General Safety, Manila
From U.S. State Department ...
March 23, 2005
This Travel Warning is being issued to recommend that Americans consider carefully the risks of travel to the Philippines. Terrorist groups, including Jemaah Islamiyah and the Abu Sayyaf Group, and radical elements of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front are planning multiple attacks throughout the Philippines. This information has been also released by Philippine government officials and is in the Philippine media.
The Department urges Americans who choose to travel to the Philippines to observe vigilant personal security precautions; to remain aware of the continued potential for terrorist attacks against Americans, U.S. or other Western interests in the Philippines, and to register with the U.S. Embassy. The Department warns against all but essential travel throughout the country in light of a heightened threat to Westerners. There has recently been an increase in bombings by the terrorist groups in Manila, the region of Mindanao, and other areas where terrorist groups are active. Bombs have exploded in shopping malls, on public transportation, at airports and port facilities, in places of worship, and in other public areas resulting in numerous casualties, including several deaths. Bombs have also been found at places of worship. Travelers should be aware that since security has increased at official U.S. facilities, terrorists could seek softer targets. Such targets could include but are not limited to places where Americans and other Westerners live, congregate, shop or visit, including hotels, clubs, restaurants, shopping centers, identifiably Western businesses, housing compounds, transportation systems, places of worship, schools, or public recreation events.
Americans who remain in the Philippines are strongly encouraged to register with the Consular Section of the U.S. Embassy in Manila through the State Department's travel registration website, https://travelregistration.state.gov.
Remember those warnings you give your kids about taking candy from strangers? Tourists in Manila, please heed them. There have been countless cases of Western and Asian tourists waking up somehwere divested of all their possessions with their last memory being of a "friendly" person or group of people offering him/her a piece of candy or a juice box. I guess people come here really expecting Filipino hospitality and expect that someone smiling and bearing food can't be all that bad. Well, they are and it's happened too many times. Please beware of these friendly people who want to get close to you and feed you - chances are they just want your money.
Pick pockets and boy they're good at it too! do not flash your jewelry , if possible dont wear them unless your in a secure area such as hotels. walking around the place can be dangerous too, especially if your are an american.. They tend to think white people has lots of money! try to arrange your visit with the travel agents for safety purposes..always put your wallet in your front pocket.
There are a lot of mischievous sinisters (hold uppers, snatchers, etc...) around especially in crowded places like streets, sometimes even malls and public transpo's like bus and jeepneys... so be really really careful and aware of your surroundings! aight?
When in Manila, it is advisable that you ditch your carrier's SIM card and buy a local one for your duration in the Philippines. Since most US and European providers overcharge on international roaming, you will be better off using a Philippine-based carrier when making calls or texting. Two big cell phone companies here are GLOBE and SMART. Since most, if not all, of the population here have cell phones, you can buy SIM cards almost anywhere. The amount of minutes or texts remaining in your phone is reffered to here as "load." So when you run out of "load", you can "reload" almost anywhere by buying a card with a bunch of numbers on it and inputting it in your phone for a fresh set of minutes and texts. Loads come in denominations of P100, P300 and P500. and can be bought at even convenience stores (called "sari-sari" stores) all throughout the city.
Filipinos love text messaging and, in fact, is their main form of communication rather than talking on the phone. It's cheaper. So if you do befriend a local and want to communicate with him or her during your trip... better learn how to text!
Manila, and the Philippines in general, is an extremely warm place. So don't forget to bring your sunblock and more importantly, your huge bottle of water! You will need it as you walk around outside in the blazing heat.
In early May 2001, newly sworn-in President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo declared Manila to be in a 'State of Rebellion.' Some 20,000 supporters of ousted president Estrada took to the streets and clashed with police in a conflict that left at least three protesters and two police officers dead. Arroyo's edict allows her broad use of military powers to quell such demonstrations, which aren't likely to calm down until the elections May 14. Travelers should avoid large public gatherings and check with their local embassy for up-to-the-minute information on this situation.
I was travelling in a jeepney with my friend, and he was wearing a baseball cap. At a stoplight, some kid from the street reached in and grabbed his cap and ran off. Basically, be careful if you walk around the city. If you have expensive items, be on the look out because most likely someone is keeping an eye on you.
When driving in an open vehicle (ie. jeepneys, tricycles, pedicabs etc), make sure your valuables are out of sight from potential snatchers. Problem areas are in an around Tondo, Divisoria, etc. Trust your instincts. If something doesn't feel right, get out of there, and make sure you have everything in your pockets.
don't do stupid things like wear expensive jewelry or flash your money around or walk around with a camera around your neck. I think you'll be ok if you use street smarts, but residents of the city seem to be in a state of constant paranoia but with a good reason. there always seems to be something exploding or getting stabbed or robbed at each second, but if you go with the flow you should be able to protect yourself.
When you are in Manila or anywhere in the Philippines, better to remember these NEVER & NEVER TIPS!
1. NEVER leave your things/valuables unattended, otherwise you will NEVER see it again!
2. NEVER wear gold/diamond accessories in public places because you will be definitely the main target of snatcher and hold-uppers, otherwise you will NEVER get a chance to wear it with glamour!
3. NEVER change your dollars or yen or any other acceptable foreign currencies to the black market, otherwise you will NEVER get a correct number of bills.
4. NEVER go to a crowded or dark places because this is usually the target of global terrorist group; otherwise you will NEVER see again your homeland!
5. NEVER drink water direct from the faucet; otherwise you will NEVER enjoy eating other tropical fruits since your stomach is aching day and night.
6. NEVER ride in a taxi without checking whether the taxi meter is on its flag-down-rate; otherwise you can NEVER pay the taxi driver cheaper since he will charge you higher!
7. NEVER eat street food; otherwise you can NEVER have a good appetite because you might suffer from a severe diarrhea.
8. NEVER let your taxi/car windows & doors open because nowadays, hold-uppers are targeting those who are inside the car/taxi during Stop Signal, otherwise you can NEVER say NO giving your wallet or even your valuables (such as laptop, watches, rings, etc.) to them for they have guns/knife to scare you!
9. NEVER use cell phone outside; otherwise you will NEVER have a chance to text your last message to your friend because cell phone snatchers are everywhere.
10. NEVER visit Philippines without proper guidance or without a Filipino buddy/friend with you on your first week of stay, otherwise you may NEVER enjoy staying here because of bad experiences and most probably you will NEVER visit Philippines again!!!
A single woman by herself late at night is not usual and can invite trouble. Try to be with a companion when going to late night clubs or returning from concerts. In general Filipinos do not go to public places alone; the usual minimum unit is two (a special pronoun in Philippine languages reflects this value).
Filipino men usually carry a few peso bills in their breast pocket or front pocket. This way they don't have to take out their wallet, especially on the street. Filipina women often carry small amounts of cash wrapped in a handkerchief or a small coin purse, so they don't have to open a handbag in crowded locations.
Do not attempt to change dollars on the black market (e.g. Santa Cruz) unless you are with another person, preferably someone who speaks Tagalog. It is dangerous because people know you are carrying large amounts of cash. The Shoe Mart department stores offer the best rate of exchange that is legal and safe.
When entering a taxi, tell the driver where you want to go and insist that he turn on the meter. If he says it is broken or for some other reason he won't turn it on, tell him to stop and get out of the cab. However, cabs hired at major hotels have a set fee schedule by zone, which they should show you upon demand. It is always more expensive to hire a cab from a hotel than a metered cab on the street.