Rising numbers of Philippine visitors are being arrested and deported by Macau for carrying amulets and lucky charms made of bullets, the foreign department said on Friday.
“The consulate has noticed an increase in the number of cases where Filipino nationals were apprehended ... in Macau SAR’s ports of entry because they had bullet amulets in their checked in and carry-on luggage,” it said in a statement.
“These Filipinos underwent detention and a trial and were meted the penalty of deportation and blacklisting,” it added without giving figures.
Although the Philippines is an overwhelmingly Catholic nation, belief in amulets and good-luck charms is pervasive.
Some Filipino males keep amulets, including rocks, bones, bullets or shell casings suspended from key chains or necklaces, in the belief they will keep them from harm or bring them good luck.
More than nine million Filipinos work abroad, including in casinos in Macau or as maids in Hong Kong.
The foreign department said its Macau consulate had issued reminders to ensure those who enter the Chinese special administrative region “divest themselves of items which may be considered as security risks”.