Monday, December 1, 2008

Just Wondering: Is the Philippines dangerous?

A few years ago, my husband overheard a conversation which went like:

Woman: They are going to the Philippines for holidays!
Man: They are really crazy! It is so dangerous there!
Woman: Yeah, they are really crazy!

Then a few days ago, my husband had a conversation with a colleague which went like:

Colleague: I want to go to Thailand for holidays.
My husband: Why don't you go to the Philippines, there are political protests going on in Thailand. The airport is closed.
Colleague: I don't like the Philippines. Anyway, also it is very dangerous.

Huh? Personally, I don't think the Philippines is more dangerous than Thailand, Bali, or India but the world perceive it to be. Why is this so? Okay, I admit, we had the kidnappings (a long time ago), a few coup d'etat, and an ongoing muslim insurgency to give us a bad reputation. When you think about it though, Thailand also had a coup d'etat recently (their airport is closed now even) and they also have a muslim insurgency in the south, Bali had the bombings and India had a few train bombings plus what had recently occurred in Mumbai but the Philippines is still perceived to be more dangerous than these places. Why?

When Trillanes and company went to the Manila Peninsula Hotel to express their grief, they let the people go and did not hurt anyone. Quite unlike what happened in Mumbai.

In his travels, my husband has been aggressed in Paris and Indonesia and has never had any bad encounters in the Philippines anywhere he went. The tambays (jobless men in street corners) in Baclaran really like him and would even watch our car.

Is it our media? Do you think they are too focused on the gruesome? Do you think they sensationalize crime too much that they put people in unnecessary fear? I really don't think that the Philippines is more dangerous than anywhere else. In Napoli, my friend discouraged us from bringing cameras because it might attract too much attention. I bring my camera anywhere in the Philippines -- Baclaran, Divisoria, Binondo-- and people in the streets would readily give me a smile and a pose. Still, the Philippines is perceived to be dangerous and the people who visit us labeled as "crazy".

Just wondering.


Anonymous said...

Hi, Cathy! I've been reading your blog for a few months now. :) I chanced upon one of your entries and we have similar thoughts about some things.

Like this post in particular. My two cents: I think it's because the Philippines has a bit of an inferiority complex (residual colonial mentality?) and is able to articulate it very well in English. Hence the whole English-speaking world knows exactly how we feel. :) It's both a good and bad thing, depending on how the coin falls.

I only recently started to read on how respective countries are covered by their local media, and it's an interesting study. :) Philippine media has anti-government headlines daily. American media has a lot of anti-big business news. Singapore media is very... pro. But I lose a lot in the translations for other countries, so I don't get to grasp exactly how their citizens feel. Until I saw the Bangkok airport protests on the news, and then I realized that the unrest has been there all this time.

I also noticed that the cultures who seem to take well to our country (Koreans, Japanese, and I believe the Russians, Eastern Europeans and Brazilians are gaining ground) are those who aren't heavily reliant on the languages we communicate in. Strange no?

Sorry for such a long comment! You can see that I like thinking about this. :)

- y-slaybelle (livejournal)

Cathy said...

Hi y-slaybelle,

Thanks a lot for the comment (I like long and informed comments). It is funny because my husband and I concluded as you in our discussion about this. I told him that because our media is in English, the whole world knows what is going on in our country. Add to this the fact that our media is very anti-government, then we create a very bad impression abroad indeed.

If our media is creating the right impression about our country is another question. Personally, I don't think so. I don't think it would hurt for them to show the good stuff once in a while.

Okay, the media says that they are "free" and so they can say what they want and do what they want. With freedom comes responsibility, so they should be responsible to have a balanced and not sensationalized coverage.


Anonymous said...

hi there
Just browsing reading reviews about Philippines. Just preparing myself for my holidays there soon & looking forward to it! Read your blog, and it does makes me wonder too..why?
I left Philippines when i was very young, I love the Philippines it was where I was born. Im still very connected. I feel really sad that we don't get the same credit as other South Asian countries for having lovely beaches, scenic views, being a tourist friendly place, when we are probably 1 of the most friendliest people anyone would meet & have the most loveliest beach that i have seen in pictures in the whole of South East Asia.
I reckon part of the problem has also something to do with the system. And i am experiencing it at the moment, i feel like pulling my hair out in frustration! It is such a pain and agony to sort out my travel arrangements ie: Hotels, internal flights to other islands like Boracay, and to think Boracay is a tourist hotspot. No one accepts Credit card reservation.
Also, tried to book internal flights, 1 carrier dont't accept our credit card from the UK, I was told it has to be either pay-by-the-counter or bank transfers to Philippine Banks. So i had to browse around for other flghts & check which carrier or airline will accept our card online & luckilly we found 1 that does & thats almost 1 day of browsing! Also, what's with the U.S dollars rates all the time? Some are cheeky, there is always hidden cost somewhere.
They have to make it simple, easier, with easy access and reasonable good example are Thailand & Indonesia they have such good tourism rate because its as easy as ABC to sort yourself out with travel arrangements there. I think it's about time that Philippines shine & become 1 hot tourist destination!
x C

Anonymous said...

My boyfriend and I want to go to the Philippines soon to visit the areas where his mother grew up. But, admittedly, we are a bit nervous about it because of the U.S. State Travel warnings.

In your opinion, is Mindanao most likely safe right now? What about Catigan? The areas we want to go to are the ones we're being warned about avoiding!

Thanks for your blog. It's great to find such wonderful resources on the web.

Cathy said...

Hi C!

I am also in the process of booking hotels and flights now and yes it is frustrating. I even know the system. Out of 15 hotels I emailed, only 3 answered me! =) It is always better to call, I realized. You can email me if you need more information, maybe I can help.


Cathy said...

I don't know about ALL of Mindanao but I did feel confident enough to plan on taking my whole family to Siargao, Surigao which is on the pacific side of Mindanao. I don't know where Catigan is but when I googled it, it appears that it is in Davao. Well, to tell you the truth, I don't know...I hope my readers from Mindanao would help me answer your question (calling e-souled!)


Anonymous said...

Thanks, Cathy. It is in Davao. Hopefully we'll learn more. I'm very much looking forward to visiting!