General Safety, Manila
I have travelled in many foreign countries, and as such have developed my own set of safety habits. One is that as far as all airlines go, they will let you take one 4oz pepper spray (less than 2% capsicum) in your checked under the plane luggage only. Also you can bring as many telescoping police batons as you like, (I prefer a 21"). I am a 58 year old male in great shape. I travel Manila in the daytime only very often by walking, tricycle, and jeepney near the Muntinlupa Metro Manila area. Do not bring or carry "ANY" knife with you in the Philippines. Any length blade can get you about 5 years in Bilibid. I carry what I call my "fake wallet", in my front zippered pocket of my cargo shorts. Before each trip overseas, I ask my bank to replace two of my credit cards with new ones. So the expiration date still makes them "seem" valid. Then I carry the two fake cards and some other worthless cards in my wallet along with a few pesos. My real money is on a Velcro's waist band under my belt inside my pants. I only flip that out in private if needed. Also, legal to carry "in any country" is a Masterlock. I take along a foot long 1/2" piece or two of braided paracord. I tie a half hitch loop on both end's. Stick one end through the locked lock loop, and then through the other loop. On one end is the lock, and on the other is a loop big enough to get your fingers through, make a fist and hold onto. What you have is a "very deadly" flexible legal weapon, that you can jerk out and wield at a moments notice in an "X" pattern. You can also use it to choke if necessary. Go to You Tube and type in "flexible weapons to learn how to use effectively". Try setting a pumpkin at home on a bench in the yard and practicing the "X" pattern. You can also throw it hard like a baseball to hit an assailant, then pull it back and use it again, since it is wrapped securely around your hand with your fist balled up.It's a great deterrent for all the scruffy looking dogs around here as well if needed. As far as the telescoping baton goes. I am now five months into a nine month stay here in Manila. I was here almost five months last year, and also once back in 2005 as well and absolutely love the country in general. I carry the baton in my right front pocket, and have "never" had a problem taking it anywhere here. Mall guards only touch you on the small of your back, to make sure your not carrying a gun under your shirt. I have even took it on trips to like government buildings. "Not on purpose", but when we were out and needed to get something done. I just pull out the baton, declare what it is, and ask them to check it in. Then I pick it up on my way out. That being said most all Philippine guards and police carry the long black fixed baton with a molded handle. Very few people even have any idea what a telescoping baton even is, if you pull it out of your pocket and show it to them. That being said, I still do not flash it around! : ) Like other seasoned world traveler will tell you. The best defense is not a weapon, but common sense. "Always" be aware of your surroundings. Keep your head up and take quick glances in all directions often. Make just enough eye contact with passers by, that they know, that you know they are there! Do not show any fear, and walk as if you owned the place in a sense. Travel only in the daytime preferably, or in groups. Ask a trusted local if it is safe for you to go to a certain area "before" you go. Having travelled extensively in South America, Central America, and Asia I have only once ever pulled my baton, and it was on a growling dog who backed off immediately. For that I consider myself lucky. I hope this information helps someone in some way to stay safe..........Sige po, paalam.............. Bob
In the areas of Ermita, Malate, especially at Harrison Plaza and Robinsons Mall you may be approached by strangers so my best advice is to ignore them completely and keep walking.
"Want Viagra, very good?"
"Need a girl?"
"Want to buy Rolex Watch?"
"Change money, goo rate?" are all offers that you may be asked, especially in Del Pilar St., Mabini St, Adriatico St, Pedro Gil, Padre Faura and United Nations as well as Rizal (Luneta) Park.
Another one to watch out for is " Where are you from sir?" Then you tell them your city and immediately they will say they have a brother, cousin or some other family member living there. Soon you will be having a conversation which may result in you being invited to their home or some our of the way place, and more often or not you will wake up drugged in some unknown area with your wallet gone. Do not take this advice lightly as i have know several people that this has happened to.
Please secure your valuables in this area.I have seen young street kids as young as 7 or 8 slip their hands into peoples pockets/bag and run off.I have seen 4 youths try and take the wallet of an elderly Japanese man in the middle of the day, in a crowded intersection.They did not use violence but they tried to force his hands as he was holding onto it.I was hit by a gang inside the mall coming out of the supermarket.On the busiest day they made a small funnel for the crowd to walk threw by placing a sign from a stall on one side and the tables from the cafes on the other(view picture).There was a crowd trying to get through this area, I felt someone knock into my leg and then it was gone.I did not realise what had happened until I got to my hotel.Even though I have been to Manila many times and never had a problem,i became lazy with my valuables.My passport was taken so I was required to go to a lawyer and make a statement then take this to the main police station,so I could then go to the immigration office.Do not go to a police sub station like the one outside Robinsons Mall(pictured) as they will not take a statement and they will tell you the same thing.After I received my emergency passport from the embassy I went to immigration with a copy of my flight tickets arrival and departure and was given a visa with no problems.I had no problem at the airport when leaving.If using Western Union booths inside the mall I would recommend the one near the Pardre Faura entrance as it is the only one with a guard nearby.These are usually crowded so I prefer to use the ones outside the mall which have no customers so you can not be distracted and can secure your valuables in a money belt or similar.
Been to Philippines some times now and two things happen to me, that could have caused trouble. This September i was walking in SM city in Cebu. Inside the mall, a VERY beautiful woman approach me, and asked me if i wanted massage. Only 400 peso for 1 hour. But she insisted that the massage should happen in a short time hotel not far from the mall. After a long discussion i got rid of her after giving her 100 peso for a meal in jollybee. If i had joined her, i would probably got drugs and robbed at the cheap hotel. Another incident happened also in Cebu outside Ayala center. I good looking man well dressed approach me and started a conversation. After some nice talking he wanted me to go with him and visit his auntie who lived nearby. He said his auntie had friends from the country i come from. He put a lot of work trying to convince me. I rejected of course. I would probably got robbed in his "aunties" place.
I have walked a lot, and used all kind of transportation in both Manila and Cebu, but nothing ever got stolen from me. But i dont walk around with a fat wallet, show my phone. I also keep my camera in a pocket. No need to give people the impression that you are loaded with money.
Its a BIG difference between taxi drivers in Manila and Cebu. In Manila many drivers have a bad attitude. No meters. If u convince them to use meters, they want xxx peso + meter. But its rather cheap to drive there, so if u say 100 peso + meter, its better than driving withouit meter at all. In Cebu many drivers put on meter without asking.
The DFVR (Disaster First Response Vehicle) is a modern state of the art pick up truck with rescue equipment that would be required for an emergency such as traffic accident, fire, flood, and rescues from building collapses, etc.
The emergency number to call is 962 1111 should you be in a position to help someone in danger.
Epifanio de los Santos Avenue is the ring road that encircles Manila from Taft Ave in the south to Monumento in the North. Along it's entire 24 km route, the most congested and busiest road in the Metropolitan area it is really polluted as buses and jeepneys grind to a halt and stand still for ages as they emit fumes. There are many different bus stations along the route, as different bus companies have their own stations, making it a pick-pocketer's haven as people push their way through the crowds to reach their destination. Taft Avenue MRT/LRT station is at the southern end of the road where you must take extra care. It is almost impossible , if not illegal to cross the road there, but there are pedestrian walkways over the road.
If you walk south on Adriatico Street (not far after Remedios Circle) you will reach a slum area where many pedicab drivers hang out, even sleeping and living in their pedicabs. The shacks are built on top of each other and the stink of urine is dreadful. Definitely don't walk in this area at night.
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..