I Was Catfished And Here’s My Story

Warning: the post is explicit and may cause anxiety attacks

Catfishing, to those of you who are not familiar with it, happens when someone creates an online identity (or identities, to some extent) to trick someone into an emotional relationship.

Unlike others who fell in love with someone using a fake online identity, my story was different. I was not tricked. I was not scammed. I did not meet the culprit and thankfully, nothing serious happened to me but I was greatly traumatized by this incident in 2018.

This entry wouldn’t have materialized without the issue of Jzan Tero with Sam Morales on Twitter. Whilst reading the entire thread, I couldn’t help but recall how distressing my experience was. The trauma was too much to handle that I haven’t had the chance to tell this one to my close friends. But now that I have mustered enough courage to do it, I’m sharing my story with the world.

2018 wasn’t exactly the best year for me. At that time, my grandfather just died due to a heart complication, I’ve had issues with my health, and work-related tasks were getting out of hand because of multiple ongoing projects.

I used gay dating/messaging apps sparingly during those times because admittedly, I simply don’t have the luxury of time to do it. But one day, this person (see photo below) messaged one of my colleagues at work through the Grindr app.

My colleague reached out to me on our internal messaging platform and said that my boyfriend is waiting for me downstairs, at the building lobby. I felt weird about it because I told him that I do not have a boyfriend and have been single since late of 2017. The person kept insisting to my colleague that he’s waiting downstairs to meet me. I had to open my Grindr app and see for myself. I really don’t have any idea what’s going on – am I being pranked by another friend of mine? If yes, then this prank is definitely not a nice prank at all.

As soon as I opened the Grindr app, I got a message from this “FUNtastic” person, and here’s a translation of what happened (for my non-Filipino readers):

  • FUNtastic (F): Hi bb
  • Me (M): ?
  • F: Miss u bb. I waited for you last night. I was talking to your office mate
  • M: Huh?
  • F: Yes
  • M: Who are you? I neither know you nor I remember you
  • F: Don’t you love me anymore? After everything, you became like that. You even denied me to your friend.
  • M: I don’t really know you, okay? I will report you to the building admin if you don’t stop. I don’t even have a partner.

The person didn’t stop there and went on by revealing some details about me (fyi, this information is available on my LinkedIn and Facebook before I turned my account private):

  • F: Why will you report me? Don’t you want to admit that I became your partner?
  • M: When did we become a couple, assuming that we did? And what is my full name and what are my details that you know?
  • F: Do you want me to tell it one by one?
  • M: Go. I dare you.
  • F: Your course was Development Studies at De La Salle (University). You already worked for many BPO companies. Your dad is a seaman (seafarer). You went to St. Mary’s for high school. You became an exchange student at Chulalongkorn (University). Your brother just graduated from ICS (Immaculate Conception Seminary).
  • M: Of course, you’d easily know those things through my social media account. Again, when did you become my partner? I don’t remember meeting you ever at all.
  • F: You don’t trust me at all, do you? Do you have a monthly period now?
  • M: Again, when did you become my partner? I know I had one last time and I’m sure that was not you.
  • F: After you tasted me? Of course, you only had one partner last time because you didn’t have two. Haha. I will go there to pick you up.
  • M: Again, when you become my partner? I need (the) exact dates. Also, if you were my partner, how come you don’t have my number? All of my partners have my mobile numbers.

I thought he’d finally stop because he didn’t reply for a couple of minutes. I have already sent a report to the building admin and to the security team about the incident before going home. That night, since I was working following the U.K. time, I usually get out of work around 12AM, I actually couldn’t get home by myself. I was scared that someone might just show up and harass me. I had to call my family for help and asked them to fetch from the office.

The next day, this freak messaged me again and started harassing me more. He said he’ll send a photo of me having sex with him to my mum. I didn’t flinch and dared him to do it because I’m confident that I don’t ever let anyone take a photo of me whilst having sex:

  • F: That’s why it will go loose (he’s talking about why my ass would be loose by now)
  • M: Oh, why don’t you answer my questions? Ah, right! It’s because it’s not true. Haha. You’re busted, sir. Also, I’m not a bottom. Son of a bitch.
  • F: You’re a son of a bitch, too! Haha. Let’s have sex again?
  • M: You’re trying to trick me, you son of a bitch? I have your picture with me. My colleague sent it to me. Don’t you ever come near me because I have already reported you to the authorities! And for once, I don’t do casual sex with just anybody. Look for others whom you can fool.
  • F: They cannot stop me. I will go there. No? You’ve already tasted me, haven’t you?
  • M: If we got together, send a photo that we are together. Son of a bitch! Don’t you ever fool me, you’re just wasting time.
  • F: I’ll send a photo whilst you’re sucking my dick? You keep cursing – that’s bad. Shall I send it? The one where you ate my cum?
  • M: Send it. Go. But you don’t have a decent picture of us being together. Too bad! You’re busted, sir. I blew up your cover and discovered you’re fake.
  • F: Shall I send it to Tita Sally (my mum)?
  • M: Go, send it. I can even go with you!
  • F: You’re crazy! Why are you mad? I already went to your office to pick you up last night?
  • M: Are you nuts? Why would you even pick me up, I don’t even know you in the first place? Who are you? I don’t even know your name. You can’t even say when exactly we got together, and yet you keep saying you are my boyfriend? Are you crazy?
  • F: Yes – crazy for you! Why do you keep cursing? Your mouth needs some cleaning! I’m already here (saying that he’s at the office lobby once again)

unnamed11

The following day, he still messaged me through the app – “Hi bb (gesturing something about fucking in the ass)”, “Afternoon bb”, “Bb miss your asshole”, “Blow me bb, I’ll pick you up…” but I didn’t engage with the person anymore after filing a police report.

Thankfully, my work setup allowed us to be agile and flexible and so my manager encouraged me to start working from home after the first two incidents. Honestly, I wanted to “block” the account from messaging me but the police officer advised me to keep the account open and active so there will be enough evidence if anything happens to me. After a few days, the account just died and the person didn’t bother me. I’m relieved that the incident didn’t continue for days (or weeks), or else I don’t know where I’d find myself anymore.

My family thought it’s one of my ex-boyfriends in the past but I actually don’t have any bad blood against them and we’re in good terms; civil, at the very least. I don’t know who in their right minds would dare do this but I have an idea about who it could be but I’m not dropping names without enough evidence on my hands. I’m also sure that the photo they used for this wasn’t theirs (see photo below) and I feel bad about whoever owns this picture.

unnamed12

This tremendously affected how I was performing at work. I didn’t want to touch my phone. I didn’t want to interact with anyone for days. You know, I never thought I’d report back to the office anymore because of the fear that somebody might just show up and do something nasty to me.

On a personal side of things, it also affected how I connect with people. My dating life got skewed because I had trust issues with everyone. For a couple of months, I didn’t want to meet anyone from the online world. I had to deactivate my social networks for weeks. My friends didn’t know what was going on because I didn’t want to come forward and tell them – I was too afraid, in shock – and I felt sorry about it.

This could happen to anyone out there, regardless of their orientation, background, affiliations… and it can cause a lot of distress to anyone. For those of you who easily overcame a similar situation, good for you! But to those who have to go through and are going through a difficult time processing things, please know that we’re here to help you and we understand where you are coming from.

With that, let me end it here by mentioning some of my key takeaways:

  • Whilst it’s okay to engage with people you meet online, you have to make sure that you’re talking to a real person. About how you’d find out about that, I’m not so sure, but always give a second (and third, and fourth…) thought if somebody looks and feels too good to be true.
  • When interacting with someone, never ever over share about you or about your family, especially when you just started talking to each other. This can be very difficult to control because you’re torn between opening up to this person you want to engage with and keeping yourself some privacy on the side. You have your judgment – you have to own it and use it wisely.
  • I urge you to check what’s posted and written on your social media accounts. Ensure that you’re not sharing too much important information publicly, such as your location, birthday. Trust me, it’s not going to be worth it.
  • Always have your emergency contacts ready. May it be your family, friends, significant other… you have to make sure you have easy access to their contact information if anything bad happens to you.

Can You Survive Metro Manila for 1 Week in 1,000 Pesos ($19) or Less?

Where are you headed to?
Where are you headed to? Photo taken in Guadalupe Nuevo, Makati City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

What if everyone could take the public transportation because you know it’s efficient? We’re confident that our trains wouldn’t break down because it’s been maintained well. We’re happy to take the major roads and never worry about getting late for school or work – but that’s in a parallel universe where we don’t live in.

I had this ‘Eureka!’ moment last weekend when my mum and brother got stuck at UP Town Center because of heavy raining. While having some sumptuous late lunch at KOS Greek Ouzeri, I wondered, what if my job don’t pay as much as I get now? Will I survive an entire week of not being able to buy what I want and just stick to only those what I need? For this week, I’ve challenged myself to limit my work week budget to 1,000 Pesos ($19).

In a hot Friday afternoon, I’ve decided to ride an ordinary bus from Bulacan to Makati – I didn’t regret that moment. Photo taken in Valenzuela City, Philippines using Nikon D3200.

Cost breakdown

What’s a good way to prove an idea and to tell a story? Experience it, and so did I! It wasn’t easy to start the week in a morning schedule whilst half of Metro Manila is ‘submerged’ because of the heavy raining for the past 48 hours. I do not know what’s with mornings but it wasn’t easy to course through the traffic. Gladly, I was able to manage this – I rode ordinary buses in broad daylight whilst exposed in dirt and pollution; to get to my destination, I walked for more than a mile or two to save money; I even have to ask for mum to drive and take me to the train station to cut my expenses down. I am very lucky to have supportive parents, but what about those who don’t have such luxury?

Total transportation cost sums up to 741 Pesos ($13.72).

I was lucky for my 2 days training at the Ateneo Center for Continuing Education, they served free food – morning and afternoon snacks, and full-course lunch meal, all in a managed buffet style – (Shout out to Villa Salud!) During the remaining days of the week, I’ve brought packed dinner with me and some biscuits, crackers to save money. Moreover, I used the Starbucks stars I’ve accumulated in exchange for free drinks. The only two instances I bought food this challenge week were last Monday when I met my best friend and ate lunch other and last Friday when I bought turon and pancit on my way to the office.

I think this was the most difficult part of my challenge. I cannot simply win over a battle against hunger, and I realized – what if I didn’t have those stars, where could I’ve ended up to? What if I didn’t have time to prepare for my packed meals each day, would I be able to survive? What if I didn’t have those 2 days training, would I be able to eat decent meals?

Total food cost sums up to 184 Pesos ($3).

I usually have my hair cut every 2nd or 3rd week of each month. Coincidentally, my hair cut is scheduled during the course of this challenge week. I felt torn between sacrificing 200 Pesos ($3.70) with my preferred shop and going for this newly opened hair salon for only 40 Pesos ($0.74). I ended up choosing the latter despite the bad service. My hair cut was fine, but I wouldn’t date to go back there.

Total miscellaneous cost sums up to 40 Pesos ($0.74).

There’s a missing 30 Pesos ($0.56) which I couldn’t remember where I placed/spent on but I as of writing, I’ve managed to save 5 Pesos (less than 1 centavos in US $) the entire week.

The first time I felt helpless was when it suddenly started to rain heavily and I wanted to take a cab going home but couldn’t because I simply can’t afford one. Photo taken in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig using Nikon D3200.

About budgeting

I thought I was just too confident to ask people favour. I always believe that desperate times call of desperate measures. I also have instilled to value of walking instead of taking public transportation. With how the Metro Manila traffic is going, especially when it’s raining and the roads are impassable due to flooding, the only best option left sometimes is to walk. I have also skipped meals when possible and I could. This wasn’t something I’ve done before because I usually eat when I want to and when I have to.

If you’re wondering what’s the secret, really, there’s none. I don’t think that’s budgeting that I did because it felt like I didn’t have much to budget in the first place. Now I suddenly felt envious with those people who would just walk going to work from their residence. I wish it was fast, easy to commute from Bulacan to BGC, Taguig. But here’s what I have realized:

  • One battle you cannot easily win over is hunger. This is one of the most difficult, if not the most difficult, problem to deal with. If only my level of discipline was heavens high, I could easily do this, but I have a body of a mortal that needs feeding.
  • 1,000 Pesos per week is not applicable to everyone. As a disclaimer from the video teaser I made, I implicitly mentioned there that there is no ideal budget each week. Some people would spend more than 1,000 Pesos (like me), whilst others could spend less, but that doesn’t mean that we, who spend more than 1,000 Pesos each week, have inferior budgeting skills than those who spend for 1,000 Pesos or less every week.
  • The thing that will differentiate us from each other would be our expenses. If you’d have a look at your expenses, you’d easily notice that your weekly expenses would differ from each other – and that is okay.
  • Always think twice, thrice before purchasing anything. The first question you should always ask yourself is if you really need this thing you want to buy. Definitely, if you can afford and have extra money, go ahead. Otherwise, don’t. Don’t even dare to think about using your credit card, if you have one, to meet your ends. It’s not healthy for you and your financial credit, most especially if you can’t pay off the credit right away and/or not familiar with the ins and outs of credit cards.
  • Find alternative options… only if you can afford it. I hate to break this, but most people these days wouldn’t trade comfort and convenience for anything that’s practical. I felt that a lot of people do not patronize carinderia anymore and we all have our reasons – sanitary issues, proximity, availability in the area, laziness to walk around… I am guilty of this and should never use my time as an excuse since my work has a very flexible schedule.
In Metro Manila, you can’t afford to walk slowly, most especially when it’s rush hour. You’ll get bumped, people will push you… you simply can’t. Photo taken along EDSA corner Shaw Boulevard using Nikon D3200.

What I’m trying to say is…

Open your eyes.
Notice what’s happening around you.
Remain vigilant.

I have a renewed and now a never-ending respect for those people who are able to stick with their budget, especially to those who have a family to support, those who need to pay for their rent/housing, those who can afford to save even if there are tons of expenses each month. I am definitely not alienating anyone or any group here, but to those people who have the sheer determination and the ability to provide for their needs – the inspiration to do better and to keep a good financial standing moving forward is simply overflowing.

Some of my observations include:

  • Our traffic has gone from bad to worse. When I was in college, sometime in 2013, to get to my university, I used to take the same McArthur route from Malanday bus stop in Valenzuela City to Muñoz, Quezon City for only 1 hour. Now, it would take me 2 hours to do the same, and 3 hours at most if the traffic is really awful. How come, despite tons of road widening, improvements, that this has been the case?
  • If living within your means is fine, how about those who couldn’t even afford basic needs? I’ve always been told by my parents to never live beyond what I could pay for, and that’s true. I’m very lucky to land a good paying job to support my needs and wants and to, basically, live independently. I just feel for those who couldn’t even support their basic necessities in life. I wish the world isn’t that unfair but who am I to complain? I’m just a tiny voice out of the vast jungle full of predators ready to swallow me whole.
  • The basic burger with fries and drinks now cost at least 80 Pesos ($1.48). It used to 50 Pesos ($0.92) but now, your 50 Pesos can only buy an à la carte – without fries and drinks.
  • The commute to work or school kills us. This is a reflection of how bad really our traffic and transportation system is. We haven’t even reached our destination and yet we’re already tired. It’s exhausting – imagine allotting 5-6 hours each day on road, this could have been spent on other more productive things.
  • Our transportation system couldn’t support the volume of commuters each day. I wish to find options was as easy as changing socks. Could you imagine what kind of life we would’ve had only if our mode of transportation is more convenient?

This challenge also brought me to another level of understanding of how our supposedly basic needs are easily affected because of the changes in the tax scheme, the worsening inflation of the country, and the surging prices of goods and services. Why am I saying this?

My point is simple – my 1,000 Pesos ($19) last year could already last for a week and a half. Now, it barely lasted for a week. Had I not taken desperate measures, I would’ve gone overboard. Last year, my daily budget for commuting was just amounting to 165 Pesos ($3). This year, it has gone up to 180 Pesos ($3.33). Whilst some of you would think that it’s only 15 Pesos ($0.28) difference, it’s still a big amount of money – multiply 15 by 22 days (average no. of work days in a month), that’s still 330 Pesos ($6.11). I could’ve spent my 330 Pesos to paying for our water bill which don’t normally go above 400 Pesos ($7.41) per month.

Is this what we deserve after working hard, trying to provide for our families, in the hopes of being a law-abiding citizen by duly paying their taxes and contributing to the country’s supposedly booming economy?

I don’t know, but what I know is that I survived 1 week with 1,000 Pesos – if have to grade this, then my grade would’ve been “Barely Passed.”

*$1 = 54 Pesos

Hiring Tip: Time to Fix That Resume Today!


Photo credits to assets.entrepreneur.com

When I graduated from my University, I had a 2 page Resume with me and a lot of confidence to get any job that I am fit. I initially wanted a writing work, since I was a Feature Writer for four years in the newspaper organization, but life has different plans for me. My first gig landed me on a Research work – we interview people, we record their answers, and we translate the data for a study. It lasted for a month before I’ve decided to go full-time.

As I progress on my career and when I’d get into a new role, my Resume would get longer to make sure I get to include everything. I didn’t want to miss everything, not even those tiniest detail about the projects I got involved to, even though it wouldn’t be relevant to what I’d be doing for the company I’m interviewing with.

My Resume would look like this:

If I would rate and interview myself back then, then I don’t think I’d have the time and patience to read through – not even skim or scan through – all the details I’ve included here. It was long, tiring, and text heavy.

I wouldn’t talk about how you’d accessorize, decorate, or design your Resume but I’m going to point out some of the things you need to remember when creating one. In order not to end up like that Resume above, here are some tips I could share to you on how to build a rock star Resume.

Less is more.

Like what I’ve shared on the biggest mistake I ever did in an interview, always keep in mind that less is more. It’s okay to include brief explanations and bullet points but make sure that it’s not text heavy and painful to read. These words may not mean anything to you but to the interviewer, it’s a good ice breaker to exactly know what to ask you. If you included there some details about the duties and responsibilities that you do, then expect that the interviewer would ask things about it. If you wrote down details about the skills and ability you were able to acquire and exude on that role, then the line of questioning might revolve there.

You don’t expect your interviewer to have the luxury of time to read through heavy texts. Include only those relevant information you wanted to showcase. Do not include achievements that are more than 10 years already – high school achievements, awards and recognition from your employer 10 years ago… anything that is more than 10 years already, unless it would be the biggest achievement of your career, should not be there.

The best way to get this over is to take advantage of the interview/talk time to explain how relevant your role and your responsibilities are to the job you’re applying to. Make use of that communication skill that you got!

Job hopped? No problem!

Now here’s the real score – many do not include their earlier employments because it’s less than the ideal job span for any employment. Really, I ask, what is this ideal tenure per job anyway? 1 year? 2 years? 6 months? Who cares? I don’t! If you think and feel that your future employer might do, then you either live up with it or forever suffer the pain of getting rejected on a job because you didn’t declare one or two (or even more) of your previous employer.

It’s okay to include it on your Resume and explain it thoroughly to your interviewer, but why is this important? You have to own those skills you’ve created and learned despite the short tenure. Despite limited time with your previous employer/s, according to Forbes, there are so many skills you could learn and you need to highlight this with achievements and evidences. This is to help you build credibility and show sincerity; hence your potential employer would feel you’re being genuine and transparent to them.

Instead of them finding this out on your background checks, it would be best if you’d tell it straight to them. Make sure to use every opportunity to explain this to the interviewer because this can be the determining factor to either make or break it.

Each of us has his or her fair share with this and that is okay. The thing about this is that you have to show to them the real reason you left. In my case, I had this employment doing Business Development and Sales for an international company for 5 months and I decided to leave because I realized that night shift was not for me (our clients were based out of US and Canada, I’m physically in Manila, Philippines). The money was there, I must say, but I had to leave greener pasture for my health and well-being.

You don’t have to lie, especially if there’s really nothing to be hidden, unless you want to hide something then that’s a whole different story to tell.

To over skill yourself is overkill!

Okay, so here goes the part where you would include skills that are only relevant to you and those skills that you really know by heart. Most people have a bad habit of including those skills they know really nothing of. So when they get to the role, despite training and exposures, they wouldn’t function well due to limited technical knowledge about the job.

Do not include skills that you really don’t know of – Microsoft Excel/Google Spreadsheets expert and yet you don’t know what the Vlookup formula is; Salesforce master but doesn’t know how to merge an account; Social Media savvy but does not know how to measure an ad campaign and what metrics should be used… this is a major red flag!

Assess your technical knowledge. If you feel less confident about anything technical about the role you’re applying for, you can be honest about it and mention that you’re open to learning and training. If the interviewer would be looking for someone who has already mastered the technical knowledge, then re-assess your application. It would be best to ask for recommendations if there’d be position where you can fit. It’s never wrong to ask and to be honest about anything.

No Character References, please?

I’m not saying you shouldn’t have available Character References but make sure to never include it on your Resume. You have to make sure that you’re giving your interviewer an updated list once they ask for one. What if the person you’ve included on the list has a different number and/or employment details already? You need to keep everything updated so the Character References Checker does not need to constantly reach out to you.

Moreover, this will give you an ample time to tell your Character References first about any contact that your next potential employer might do in line with your application with them. This another way to get good recommendations, too. When you reach out first to your Character References, they’d be conscious and aware that they should give good reviews about you, since you reconnected with them and you put trust to their words.

There’s no ideal number of Character References to keep but I would recommend at least five, unless there’s a need for you to give more. Normally employers would ask for three so it’s best to keep at least five if anyone of the first three wouldn’t be able to respond immediately within the time frame set by your next potential employer.

It really would take a while for you to get used to doing this but it would be a good exercise to start as early as now – and it’s never too late to start even if you’re already halfway through your career! What you want employers to see these days is you impress them at the first glance. How do you do that? You go fix your Resume before you send it to them.

How does your Resume look like 5 years ago? I’d love to hear more from you. X