Francis Charles Nanawa - legit or scam tour organizer?

Lucban Travel Blog

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As I mentioned earlier, we were all fooled to think this will be the best tour (even if it's also the most expensive) among the flock because: 1) It is marketed in the official website of the Pahiyas Festival which gives the impression that it is endorsed by the local government and the Department of Tourism. 2) There are several ways of payment.  Which makes it appear to be organized enough to make it easier for clients to pay..apparently that's where the "organized" stuff ends. 3) It's more expensive than the other tours.  The other tours were only half the price which doesnt include meals.  However, the meals from rural areas and with food offered should not cost anything more than the excess cost, according to Philippine standards.  With the sour turn of events in that one day suffering of pahiyas festival, we were left to think whether Francis Charles Nanawa, the tour organizer was a scam artist.  Here's why: 1) He didn't give us any official receipts.  One of the toruists asked and Francis said there is none but if he likes, he will be sent one.  However, Francis didnt asked for his address which shows that he doesnt have any intention of doing so bec in the first place, he didnt know where to send it.  The BIR should look into this.  No receipts = no sales = no taxable income = no tax. 2) He hired OJTs (on the job trainees) to be his "tour guide" who he may not even pay.  So he doesn't even have labor cost. 3) When he was asked why he lied about saying the location of "Kamay ni Hesus" is only 5-10 minutes walk when it is more than one hour walk, Francis the tour organizer, simply said he hasnt been there yet.  Then why the %$#@ will he say its only 5-10 mins walk when he has no bloody idea??!!! 4) He claimed that this was the worst tour in his 4 year of operations.  Then, how could he possibly pull an eery calmness when everything was falling apart??  How could he be not in anyway worried and so busy trying to fix things instead of being so calm giving us his bullshit excuses.  It seemed like he is used to these situations and doesnt care..probably because noone made any effort of complaining or doing something to teach him a lesson and this will go on and on and more people will be victimized by this cold hearted thing. 5) Precautions and concern for his clients.  None was shown.  Among those he lied to that it was only a 5-10 minute walk was a diabetic old lady who fortunately was able to hail a vehicle instead of walking all the way.  What if like us, she couldnt get a ride?  What if she has a sudden attack?  esp because we werent provided breakfast and we were served lunch very late. 6) Accountability for the group.  None.  the only time he counted the attending tourist was in the bus before leaving from Makati to the festival.  Henceforth, there was no effort to know whether no one is missing.  We know at least a foreigner couple who were no longer around after the miserable walk tour.  they also didnt ride the bus on the way back.  Francis didnt bother to check whether each one was not lost or worse, adbucted by the insurgents.  This is one of the major responsibilities of a tour organizer and he really failed miserably. 7) Sufficient Planning and preparing for contingencies.  None.  He expected people to understand when things go wrong and suffer the aftermath.  There were so many ways of avoiding the mishaps we suffered and Francis, as the organizer of the tour, didnt try to do his job and provide alternative to fix things.  he only offered lame excuses. 8) He said he will reimburse the missed breakfast and other cost (alternative transport we took on our own without his help).  However, until now, he hasn't communicated asking us for our bank account details so he could pay us back.  He used to send us so many emails, text messages and even called us to remind us to pay for our tour fees so he could confirm us and yet now when he has to return us our money, he conveniently forgets. 9) Sense of responsibility.  when everything was falling apart, we tried calling him.  He couldnt be contacted.  When we finally got his mobile ringing, he wouldnt answer.  What kind of an organizer is that?  He wouldnt even answer calls.  He should've given us clear instruictions and it would have been a tremendous help or at least help us find alternative.  it was his town, his tour, he should know better than us tourists!  Besides, he was paid to do that!  10) Value for money?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!  For all the suffering we had to go through in lieu of the expected comfort of a group tour, an the uncaring attitude of the organizer who even had the audacity to tell the tourist to "enjoy the view" while we are all getting scared because it was getting dark and we were in an unsafe place known to be infested by way!  We didnt pay P2,000 each to be unpleasantly surprised to walk several kilometers all day in 40 degrees heat and high humidity with lack of sleep and empty stomach and risking our lives and welfare to get hit by passing vehicles, get dehydrated, or worse, abducted by insurgents. What now? He has to be stopped.  There shouldn't be anyone else to be ripped off and made to suffer or risk their health and welfare by this Francis thing. How? One way is by telling you guys to steer away from this dodgy tour organizer named Francis Charles Nanawa.  Don't book unless you personally know someone who had a good experience with a group tour..Francis might have more of his kind. I have asked for the names and contact details of the people who suffered the same fate and we'll do some actions as a group to force this person stop its operations.  We can't file a lawsuit unfortunately because it will only be frustrating..costly and very long without assurance of "justice" being served.Â

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This is what it felt like but not because due to some force majeure which would have been understandable but because the "organizer", Francis Charles Nanawa did not do his job as an organizer.  There are so many instances where bad things could have been avoided or resolve but because he didnt plan for contingencies nor did he do anything about them during the time they are happening, it was us, the paying tourists who suffered. The tour package includes food for the whole day affair (a la carte breakfast, buffet lunch and buffet dinner), transportation and tour guide as the major inclusions.  We were asked to be at the meeting place from 4am to 4.30am so we could depart at 5am.  Evryone was on time and we were able to depart according to plan.  However, for some reasons, the bus keep on stopping and on the way which we thought was because the driver has some small bladder of sort.  We made a stop at a gasoline station around 8am which should have been the time we were promised breakfast.  It wasnt the place where we're supposed to have breakfast and because we had to wake up early to be on time most people had to buy their own food because we're hungry already which is the right decision because no breakfast was served ever on the trip.  After the gasoline stop, we stopped somewhere in Quezon because apparently the tire was flat.  Considering the several stops the driver was making even in the beginning of the trip, it appears that the problem was onset earlier on.  For this reason, we believe that it could have been avoided if only they checked everything to be in good condition before we left.  The driver and its company could be fault at this but also, the organizer because it is his responsibility to be on top of things and make sure that there are no or very little chances of bad things happening.  A routinary check of the bus would have prevented things from going awry esp because the road we're going might not have available mechanic to fix the problem.  The driver has to stop at one point to have the tire changed to his one and only "reserved" tire. The trip to Lucban should have taken only about 2-3hrs according to the organizers estimate and leaving at 5am from Makati should then allowed us to arrive by 8am in Lucban Quezon but because of the flat tire and several stops along the way, we got to Lucban by 1pm without proper breakfast.  Philippine lunch time is 12noon.  Therefore 1pm is very late esp when coupled by not having breakfast plus lack of sleep because we need to get up very early just to arrive at the meeting place on time.  Some of us has to travel 30mins from where we live to the meeting place which means we have to wake up earlier like 3am if we want to be there at 4am.  The calvary has just started apparently because when we finally get to lucban at 1pm, we were told by the bus driver that we should walk to the town proper because it can't get inside.  Without any tour guide, we dont know where we are going and how to get there.  We were simply told that it shouldnt be far and that we should find someone waiting for us straight ahead.  This is FALSE!  It was very hot and humid at 1pm when we arrived and we're all quite hungry already.  Some people tried to hail a public transportation we call tricycle which is like a motorized rickshaw.  Some walked because we were told its's not!  It is more or less 500 meters and with the heat and humidity plus the lack of sleep and the hunger, it was a very draining walk.  We lost in touch with each other because everyone walked their own way and pace and after sometime of trying to find my way and feeling lost and dejected after trying so many times to call the organizer, with no success, I am almost resigned to eat my lunch at a restaurant that I saw and just go on my own.  Finally when I am about to order, I got hold of the organizer who briefly mentiooned where I should go.  I asked a lot of questions to make sure I'll get there because earlier that I tried asking around, the people were not from teh area and therefore not familiar and even policemen were not from there!  So it's futile to ask because they cant help!  So I tried interrogating the organizer how to get there on my own by telling him where I am and from there how shoudl i get there.  I was able to finally found the place and Francis who I have to asked repeatedly if there is lunch and where I could get it because he was more interested in chatting me up instead of pointing the direction of food.  How insensitive! I was very disappointed with the food.  There wasnt much offered and it was also bad!  There is supposedly a local pasta dish called pansit habhab which should be good but happens to be tasteless.  When we went around later on and found some local people on the streets giving away "pancit habhab" to tourists, it was even better that the one we PAID for! After lunch, there should be a walk tour where each bus was assigned a guide to tour the tourists around.  The guide counted our group to be 27 people at the beginning of the walk tour and in just a few minutes, she lost 2/3 of the group because she doesnt have anything with her (a flag, umbrella, etc) to distinguish her from the crowd.  It's a very croded festival and therefore it is not easy to maintain a group if you dont know and exert effort to keep the group intact.  She walks fast and she doesnt even try to see if everyone could catch up with her and still with her.  Her voice was so small that the only people who could hear her are those beside her especially because its a festival and of course, its quite noisy.  After 10 mins, we lost her too and after going on our own, we saw her with another tour guide without any of our previous group members.  There was even this 2 foreigners who at the beginning just went on their own because the walk tour is really more troublesome than helpful. We were aware that we have to reconvene at 5pm at the place we had "lunch" and therefore we went back only to find that the plan again changed and at 6pm, there will be a trip to "kamay ni hesus" or "hand of Jesus" in english, an itinerary supposedly to be done in the morning.  As we waited patiently and tried to change clothes/freshen ourselves up, we later found out that again, the bus cant come to bring us to the place and therefore we have to go there on our own.  We were told that we had to get there because the bus could only go there to pick us up.  Francis Nanawa, the organizer, told a lot of the tourists that its only a 5-10 minute walk from our place and therefore a lot of us walked.  It was already more than 30 minutes when we saw the sign saying that the place we are supposed to get to is still 500 meters ahead, much to our disappointment.  However, we can't get a tricycle to bring us there and so we have no other choice but to walk all the way.  Good thing, I wasnt wearing heels!  When we get to the site, we feel dead tired especially for one of my "new friend" who couldnt eat her lunch because she lost her appetite by the time she was served lunch at 2.30pm.  We were also feeling very dehydrated and with throbbing headaches because of all the pains our body has to go through (lack of sleep, skipping meals, fatigue, very hot and humid weather, dehydration, pollution from the vehicles during our long walk, etc). Around 8pm, we were informed by some of the "tour guides" that the bus can't come again to fetch us and therfore we had to AGAIN walk to the restaurant where we'll get dinner.  This time, a lot people are already angry and was asking to speak with the organizer.  Philippine dinner time is at 7pm so by 8pm, people were already very hungry plus tired and frustrated.  We insisted that they should get us a vehicle and bring us there which Frnacis should pay for because he has to find us an alternative transport.  Good thing we insisted because it was quite far to walk and because it's evening, it's also unsafe because the roads are not well lit and there are no pedestrian walkway on the road.  Besides, the vehicles are usually quite aggressive in their driving at night and therefore we could be easily sideswept by a fast driving motorist esp because it will not be easy to see us in the dark.  The worst thing is that this area is known to be infested with NPAs who are insurgents and have been heard to kidnap people to use as a tool to make demands from the government.  Therefore, all those time we were waiting in the area and its getting dark and the place is starting to shut down the lights, we were also getting scared for our safety. Finally, a jeepney (another form of public transportation that looks like an elongated army car) was hired upon our insistence by the tour guide.  however, there's only one jeepney to transport all of the tourists from the 3 buses and therefore, the jeep has to make several trips back to get everyone.  We don't want to wait any longer and we decided to join the jeep even if we had to sit on the floor, which we did :P When we arrived, we were not expected and no one knows if we were even at the right place, not even the "tour guide" who was with us.  Finally, the restaurant staff told us that most likely we should be at the other similar sounding name restaurant.  However, since the jeep already left, we had to walk to the other restaurant.  It is relatively shorter distance nevertheless, it's not pleasant that everything keep on falling apart and there are so many errors and failures in the "disorganized" group tour which we paid relatively expensive compare to other alternative group tours.  When we get there, the guard wasnt aware and had to check and made us wait until finally we were pointed to the direction of the area where we're supposed to have our dinner. Our tour package said it was a buffet dinner.  However, it didnt felt that way because food was rationed by the restaurant staff.  After having our rationed meal, we waited until it's almost midnight because th bus driver has to eat his dinner first, then, refused to bring us back home because apparently, Francis again, the tour organizer has not yet given them the full payment for the rental of the buses.  Francis again made some lame excuse of not having enough cash to pay them and that he couldnt find working ATM to make a withdrawal.  Duh??  He should have prepared for the payment and any other financial/event contingencies!  Isn't that what he as a tour organizer/coordinator is supposed to do????   Arrrgh!!!

I rarely go for group tour because I usually like having my own time and flexibility but I thought of signing up for the Pahiyas festival in Lucban, Quezon because it will be a relief to not plan much after planning several trips the previous 2 weeks for my friends and families (for CDO-Camiguin, Bohol, Caramoan and Pinatubo/Subic).  I did my research and found several groups offering a group tour to pahiyas.  However, I chose this most expensive and what turns out to be a disastrous one because it is in the official website of Pahiyas festival which gives it the impression of being endorsed as the official tour of Pahiyas and supposedly, legit and trustworthy.  The amount paid by each individual for this tour is P2,000 per person which is twice than what is offered by other tours.  Nevertheless, I thought I'm paying value for the additional cost as i dont like to scrimp on myself if i could afford it.  Wrong decision!  I just found through this painful experience that just because you are paying more doesnt mean there's added value for the extra cost.  This experience has rendered me very dubious of group tours and the Lucban government.  How could they allow their reputation and future of their festivity to be tarnished by this very dodgy person???
TravellinChic says:
Thanks for the comment Nolan. I was on my own and thought organized tours would be suitable. I guess I just chose the wrong company/person to book. Hope others won't make the same mistake booking with him.
Posted on: Nov 08, 2012
nolan says:
Just saw this blog of yours. It's quite unfortunate some people take advantage of others, especially situations like fiestas where everyone wants to have a good time (scammers included) so a lot of caution is thrown away to the wind. I usually don't visit tourist spots during fiestas because this is exactly when it is most crowded, and with people from all walks of life showing up to congregate at the town celebrating the fiesta. Lucban, Quezon is relatively difficult to go to (we plotted about 3 routes to get there back in 2010), but I didn't go on the date of the feast itself (May 15th). Traffic I heard was stalled kilometers back and some of my friends who went were stuck on the road hardly moving for 3 hours. It took that long that many of them arrived late in the day and couldn't enjoy because of the crowds before them. In the end, my recommendation would always be to stake out the place a day or two before the actual celebration, reserve the best hotel months ahead, and leave a day later than most people. In the meantime, there are towns near Lucban that can be visited during the days before the Pahiyas feast to whittle boredom away.
Posted on: Nov 07, 2012
TravellinChic says:
most welcome :)
Posted on: Apr 10, 2012
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