Health And Family

How Laughter Yoga saved a couple from a European ordeal

LAUGHINGLY YOURS - Elvie Estavillo -

Lynda Geraldez, a certified Laughter Yoga leader, narrates the ordeal she and husband Delfy went through while on vacation in Europe, and how she countered it with the best, fastest, and easiest weapon: Laughter Yoga.

By Lynda Geraldez

During our vacation in Europe, we met up in Paris with college friends Carlo and Josie Angeles, now residents of Toronto, and my in-laws Butch and Tess Geraldez. Carlo told us of an attempt by a group of Eastern European pickpockets on one of the floors of the Eiffel tower. Nothing was lost since Carlo noticed the attempt in time. We regaled each other with friends’ stories about similar incidents in Paris and Rome.

We were at the Franklin Roosevelt station on Paris Metroline 1 enroute to L’Opera. When the train door opened, a group of six babbling schoolgirls stood from the bench at the subway station and ran ahead of us as my husband stepped inside the train, with me closely following him. He did not find it odd that he was surrounded by the girls who did not budge to let him through. I found it disconcerting that the train doors were about to close and I still couldn’t board so I shoved Delfy in and got between him and one of the girls. Even before the doors closed, Delfy instinctively reached into his pockets and immediately felt his passport gone. Mercifully, the substantial cash in a plastic envelope beside his passport was intact. He shouted, “My passport is gone!” The girls quickly disembarked before the train doors closed, with Delfy and I following suit.

In a split second, a young police officer halted the train, radioed his team, collared one of the girls, and got a witness statement from a passenger all in a matter of minutes. Thank God, he spoke English. As he led the girl and us out of the station, he checked all the waste bins for the passport. When we got out of the station across the Gucci store, all the subway exits were already manned by police who caught another girl. Together, we checked out all the planter boxes and waste bins alongside the subway exits. With the passport gone, we got into the police van, while the two girls kept pleading. There was the distinctive siren as we negotiated the roads at top speed. I experienced an adrenaline rush as we passed several architectural structures of interest to tourists, and surprisingly enjoyed the experience. Was it coincidence that our destination would be the police station at Gare du Nord right across the hotel where we were billeted?

The police officer was apologetic. We learned that police was familiar with the scheme of Eastern Europeans, aged below 18 years old. They pick one’s pockets and bolt out as the train doors close. Even if they are caught, French laws do not allow them to be jailed because of their age.

Oftentimes, our minds process a myriad of information, such as avoid gypsies in Rome though at that time we did not find any gypsies there; be on the lookout for Eastern Europeans in Paris who stay close to you. But never did I imagine girls below 18 years old posing as schoolgirls and working in groups targeting tourists!

We learned that one may be very vigilant and yet still miss something. The lessons we learned: First, bring an ID or driver’s license, needed for police report. Second, keep your passport number handy. Third, secure a calling card from the hotel, stating its name, address, and contact number. When asked for the name of our hotel, we couldn’t answer as we only knew how to get there.

The police officer advised us to check out the waste bins and planter boxes, and we found three wallets, which we left with the police station.

We missed the romantic dinner we had planned earlier and instead settled for hamburgers at a Quick outlet. Once back at our hotel room, after a hot shower and prayers, I did a 15-minute LYoga silent belly laughter in bed and slept soundly. This is the fourth lesson.

Before heading for the Philippine Embassy, I again did some LYoga exercises to relax such as: Lion, One-Meter, Milkshake, and Hot Soup Laughter. Consular attache Ed Paraan issued an endorsement addressed to the Philippine Consulate  at Den Haag, The Netherlands. Following his advice, we headed for the Lost Property Office at Rue des Morillons, where Frank Cimafranca issued Delfy a travel document for our trip back to Manila.

I am now so relaxed and ready for action in Manila. As Elvie Estavillo says, “LYoga can be done anywhere, anytime, under all situations in life. I did LYoga regularly in all the European countries we visited, which kept me relaxed and energized despite the rigors and hassles of long-distance traveling and the ordeal we went through. 

* * *

A certified Laughter Yoga leadership seminar will be conducted in April in Tagaytay City. Fee is P9,800. Those interested to lead this life-changing experience in their respective places may now register as the number of participants is limited. Log on to www.laughteryogaphils.com, e-mail laughteryogaclub.phils@gmail.com. An LYoga session will be conducted for DOJ, Parole and Pardon Section on Friday, Sept. 30.          

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