Russian goes viral for selling bottled water after losing passport
CEBU CITY, Philippines — A foreigner has gone viral for selling bottled water in downtown Cebu City while wearing a placard and asking for help after losing his passport.
A photo of Igorevich Vladislav Saulev, 43, a Russian national from St. Petersburg, made the rounds on social media, as netizens shared various reactions to his situation.
His photo, which was shared online by CDN Digital last Tuesday, March 7, 2023, gathered at least 7,700 reactions and almost 1,000 shares, as of this writing.
“Let him go to the Mayor to ask help, to recover all those important documents,” read one of the comments of the netizens.
John Carlo Villaruel, the owner of the photo and the concerned citizen who informed CDN Digital of Saulev’s situation (with the latter’s permission), said he met Saulev while the latter was selling bottled water in downtown Cebu City.
Saulev initially told him that his backpack, with his important things and documents, was allegedly stolen in Cebu City last Feb. 25.
In a sit-down interview with CDN Digital on Wednesday, March 8, Saulev said he filed a blotter report at the Cebu City Police Station 5 in Barangay Ermita, Cebu City, reporting the incident.
In a separate interview, Police Staff Sergeant Kitz Daryl Palaña of Cebu City Police Station 5, told CDN Digital that Saulev, a programmer, personally went to their station on the afternoon of Feb. 26, and reported that his personal belongings including his passport, laptop, smartphone, ID, and wallet got stolen at around 10 p.m of Feb. 25.
Saulev was also assisted by the Cebu City Tourist Police Unit.
How he lost belongings
Based on Saulev’s statement to the police, he rode a taxi from Alcantara last Feb. 24 at around 10 p.m.
He arrived in Cebu City at around 2 a.m. of the following day, where he met a girl along Pelaez Street.
Saulev is taking residence in Alcantara while he is in Cebu. He said he was supposed to go abroad but the incident happened.
He said he and the girl he met in Pelaez Street spent a few hours together before taking a taxi back to Pelaez Street. However, before arriving in Pelaez, the girl allegedly asked the driver to stop and grabbed his backpack before disembarking from the taxi.
Saulev later admitted that he had been drinking when the incident happened.
“Naay chance (marecover iyang belongings) basta iya lang mahinumduman asa siya nisakay og taxi ug asa siya ninaog para atong ma-verify ang area kung posible nga naa tay makuha nga CCTV footage sa area,” Palaña told CDN Digital.
(There is a chance (to recover his belongings) just as long as he remembers where he took a taxi ride and where he got off so that we can verify the area if we can get a CCTV footage of the area.)
Meanwhile, Cebu City Councilor Rey Gealon wrote on Wednesday, March 8, to the Russian Honorary Consulate in Cebu City through Honorary Consul Armi Lopez Garcia requesting assistance for Saulev.
Representatives from the Municipality of Alcantara also told CDN Digital that the mayor’s office had committed to providing Saulev financial and legal assistance in securing his replacement passport.
Lopez-Garcia, in a text message to CDN Digital, said the Russian Embassy was aware of Saulev’s case and the latter was able to talk with the Russian Consul in Manila last March 1.
She said Saulev could be issued another passport, but: “this Russian national still has not decided to leave the country and he fully cooperates with the PNP on the investigation to return his ID documents.”
Russian gets help
After staying in the street for a few days, Saulev met “JP,” a half-American and Filipino bottled water vendor, who later on helped him with his lodging.
“I saw him sitting down on the sidewalk (in Pelaez), staring at nothing. I talked to (some) people (there) and they said he’s been like that for a few days now. I don’t know where he gets his food. One day, I just asked him have you eaten yet?” he said.
“We gave him the idea, because it was very hard for us, water vendors, to support him because how much commission do we get from just selling water? We told him you sell water or you go hungry,” he added, noting that he was happy that Saulev was finally getting the help he needed.
Saulev has been selling bottled water with him for four days already.
Although, Saulev said that with these developments, he planned to already stop doing so and start processing his documents for his passport.
He said his family in Russia already knew of his situation here in Cebu, and if possible, he intended to extend his stay in Cebu.
Technically, he said, he had been overstaying in the country since after March 1.
Saulev said this was not his first time in the country. However, his recent reason for being here is for a personal matter.
“[The embassy told me] if you come to Manila, you will get special documents and you can come back to Russia,” he told CDN Digital.
“If it’s possible to stay in the Philippines, I will stay in the Philippines and solve problem with my property and family,” he said.
Saulev then thanked Cebuanos whom, he said, were kind to him.
Meanwhile, the police urged tourists to be always vigilant, especially in places and areas that they were not yet familiar with.
“Kung naay mahitabo nila, mawalaan sila og mga belongings, immediately report sa nearest police station para matagaan sila og assistance…Be vigilant then kung pananglitan man gani musakay sila og mga taxi, ilang i take note ang body number sa taxi para kung naa silay mga malimtan naa silay matan-aw,” Palaña appealed. | with Vhenna Marie Mantilla, CDN Digital Social Media specialist
(If something will happen, they will lose their belongings, immediately report to the nearest police station so that they can be given assistance…be vigilant then if, for example, you will ride a taxi, you should take note of the body number of the taxi so that if you accidentally leave something they know where to look.)
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