Dealing with emergency situations in the Philippines

Hello everybody,

Dealing with unexpected situations abroad can be a very difficult matter. In order to better help expats and soon-to-be expats in the Philippines face such tricky situations, we invite you to share your advice and experience.

What are the key emergency numbers you should know by heart?

In the event of a legal problem, an accident, a natural disaster, an injury or the death of a close family member, what are the first things to do in the Philippines?

What are the things to plan ahead in order to better cope with such unexpected situations (registration at the Embassy, transport, medical, comprehensive insurance for instance)?

If you have gone through such experiences in the Philippines, do not hesitate to share your story.

Thank you in advance!


Avoid public hospitals . Medical emergencies in provinces are a significant problem . Serious medical issues return home to mother country if possible. Road accident requiring emergency medical assistance ,BEST OPTION PRAY.

My emergency experience.  While working I managed to cut myself on my left hand.  I knew right away that I would need stitches.   I was taken to the public hospital in Puerto Princesa City, Palawan.  Upon entering the hospital on my way to the emergency room I noticed how narrow the corridor was.  Upon entering the emergency room, I was in for a shock.  Not anything like I had seen on tv, nor nothing like the emergency room in Tupelo, Mississippi.  The first thing I saw was a cat walking around, There was a family by the emergency bed along the far wall.  The Emergency room could not have been more then 15 feet by 15 feet.  The bed and the others had the stuffing coming out of it.  The paint on the wall was peeling and dirty and wasn't painted in good number of years.   Their was dirt on the floor which was brought in from the outside.  I saw a nurse, and another person, who I took to be the doctor.   I was looked at, still don't remember if it was the Dr. or nurse.  The person gave me a tetnes shot and then gave me a shot to numb the pain that would come from the stitches.  About three stitches the cut was closed, then covered, and I was instructed that I had to pay.  It only cost 250 pesos!  I was more shocked from the amount then the inside of the Emergency room!  That's my experience in the Emergency room!

If you are driving outside a city and in a remote area, and find your road blocked or obstructed, don’t get out of the car.  Try you best to move the obstruction with the car, go around the obstruction, or if there is no way to proceed then turn and go back.  If the obstruction should not be there, there is to much of a possibility that it was placed there by robbers, who will stay hidden until you exit the car to move the obstruction.  This happened to me about two hours drive outside manila in Batangas, with only myself and a girl friend in the car.  Fortunately i was able to move the obstruction with the car.  If there were robbers in hiding they remained hidden, as there is too much risk for them of the car itself being used as a weapon.

Try to be prepared for emergencies. Some hospitals have their own ambulances. Find those hospitals and get a working number to their ambulance. Find out the time the operators are on duty, cause often the ambulances do NOT work at night. Call the number to the ambulances to make sure it works. Go to the operations manager in those hospitals and verify what you have found out. Even with all that, there are going to be times you are going to call for an ambulance and no one answers the phone.

If you do not have a car, then find a neighbor or friend in your area who does. Ask them if they would drive you to the ER if you ever needed it. Make sure they know it could be any time of the day or night. Offer them money for their help, just in case.

Go to your local city hall and ask any other possible forms of transport to the ER. Many town and cities do NOT have cab services, only tricycles, which will work if necessary.

Make sure your phone always has enough load to telephone people in case of an emergency.

Get to know your barangay captain. They may be able to help in an emergency.

Get to know your local police department. They may be able to help in an emergency.

Check to see if your local fire department has any emergency services of medical emergencies. Probably not, but you may learn who else does.

Other than that, living near a hospital might be an option!! My wife and I almost brought a house recently, but it was so far out in the middle of nowhere, that I knew I would be dead if I ever needed emergency care out there. So needless to say, we did not buy.

Oh, I forgot the most important thing here in the I doubt if a hospital or clinic would let you die in the hallway if you cant come up with money right away, but who knows.....this is the Philippines.

My advice, dont leave the car if you come to an accident, which happened seconds before. Try to continue riding and leave the area without stopping. There is a high risk, that suddenly there are many whitnesses who observed, that the accident was your fault, coz you are a foreigner and able to shoulder all expenses.

I have never had an emergency situation where I or a family member needed an ambulance, but I did have duty in the hospital here in CEBU for graduation requirements.

What I noticed about the ambulances here in CEBU, PHILIPPINES is that no one here would move to let the ambulance pass. People don't really know the laws here or follow them.

Hi Prescilla The number everybody should know is 911 also look on the Philippine National Police Site they have Phone Numbers for all kinds of things
           Kind Regards

Hello everyone,

Please note that several off topic posts have been removed from this thread. Could we please focus on the initial post.

Thank you


basically, I agree with this.... my experience was driving an SUV in Bais at night. It's a festival holiday.... I am being very careful in making a left turn in one of those typical unsignalized intersections and you just go with the flow. I have driven in phil before and have not had an accident in the US for 30+ years.... A lone motorcycle just keeps coming and coming.... slams me broadside. I'm shocked... yeah, I do get out of the car, but I have in mind exactly what the author says here... I'm a foreigner, and when the chips are down, I am absolutely positive I will be held responsible. The three filipinos riding with me are saying the guy is drunk. Well, his behavior seemed like that... but at least we didn't have to drag him out from under the car... He gets off the ground... the motorcycle doesn't look much worse for the wear... I shove a US $20 in his hands... get my filipino friends in the car and get the heck out of there.... Lesson.... for me, it's easier to just get someone else to drive. I don't want the responsibility, and I don't mind unburdening myself of that americanism of "must have a car..."

PS.... in some other forum somewhere... I read an ex-pat account of saving people from a ferry disaster... in that backward Phil logic.... the Hero was later accosted by families because .... "you saved my family member, and he/she is still suffering injury, now you need to help us and pay!"

Been here for three years now and I  cant believe the logic of the people, so I came to the conclusion that it is best not to help people (as I used to do) because they will always turn on you if something goes wrong, and then THE FOREIGNER always loser`s.

When I first came here we had squatters living at the back of us and I suggested to my lady friend that it would be a good idea to cook up a BIG bowl of spaghetti to and dish it out to the children that lived there, but she advised me not to do it because if any of the children got sick (not from eating the spaghetti) I would get the blame and and it would cost me big time.  I laughed at the time but looking back  she was so right, and I have since  stopped giving things, and money to people because I have been lied to so many times which has cost me, so my best advice to the newbies is to lay low, dont get involved in any outside issue, dont drive, dont get taken in by the fake smiles, and last but not least stay healthy, and if you stick to this advice you MAY have a chance of living your time out here with no bad happenings.

But if I had my time over again no way would I have left Australia to come and live here, but now I cant afford to go back, and as Ned Kelly said just before he was hanged..."Such is life" 


Hi well it depends where you live , Here in Davao I can trust my neighbours but wary of people especially traders or so called craftsmen as once they see your a Foreigner they double the price . One of the things I have learned if you want a project done always negotiate a price for the job and do not pay by the day one price only so if they take a month to complete a job the same they get paid

You are so right Decca..... I had a weak moment the other day as I had a boy/man come to my house to give me a massage to save me from having to go out, and anyway the first time he came I gave him 300 peso`s which was what he quoted, and whilst I was paying him he told me that it was 400 peso`s because he had to hire a bike to get to my place. Sorry I told him, but that was not my problem, he should had told me that  before he massaged me, anyway the next Tuesday  whilst he was massaging (still 300 peso`s) me he asked if I could pay in advance for the next week, as he had to pay school fees for his child, and I told him that I did not know him well enough for that, and that my lady friend was out shopping and she had my money. (wink wink)

During the week he texted me pleading with me "Please Sir, can you help me, because my boy cant go to school because I cant pay his fees" And guess what?  I weakened and told him that I would do it just this once but no more.  So he came to my house and got the 300 peso`s promising to come back the next week.

The following Tuesday I got a text message to say that he could not come because he had a high fever, so I suggested that he came on Wednesday (today)   At 10.30 I texted him to ask where he was, but no reply, so I then texted my lady friend who was out at the market and told her to text him to find out what was  going on , and she texted back to say that he was at the hospital visiting his mother who was in hospital, and that he still had his fever. ( Yes he did text HER back because she payed out on him)  I then texted him to say that  I did not believe what he told my friend, and that I was going to go to his work and tell his boss that he had a dishonest person working for him, (not that I would have) and he replied straight back to say that he was coming right away, to massage me, ( all of a sudden he did not have a fever, and he forgot that he told me the week before that both of his parents had died) so then I texted him back to say he could keep the 300 peso`s because I did not want him to come into my house again, as he was a dishonest person who took advantage of my generosity.

Decca can you blame me for my attitude towards the people here because it took me nearly two years and much grief to wake up and not help anybody anymore, ( but I had a weak moment with this one and  got conned again) so I just had to harden up which was against my grain, as I have done lots of good things here and donated and given lots of money away, as I am sure that a lot of foreigners have done also...... but after this episode I will NEVER  knowingly be conned again.

So anybody coming to the Philippines be nice to the people but dont trust them as I have found out the hard way, and yes I know that there are good Filipino`s,  but they are few and far between  ( IN MY OPINION  ONLY ) and even my lady friend who is a Filipino is very cautious with whom she trusts, and I know that there are dishonest people the world over but it seems to be more prevalent here in the Philippines.

Hope that I have not sent too many to sleep reading this saga, but to all newcomers PLEASE be warned.

Hi Good Morning That was a very good reply you summed it up perfect , recently work was done to the House my wife did all the deal because she went to the guys and sorted it all out there had they come here to sort it out well you know as well as I do they would have at least doubled the price also if you have a project going on set the price for the job so no matter how long they take the price remains the same if you pay by the day you will pay through the nose , so yes be pleasant to the locals but be careful

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