This is a guest post by Anna from Anna Love Life. She is a travel and style blogger based in the Philippines.
The most important concern for anyone who wants to live in the Philippines is safety. It’s normal to wonder how safe it is in a strange land, where you may still have to learn the local practices and to understand the Filipino people–don’t feel bad or think you’re too paranoid!
Nevertheless, it’s clear that the answer to that question can determine your final decision whether this country is an excellent place for you or not. Let me give you a few insights that may hopefully give you an idea and help you decide.
The Filipino People
Generally, like most people in a country, Filipinos are friendly and nice. There are more people you will meet that you may consider as friends rather than enemies. If you need direction, they will provide the right location. Drivers may even help you out in more ways than you could expect. Wherever you go you see men, women and children smiling at you and it’s irresistible not to smile back.
There are types of Filipinos you need to be aware of. The notion that foreigners, especially those with white skin and blue eyes, are rich is still relevant these days. Some may be abusive in terms of charging fees, such as motorized tricycle drivers, repair men, masseuses and other freelancers. It’s a great help if you ask around or research regarding average costs before you hire services to avoid overcharges.
In addition, be wary of thieves. You must set up security measures at home like surveillance or CCTV cameras, high-end door locks and big dogs. When you’re walking in the streets of Manila, avoid wearing a lot of jewelry and don’t bring lots of cash with you.
The Issue with Drugs and Kidnappings
Since 2000, the Philippines government has been dealing with the existence along with the problems and chaos created by a notorious terrorist group called the Abu Sayyaf. Many of their past victims and target prey are foreigners. If you choose to live far away from their territory, which is in Jolo and Basilan islands in Mindanao, there should be nothing to worry about. It’s also wise to avoid going to nearby beaches and isolated tourist destinations since they are known to capture people by boat. These same applies when it comes to other known rebel groups, such as the Maute group that recently invaded the city of Marawi.
The War On Drugs
The war against drugs is also a hot topic not only in the Philippines, but also around the world. Many have big concerns with this issue, most notably the extrajudicial killings. The simple solution to avoid being a part of this problem is to stay away from illegal drugs and similar offences. Marijuana may be legal and other drugs may be easily purchased without government intervention in your home country, but such substances are strictly prohibited here.
Before you reside in the Philippines, you are highly encouraged to attend programs and do more research about safety and security here. You can ask your embassy concerning this matter. For U.S. citizens, they have the Department of State’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP).
Is the Philippines safe to live in for expats?
Despite the current situation as mentioned above, the answer is absolutely yes. Many Filipinos will make you feel at home rather than unwelcome.