Close

How safe is it NOW in the Philippines?

With all the bad news  (killings, terrorism, etc) I have been hearing and watching what seems to be common nowadays, but is really safe now to visit the Philippines?   Or the news is simply focusing on those troubled areas to make news more exciting, sensational and it's really not as bad as shown on the news?  I have lived in Manila until my junior year in high school (about 16 years) and later was stationed in Manila with the US Army so such events were quite common even then.  I want to return to retire....visit at first to check out living conditions there...then, hopefully retire.   I am hoping to retire in Negros, Panay, or Palawan.   Definitely not Manila.   Thanks for the update.

FCStraight

Hi,

I have been here over three years and It seems safe to me. The only crime I've had to deal with was some attempted medical fraud between the hospital  I used and my own HMO.

Once I left my money in an ATM because I thought the transaction was cancelled but it spit out my money after I left. Someone tracked me down and returned the money to me.

Maybe I am just living a charmed life but it seems much safer than Texas, USA.

Use common sense everywhere though.

Thank you.  Your reply is encouraging.  Perhaps you have been living a charmed life or whatever it is you're doing right.   After having lived and worked in many troubled spots in the world without even a scratch, perhaps I too, have been living a charmed life.   It's time for me to get myself together and head home (the Philippines, that is).  Again, thanks...and I hope I run into you someday.   Yeah, I agree with you about Texas...and I'm ashamed to say, many parts in the U.S. I'm afraid to live in nowadays.

I want to stay away from politics but I can tell you that I just went to renew my Drivers license and was given a paper that told me how many minutes it should take from the first point (finished in less than an hour) At each window it had a note saying to inquire if name not called in "X" minutes. This is in contrast to taking all day or being suggested to pay for speedier service. I admit it was the first time I used this particular location but people there said it was speeded up under the new administration. Note: they were out of the blank cards so I was told to come back in two months for finished liscense and given a reciept with the old license to show if needed. In addition the renewal period was extended to 5 years from three just now.

Having lived in several other countries for long periods of time I get a feeling when things seem to be getting worse year after year (or not ). That doesnt seem to be the case here (yet). The Internet speeds still sucks though.

Welcome home.

Wow!  That's impressive.  So it's true...the new president kept his promised.  Believe talaga ako.  So definitely I have to go back.  Thanks for the encouragement.

With regard to safety in Negros I cannot speak to that but I can say that my wife and I feel safe and comfortable in our little corner of the Philippines, with the recent bombings having made little difference in our area aside from an increase in police check points for a few days, though while out yesterday around the area taking care of business and those checkpoints are now gone.

With regard to the media, I believe you are correct. Like most media outlets they focus on what will bring them viewers and readers with a little embellishment at times to make it seem worse than it is.
That is not to say the the extremists issues are not serious or dangerous, they are, but we avoid that part of the country, why tempt fate? 

We live in southern Luzon about 10 minutes or so from Tagaytay and the area for us is peaceful and quiet with our neighborhood having had only issues with a couple of belligerent drunks in the last 3 years or so that were handled by the barangay officials.

I believe a little common sense  helps in keeping you safe and the majority of the problems, aside from the rebels, seems to be in high crime areas around nightclubs, strip bars, etc. When the sun goes down the vermin come out of their holes looking for victims and that seems to be the way of the world in most places. Your choice of lifestyles and care in choosing your friends can help or hurt you when it comes to safety.

Some folks have spoke about having bars on your windows and armed security guards at nearly every business. With regard to the security guards I believe that because of a lack of police patrols in any given area and slow response times that that is compensated for by the business hiring their own guards, a good idea and no doubt a deterrent to the average thief.  With regard to window grills. They seem common in many parts of the world and especially in a country like the PI where poverty is widespread and some folks may be tempted by that nice home with the new car in the driveway. The thief isn't going to rob the simple home because he know they have nothing of any real value to steal and sell for money or drugs, While the nice home with the new car will no doubt yield a bounty that is worth the risk.  So grates on the windows and a fence around the home seems to be common sense and offers a little more safety and a deterrent to the average thief.

We find our area to be safe and friendly and the neighbors and barangay officials definitely look out for each other.  When and if we no longer feel safe, we will leave, though a this point in time considering the state of the world it may be hard to find any place that you can call "safe".

You're so right in all the points you addressed, TeeJay.  Bars in windows is becoming quite common in the US also.   When we lived in San Diego, CA (where many Filipinos reside) I would joke with my wife when we see a house with barred windows and would say to her....that must a house where Filipinios lived!   I wouldn't want bars on my windows....like living in a caged house!  And a safety hazard....you know, in case of fire when all the exits are blocked and the window is your only exit.   I'll just make it so it's not worth for would-be intruders to burglarize my home. 

I'm just getting a general feel from expats living in the Philippines about safety and security matters.  Yes of course, I've long learned to stay away from troubled areas....but trouble may follow you around instead.  All you can do is to be vigilant and ready at all times.   I am also considering locations near Manila....like Tanay, yes, Tagaytay area, along Laguna de Bay.    Quiet, peaceful life with occasional get together events with friends is my thing.  So I think a life in the province would be more suitable for me.   But I also like to be close enough to metro-Manila for taking care of business matters,  medical check ups, meet with relatives and child-hood friends occasionally.   I'll just have to make an exploratory trip before I make up mind.

Thanks....I feel reassured already.

I have lived in retirement 17 years in Makati and I have not had or seen anything dangerous. This is even though I sometimes walk home to my condo in Rockwell from the bar district very late at night.  The worst that happens in this area is that little kids may try to pick pocket.  I have traveled around interesting places in Cebu, Bohol, Boracay, Negros, Northern Mindinao, Vigan, Lawag (spelling) and have not had any trouble.  I would not however go to troubled areas such as Sulu or Tawi-tawi.  I am very much relaxed about security in the Philippines (and am also ex US Army). Good luck

Grates or bars on the Windows???? Is the house supposed to look like a house or a prison?

arty5987 :

Grates or bars on the Windows???? Is the house supposed to look like a house or a prison?

Pretty normal security precaution in the Philippines especially without a patrolling police presence as in the states.

If you are planning on a move to the Philippines it is entirely up to you if you build a home. If you rent, the house may or may not have them. Condominiums most often do not.

I am still waiting 6 months for my renewed licence and car plates.

I was broken into in a gated community in Davao, so I installed window bars raised the rear wall and installed barbed wire, plus bought a guard dog. So yes you do need window bars especially if you back onto overgrown land near a highway.

Hmm.  I think President Duterte has to be informed about the break-in in your home.  I hear great stories that he pretty much cleaned up criminality, drugs and corruption in his 22 years as mayor of Davao City.  And a gated community at that!  That one that got away or inside job perhaps.  In the 16 years of living in the Manila area (and suburbs) none of our homes we lived in had bars.  Just lucky I guess.
I guess I'll stay away from those troubled areas...until whenever it gets peaceful again.  Thanks, guys...
Your input about security, safety living in the Philippines is very helpful in my decision.

ELIGIBILITY for BALIK-BAYAN VISA
On another topic.  Some years back when I was stationed in Seoul, ROK (as a DOD civilian) I was able to secure a multiple entry visa to the Philippines...good for a year.  I think that was because the vice-consul was  a good friend of mine.  Today that's no longer the case, of course.  In fact the Philippine Consul in San Francisco, after I explained my situation, told me I am not eligible for the Balik-Bayan visa.  Here's my situation:  I was born in Manila, father an American citizen (born in the Philippines).  Mother, Filipina...born in Manila.  Accordingly, I am considered a native born U.S. Citizen.  And since I was NOT naturalized, according to the Philippine Consulate, I do not meet the criteria for the B-B visa (one has to have been a former citizen of the Philippines to be eligible).  I know that children of American citizens born in the Philippines can simply be registered with the American Embassy in Manila and be U.S. Citizens without ever having resided in the U.S.  That's what happened to me and my siblings (they were all born in the Philippines).  Ok...but, I noted on my birth certificate which I obtained during one my trips there.....shows that citizenship of both my parents...and me...as Filipino!   
   What if, once I arrive in NAIA or any other airport in the Philippines I simply present my birth certificate (showing that was born in Manila and was a Filipino citizen at birth) ..along with my U.S. Passport, thereby (hopefully) making me eligible for the one-year Balik-Bayan visa.  Will it work?
  I really need more than the regular 21-day visa normally given to U.S citizen tourists.  It will take more than 21 days to accomplish all I need to get done on this trip....see my doctor, check out apartments, visit relatives, etc.   Thanks for your input, advice, suggestions.

Have you tried speaking with anyone at a Philippine consulate in the U.S.?  I found the one in San Francisco to be very helpful.

http://www.philippinessanfrancisco.org/

If it is determined that you do not qualify for Balikbayan status and you come to the Phil on a tourist visa the first visa is good for 30 days. A few day prior to that end of those 30 days you can apply for an extensions at most BI outlets such as those in Robinson malls throughout the Philippines and receive an extension of your tourist visa and apply for an ACR-I identification card, a simple procedure.  You can continue extending your tourist visa for up to 36 months before having to leave the country and start the process over again.

If the visitor intends to stay more than 30 days, they MUST get an extension from a Bureau of Immigration Office [BoI] before that 30 days expires.

This first Extension will be given for 29 days, at a cost of 3,030 pesos (as at April 2015)

If staying longer than 59 days, then another extension is needed and an Alien Certificate of Registration [ACR-I Card]

This next extension is often done for 2 months, but can be done for 6 months at the major BoI offices.

The current price for a 1 month extension is quoted as: 4,400 pesos
The current price for a 2 month extension is quoted as: 4,900 pesos
– See: www.in-philippines.com/philippines-visi … nsion-cost
The current price for a 6 month extension is quoted as: 11,500 pesos
– See: www.in-philippines.com/6-month-tourist- … hilippines

The ACR-I card has a cost of US$50 + 500 pesos

Visas for most visitors can be extended up to a maximum of 36 months, before they MUST leave the country.

The above prices may have increased since the original post, though they will be very close to the current prices, if not the same.

BI link: http://www.immigration.gov.ph/visa-requ … nd-59-days

The link below will give you a little more information regarding the Balikbayan program.

http://www.chanrobles.com/republicactno9174.html

Thanks TeeJay!  You're very thorough and very much appreciated.  If I can't get a Balik-bayan visa at the point of entry I'll try what you suggested.   Yes, I mentioned in my message that I first inquired with the Consular Office in San Francisco...they are the once who told me I'm not eligible for Balik bayan visa...nor for dual citizen.   Yet, my cousin, who is now a dual citizen and happily retired in the Philippines had exactly the same circumstances as me, one parent born a U.S. Citizen in the Philippines and the other parent a Filipino citizen.   In fact he was able to join the U.S.Air Force while still in the Philippines because he is considered a U.S. Citizen by birth...like me.
  I live 30 mins from Vancouver, BC (in a little U.S. border town right next to BC, Canada) and have the address of the Philippine Consulate there so that will be my next step.  Maybe they are more knowledgable and helpful there than those guys in San Francisco.   
   But maybe if my trip to the Consulate in Vancouver does not turn out positive I'll just try my luck when I arrived at the airport.   Perhaps talking to them in Tagalog might do the trick.
  In any case, you are a wealth of knowledge concerning the Philippines....good person to know over there.

FCStraight :

I wouldn't want bars on my window blocked and the window is your only exit.   I'll just make it so it's not worth for would-be intruders to burglarize my home.

Before we moved here, we lived in a rental flat in San Francisco, CA. The unit was above the garage. Street-facing windows, which were high up, did not have metal bars. But bedroom windows had them as these could be easily accessed from the back yard. (No need for ladders.) The front door had a metal gate.

My husband and I actually welcomed having bars on our windows. As parents, we've had  a fear of our child being abducted from our own home in the middle of the night. So, the bars helped us sleep better at night. The bars had a thumb turn lock that was almost impossible to open from the outside without a key but can be easily opened from the inside. The fire department also had a copy of the key.

Here in the Philippines, we had bars installed on our windows and glass sliding doors. All the bedroom windows have a fire exit. So, one can exit the house through the windows in case of fire by unlocking the padlock on the grills. We always tell our guests staying overnight where the key to the guest bedroom is kept.

The grills on our house are not just plain vertical bars. Decorative elements and accents were added. Some security bars here can be really fancy.

One can think of security bars as either a glass half empty or half full. Some may view security bars as making their house feel like a prison. Others may view it as making their house feel like a fortress that would keep intruders away. My husband and I view it as the latter.

FilAmMom, the need for window bars should be decided according to family circumstances, and in your case it makes sense specially that you have a child in your home.  And an elaborate ornate one such as you described is a plus.  And ensuring you have a way to open it from the inside makes a lot of sense.
But for many families who can't afford decorative bars or special locks that can be opened from inside but not from outside except with a key, unfortunately would have to settle for simple window bars....that looks like prison bars...or bird cage.  When I was a young boy growing up in Manila, I happen to witness a house across from ours go up in flames.  In short, the entire family perished; they couldn't escape through the only exit available- the barred windows.   I don't think the special locks that you can open from the inside were invented yet...or if already available, perhaps they couldn't afford to install them.   I still have nightmares about that fire.   So no window bars for my house....well unless I can have ornate ones like you have.

How safe you are, depends on you. Common surroundings awareness and choosing a place to live where you will not be the shining diamond or the fly in the milk are a must to your decisions of where to stay. The country it's self is much safer than many western countries. Media's job (all around the world) is not reporting the truth but selling their reports, what sells is fear drama blood etc a real world movie to see from our living room sofa eating pizza and drinking beer. Who ever say or show more of it, sells more. Close the tv and stop terrorizing your self. The usual common crime is petty theft, pick pocketing, loosing your unattended bag in public and so on. Police have no interest on you unless you start illegal activities such as drugs, underage prostitution, violent behaviors and so on. If you need their help they will help you on any given situation you might have. Keep in mind things here work different than the western world but that in no case can make the country dangerous. For example if you call the police because your neighbor is having a loud party, they will not come, instead they will send a neighborhood watchman to talk to the neighbors and everything will settle fine and no drama to anyone. No arrests, no fines no nothing, you get your sleep and he ends his loud party peacefully. Arguing here in the western world ways, can kill you. Talk, do not raise your voice neither try any physical contact (push, grab or even worst bunch). Do not intimidate anyone in public or in front of his family. You can read the internet there is a ton loads of such advices. Last, it is their country and that is the way they live and like to live, you are no one to change it to the ways you are used to. Your culture is irrelevant to them and they expect you to adopt in their mentality and culture, try the opposite and you'll be another online complainer for this country.

I used to travel to Manila for business about 20 years ago and I felt pretty safe then. But mostly took taxi's from my hotel to the Manila Fair which was actually very close. But I always felt safe there.

It's funny though that you talk about arguing can kill you. They used to say the same thing in Thailand. They'd say how people were friendly and would do anything to help and had big smiling faces, but get into an argument or really annoy someone and you could get knifed. I guess it really pays to remain calm and be reasonable, and to let things go if the amount in question is not that much.

These days though, Philippines is a lot in the news with the new President and hostage taking. I think keeping your wits about you should help, however, these days I probably wouldn't want to bring my family to certain countries at the moment.

FCStraight :

FilAmMom, the need for window bars should be decided according to family circumstances, and in your case it makes sense specially that you have a child in your home.  And an elaborate ornate one such as you described is a plus.  And ensuring you have a way to open it from the inside makes a lot of sense.
But for many families who can't afford decorative bars or special locks that can be opened from inside but not from outside except with a key, unfortunately would have to settle for simple window bars....that looks like prison bars...or bird cage.  When I was a young boy growing up in Manila, I happen to witness a house across from ours go up in flames.  In short, the entire family perished; they couldn't escape through the only exit available- the barred windows.   I don't think the special locks that you can open from the inside were invented yet...or if already available, perhaps they couldn't afford to install them.   I still have nightmares about that fire.   So no window bars for my house....well unless I can have ornate ones like you have.

The hardware that I mentioned is not available here in the Philippines.  Even if it were available here, I don't think it will sell as it's pretty big -- a 5" diameter metal box.

The set up that's more common here in the Philippines is one that has a small door that swings outward that can be locked with a padlock. The padlock is more discreet than the hardware I mentioned previously. I had seen padlock type installations since I was a little girl. I'm now 47. So, this set up has been in existence for quite some time. 

By the way, for those of you who have this set up, I suggest testing the door once in while. If you want, do a dry run. Replace the padlock if it's rusted over. Place the key where it can be easily found, like on a hook, and place a tag on it. Routinely spray WD40 on your padlock. Inform your guests who are sleeping over how to use the exit window.

An average middle class  Filipino family may not be able to afford the extra decorative work, but these can be added later on if they want. Metal / iron work is not that expensive here in the Philippines. My cost to add circles and curls to the bars:  US$500-600 (I forgot to ask for a discount), and that's for 16 sliding windows of various sizes and 2 sliding doors.

Some people can be stubborn. Though they are aware that they can be trapped inside their house if they have fixed metal bars on their windows, and they also know that if they convert them to one that has a fire exit such that they can escape in case of fire, they don't want to take action. They reason, fires are rare. It will not happen to us. What is that Filipino saying? "Nasa huli ang pagsisisi." Fires can happen anywhere at any time to anyone.

So, you say, "I'll just make it so it's not worth for would-be intruders to burglarize my home."  The house of one of my workers was burglarized. His house is simply built. Though he had a funds for installing metal bars, he was procrastinating on ordering them. He said they were expensive. He and his family woke up one morning and found their front door open and their laptop, cellphones, tablets, and 8k pesos in a drawer missing. Despite the loss, they're lucky they were not harmed. He ordered the bars with fire exit. The cost of the bars was less than the  cash lost and the cost to replace the stolen items.

Since the time I was 19 years old up into my mid 50's, I have visited the Philippines (PI) a total of 5 times. I once spent an entire month in PI, and was twice there between 2014 and 2016.

I felt comfortable in PI's warm climate and amongst its warm people who always welcomed me with closed eyes and open arms. I have felt safe walking through crowded streets outside of Manila in chinelas, shorts, and a tank top, just like the locals do. And what an honor to have someone ask me something in Tagalog thinking that I was their Kabayan - a compatriot.     

For almost 7 years, I weighed and researched the possibility of moving to The Philippines (PI) upon retirement. I went as far as inquiring about purchasing property near Batangas. Palawan was another place high on my list. Unfortunately, my dreams of moving to PI have been destroyed by President Duterte. I would never willingly live in a country wherein a suspicion or simple accusation (in the absence of proof and due judicial proceedings) could get a person killed. I will not live in a place where vigilantism is permitted and encouraged by its first official.

What's the body count up to now - 2400? "Alleged" drug pushers and users are the President's current number one target. Who's next? Former drug users? Will consumers of alcohol soon follow? What about gays? Will Duterte also make targets out of those putang ina's?

I will always love PI and respect its people. Nevertheless, I will make no attempt to move there until justice and the rule of law are upheld.

It is still very safe here in Coron, Palawan where we presently live with my Dutch-Swedish partner. This place is unaffected by all the violence and killings in Metro Manila and in other places.

My position is based on principle. I will boycott PI until there's definite change. Mind you, I also experienced Marcos' Marshall Law. Foreigners were not allowed in public past midnight. I was young and could have cared less about the injustices of Marshall Law. But now I'm old enough to care and make well thought out decisions.

Hello Teejay, I just wanted to state that in July 2016 i went into BI office here in CDO  to request a 6 month extension for my tourist visa. I paid a total of 7,030. I am curious why it was so much less than the 11,500 you stated? Believe me i am not complaining. lol

scott1953 :

Hello Teejay, I just wanted to state that in July 2016 i went into BI office here in CDO  to request a 6 month extension for my tourist visa. I paid a total of 7,030. I am curious why it was so much less than the 11,500 you stated? Believe me i am not complaining. lol

As you can see in the article via the attached link. The published stated cost and the actual cost paid was different.

http://www.in-philippines.com/6-month-t … hilippines

In your case the cost paid was less that 8,250 paid by the poster in the article.  If you look at the schedule of fees in the article you will see the fees listed that you may not have paid simply because you did not use the service such as express lane fees. If you subtract the express lane fees from the 11.500 total the total then becomes 8,500 pesos.   The fee total obviously depends on what services you have availed yourself of. 

Total the breakdown of the fees you paid and see how that compares to the fees listed on the post.

TeeJay

The press love a good story about anything nasty as it sells papers, so they tend to give a warped view of reality.
One bit of reality hit a Brit expat in a big way.
The story is one of many on that subject, all backed up by large numbers suggesting there is little hype on this one, also proving expats aren't safe from what's happening there.

Basically, stay away from anything, any place or anyone who has anything to do with illegal drugs.

http://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/daugh … -cbq5m9pf0

It was a bloody and tragic end to what might have been a charmed life. The bullet-riddled body of Aurora Moynihan, the daughter of the 3rd Baron Moynihan, was found lying beside a road in Manila, the capital of the Philippines, last weekend.

The glow of nearby streetlights illuminated not only her bloodied corpse, but a scrawled message on a piece of cardboard reading: “Pusher to the celebrities you are next.”

According to police, the 45-year-old was carrying four sachets of “shabu” (methamphetamine), four pieces of aluminium foil, a glass tube, two mobile phones and other personal belongings

Moderated by kenjee last week
Reason : Do not promote services on the forum. You may freely register company in the business directory (under Handy Tools)

Thanks Teejay, I went to the site you showed here and found it interesting reading.  All i can  say is that the amount an expat  pays  BI for any renewal does not seem to be a fixed amount. It all depends on the day and what they tell you to pay. I consider the 7,030 pesos i paid for the 6 month extension ok with me considering the  different amounts shown in the site you provided. Its still not a lot to pay for the enjoyment i receive living here.

Hello i'm Gustavo Woltmann, its much safer now compare before. The news you heard is not really right. RIght now we are secure in the Philippines.

Thank you for your input, Gustavo.  I pretty much figured that the news media grossly exaggerate reporting the events.  It hasn't changed much since I lived in Manila as a kid.  But it is good to hear from expats residing in the country that it's pretty safe.  Of course one has to remain alert and vigilant and stay away from known trouble areas.  Moving on with my plans to go there.

I am in a city in Mindanao, (for security reasons i will not say which city) it feels safer now in regards to petty street violence, the people seem more relaxed and happier, as I do, the curfew on the kids works well.  There are more police showing there presence in the streets.

I do however feel like the risk from kidnap or bombings (from religious groups ;) in the area) has increased, I think that it will be some time until this risk is reduced.  After any election some groups will try and destabilise a country via increasing their activity.  And RD has a lot of work today in regards to reducing these risks.

You'll be surprised how different it is being here than what you hear, watch or read on the news.

You're so right....I get it.  News never fails to strike horror and fear on the viewers....so much different from what it really is.  Thanks for your input.  Feel better now.

Here's the reason why I may never return to The Philippines:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/ … ina-russia

nile566 :

Here's the reason why I may never return to The Philippines:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/ … ina-russia

I understand what you are saying Nile, always consider that your list of countries never to visit will include:

1 Australia - we don't just lease land to China and Russia, we sell the land, and have strong trade alliances with China.  They are Australia major trading partner.
2. Thailand, Thailand does more trade with China than any other country.
3. Vietnam, - yep still a communist country that deals mostly with China
4. South Korea - China is the biggest trading partner.
5 China of course
6 America - also has strong trade alliance with China, been it second largest trade after Canada.
7 The UK's second largest trading partner is China, after Germany, for imports.
8 etc.


I understand that it looks like DR is moving away from the USA, will this stop me from coming here?  That will depend on what other forms of alliances he takes on with them, so yet to be seen for me.  I will watch this space for a while.

One thing that has happened is that I can over the recent months obtain a better currency deal when I visit the Philippines :), and it does feel safer.

nile566 :

Here's the reason why I may never return to The Philippines:
http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/ … ina-russia

Politics, just politics.

If that stops you, don't travel anywhere.

New topic

Questions and answers about the Philippines

Ask your question
Abdessalem.nizar
lipslikesugar
Can an Arab work in the Philippines?
By lipslikesugar
Willego
Work in the Philippines.
By Willego
MrsBorsic
Visa application through Embassy of Belgium
By MrsBorsic
Victoria99
Reputable co-working space in Cebu/Mactan ??
By Victoria99
SJSinKuwait
FILIPINO culture
By SJSinKuwait

Expatriate health insurance in the Philippines

Free advice and quotation service to choose an expat health insurance in the Philippines

Moving to the Philippines

Find tips from professionals about moving to the Philippines

Travel insurance in the Philippines

Enjoy a stress-free travel across the Philippines

Flights to the Philippines

Find the best prices for your flight tickets to the Philippines