Planning for a trip to the Philippines entails thorough research, not just about the best attractions, but more importantly, about safety and crime prevention. Relative to most other countries, the Philippines is a safe place to visit. However, like most countries all over the world, there are things you need to do and not do to ensure you stay safe in the Philippines, especially in major cities like Manila and Cebu.
Be humble and friendly
Most Filipinos are not too fond of people who are too full of themselves. By being humble, you will not only steer clear from trouble, you can also gain new friends that can potentially make your trip more enjoyable.
Be especially respectful towards the elderly
Elders are highly respected in the country and are shown by giving them priority at all times like when paying at the counter and getting on public transportation. To address a woman older than you, you can use Lola (grandmother), Tita (auntie) and Ate or Manang (older sister). With men, you can use Lolo (grandfather), Tito (uncle) and kuya (older brother). These titles are used regardless of blood relation and simply based on how much older the person is than you.
Have a good sense of humor
Filipinos are naturally happy people and they can still find something to smile about amidst catastrophes and yes, poverty. Some even use humor to approach a stranger and break barriers. You might get offended by a joke but more often, those jokes meant no harm or insult.
Drink bottled water
Tap water in the Philippines is not always safe. To avoid contamination and stomach upset, it is best to drink distilled water or at least purified water. The latter is cheaper and available almost everywhere with the saturation of water refilling stations in the country.
Wear light casual clothing
The weather is always hot in the country so it is best to wear light casual clothing to prevent heatstroke. Just bring a few to layer for cooler temperature in the airport or during your flight.
Have coins or small bills ready
This is particularly advisable when taking public transportation. Never take out your wallet with all your cash, cards, and IDs for others, including robbers, to see. This can also make tipping and paying easy.
Keep an eye on your valuables
Pickpockets can be very quick and before you know it, your wallet or phone is already gone. Keep your valuables close to you and secure them when using a backpack. Placing your bag in front of you is highly encouraged.
Don’t be flashy
Displaying your valuables can attract all kinds of people including those who can do you harm.
Don’t insult the country or its people
This is applicable to any country in the world, not just the Philippines. If you have nothing good to say, then best to say nothing at all than risk offending others and putting yourself in trouble.
Don’t lose your temper
It is easy to lose temper especially when things didn’t turn out as planned. You are likely to experience delayed flights (which is common with some airlines due to air traffic), road traffic, long lines in the counter or last-minute changes in your schedule. Don’t let these make you lose your cool! Just take a deep breath and think of all the beautiful islands you are about to explore or have already explored.
Don’t walk the streets alone especially at night
There are areas not meant for walking alone at night. Ask around for a safer route or walk in groups to discourage anyone looking to cause trouble.
Don’t show off your mobile phone, iPod, jewelries, or any other valuables
This is to prevent attracting theft.
Don’t put your wallet in the rear pocket
Same is true with your mobile phone. They can get lost, be it stolen or slipped out of your pocket without you knowing it.
Don’t criticize religion
Religion, be it Catholic, Baptist, or Protestant must be respected. Filipinos easily get offended when something bad is said against their religion. This may cause conflict so avoid it as much as possible.
It is really easy to stay safe in the Philippines. Following the rules and staying alert will ensure you have safe, fun, and stress-free vacation.