Functional Self-Defense: Awareness, Intuition, Evaluation, Prevention

MY ARTICLE published last Sunday was right next to the news of Cherrymae Dayo’s gang rape and murder (God bless her soul).

As much as I wanted to shield my kids from such gut wrenching news, they could not help but take notice since the bold headlines and her picture were right smack in the center of the newspaper next to me. I had 3 scared children, as they should be. Bad guys are everywhere and they do not care who you are. They have no qualms about taking your material possessions and your life!

I could not help but think: How can we be safe? How can we protect our children? What can we do when confronted with imminent danger? Safety and security are major issues that should never be taken lightly!

I needed professionals to assuage my fears so I signaled for SOS. My two favorite Colonels in the Philippine National Police came to the rescue!

Police Superintendent Dominador Estrada (aka Ador) of Police Regional Office 10, together with his wife, Police Superintendent Jomaira (aka Baggy), were both quick to answer my questions. They are one of the few and well-known husband and wife tandems of officers here in the region. The following are helpful tips that they shared with me.


The first line of defense is always awareness. True self-defense begins before any actual physical contact. Always be aware of yourself (jewelry, bag), your surroundings, and your potential attackers. Wag tatanga-tanga at wag mukhang tanga (acting stupid and looking stupid)!

Most of the time, people just walk around talking to their friends, window shopping, or texting. They don’t take notice of their surroundings, making them prime targets. Predators prey on those who are distracted or those who look like they can easily be fooled and will not put up a fight.


Always trust your intuition, also referred to as sixth sense, gut-feeling, or instinct. The important thing is to pay attention to it and to actually use it. Avoid situations or mingling with people that “do not feel” safe. Chances are—you are right.

“In any kinds of emergency or untoward incidents, presence of mind is really necessary,” said Police Superintendent Ador. “If you’re getting money from the ATM, be alert. If you observe suspicious people, avoid them. If they are near your house or business establishments, call the police, the baranggay, or even the security guard to have them checked. Don’t hesitate.”


In the face of danger, always evaluate the situation first and do it fast. Sometimes, people just have a few seconds to do it. Keep calm and try not to panic, no matter how difficult. The way people react should depend on their skills, the number of perpetrators, and the general situation. Most importantly, minors should always be secured first in any given emergency.

Usually, there are two responses in an emergency: fight or flight. Flight or escape is the most common response, especially if there is still time to flee.

The husband and wife team both said that fighting is not advisable when people are alone. If money or jewelry is what the thieves’ desire, just give it to them and make sure you throw it far away so while they get it, you can run. They both emphasized: “Things are replaceable, life is not!”

They pointed out that if a person has skills like martial arts or aikido, he might be tempted to fight. Only do so if you are fast and truly skillful.

Baggy narrated what happened to her son’s classmate, who is into taekwondo: “Someone tried to snatch his backpack somewhere in Carmen. Mabilis assessment ng bata. Isa lang ang holdaper, kaya sinipa niya sabay takbo.”

Noteworthy, if you are compelled to defend yourself, remember to “SING.” They are the most sensitive parts of the body—solar plexus (chest), instep (top of the foot), nose (especially landing smack near the eyes), and groin. Use your car keys, elbows, knees, or teeth to inflict maximum damage.

Police Superintendent Baggy Estrada says if your reflexes are slow and the perpetrator is armed, especially with a gun, think twice. “Ayaw sad jud singgit kung naa na kutsilyo sa kilid. Mataranta sad ang kawatan sabay dayon dunggab!”

They both pointed out that those kidnapping cases are somewhat different, with the perpetrators acting in groups, sometimes even having convoys. If you are taken in public, scream to high heavens.

Baggy emphasized, “Get attention. Hindi ka nila papatayin kasi they need proof of life for ransom! Unless, of course, they were really hired to get rid of you, but then that’s a different story.”

Do whatever you can to make a scene in these instances. The more people who pay attention, the chances of you escaping also become higher. If it that is not possible at all because of the kidnappers’ tight hold, your screams can focus public attention to the bad guys’ faces. The more who recognize them in a police line-up the better your chances are of being rescued. In these cases, the moment they take you out of the primary crime scene, you are more likely to be killed or seriously injured.


The most important form of self-defense is prevention. Police Superintendent Ador Estrada noted that everyone must be careful, and they must also educate their children. No one is safe, even on cyberspace.

He said: “Do not give any idea that you are out for vacation and nobody was left at your home. Also don’t put pictures of your family, where people can view it publicly. Similarly, don’t put stickers in your cars that reveal where your children go to school. The sticker of mommy, daddy, and kids at the back of your vehicles are also no-nos. You just volunteered information about how many of you are in your house. Thieves stalking your house can immediately see that when they spot the vehicles in your garage!”

When you are in your vehicle, make sure all the doors are locked. If you wish, you can have some sort of hard stick in there at all times, hiding in a discrete spot, to serve as a weapon if necessary. When you park your car, check the perimeter before going down. Do the same thing when it is time for you to leave. It is important for you to have your car keys in your hands on the way to the garage. This allows for quick entry into your car, and the key can also serve as a potential weapon should someone spring up and try to assault you.

In the house, always make sure all your exit doors are locked before retiring at night. Don’t forget to put your expensive gadgets in the room with you for added precaution and then lock your room before sleeping.

Thieves don’t like a well lit perimeter, thus turn on your lights to illuminate your outdoors; however, keep the inside dark so the thieves can’t see what’s in your house. Should they successfully infiltrate your house, if you still have time, move or hide. Don’t forget your cellphone so you can call for assistance! Incidentally, thieves are known to stay away from houses with visible CCTV cameras.

The house helps should all be briefed never to give vital information in case someone calls or drops by unexpectedly. Have this policy that they should never ever let anyone inside the house, especially when you’re not there, unless you give them permission. Always have a list of important phone numbers tacked to your refrigerator.

Safety should be everyone’s top priority. Education and vigilance are vital. Share the information contained herein to your love ones to ward off the bad guys. We, the good ones, still outnumber the bad!

In case of traffic accidents, call the RTA hotline. They will also facilitate the dispatch of an ambulance should it be needed at the scene. Call: 0906-964-1094