Tuesday, September 9, 2008


Vima D. Nandin or Bheng is the agent whom my friend, Dubs, gets her household helpers from. Whenever Dubs would notice something bad about her present helper, she'd call Bheng and Bheng would go to Pampanga and exchange Dubs' ineffective helper with another one. The helper Bheng brings come with a moneyback guarantee. This of course is just verbal guarantee. If the helper Bheng brings won't last for 3 months, she'll return the P1,500 downpayment you give her. Because Dubs has been getting helpers from her for a while now, I had only a few reservations in getting a nanny for my kids from Bheng.

A few months ago, I asked help from Dubs in finding a babysitter for my kids. Dubs suggested I try getting from her agent, Bheng. When I texted Bheng the first time, she said I had to send her money through LBC in Mindoro because they don't have enough fare to Pampanga. I was hesitant and I texted her so. She said it's okay, and then no more transaction.

Because I was desperate to find a babysitter, last August, I tried getting in touch with her again with the help of my friend, Dubs. Dubs said that she'll also get a helper from Bheng anyway. When I texted Bheng, she said she was able to find someone willing to take care of my two kids, but that someone is young, just a teenager. I said okay. I'll give her a shot.

On the morning of the meet-up at McDonald's Intersection (Olongapo-Gapan Rd.), Dubs got to them first and was able to get the helper who was supposed to go to us (the young one), because when Dubs asked the other helper Bheng brought, Arlene (we found out later that Arlene is not her real name) if she can cook, Arlene said "no!". So Dubs got the helper that's supposed to be for us.

This Arlene, who was left to us, was 32-years-old (if that's her real age), slim built, wears glasses (I think she has immature cataract), and is very soft-spoken. My mother's other helpers did not think badly of her because she was likeable. She did not have a cellphone, which is a plus for me given the fact that the last babysitter we had almost burned the house down because she left the stove on while she was texting. I asked Arlene several times what her full name is. She'd answer Arlene Norilla, and she's from Mindoro.

Arlene said she wasn't expecting to take care of two young kids, but she said she'd try. I only need a little help anyway since my husband and I take care of our children and want to do so. We just need someone who'd wash the kids' clothes, feeding bottles, watch after the kids when we're away, which is not often... it's an easy job, really! Our only reminder to her was to inform us directly if something's bothering her.

So when Bheng texted me saying that Arlene texted her saying that she doesn't want to work for us anymore, I was disappointed and mad at Arlene, but did not lash or reprimand her anymore. Nagsawa na ako magalit sa katulong. We just allowed her to stay on (di na nga namin siya masyadong inuutusan) and wait for her replacement, which was guaranteed by Bheng.

Arlene still helped around, but we did not talk to her anymore about why she wanted to leave us and had to find out about this from Bheng's text. We waited for the replacement. Even sending Bheng P2,000 through LBC for the replacement babysitter's fare, as Bheng requested, which she said she'll return when we next meet-up here in Pampanga. So we waited..

But we waited too long... we waited in vain.

Arlene ran-away and stole money from the other helpers (my parents' helpers). The day before she disappeared, Maricar, my parents' helper was crying because she lost her P8,500 savings, which was inside her bag. Earlier that day, Maricar was brought along by my siblings to Subic because it's been a long time since she had a day-off. She remembers having to get P500 from her stash inside her bag in the helpers' room before they left for Subic. Maricar even cried her heart out to Arlene when she found out about her missing money. That day also, the other helper, Ate Inday, was looking for the P6,000 she lost but couldn't remember whether in the house in Pampanga or in the condo in Manila.

The next day, Arlene was gone. She took off with both the helpers' money we presume. She did not wait anymore for the replacement. When we told Bheng about this, Bheng just said she'll report Arlene to the Mindoro Baranggay. What good would that do? Arlene doesn't give her real name. Maricar, in retrospect, remembers a conversation she once had with Arlene. Arlene advised her, "wag mo sasabihin ang totong pangalan mo sa amo mo para di ka huhuntingin". Based on this statement, Arlene has been doing this kind of dirty deed for a long time.

When we found out she was missing, we immediately tried tracking her down. But it was futile. We can't report her to the authorities because she did not give us her real name. We were able to take a picture of her when she's only been with us for a few days. Apparently she knew even then that she'd be stealing money from us and taking off. She did not look at the camera eventhough the waiter who took the picture counted before clicking. Here's the picture of "Arlene". Here's her picture again. Beware of this person.

Bheng, on the other hand, never followed up with the replacement. At first she kept on saying they got stranded in the ferry terminal, which was believeable because there was indeed a typhoon during those days. But the days went on, and still no reply from her. She still has to refund us the P1,500 downpayment and the P2,000 fare money she borrowed. But 'til now no text whatsoever.

Vima D. Nandin a.k.a. Bheng lives in Marilao New Dagupan, Calintaan, Occidental Mindoro. That's the address she gave us when we sent her the P2,000 through LBC. Her last known cellphone number is 09096875415. We will ask the Mindoro police for help in tracking her down. She is also accountable for our lost.

Dubs' helper, the younger helper that was supposed to be ours, is doing okay so far, according to Dubs. That helper said that during that meet-up at McDonald's, Arlene told her she's pregnant and Bheng knows about Arlene's condition too. So they lied about that as well.

It's sad that in the midst of preparing for our wedding, we've been duped twice. We will, of course, replace to my parents' helpers the money stolen by Arlene from them. Kami nagdala ng salot sa bahay eh.

I don't want to be mad, but it's hard to be positive regarding these things. I try though.

"He who loses money, loses much; He who loses a friend, loses much more, He who loses faith, loses all. " - Eleanor Roosevelt

Wednesday, August 13, 2008



My husband and I are finally going to have our church wedding. But almost 5 months to our wedding date, we are having a major couturier problem.

The problem is Elren Carisma.

First week of July 2008, I went to Bordados Gowns and Barongs in San Fernando, Pampanga, to inquire on gowns. It’s a new dress shop with beautiful displays of embroidered gowns, saris and rich cloth. They specialize in handpainting and beadworks, and I was really impressed. May mga naging client na daw sila na mga wives of politicians and socialites na mahilig mag-Rigodon and attend State of the Nation Address, so people like me, who know almost nothing about gowns, would be really interested.

Their head designer is Elren Carisma, a former employee of Patis Tesoro. I even called Patis Tesoro’s shop in Wilson St, San Juan, and the person I talked to on the phone said Elren was an employee and she did something very bad to them. Elren did say that along with other employees, she quit at Patis’ because of low pay even after 14 years as seamstress. Even forewarned, I still went to Bordados. To a gullible person like me, Elren’s a very likeable person, who seemed willing to help you out and work on your budget. She said that her business partner, Rowelyn Regala, would overprice clients, so she’d just refer me to another seamstress, who’s also a former employee of Patis Tesoro. But later I found out the hard way, mahirap pala ang ganung arrangement. Nilalamangan ni Elren yun kasosyo nya na si Rowelyn, who's their financier.

I already paid a downpayment of P31,750 for bridal gown and entourage gowns last month and had some of the members of my entourage fitted.

My first deposit of P10,000 was made last July 10, my 2nd deposit of P19,500 was made last July 16, and my 3rd deposit of P2,250 was made last July 19. That's a total of P31,750, which is 50% downpayment for the price of bridal and entourage gowns Elren quoted me. Until now, Di pa rin alam ng kasosyo ni Elren about my DP. I insisted several times. Trouble was naaksidente si Elren last July 24, hit and run in North Luzon Expressway, and di nya maasikaso gowns ko.

A few days before her vehicular accident, July 19 to be exact, I brought my mother to her because my mother wanted to have a gown made for her in one week. Mommy was going to attend a wedding in Iloilo city on August 2 as principal sponsor. She brought her own cloth (taffeta) and had a really very simple design in mind. Elren accepted the rush job order and my mother’s downpayment of P1,500.

But because, she was involved in an accident last July 24, hindi natapos ang gown ni mommy and pahirapan pa na macontact at hanapin si Elren at kunin sa kanya yun cloth at yun pinaggayahan. Nagpanic na kami lahat and my mother was very frantic and angry.

Sure, the fact that we weren’t able to contact Elren a few days before my mother’s gown’s delivery date (July 26) is understandable in light of her accident. It took us a long time to get information about her, until finally, we contacted Rowelyn, who knew nothing about my mother’s gown. Rowelyn told us where Elren’s confined, and we traveled all the way from Pampanga to Fatima Medical Center. Di din alam nun kasosyo niya about my P31,750, so wala magawa si Rowelyn kasi she never knew about our arrangement and had my DP. As of August 6, Elren is still in the hospital and inaabangan ko lumabas para bawiin my DP.

She really looks pitiful after her accident and she's been insisting that she has swatches to show me. She’s even insisting that I return my mother’s unfinished gown so that she can finish it and make bawi, kaso I've had enough. I don't want to be bothered with these problems concerning our gowns. Baka nagastos na niya pera namin and wala na kami mabawi. We’re really not looking forward to the drastic measures we’ll do if that’s the case.

So now, almost 5 months to go before our wedding, wala pa ako gown at wala pa gagawa for sure.

August 13, Elren scheduled a meeting with me and the designer she was referring me to. It was supposed to be in SM Pampanga, but she did not show up.

If only I had seen this article of Mrs. Siguion-Reyna (click here) before I did my first transaction with Elren, I would have thought a long time before giving her my money. When I Googled Elren's name for the first time, nothing turned up. But when everything has happened, and I Googled her name again, that link to Mrs. Siguion-Reyna's commentary came up.

(Below is a picture of me and Elren when I had my first "katya" fitting)