When you read this your will probably barely believe that it is true. I am calling it a learning experience and I hope that you learn as well. Ryan Val Crisologo, an architect in Davao, Philippines has conspired with the justice system and immigration officials there to cheat me of around $25,000. I am going to get it back sometime somehow.
After 2 years of site development and community building of Crowdify Club my wife Yoriko and I decided to make Davao, Philippines the base of our company operations and travelled there for a week in May 2016. Crowdify Club helps startups get funding and promotion and support.
We had a team member of 7 years there Teresa Te Salazaar and also another woman who had previously worked with us Rhea Lou Bisnar. Our dream was to employ and train at least 100 people by the end of the year and have them working doing customer service and social media support in a cafe/ office building in Central Davao. We also planned to run daily and weekend events. Startup weekends/ seminars/ tech related meetups etc.
We rented a 3 storey building from an architect Ryan Val Crisologo and paid 270,000 pesos (US $6000) deposit. Most of the negotiation was done with his wife, also an architect, Vanessa Florendo. We were later to learn that these people were scammers.
I did 3 nights of speaking / social events which were all sold out in order to find team members.
I went back to Davao on 3 July and paid for 2 key team members of our team Nathan Senn and Dan Schwartz to travel there with their families as well.
We had an extremely promising beginning. We filled the room with 60 plus people for a VA social media seminar and then had over 20 including 2 from Manila at a Startup Weekend type 3 day event where we taught entrepeneurship. We had 107 budding Davao entrepeneurs register for a further 3 day event the following weekend and spent a lot of time and money improving the building with air condition, lighting, wifi etc. Here is the link to the Facebook event where 107 people signed up for the weekend event
We had spent over $12,000 by now and had hired about 20 people on a trial basis.
But then on about July 25 everything started heading downhill fast. We had already some trouble with building owners failing to do barely any of the promised work under the lease but we put that down to laziness rather than criminal intent. The owners tried to move their own furniture into our office. Then on Tuesday 26 I was walking up the stairs and the owner Ryan Val Chrisologo, an architect confronted me screaming “Get out of my fucking building you aresehole” right in my face and in the presence of 2 of his staff and one of mine. He then tried to push me down the stairs. We then got an eviction notice claiming we were disturbing his “family home” among other bizarre claims. Under the lease he had to give notice before visiting the building. We then learned that he had used a similar ploy with 5 previous tenants who had all taken cases against him to the Barangay and the Police. He then used tactics such as padlocking the building and changing the passwords.
On top of this we found that Rhea Lou Bisnar had been stealing money from us, had been secretly running her own business and had also been working online for another person during time when we were paying her. We have messages from her to him asking him to lie to us. We have reported her to the Police and they are prosecuting her.
Then Ryan Val Chrisologo the building owner walked into my office at 10 am on a Saturday morning screaming and began punching himself wildly in the face then threw himself against a wall. I was visited soon after by Police who checked my hands for marking and soon left. He then told our team and other people he had been beaten up by me. 20 staff we hired have had to be let go. We had 2 meetings with Davao City Hall legal staff which Mr Chrisologo had failed to attend. I consulted a lawyer Joy Arao and we have now had 3 court hearings.
Mr Chrisologo attended the first hearing with his wife Vanessa, also an architect. Despite having had considerable warning and despite having had a w lawyer for some time called Blue Valentine he lied to the court and said he had no lawyer. He was given an adjournment by the court. At the next hearing only the lawyer turned up and he got an adjournment on the basis that he had no time to get instructions. On the 3rd court hearing for the 3rd time 2 members of our team in Davao turned up with our lawyer Joy Arao. This time neither Me Crisologo nor his attorney bothered turning up and the court did nothing! No further hearing was scheduled. Next thing we hear from our lawyer saying that she was withdrawing from the case and that she wanted to return all money we had given her. No reason given. It seems that she has either been threatened or that she has been told by the court no to pursue any case against Mr Crisologo.
Mr Crisologo has now stolen all our tables, airconditioners, sofas, computer equipment, refrigerator and furnishings from the building. Around $6000 worth of goods.There will be a full court hearing in October hopefully but how can we be sure?. We have have lost around $25,000 altogether now.
On 22 August I tried to go back to Davao and was stopped en route at Manila airport. My wife was able to travel on to a conference for startups and investors. I was held for over 3 days at the airport on the basis that Mr Chrisologo had asked the Immigration Bureau to keep me out of the country. No evidence had been presented in support of any of this of course he had merely called up and asked. While in Manila my lawyer and I made numerous calls and sent letters and docum,ents to the Immigration Bureau and receipt was acknowledged by them but nothing has been heard back about it yet.
I will update this post as events unfold but in the meantime I strongly advise you to keep away from the Philippines. It is not my way to give up and I fully intend to do whatever I can to get our money back as quickly as possible as well as considerable damages too.
So far barely any of the people I have reached out to have shown any interest. The senior immigration officials on the phone and at Manila Airport could not believe the blacklist order against me was ever granted as it contained no evidence.
I hve also contacted and had conversations with the Davao Trade Bureau, the Mayor`s office and the police there. Nobody seems interested.
Here are some social media posts with some discussion about what has happened so far
You can see a lot of clearly fake Google profiles made by Ryan Val Crisologo making comments below. This is exactly what he did on several Facebook posts as well. He also sent numerous messages to many of my Facebook friends saying crazy things. He also made written threats to harm the baby of one of our team members. This seems to be his way of communicating.