Notes & Essays
"I was drugged with devil's breath and kidnapped in Manila"
A story about Mang Inasal, Shakey's, videoke, and con men-an American national, William Entriken, details his strange and terrifying encounter with local grifters.
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The scary and surreal story of American national William Entriken Jr.'s encounter with local con artists while he was in the Philippines is the stuff that movies are made of (thankfully, not on the level of The Human Centipede; it's closer to The Hangover Part II).

The 32-year-old Entriken was in the Philippines for business earlier this year, during which he lived at SM Jazz Residences in Bel-Air, Makati City. 

This story is based on Entriken's own account and the data from the police report he filed.

This story starts at noon on April 18th, 2017, a Tuesday, on Makati Avenue. I had finished a meeting with the Philippines Board of Investments to discuss how my company could expand our business in Manila, and I visited the QBO Innovation Hub, which I thought was pretty awesome. It was already a little past noon when I was done, so I decided to walk towards Jupiter Street in the hope of finding a good place to get lunch.

As I was walking, a man who appeared to be in his 40s approached me, and said, "Hey, I know you. Are you staying at the Jazz Residences?" I was initially taken aback, since I was staying there. I'm always guarded with information, and I try not to give stuff like that away. But there are about twenty other places in the area that I could have been staying in. So I assumed that I did see him at Jazz Residences. I figured he was harmless.


William Entriken

I told the man (let's call him Guy No. 1) that I was thinking about eating at Mang Inasal. He raved about how great that place was, so I decided to go there. Before we parted ways, he asked me if I had plans of going to the Easter parade and fireworks afterwards, about ten minutes away by jeepney. I told him I was interested in going to the event, and he said that he'd be happy to take me. We agreed to meet at a nearby church after lunch.

After I had lunch at Mang Inasal, I met up with Guy No. 1 at the church. He had three other companions with him—his brother (Guy No. 2), a woman who looked like she was in her 60s (Old Lady No. 1), and a pregnant woman (Pregnant Lady). We boarded the jeepney and rode for about 10 minutes, after which we took a taxi to the St. Joseph Parish in Las Piñas City. They were telling me that I really should check out the Bamboo Organ in the church since all foreigners love it. 

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An accidental photo of Entriken's captor (upper left corner)

Once we arrived in Las Piñas, more people joined us: a 30-year-old woman named Mina, Mina's brother, another elderly lady (Old Lady No. 2, who constantly talked about how she loved sex), and a quiet, attractive woman who looked like she was in her late 30s (Quiet Lady).

There were eight of them now, but they didn't raise any suspicions because they were all friendly and chatty. They said they wanted to eat, so even if I wasn't hungry, I had no problem talking to them and went along for the company. We ended up at a hole-in-the-wall eatery (which was later identified as Neneng Eatery & Videoke along Zapote Road). They told me that the place was called a "carinderia" and that the KTV was called a "videoke", and we ordered food and had fun with the videoke.


Entriken's captor hailing a taxi

They ordered some fish for me, and I waited till someone else at the table ate some before I took a couple of bites. They ordered a pitcher of beer for the table, and I poured my own glass.—Don't let strangers pour your drinks, goes common wisdom.

After that, all I remember are bits and pieces. I remember that my head was resting on Quiet Lady's lap while we were on a jeepney. The next thing I knew I woke up in someone's house.

I sang a few songs with Mina and her brother. Mina seemed to be partial to '90s love songs, so I put a coin into the videoke machine and chose "One Sweet Day" by Mariah Carey and Boyz II Men. Mina and I did a duet (and we killed it, in my opinion). I wanted to remember the moment by taking a photo—Mina declined, though she took my photo.

At this point, I remember thinking that something wasn't right. If we were having such a good time, then why wouldn't anyone let me take their photos? When I tried to take a photo of the group, they all said, "No! No! It will be dangerous for Pregnant Lady. It will mess up the baby."

I knew that I had a problem. I didn't know what it was, but I just had this feeling that I was in trouble. I made a beeline for the for the bathroom so I could use my phone in private. I switched on Location Sharing and sent the information to my wife. Right outside the bathroom, I saw that Mina had tailed me. She asked if I felt sick. I told her I didn't.

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That was the last thing I remember.

After that, my memories are bits and pieces. I remember that my head was resting on Quiet Lady's lap while we were on a jeepney. The next thing I knew I woke up in someone's house—either Guy No. 1's or Mina's. The bedroom was on the second floor of the house.

Did I pass out? I thought maybe I had passed out because it was really hot. Was I suffering from heat exhaustion? Did I drink too much? No, I definitely didn't drink too much with these people because I didn't know them. Was I roofied? Maybe. Then again, I didn't feel dizzy or nauseated. I got out of bed and went downstairs, where I found some members of the group chatting. However, I still felt tired, so I decided to go back to bed.

I woke up again after a few minutes. This time, I actively surveyed my body to assess how I felt. I noticed that my shoes were off. I also noticed that my pen was missing from my pocket. I always travel with a weapon and that was my weapon. It really spooked me not to have it. At that time, I didn't notice that my wallet and phone were also missing.

However, I saw that Quiet Lady was sleeping in bed with me. For some reason, that didn't seem strange at the time. I saw that she had clothes on. I also had clothes on. Whatever. I decided to close my eyes for a few more minutes.

The next time I woke up, I heard someone say, "Shakey's pizza's here!"  I'm still not sure whether I passed out or if I was drugged. But I wasn't hungry or thirsty, and I didn't want to risk putting anything in my body.

The next time I regained consciousness, I was already in the back of a taxi. Mina was right outside the vehicle. She gave me my phone. She told me, "I was charging it for you." She also handed me my wallet. I later found out that the $100, P2,000, and my ID had been taken from my wallet. There was only a little bit of cash left. Mina bid me goodbye by saying, "See you later."

The taxi wanted P500 but my wallet only had P400. Fortunately, I had extra cash hidden on my person, so I got home. It was already early Thursday morning, April 20.

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Entriken's police report

As soon as I could, I called my credit card providers and had my cards cancelled. By then, there were already charges that I knew nothing about—all incurred during the time that I was passed out. I found out later that $3,603.27 was charged to my Amazon Chase card, another $998.56 to Capital One, and P89,762.20 to my American Express Business card. The details of the fraudulent transactions showed that the grifters had made purchases in Lipa, Batangas and in Cavite. There were transactions in SM Department Store and in SM Supermarket, in Shakey's, in Max's, at a Shell service station. There were withdrawals from ATMs. 

After a nap, I went to Makati Police Station 9 and met the chief. He was sharp, and he asked to see the notebook I was carrying. He asked, "What are you going to do if we look pull the ATM videos and find you were the one taking the money out?" I tell him, "That didn't happen. If that's what happened, then I'll change my religion." He then tells me that he believes I was hypnotized.

Two of the Station 9 officers transported me to the Makati Central Police Station. I filed my complaint there.

Once I got back to the U.S., I tried to contact the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Homeland Security (DHS), the US Embassy, and the Philippine National Police (PNP) Anti-Kidnapping Group.

The FBI was not interested, the DHS said they had no jurisdiction over the sase, the US Embassy gave me a generic form letter response, and the PNP group didn't respond at all (as of August 9).

The FBI was not interested, the DHS said they had no jurisdiction over the sase, the US Embassy gave me a generic form letter response, and the PNP group didn't respond at all (as of August 9).

I tried very hard to inform the U.S. Department of State about my experience so they could issue a travel advisory, but I got no response. I even filed a Freedom of Information Act request to find out who was in charge of travel advisories. Again, I didn't get any useful response.

Still, overall, I had a great time in Manila. Let's look at the bright side: This incident only cost me two days of my life and no hangover—I've had worse drinking experiences. My captors let me go safely with all my possessions and with no organs missing. They only deleted two photos from my phone, because I had a clear image of one of them.

I learned that even if you pour your own drink and inspect the glass, it could still be compromised. The drugs are invisible. Also I posted furiously on Reddit and Twitter to learn more about what happened to me since law enforcement was of zero help. The drug that they used on me is most likely scopolamine, which is nicknamed Devil's Breath.

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Overall, I had a great time in Manila.et's look at the bright side: This incident only cost me two days of my life and no hangover—I've had worse drinking experiences.

So, far, I've discovered a few things thanks to the data from my phone and credit card billing statements. If you know any way to get the relevant video footage from banks, malls, the streets, or Shakey’s in Lipa, Batangas, then maybe the following information will help.

Visit William Entriken Jr.'s blog, Full Decent, for the complete account of his kidnapping.

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William Entriken Jr.
Photographer, entrepreneur, teacher
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