interest from them and the phone very tersely slammed down on me after a brief explanation.
I phone another "sell-your-story" contact - ask her to read the story so far on this blog. She is interested but cannot help financially at such short notice.
Now I am becoming extremely worried about my security when I arrive in Manila - if this is a scam - they are all in on it - including some people at the hospital - they already know that I'm suspicious - and determined to deal with the hospital through the proper channels - who will in fact meet me at the airport, where will I be taken?
I had already been prepared for Mayen wanting to discharge herself prematurely - I had already been told that Sir Francis wanted to settle up. I imagined a scenario on my arrival - Mayen nowhere to be found - my having to deal with a debt to Sir Francis - and being prevented from going anywhere near the hospital - unable to check the authenticity of anything - or the accuracy - and carrying a big bundle of cash.
That's why Sir Francis had to be involved - he was the only person in the gang able to pay the hospital fees and deposits - to lend it credibility.

Again I phone around for some help - the Philippine Embassy in London - lovely music for half an hour - not much help really.
I phone the tourism branch of the Foreign Office - more helpful - suggest I phone the British Embassy in Manila - I have - but it's night time over there - no response.
They did have an emergency out of hours cellphone number however - so I ring that - speak to an English girl - thank goodness - I feel that I can trust her.
I explain the situation - she understands the danger - can't really help - it's my decision whether to go or not.
As if I didn't realise - the weight of this decision - an absolutely critical point in my life.
I post a couple of urgent messages to online "Internet scam" sites - obviously - although they did reply very quickly, it wasn't in time to help with this decision.

Girding my loins, gritting my teeth - my love for Mayen wins the day - I head off to town - draw the money from the bank - get the traveller's cheques.

No sleep for days - I am in need of some help - essentially from someone who can sympathise with both sides of my situation. I call at the church where I was married - a warden gives me the phone number for the vicar - and I ring him up telling him that I am in urgent need of spiritual guidance, a bit of confession and hopefully a blessing for my journey.
He drives down to meet me in the church office.
I am extremely emotional and fight to hold back my tears - the pressure is immense inside of me.
I start to explain the scenario - my cellphone rings - it's my wife - "Have I drawn out all the money - am I still going?"
I continue explaining things to the vicar telling him that from my point of view my relationship with Mayen has been miraculous - I find him wonderfully comforting - he is totally sympathetic and seriously understands my predicament and my concern over personal security. "The heart has its own reasons" he tells me.
He suggests various options - but the cost of another air fare at a later date is out of the question and I don't want to keep Mayen on her own in this time of need.
So I am not to venture outside the security of the airport - seek assistance immediately and get taken to the British Embassy in Manila - don't proceed with any transactions without an unbiased witness - only deal with the hospital.
He says a wonderful prayer for me and asks me to visit him when I return.

I head off for an appointment at the hospital - the last in a series of travel injections & to pick up the tablets for my suspected Herpes.
I leave - full of resolve - perfectly calm and inspired - feeling brave yet cautious - once again treading the path of love.

There has to be one path or another - in order to proceed - it is impossible to follow both at once - fear or love.

So before going home I visit my dear friend who has offered me so much wisdom and support throughout.
I am going to say to him, despite his best advice to me - "I am going to fly to Manila in the early morning" - I'm going to say " Thank you for your help - but farewell."

Click the flags to read about all the alarm bells.


Tim Cumperhttp://www.bebo.com/Ellumbra

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