How we met, got started and got busted
It was just an ordinary message containing a surprising proposal from a couch surfer while I was browsing a travel application, Couchsurfing. I have been using Couchsurfing for half a year now and usually, whenever I meet a traveler or a couch surfer, he either wants to crash my space, or needs a local to tour him around the city. This time, it’s a whole lot different—an invitation for a photo shoot. Not the conventional type, mind you. It was, I’d say, extreme and unusual. He wanted to do the photo shoot on a rooftop. – rooftoping
It was early morning in the Philippines and I just woke up. The message was sent 14 minutes ago and it seemed like a farce. Although it sounded a bit strange to me, I responded to the message.
We exchanged messages. He introduced himself. His name is Andreas. He was staying at a guest house in Malate, Manila. He’s a photographer and traveler from Denmark. Out of curiosity, I dug into his social media account to check if he was telling the truth.
After seeing that he was telling the truth, there was a debate inside me. I never said no to any adventure being a self-proclaimed adrenaline rush junkie. But there was a burning question in my head: What if I fall and die?
I knew it was a bit dangerous, but I acquiesced in. Maybe, I wasn’t thinking right. Then, he joked.
“You won’t die unless you jump off.”
(Don’t judge yet. Let me finish my story.)
We agreed to meet by 2:30 pm. I asked him to come to my condo unit since our first destination was only a few blocks from my place.
When he arrived, we chatted for a few minutes. I was so interested to listen to his stories that I forgot to offer him even a glass of water. He seemed nice and sporty, and knowledgeable of what he was doing. He has been a photographer for 8 years now, 6 years of which has been spent on rooftopping—as photographers call it—so I wasn’t worried. He also showed me some of his works from his travels and they’re all jaw dropping. His works got me thrilled. My stint wasn’t paid. There was no harness, not even safety gears. All I had were guts and hunger for another adventure (it was my first time, so I gave it a shot).
At 3:30 pm, we left my place and headed out to our target building—the tallest building in the Philippines. Walking was no problem at all since the city where I live in is strategically located in the business district. So, we sauntered. Along the way, we were talking about random stuff. He was playful and corny and he told me a lot about travel misadventures.
Our plan was to walk straight into the building, the way residents do. We managed to walk past the main entrance, but before we could reach the elevator, we were stopped by the security personnel and asked us if we were residing there. We answered yes, but he sensed the lie.
We failed. At that moment, I felt like I was in a movie, playing the act of a thief, or a ninja, sneaking into private properties. I was feeling tense and thrilled at the same time.
We didn’t give up (what was I thinking?!). We sat on the corner and fired up Google to look for another skyscraper. We located one that was nearby. We hurried off to our next destination, looking forward to catch the sunset, as that was the original plan.
It was ridiculous I know. He held my hand and said, “Let’s just enter as if we’re normal people.”
As you can imagine, how could we enter such an exclusive private property without getting busted right at the main entrance?
We walked in like real shit residents. It was easy. We took the elevator to the second floor and from there, took the stairs to the 69th floor. I couldn’t imagine walking myself to the top! It exhausting to hell. On the way up, I was looking down as I was surmising that there were already securities hunting us, but we were lucky rogues.
I was overwhelmed. I’d never gone all the way to the top of such a tall building! It was purely breathtaking. I could see small buildings and the whole city! I was in awe! We didn’t get to the action right away. My jaw dropped as I saw the view and realized how high we reached.
Nothing could stop us. Because there was even no signage that said “No Trespassing.”
But, I was terrified at the same time being in a place where what we were about to do was prohibited. It was windy, breathtaking and of course, it was too dangerous to be there. One misstep and we’d be falling from the sky. There were construction workers on the rooftop. They somehow made me more nervous, but we weren’t doing anything wrong, so why worry?
Andreas, on the other hand, was used to this business. He showed no fear at all. In fact, he took out his camera right away and started taking some shots of the horizon and the amazing view. I, on the other hand, was hesitant to do the sexy shoot. I said I couldn’t do it. I was scared. He never forced me to do so. I had never done it before and the fact that we were actually trespassing gave me the lack of warmth. Eventually, I convinced myself to jump into it, because I might never have the chance to do it again.
(photo credit to Andreas Hvid. He’s my partner in crime and the one I was with doing the photoshoot)
We pushed ourselves to the limit. We took a level higher by stepping onto the helipad, thanks to the construction worker who showed us the way (he probably had no idea we were trespassers). The view became even more mesmerizing. Although fraught with danger, the act got my adventurous side kicking in.
I remember I was even joking that after the shoot, we’d go to a bar near the rooftop for a drink. We were having fun while doing the biz.
We did well for two hours at least. We mastered to do the photo shoot which went smoothly—almost. The shoot was done as we desired. The poses were heart-pounding, risky, fierce and sexy. Plus, I portrayed myself like a professional lingerie model.
We were doing great! We even wanted to take a selfie, so we could have a proof that we did conduct a photo shoot on a rooftop.
Until a group of security personnel approach us. We were already packing up when I saw three men walking towards our direction. I started to panic. Oh My God. Andreas. The only words I said.
Andreas was so considerate and too kind. I knew it was his fault why we got here but he just wanted him to be blamed.
” Just tell them it’s my fault and I dragged you here. Tell them it was me. He said.
No, I’ won’t. We did this together. We got each others back.” I answered.
Surprisingly, They were calm and nice to us.
“Good evening. Excuse me, ma’am, sir. May we know what you’re doing here?” one of them said.
“Just taking some photos, sir, but don’t worry, we’re about to go down and leave,” I said in a tense voice while trying to be calm.
“I see. How did you get here?” he continued.
“Oh, we took the stairs.”
They looked at one another while I drew closer to Andreas while dressing up and whispered to him, “Oh my God.”
He told me to stay calm.
“Let’s just tell the truth.”
“Would you mind if we come with you downstairs and take you to our office for some questions?” another officer said in a polite way.
“Yes, sir,” we responded right away.
Inside the elevator, they were radioing what was happening. They were using some codes to speak to each other and we were already aware that we were in a big trouble.
We were escorted down to the security office at the basement of the hotel-residential property.
“Please have a seat and let’s wait for our manager,” a lady officer said while bombarding us with questions.
“How did you get here? What are you doing here?”
Same questions thrown at us on the helipad. They confiscated our stuff, inspected us, and ordered us to sit and wait.
I sensed the danger and the fall and the trouble. My heart started beating fast. There was a rush of blood to my head. I nearly cried while Andreas was sitting next to me. A moment later, a well-dressed dark man entered the office with an angry looking face.
“What’s going on here?!”
“Sir,” the officers reported.
“Where’s the camera that they used?” the man said.
“So, it’s you two. What the hell got you here? Don’t you know that this is a private property? Are you checked-in as guests, or residents here?
We stood up and looked him straight to the eyes.
“No, sir,” we answered in the most polite way. It pissed him more when we only said no to both of his questions.
“We’re very sorry, sir. We intended no harm, we just wanted to take photos and we know it’s a mistake.”
“It’s not a mistake!” he shouted! “Mistakes are avoidable and you did this on purpose! I am calling the police!”
“Sir, we’re very sorry. Please don’t.”
After shouting at us, he went to his office and was talking to someone while the door was slightly opened. I told Andreas that maybe I could still ask for forgiveness, so he could let us go. I took the courage to try my luck and convince the man to pardon us.
He yelled, saying a big bad word and called out his assistant.
“Please don’t disturb him,” the lady instructed us and she shut the door.
We tried to stay calm. Andreas comforted me.
The moment I heard the word police, I felt the panic taking over me. I knew that we were already in trouble. I looked at Andreas and he was also shocked. He rubbed my shoulder, gave me a warm embrace and comforted me. Tears started to fall.
Moments later, three policemen arrived. They went inside the office of the security manager, spoke with him for a moment, and turned to our direction. They handcuffed Andreas. I was terrified. And suddenly, one police officer said it was better if we were both handcuffed. We were handcuffed to each other.
“Sir, are you going to jail us?” I asked, still pretending that everything was fine but honestly, I felt ashamed being in that situation and riding a police car.
“Let’s see when we get to the police station. You will be investigated by a prosecutor.”
This is quite a long story, so I decided to divide it into two or three parts. I want to tell all the details to avoid sowing confusion.