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How to Stay Safe when Visiting and Vacationing in the Philippines
The Philippines has so much to offer including thousands of tropical Islands, Volcanoes and, incredible beaches. It is known for Boracay Island, Palawan, Mayon Volcano, Taal Lake and much, much more. The people are warm, friendly, spiritual and, hospitable. They treasure family, tend to be conservative and, have wonderful, old fashioned leanings mostly lost here in America.
Despite all the incredible things, there are cautions you should be aware of should you visit.
It is best to have Filipino friends, relatives, in-laws, etc. if you go. They can use their knowledge of the country to keep you safe and to show you around.
You will see pockets of desperately poor people living in shanties. Though this may seem interesting from an anthropological perspective, you should be very careful should you choose to go into these areas. In the daytime and if you are with a few other Filipinos, it is safer but still a bit risky. Do not go into these areas at night even if you are with a few Filipino friends and, it would be suicidal to go into an area like this at night by yourself.
The poverty of the people in these areas could very well make you a target. If you go into these areas in your Air Jordans and sporting a nice watch and clothes, you could be a tempting target to someone who is living day to day. Don't go out by yourself at night in general unless you are absolutely sure you are in a secure and/or safe area.
Do not flaunt how well you are doing while in the Philippines. Even if you don't think you are doing that well you are doing way, way better than many around you...speaking strictly in terms of socio economics. Ironically, many Filipinos who have little are happier than many Americans who have more.
For women, don't wear earrings that dangle. These can get yanked out by a desperate individual who will then try to sell them. This is unlikely to happen to you but it is happening...with no regard for the person's ear. Studs are ok though.
Manila is one of the ten largest cities in the world and is teeming with millions of people.Traffic in Manila is horrendous, chaotic and, disorganized.
The Philippines does not have the same rules and regulations in regards to how pedestrians are viewed. Don't expect for all traffic to stop if you start to cross a street...because it won't. You as the pedestrian are the one who will be forced to watch out for yourself. I cannot stress enough this caution for anyone who wishes to visit.
The central government of the Philippines has limited control of some parts of the country. In these areas you can find anti government and other kinds of militant groups...like the Moro Islamic Liberation Front and others.
In the southern part of the Philippines is the region known as Mindanao. This is the Southern third portion of the Philippines; the central part being the Visayas and the northern part known as Luzon-- where Manila is.
Mindanao has magnificent potential but is held back quite a bit by areas of instability and extremism. The worst group in this area, in my opinion, is called Abu Sayaf. This is a very violent, extremist, Islamic group that wishes to have part of Mindanao as their own nation. They bomb, kidnap, behead, etc. which are things you likely want to avoid. Missionaries sometimes go into these remote areas with disastrous results. Most of Mindanao is safe.
If you plan to travel throughout the Philippines you definitely should do your homework and avoid any hot spots. The USA State Department (see link below) always has good information on what is going on and where.
Please do not let me scare you too much. The positive aspects of travel to and within the Philippines far outweighs the negatives. The vast majority of the country is safe. The natural beauty of the country is mind boggling...once you get out of Manila.
Manila can be fun and an experience in other ways however. For example, malls in Manila and in the country in general, are just as nice as those in America if not nicer. This is a surprise to many tourists. There are many restaurants in Manila, historical sites, luxury hotels, coliseums, government buildings, many ocean front places, old churches, markets, vendors, karaoke everywhere and, much more. For a man looking for a pen pal, fiancé or wife, there are gorgeous, sincere and decent women all about.
Filipinos are very fun loving; they like to sing, have parties and, their food is yummy! They are overall such a lovely people. So don't let my cautions prevent you from going. You should definitely go and have a blast--I'm just trying to caution you of some of the potential hazards.
My wife is from the Philippines and I have been there five times.