Last January 26, Alecs Ongcal (III, PSM) posted photos of her encounter with her Milo drink coming from one of the vending machines in campus on Facebook, which has garnered 1,700 likes and 926 shares as of press time. Enraged after learning that she almost swallowed a cockroach, she narrated, “Diring-diri at galit na galit ako n’un. Saan ako pupunta para magsumbong? Sarado na [ang] mga offices. I took a photo and I held on to the drink for a while, baka may [admin na makakita]. [Pero] wala. I ended up throwing it.
Through Ongcal’s Facebook status update, she was contacted by the Associate Vice Chancellor for Campus Services (AVCCS) Karen Hebron the morning after she posted about the incident. According to her, the office said they will meet with the Preventive Maintenance Team that day to check the vending machines in order to resolve the matter.
Ongcal was also contacted by the Consumer Care Executive of Nestle and said that all the vending machines in the Yuchengco building have been put under preventive maintenance for further investigations. Furthermore, they added that they will also see through the other vending machines around campus to stop the incident from happening again
Apart from the cockroach case
After experiencing almost swallowing a cockroach in her drink, Ongcal began asking fellow students if they have experienced malfunctions in the vending machines. Julieta Romeo (III, BS-LGL) also shares that when she ordered a cup of coffee, only water came out. “That time, when I saw na tubig lang ang lumabas, I didn’t know how to react. I was thinking ‘ano ba ito, vending machine o water dispenser?’ My 15 pesos was put to waste, e ‘di sana I could’ve just bought 3-in-1 [coffee] na lang sa convenience store kung ganito rin pala [ang kalalabasan],” she expresses. “Ang malas n’ung araw na ‘yon. I really needed coffee because I haven’t had decent sleep the past few days. And I actually thought the vending machines are such a huge help since I didn’t have to go out of school anymore just to buy coffee.”
On the other hand, Saki Chan (II, CHE) also narrated that when her order came out of the vending machine, there was no cup that came out with the beverage. “I wasn’t informed na in the vending machines, kanya-kanya palang dala ng lalagyan. I wasn’t prepared, so n’ung lumabas ‘yong coffee, ‘ayun natapon lang. Later on, nalaman ko na 300 cups lang ‘yong capacity ng vending machine. So baka pang-301 akong bumili ng drink from that particular vending machine.”
Jessica Sanchez (IV, ISE-ADV), just like Ongcal, posted a photo of her cup with black ants floating on the coffee on Facebook. She went on to rant, “This is why I don’t like buying coffee from the vending machines in DLSU kasi you’re taking the risk of getting free ipis or ants in your drink (which I’m sure nobody would want). Call me ‘maarte’ or whatever, but it’s better to buy somewhere else nalang.”
Ongcal gathered these and other testimonies similar to her vending machine experience in order to be able to report it during her meeting with the AVCCS, along with representatives from Nestle and Phil Vending Corporation.
The other side’s defense
On the question as to how the cockroach was able to be dispensed with the drink, executives from Philippine Vending Corporation have assumptions in mind. Representatives surmise that it was close to impossible that the cockroach would have come from inside the machine itself because there are mixers inside that would crush the cockroach. They assume instead that it probably crawled in after the cup dropped.
As per the meeting, all the persons present came up with points of action to be done to resolve the vending machine dilemmas. Hebron suggested to increase the visibility of the vending machine hotlines to make it more apparent to the students so that they could easily call the numbers in case the same incident happens again.
It was also suggested that the campus personnel should undergo training to empower them to be able to help out students who have trouble with vending machines. The training will guide the campus personnel with frequently asked questions about the vending machines so that they could take immediate action in case problems occur.
Philippine Vending Corporation expressed that they will be putting screens on ventilations and other point of entry in the machine to prevent the entrance of pests into the vending machines. They also suggested to move the trash cans at least two meters away from the machines and relocate some of the vending machines for better lighting because they argued that pests are more likely to hide in the dark.
The cockroach aftermath
Even after meeting with the offices responsible for the malfunctioning vending machines, Ongcal admits that she was still shaken by her unfortunate encounter upon ordering a vending machine drink. “Sobrang na-conscious na ako sa lahat ng iniinom ko, especially sa mga chocolate drinks, kahit binibili ko naman dati. Hindi ko talaga makalimutan ‘yong ipis sa Milo. Ultimo tubig nga, parang nagdadalawang-isip pa ako bago ko inumin,” she expresses. “Feeling ko nga, nagka-develop na ako ng phobia sa ipis, eh.”
Despite assurances of better services from the officials from Nestle, Philippine Vending Corporation, and the Campus Services Office, the haunting memory of the cockroach Ongcal nearly swallowed with her drink will always be with her. “Kahit sino naman yatang makaka-experience n’ung na-experience ko, ‘di ba sobrang mato-trauma na?” she says. “Ipis ang muntik ko nang malunok, which is one of the dirtiest creatures in existence. Sino ba’ng may gustong may [halos] malunok na silang ipis?” she closes.