All filipinos are aware of scams, pick pocketers, hold ups and other crimes when travelling a public transportation. Especially in Manila where crime rates are a lot higher than provinces. I guess because of cost of living in Manila, people are desperate for money and need to do whatever it takes to make money. Well, this past week, even with the knowledge of these crimes, I was STILL a victim of it. Some of us think/feel sitting in the front seats are more safe than the back, well that's NOT TRUE! We also feel safer when travelling with someone else too. Well it doesn't prevent anything from happening. Even knowing how to fight, it still wouldn't help when you're 2 people against 8 men. While riding a bus "Jackpherlyn Bus" to be exact, a group of guys maybe about 8 of them entered the bus dressed like "clean" civilians. While exiting the bus, 3 of them blocked the exit bus door, while the 4th reached over my seat and pretended he dropped something on my leg/ foot. He grabbed n grabbed my leg forcing me to get out of my seat where i was then trapped between the group of men. While the man held on to my leg and pants pulling and tugging, while I'm standing up, another pickpocketed me n BOOM my IPhone is gone.What was I to do? Fight back? Chase him? NO! While other passengers sat back and watched and even the bus driver and conductor, I was literally HELPLESS! Even while sitting in the first seat in the front behind the driver and being accompanied with a friend, it will NOT stop these men from doing this.
What makes me angry is that not 1 person helped me, except my friend who was also a victim. Not once did i take my phone out while i was on the bus. Thats rule #1 right? Dont use your phone on the bus or when travelling on public transpo...well I didnt, and still was held up/pickpocketed!! These men did this in front of at least 30 people with no shame n not even covering their faces. Another thing that makes me angry is that being a victim is "normal" and "accepted" when u report it to the police. My advise is don't expect help from strangers/witnesses and don't expect help from the police. Every person is on their own. Yes I lost my phone and luckily it was just my phone n not my life. But why do "we" accept these actions? Y is it when i told people my story, majority of them replied back "this is the Philippines" and even "It's more fun in the Philippines"...What type of response is that? What is the meaning of that? What type of image does that make of the Philippines and our own people? Is it accepted that people are pick pocketed/mugged in the Philippines? Yet some of us get insulted when someone visits our country and says anything negative about the Philippines and/or our people. This has got to stop! Seems like everyone or at least the majority of us have been victims of this crime. Maybe by a different strategy or technique but most of us victims are affected by it mentally and emotionally. All day and night since its happened (5 days ago) I have thought about that incident, therefore I believe I have been traumatized a bit by it. I ask myself, "how can I protect myself the next time"? What are the odds of this happening again? Sad, right?
My advice to anyone who reads this is to help find a way to stop these things from happening because you may be the next victim or already have been a victim.
As I type this, I'm 99.99% sure someone is being pick pocketed right now and nothing will be done to stop it.
I am a proud filipino but NOT proud of some of our people!
A Filipino's Honest Travel Tips to Traveler's who plan to visit the philippines
Philippines is still a developing country. Iphones and Blackberrys especially DSLR cameras which are now quite common in other developed industrialized countries are still considered luxuries in the Philippines. Using those gadgets in public are frowned upon in manila even among local filipinos. Your Iphone may not be worth getting killed over to you but for some filipino criminals living under the poverty line stealing your Iphone then selling it can get them enough money to feed their families for a month that's why they'd be willing to get shot by police just to get it from you. Therefore It is advisable to hide this gadgets in plain view.
"Areas without visible Police Presence"
Avoid at all costs visiting areas of manila city without visible security guards or visible police presence. Criminal gangs from the ghettos of Quezon city and other surrounding cities are known to go to manila city everyday for the sole purpose of getting easy money by robbing students and tourists there.
"Philippine Gun Culture"
Philippines has a very strong gun culture it's gun laws are virtually optional almost every career successful man who has a family have a gun, there is approximately 1 million lost or missing firearms(mostly handguns) in Metro Manila alone and there is still a continuous mass production of short firearms especially the .45 cal M1911 models from Danao City and other provinces far south of manila leading to an endless supply of guns to criminals operating in manila and other developed cities, that's why don't be supprised if you see even petty criminals with guns
the police of the Philippines are called PNP which stands for "Philippine National Police" almost all Police officers in the Philippines have college degrees which makes them quite a very educated police force compared to other police forces who recruit associate degree and high school graduates. Most commissioned police inspectors of the PNP are graduates of police academies like Philippine National Police Academy, Philippine Military Academy or are professional engineers, doctors or lawyers while mostly those commissioned PO1(Police Officer 1 lowest PNP rank) are criminology graduates or non-professional college graduates.
Almost all of them can understand english but only a few can speak fluently. Some of them do succumb to corruption because of low salaries but there is still a lot of them who joined the force to serve the people with integrity especially the officers
If you ever find yourself in trouble with the law or if you got robbed and they brought you to a police station it would be the best of your interest if you could get a local friend who speaks tagalog to come and talk to the officers. A local friend is invaluable if you find yourself in this kind of situations in the philippines especially if your friend is someone educated with a professional job and connections. It will be a lot easier for you to get out of the trouble because the officers will think thrice before doing a "code 2" on you
"THE BEST SAFETY TIP TO TRAVELERS--- RENT OR BORROW A PRIVATE VEHICLE"
Your chances of getting robbed or mugged decreases dramatically if you are travelling by car because most petty crimes happen to people using public transportation. you can rent a car for a day for as little as USD30 and a driver for USD20. It will also be easier to get around if you have your own mean of transportation
To summarise everything
1. Keep a low profile
2. Travel by car
3. Only Visit places where you can see uniformed police officers, police cars or security guards
4. Have a local friend
5. Avoid visitiing ghettos locally called "Squatter areas" at all costs especially if you are caucasian the people there will see you with a dollar sign over your head. those areas are lawless and police officers are reluctant to enter those areas
Please be very careful on the Manila transit system as there are many pickpockets and snatchers operating here. As a 20 year resident of the Philippines i am aware of all the criminal activity in Manila and even though i was vary diligent they managed to get my wallet. You must get a police report by the police operating at all stations as it is under their jurasidiction.
A lot of the warnings here are from people who really don't know a thing about what to visit and what not to do in Manila. As a native Manilan who's long since moved out, I would recommend you do your research with Filipino friends, naturally those who you're confident won't rip you off.
You reap what you sow. If you're in Manila to slum it for easy, sleazy entertainment, it's no different from going into a strip club in the ghetto of any major city. And like a ghetto, if you're clueless about it, expect to be robbed or worse.
Stick to the well-illuminated malls and shopping centers if you don't want the added risk. Do not trust strangers who approach you for conversation - even if Filipinos are friendly -once you know them- it is NOT customary in our culture to approach total strangers out of nowhere to talk to them. That is an American habit and not commonly observed in the Philippines, so be instantly on your guard when someone does; they're likely up to no good. Do not use backpacks in the city (most clueless kind of bag to wear and a sure target for pickpockets). I'd also avoid putting your wallet in your pocket and keep most valuables at home. Make sure you have a reputable Filipino guide/friend (preferably someone whose family you've met, have shared a home-cooked meal with). Visit Filipino forums and blogs for tips on where to go (http://www.spot.ph/ for example, avoid any with mentions of girly bars and sleazy entertainment because those are hotspots for trouble) and hire someone like this http://www.celdrantours.blogspot.com/ to tour you (reputable Filipino personality and tour guide). Be smart and remember Manila itself is miles from the beaches that fit the Western concept of an island paradise, it's a city bigger than Los Angeles and with just as much teeth.
(Also, if you don't want to stick out like a sore thumb as much - even if you're Caucasian - ditch the beach slippers and beach gear for sensible jeans, walking shoes or khaki shorts and a shirt you'd wear to a city. People forget that even if they're visiting the tropics, yes, again, this is the big city. Smog, dirt, canals, it's all there, so expect it).
on the street in Manila two welldressed middle aged woman(they looked like nice filipina moms to me) began conversation with me.
nice talk so we had lunch together. They told me they are from the north,Baguio and make holidays in Manila... They also invited me to come with them to the north i could stay at their house.
After lunch accidently(...) met friends of them. An old woman with 2 men. They welcomed me and seemed very excited to spend the day with me.
they told me we can go with their car to Taal Vulcano, i was not sure if i can trust them. so i kept saying this and that ,im tired, blablabla
We went to a market and the old woman called mommy told be to be aware of the pickpockets.,,Be aware u have anything important in ur bag??'' (Of course i said no)
All the time i was not sure if i should go with them to Taal Vulcano but finally i thought why not maybe ur overprotective, so we went there with the car.The white big car looked expensive and with dark windows...
At Taal Vulcano they told me we could do some nice things like driving with the boat and horse riding but now its too late, so we could spent a night there and do this tomorrow morning. But i told them i dont have enough money with me to do this,even though i had passport and creditcard in my bag.
i FINALLY realised that they are criminals so i told them i WOULD go with them there tomorrow.
I started playing game with them and made them feel safe by keep saying that i would love to do this trip with them and im very excited.It was good because without any valueables in my bag i was worthless for them.
We drove back to Manila and arranged meeting for next day.
Next day i sent them a message:No luck for u today ;) quite funny but in the end i t could have been very dangerous!I read that they give u drugs and rob u.
in short words:
they abuse ur wish to get to know the culture and hang around with locals
they try to look&behave rich and sophisticated
invite u for a trip
they know how to talk and make u feel comfortable
BUT i also met the friendliest people ever ! at the heart of some islands in the philippines.I love the people there!
We personally did not experience any dangers but our driver warned us of the many dangers that could happen if we were not on our guard. In broad daylight, never use your cell phone to make a call. Unruly persons would come out of nowhere, grab your cell and use it's minutes or possibly sell the phone. The selling of cell phones is big business here in the Philippines especially if it is a model that just came off the production line.
Never wear expensive jewelry or watches out in public. You may be targeted.
Try to always travel with a "buddy" and always trust your intuition. If it doesn't feel right, it's probably not.
Crime does exist in the Philippine, just be on your guard and look over shoulder every so often and keeps your wits about you.
Having just returned from a visit to Manila I can honestly say that at no time did I feel frightened, intimidated or unwelcome. Nor did I feel unsafe or in any danger. Having read lots of reports on how Manila is not safe etc I ventured forth into Manila full of trepidation, fully expecting to get robbed or at least have my pocket picked at some point during my visit. Of course, these things never happened, mainly because I do not let them happen, by making sure the opportunity did not arise. Thieves do need to be encouraged to commit their deeds. Of course, there is street crime in Manila, just as there is any major capital city of the world (perhaps with the exception of Tokyo) but I felt totally safe all the time I was there. Granted, I am a big guy, but size has nothing to do with it in my book, it is opportunity that is key to someone becoming a victim. Give a desperate thief the opportunity to steal from you and he/she will. I feel it is wrong to advise people not to go to Manila, or anywhere else for that matter, just because the place has a relatively high crime rate.
Manila is as safe as anywhere else, but it is up to the individual to make it so!!
Its much cheaper to get a flight to Manila than Cebu... But I would recomend that you only use Manila airport to connect to anywhere else.
Manila is nasty at night and not that great in the daytime either. There is nothing there that is worth the risk or stress that even a short stay that will include.
I would like to point out that i am very much in love with the Philippines, spent, in total almost 8 weeks there and would love to go back.. But Manilia is not to be taken lightly, look at all the warnings on this site..
It has been years since this happened to me, and for many years after it was VERY difficult to use foreign credit cards in Manila (Except at well established hotels). In 1998, I went out for some dinner, drinks, and entertainment on Roxas Blvd. I had finished dinner was paying when a friend happened to see me in the club. We started a new order of drinks as my credit card came back - which was well over 10 minutes. After finishing a couple of rounds I paid again. .. but used a new credit card. Again it took 10 minutes Plus to get the credit card.
About a week later I was in the US and tried to use my card for a small purchase and it came back rejected as the account was over the credit limit. Knowing this was I had only used the card once, I called the credit card company to find out what was happening. Turns out there was several purchases of thousands of dollars run up on my card - charged to a Jewelry Store in Manila. Because this was the second time I used my card, I was able to explain to the credit card company that those were not my charges and that the restaurant I used the card must have copied the card. I gave the address of the restaurant (Since closed) so they could prosecute with local authorities. I then called my other credit card company and found out that the same people were running up bills at the same jewelry store. I gave them a way to contact them and had the charges removed from this account as well.
I would believe that there are still scams like this happening in Manila (And elsewhere in the world). So my advise is:
1. Try to keep your credit card in sight when paying for anything
2. If your card takes more than a couple of minutes to come back. . . This should start raising "RED FLAGS"
3. Bring enough cash to pay for things in places that you may not want to use your cards.
4. When traveling, check your statement frequently. . . if you see any charges that don't make sense call your credit card company.
As a general rule specially if you're a foreigner blonde , brunette caucasian or spanish mestiza never ever wander the streets of Manila by your LONESOME , there were many abuses that were committed to hapless tourists before, they were drugged , raped, robbed and beaten . So forget the solo act this is Manila one of the unsafest cities in the world !
Dont wear those mini skirts or skimpy shorts by the end of the day you'll find your legs badly bruised by all those hands coming from anywhere touching and grabbing it !
I would rather suggest skipping manila and take a direct flight to CEBU , if paradise do exist you can find it in cebu !
a concerned world class traveller
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