Does and can anybody still feel safe and secure in the Philippines?

Earthquakes, super typhoons, bus accidents, mall robberies, among others – if you were to dispassionately look at the Philippines at any angle, you would get the feeling that it wouldn’t be a very safe place to live in.

On the other hand, you’ve got electricity rates (just raised before the holidays) that count as among the highest in the world. You’ve got a calamity-stricken region where aid was allegedly stalled due to the mayor’s being affiliated with the political enemy of the current president (that’s Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino, in case people didn’t get that one). You’ve got the policeman who was “debriefed” for estimating the casualty of typhoon Yolanda much higher than the government wants it to be. To add to the mix, you’ve got lawmakers drawing up impeachment complaints against Supreme Court justices allegedly for declaring their pork barrel unconstitutional. Let’s not forget the case between Makati Mayor Junjun Binay and the guards of the Dasmariñas subdivision.

From the instances listed above, one can infer that one can’t feel very secure in the Philippines either. If one does his/her job properly but makes a higher up look bad, he/she should start looking for another one. No good deed goes unpunished here. Following the rules and enforcing them will usually net one a reprimand of some sort. And with costs of utilities and commodities uncontrollably going up, one doesn’t know whether the salary he/she gets will still be enough to sustain him in the coming time periods.

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If you can’t feel safe and secure wherever you live, then it must mean that uncertainty at the very least plays a big part in, if not dominates, your way of life.

Indeed, uncertainty has become all but a way of life here in the Philippines. Getting from point A to point B in this jungle is more harrowing than it needs to be, and sometimes unnecessarily lethal.

Take the case of a bus320_2013_12_16_12_00_59 commute to…wherever at any given time of the day. Sometimes, all one can do as a passenger is hope and pray, really. The bus may be old or dilapidated, or the body may be tipping over to one side. If the side rails on the highway aren’t strong or high enough, the bus may tip over while it’s running fast. If the bus is going too fast, or just even if the bus driver is careless, it could find itself smacked against another vehicle, a wall, a building, a telephone pole, or it could find itself at the bottom of a ravine or gorge. The bus driver may be on shabu (so the urban legend goes) because he needs to stay awake while working long hours to meet his “boundary”. The bus driver may feel like the king of the road and race down the highway if he thinks or knows that there won’t be other cars around, or policemen, again, maybe because he needs to get as many passengers as possible. While you’re aboard the bus, you don’t know if there are crooks sitting among the crowd and waiting for the perfect time to declare a hold-up. You wouldn’t know if the food available from the multiple vendors coming aboard when the bus stops contains some substance which could incapacitate or kill you. When getting off the bus, you’re not sure if the bus driver will just lazily open the doors and force you to get off in the middle of the road.

See, that’s just a bus commute. There are too many uncertainties, most of them within the control of the bus operator, in that situation alone.

Are the affluent exempted from the lack of safety and security here in the Philippines? Perhaps not. It wouldn’t be hard to guess that they are very careful not to step on the wrong toes, especially with government officials, or else they could find themselves in jail, or worse, with a bullet in their heads. The reason many of them stay in their exclusive gated communities is that they don’t trust the local police to do their job well, and also because they want to keep those they perceive and deem as “undesirables” out of their enclaves. From their point of view, being subject to rules and regulations not of their own is a threat to the “safety and security” of their status as affluent people, so they find ways to constantly put themselves above it all.

I guess, the underlying question that needs to be asked is this: Where is the “culture of safety and security” here in the Philippines?

Whenever one speaks of 120101102026-philippines-manila-new-year-firecracker-injuries-story-topNew Year’s celebrations, this question becomes even more poignant, as many Filipinos are still into using fireworks and firecrackers despite their being banned, illegal, loud, and downright dangerous. Hospitals will be packed with patients with fireworks related injuries: fingers missing, nth-degree burns all over the body, bloody all over, other limbs missing – you name it. Gun owners and policemen are also known to discharge their firearms during the coming of the New Year. Many of their countrymen have become victims of stray bullets.

In a culture of pwede-na-yan and bahala na, safety and security are definitely at the bottom of the list of primary concerns here in the Philippines.

The thinking in Filipino society seems to be that if anything untoward happens to you, it’s your own fault. You fell into that open manhole? Antanga-tanga mo naman kasi, bakit di ka tumitingin kung saan ka tumatapak? (You’re stupid, why didn’t you watch where you’re going?) You got hit by a car while crossing the street when on a red light? Alam mo naman di sinusunod ang batas trapiko dito, diba? (You know that traffic rules are merely suggestions here, right?) You got fired/killed for reporting an executives’ bad behavior? Dapat nanahimik ka na lang. (You should have stayed quiet.) Filipinos like to think that the conditions of their society force its citizens to become street-smart, to adopt a heightened sense of survival, and to become as aware of their surroundings comparable to other places in the world. However, if one looks at the flipside, it merely highlights just how negligent, lazy, indifferent, how utterly unconcerned Filipinos are about each other, and how doing the right thing is so wrong in the Philippines.

A culture of safety and security will not be able to take root in a society where its inhabitants tend to place their own interests above everybody else. It will not flourish in a community where very few people are inclined to be disciplined and to follow the rules. Such a culture will not prosper in a society that prefers to take shortcuts and to leave many things to chance because “it’s too hard”, “it costs too much money”, or because “prayer is a form of protection” and especially because its members are too lazy, self-absorbed, and preoccupied with “survival”.

Most of all, a culture of safety and security will not take root in a society where there is no greater sense of community, where the members aspire to be part of something bigger than their own selves.

The Philippines is, undeniably, such a society. The Wild, Wild West lives on in this country once known as the Pearl of the Orient. It will be that way for years to come, because Filipinos lack the imagination to work towards anything better.

[Photo courtesy: GMA 7 and CNN]

56 Replies to “Does and can anybody still feel safe and secure in the Philippines?”

  1. Very true, FallenAngel…sad, but very true. Thanks for writing this. I hope many will be able to read it and reflect on it so that the change can begin….

      1. Thanks for posting like this ,,, if the president / and the government can’t do nothing about it,,, this things will be just keep going and going , till generation to generation,, did we see a change or feel the change from Marcos to Aquino ,, nothing but keep crowding,,,

  2. we should start by following the president’s direction and be a responsible citizen. when we are following the straight path, our safetiness is secured.

    1. Oh, no, I thought Ricky Carandang has resigned? He’s back, but with a different name. Or maybe you’re Coloma? FYI, the president DOES NOT HAVE ANY DIRECTION. That’s been the problem from the start.

      1. so if you do not follow the president’s path then you are for the opposition. how will we improve as a nation if our direction is not one?

        1. So be one in pursuing even a patently wrong direction, or in having no direction for that matter? Sorry, I don’t think unity is an end in itself, only a means to an end.

        2. Why should we follow someone who clearly is leading this country without any direction?
          You couldn’t even give us ONE good reason why yet you still insist that we should follow your falling president.

          Sarap talaga maging UTO UTO no?

        3. The president’s path is the one already paved by all the ineffective presidents who came before him. The path of mediocrity. The ‘pwede na’ president.

        4. Dirch. The thing is, he painted himself as a difference maker. A game changer. He will eliminate corruption and poverty. Not bad for someone who was a non-achiever at 50.

        5. Is “your president’s path” necessarily the only right one?

          That’s the problem with your “president” – he simply does not listen to those who think differently from he does.

          We will not improve as a nation because your “president” does not espouse real unity. He causes divisiveness. Plus, he stands for the status quo.

        6. he listens and always approves the most favored. but he does not listen to those who are destroying the right things in our government.

        7. “he listens and always approves the most favored. but he does not listen to those who are destroying the right things in our government.”

          And playing the blame game is the right thing?

          I sense IGNORANCE.

          Fact is you’re TROLLING. 😀

    2. Stop kidding yourself “pagpag” a.k.a. kathniel a.k.a “malacanang troll”.
      Its already almost 4 years and your president has been leading this country without any direction.
      The only direction he’s heading is straight down since his downfall is already imminent.

      Just ask the survivors of yolanda if they feel any safer under your president’s “leadership”, I doubt that they’ll answer you positively.

      1. why don’t you ask them yourself? bunkhouses are being built in tacloban through the president. electricity is back within a month even though it could take about 4 months, all because of our president. do not be suprised by their answers.

        1. My, how the media can fool us, or how we can fool ourselves! The president is not doing anything because he doesn’t know what to do and he couldn’t give a hoot about all of us. He only cares about his family and the Liberal Party.

        2. Avoiding the question are we?
          Nice try idiot but that trick won’t work here.
          What’s the matter?
          Are you too scared to find put how much they are disappointed in your president?
          FYI, those “houses” your president have built for them are not strong enough to face another storm like yolanda.
          Sasagot na nga lang, mali pa. Sayang ang binayad sa iyo dahil palpak ka magtroll

        3. Haven’t the people in Tacloban suffered enough? Then you have the Gruesome Twosome. Your Precious President and His Precious BFF. With misstep after miscue after misquote and you dare fake pride in what they have so royally screwed up?

        4. “the president not doing anything? look at his fb page and be aware.”

          And that FB page is manipulated. Why would we be aware of things that can be manipulated?

          Of course, you won’t answer because you’re a filthy LIAR who loves to eat PAGPAG.

          Troll comment, right?

        5. You’re obviously running out of ammunition since you cited his FB page as a source for your argument. FYI, his FB page is only filled with LIES which idiots like you keep swallowing hook line and sinker.

          Sarap talaga maging uto uto no?

    3. @pagpag – tama lng na pagpag ang ginamit mong alias cge ipagpag mo muna yang ulo mo para magising kana kasi kaming mga ordinaryong mamamayan ay di mo na kayang lokohin pa sa propaganda mong matuwid ang daan na tatahakin namin kay Pnot solohin mo nlng…

    4. Bagay nga talaga ang pangalan sa iyo vincensus ignoramus. Ang sarap kumain ng galing sa basura ano? I hope you’ll suffer food poisoning.

  3. Such an environment consciously creates an atmosphere of fear, and the result is inevitably a country which largely remains in a time warp, as the rest of the world speeds up and passes it by, perpetuating a vicious circle and downward spiral.

    As someone who has lived and worked in such places as cuba, russia, east berlin before re-unification, then i see the similarities and the impact, albeit not as extreme, but odious, destructive, and dehabilitating nonetheless.

    Individuality, whether through speech, innovation, culture, or entrepreneurship is largely sacrificed to ensure that the status quo is maintained, irrespective of how corrupt or inefficient the system/government is, and group think rules, cultivated through propaganda and media control/influence.

    Minor achievements are heralded as major events (e.g. beauty queens visiting the palace!!). Anything to create a feel good factor in a state of hopelessness.
    The most telling common denominator with cuba, russia et al is the need to live in a fantasy world and deny reality, and only publish good news. Pnoy aquino clearly is an advocate.

    I remember in russia in the 80’s the papers were proclaiming how bad the US was in terms of crime and homosexuality and that russia was proud that it had no homosexuals. Still an issue all these years later. Good luck sochi games!

    Just like pnoy aquino wanted to manipulate the yolanda death toll – and ignore the 1400 bodies still rotting in the sun and being eating by flies.

    Reality exposes these corrupt incompetents forwhat they are – pieces of sh!t with a special place in hell.

  4. The lack of safety and security is a inconvenience, but the pros far outweigh the cons for us expats.

    Filipinas lining up to have a chance to sleep with us westerners, bar girls servicing us the whole night for that ten sweet american dollars

    Filipinas lining up to make sex videos for a few hundred pesos tip, There’s even a website and a discount card for us expats in all the bars in the phils if we upload our sex pics and videos.. Check out the Philipppines addicts forums if you want some action lol.

    Sorry… I rambled off there for a moment; my point is, life in the PI is good for us expats, the exchange rate is awesome, and if it takes some danger and insecurity to preserve the exchange rate and keep filipina services cheap, I really hope there is a war then, so things maybe get even cheaper lol

    If I was a filipino I’d have my pitchforks out for the pi gov too, but where I stand, your prez is doing a good job for us foreigners to live here, so it’s all just a matter of perspective lol.

    If anyone wants a 10% discount card for all the sexy bars in manila, ac, and the rest of pi log on our philippine addicts forums and hit me up, my name is BigB!

    Nice forum site u got here too, but the philippine addicts site is so much more chill and stimulating haha

    All the best, fellow netizens!

    1. I hope you get what your ten sweet dollars’ worth. Prostitutes with poor or non-existent health care and medical exams are common here. Yes, I see a lot of expats here, and I somehow wonder why are some Filipinos leaving the country while some Caucasians gets a job here. I just hope you don’t get to experience the impertinence of our government full blast as there are pending natural disasters (e.g. an earthquake in the city from the marikina valley fault). because if you do, your country could not do enough to save you from the rubble in time.

      1. @ CF, U kno, its been 15 months since George’s murder? I did not know him, but after the first time I got set-up and robbed there I did something about it. My partner who owns her own small business bought a .38 revolver and a German Shepherd and they are my constant companions when ever I roam around the country.No one even knows I have the ‘piece’ under my shirt( a detective special, 7-shot, never jams either) George should have kept his business to himself and definitely not hit the guys car, but if those l’il shitheads had come after me like that? They would all be fuckin dead. I MMOB and that was Mr. Anikows big mistake. but it does not excuse what happened to him and I wonder if the l’il shit bags that murdered him are even still in jail? Do U kno?

    2. At the cost of being unable to set up a real business without going through countless red tape. Sure, expats do have it all until vacation mode is over. Don’t forget all those leeches begging you for money or a green card just because you look white. Better watch out!

    3. Happy Kano….You are hardly the spokesman for all ex-pats. I have been living here for 20 years and am alarmed at the deteriorating conditions: the rampant unchecked air pollution, traffic gridlock, skyrocketing electrical and gas prices, millions of homeless building cardboard shacks in any vacant lot, desperately poor women popping out families of 10-12 children, beggars everywhere, people cannot leave their houses for fear of thieves breaking in, many areas are knee deep in trash, gross corruption and incompetence at all levels of society, it is impossible to get anything done without bribes to “expedite” your application, etc. I love this country; but you would have to be in an alcoholic haze, not to realize or care that it is spiraling out of control. If the people were not so damn passive, there would have been a revolution by now.

      1. Sea Bee, Happy Kano has pointed out the “delights” available to all tourists who come here with sex on their minds. What he does not talk about are the huge impediments expats who live here are faced with. If we so much as open our mouth to the wrong person about the inequities of life in this country we are deported, threatened physically or just plain “disappeared.”

        Those very problems you talk about are the result of Filipinos, as a nation, being too stupid to replace the family political dynasties that have caused the problems.

        Until recently I gave Aquino the benefit of the doubt, but lately it seems he is just like all the rest and YOU Filipinos are to blame. His mother is from a land owner dynasty and she did everything she could to protect her meritocracy from the very constitution her cronies wrote on a Friday night after a case of Tandhuay.

        You, Sea Bee, need to take a proactive role (I am prohibited by law even though I really speak for my 2 Filipino children) from being politically active. You, Sea Bee, need to start to prepare a set of candidates nationwide to supplant and displace all the political dynasties that have ruined your country and kept it a 4th world place. I want my children to have better and I will advise them to go to America where they also have citizenship and to do what they can to help one ot their mother countries.

        1. Jerry….I never said I was a filipino. My wife is. I have been living here since the 1990’s. My father in law was a barangay captain; so I have some idea of the political machinations that occur at least on a local level. You are right about their attitude towards foreigners: “keep your mouth shut or get the hell out!” This is the only site; except for “filipino freethinkers” that seems to know what is actually going on in this country. Generally speaking, filipinos are hostile to any type of criticism of ANYTHING. If something is dysfunctional it is easier for them to accept it than it is to fix it.

      2. @ Sea-Bee, Well said. After being here for 2 months I knew what was up. ITS OBVIOUS, but after 8 years it became a game of staying under the radar of all the things that most Westerners find repulsive and un-acceptable and therefore could not live in the country.Not a single one of my friends or aquaintances could last 6 months in the R.P., as I have done. it is the isolated beaches on Dinigat/Palawan/Camiguin that keep me in the country. 7,000 islands create a beach a week to live on, so it goes….

  5. One of my theories is that Pinoys don’t like it safe. They believe if you’re safe, then you’re a wussie. Instead, make something that will endanger your life, as if self-endangerment is a necessity in culture. Maybe it’s the desire for excitement, plain stupidity or carelessness, or a belief that putting one’s life in danger makes one a hero. That last one is stupid – of course, what makes one a hero is the desire to help others, not the risk to one’s life. One can be a hero without risking one’s life. But I digress…

    Perhaps it reflects how Filipinos consider life as cheap. It seems pretty hard for a Filipino to adhere to the Universal Human Rights Charter in their own country.

    1. Chino,

      How does that make Filipinos any different from the millions of other bozos who believe the pinnacle of achievement is having videos of themselves crushing their genitalia on a metal balustrade or face-planting onto a gravel road while attempting X-games stunts and professional wrestling aerial techniques uploaded to YouTube with the hope of achieving meme status?

        1. pagpag,

          What delusion causes you to think that I find this particular form of narcissism appealing?

          Speaking of bozos with a complete and utter disregard for safety…

          I recall a certain balding, middle-aged underachieving government official with a perennial sneer who purchased a Porsche at a cost of PhP4.5 million within the first year of his being elected. This was done with callous indifference to his administration’s official policy of austerity in spending public funds, a position which was one of the fundamental elements of his campaign.

          This same hypocritical, incompetent lout would take his newly acquired (allegedly second-hand) sports car out at night — along with his official retinue of bodyguards — and travel all the way to the expressway so that he could rev the motor and tear up the lanes, unencumbered by Metro Manila’s chronic traffic congestion. In essence, the fool created his own illegal street race with himself as the only racer, using his security force to clear the roads, while his gas guzzler ate up fuel paid for by Filipino taxpayers. All this just to satisfy his adolescent need for an adrenaline rush.

          It never seemed to occur to the buffoon that driving on a track surface like, say the Clark International Speedway, under controlled conditions might have been safer or that the circuit might have provided a better challenge to a driver’s skill. Or that by racing there, he might have helped to promote it as a destination for more motor sports events.

        2. Your sponsor BS Aquino is a dangerous man indeed, pagpag. Absolutely no one in the Philippines is safe from his stupidity and incompetence.

        1. Hey, Amir — well, if the shoe fits… 🙂

          Frankly, I’m more concerned about the “general jackass-ery” in Congress and Malacañang than idiots who think no experience is worth having unless it generates millions of hits.

    2. And I guess that’s the reason why there are still those moronic ignoramuses who are like committing suicide by lighting those firecrackers especially the dangerous ones and sometimes cheating death (holding the super lolo upward while it’s ignited for example) for celebrating this New Year later?

  6. There are no cultures of “safety and security” in our country. Maybe you are howling at the moon.
    Everything goes in the Philippines. Peoples’ lives are cheap and expendable. Peoples’ taxes also can be stolen by government officials, without any outrage or complaints from the taxpayers. Elected government officials are pandering for our votes, during elections. After they are elected, they act like Gods. Ordering us all to pay homage to them. If they steal our taxes, thru Pork Barrels. To them , stealing is okay, if it is done in the legal way (their own legalities).
    We have not matured as a nation. We elect Immature people…so this is now the result…

    1. Happy New Year; but keep your head down!!! Cherry bombs and firecrackers have been blasting the night skies since the end of October and will continue until mid February.

        1. I’ve spent a few New Years in the USA and I ALWAYS miss the firecrackers badly when I greet the New Year there… 🙂

      1. I doubt just keeping you head down would be enough. Hunkering down a fortified bunker would be the ideal safety measure. (bonus points for extra gas masks). With that being said, I also bid the people a HAPPY WORLD WAR 3— uh, I mean, NEW YEAR.

  7. They should place this article on the frontpage of every newspaper in this country.

    It is very correct description of situation in this country. It is everywhere.

    Like now – i drove 10 km around 2 am. Around 50 % of motorcycles i met didnt have any lights. And it was national highway.

    People dont care about safety, they dont care about anything…

  8. The answer to the question asked is simply: NO.

    Everywhere anyone travels in the world a tragedy can occur. It is just a lot more likely to happen in the Philippines.

    Trust no one, protect yourself at all times. A good mantra to live by. It serves me well…and I get around pretty OK with it.

    1. I feel safe and secure in Malaybalay and I have never thought it desirable to live in a gated community, but lived in one (BF Resorts) in Las Piñas until I found a place not behind gates. Finding a safe place takes common sense. You read about typhoons and floods with the accompanying landslides and avoid those places. Stay away from the extreme southern island chains such as Sulu & Jolo where the separatists are fighting. Stay away from Manila and its crime, dirt, noise and traffic and you will be mostly fine.

      1. I hang out down the block between Malabalay and Valencia from time to time. I know very well all about the perils that await any Kano who travels south of Zambang! I find the electricity rates throughout the country to be outrageous though I have never yet paid a bill in Bukidnon so IDK what is up there. The road to Malabalay from CDO is soo screwed up I avoid going there whenever possible, it is just un-pleasant as a road trip can get.

  9. y the way, the electricity in Bukidnon is not very expensive at all, unlike Luzon areas where they have Meralco high power rates.

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