So lets go back to the average tourist that is coming over here. They check their normal sources:
US Embassy Website
What do they hear?
A lot of baloney!
Stories about the Philippines tend to fall into several categories.
- Mindanao and the MILF fighters there vs the Govt
- Bombings (from long ago)
- Corruption (from not so long ago)
- Travel advisories – Mostly related to Abu Sayaaf
Something happens far away, and you can count the Embassy will release a travel advisory about Mindanao. Well if you are going to Tawi Tawi it could be a problem, like that is going to happen. READ A MAP and see where that is before writing travel here off!!!
Knee jerk reactions from Non Governmental Organizations (that want more contributions to support their NGO staff working here) showing strife, anguish, etc for particular groups.
They blow airplanes up
Airlines are unsafe – and other rumors
The Bojinka Plot was the guys that engineered 9/11 and they practiced here instead of tipping off airports they were testing in the US. Read up on it in Wikipedia. It could have happened anywhere and they were almost caught. Well some of them were and I wouldn’t have wanted to have been at Camp Crame when the “Interrogations” were happening.
They had a 747 had a bomb go off under a seat on one flight. How many flights a day travel around the world. Do the math.
Not one 747 or Airbus with Philippine Airlines has crashed into the ocean between the US or Canada and the Philippines. They fly many per day across the pond on 12 to 14 hour routes. Safe! Yep
You can fly via Tokyo on higher cost than other carriers. In fact, I have flown every airline on every route conceivable to Manila, while the airplanes are old and stinky, the service tends to be better. All up to you. Maybe I can fly back and forth for you and you pay me for the Singapore Airlines seat and I can buy PAL seats and pocket the difference hauling goodies for you. Now there would be a business I could enjoy haha
Philippine Airlines had an Airbus run off a runway in Cagayan de Oro during a rainstorm. So did Air Canada at Montreal a few years back. It happens but PAL gets more press. Southwest had an airplane land at the wrong airport on a short runway just last week. Are people going to stop flying Southwest? Think!
They had 2 overshoots at Caticlan Airport at Boracay. Well they need to lengthen the runway and stop landing during heavy winds. Finally the government stepped in and made airlines stop landing there six months out of the year and now you get that nice bus trip from Kalibo to Caticlan Port. Wasn’t that a wonderful solution? Duh
Listen, if you are traveling here, you should know that unless you are going into the deepest darkest MILF or Abu Sayaaf areas, you don’t have a heck of a lot to worry about. If you have a girlfriend from that area and you absolutely decide to live there, then expect to pay revolutionary tax or someway get along with your revolutionary neighbors.
If you think in your wildest dreams that you are Chuck Norris or Jackie Chan and are going to just ignore them when they come a calling, well get ready to be kidnapped. A donation of a few bags of rice will normally keep your neighbors at bay. And Gun Fu beats Kung Fu any day bad guy wanna bees.
However I will let you know now, Abu Sayaaf is a different animal, they frankly DON’T LIKE YOU and WHAT YOUR COUNTRY STANDS FOR. If you don’t understand the difference between MILF and Abu Sayaaf you better read up on them. The difference is between George Washington and Ghengkis Khan. One is fed up with their government, for right or wrong, they are. The other wants to kill all foreigners. Get it?
So being a UN emissary aint in the cards. A few people have been abducted with those guys and I hope you like life in your new surroundings, like a Tawi Tawi camp for a few years… Frankly, most of Mindinao is a wonderful place, but there are parts that I think you need a lobotomy to live in. I think Davao is an organized, fairly clean and civilized place, but they have had their airport terminal blown up a couple times. Don’t hang around bus stops and airport terminals… like DUH
Now if you are travelling around use common sense!
You are not going on a Cruise Ship or Going to Walt Disney World – Hello!
Don’t dress like you are on a cruise ship. Don’t carry flashy jewelry, don’t carry a big fat wallet in your back pocket, plan your itinerary, have people with you that you can trust and negotiate for you. Don’t wear things with big US Flags on them, and don’t think Canadians are like the Irish, people don’t care where you are from, unless you are a braggart and become arrogant. World War 2 was over a long time ago and people here are having fun running their own country.
DON’T expect things work like the US and thank GOD they don’t, that’s part of the fun!
We all know of the “Ugly American” yea, that guy with a boarding pass sticking out of his pocket and oblivious to the world. Blow up at immigration and you could get your visa denied and permanently banned. In other words, you have no power and the Embassy could care less if you don’t like the countries laws you are visiting… it is what it is.
Let me explain a few things mommy didn’t tell you before you departed:
The country you left and the country you arrived in are two different countries. In other words when that nice man at the airport stamped that blue passport, you entered the Philippines! Get it?
It had a date you were supposed to leave by. If you forgot to leave by then, don’t blame Mr Immigrations Man at the airport when he points it out to you. Have a cow and get a permanent we don’t want you stamp in your passport. Yes it has happened in Immigration Offices. In fact, immediately off to holding cell, on to a flight to your home country and bye bye, do not pass GO, do not pick up your bags at home, just get out! Well isn’t that friendly? Well don’t blow up!
Things don’t all work like the US or UK or wherever you are from. Your Starbucks discount card doesn’t give you squat here. Take it back home with you. There isn’t always a McDonalds on every street corner. They don’t give you change back in US Dollars. They don’t automatically exchange your US Dollars for Philippine Pesos because you forgot to exchange some before you went out.
And yes Science and Match classes in schools are taught in English! So yes, people do speak it, though maybe not as quickly or elegantly as you might desire, but trust me, they do. I ask for things all the time. Yes Bob, I’m not proficient in Tagalog, but I fumble along and I was able to build an entire house and buy all the hardware without uttering more than 50 words in my repertoire of the language so I guess someone understood me.. of course I could probably get ripped off but I do understand mahal and moora haha.
Enjoy the place. I find it much more safe than traveling in the US, which in a lot of cities I find a bit creepy. Of course I found panhandlers on the street outside of hotels in Vancouver even creepier.. but to each government their own.
At least here a simple discussion with a policeman over a traffic violation can be solved quickly and with less than 10 bucks be on your way. Hey, chances are you actually broke the law, so why complain they were shaking you down for a ticket, oh I guess you forgot that little tidbit when they pulled you over eh? You want to wait on traffic court, could be 6 months to pay that 10 dollar fine. Your choice Einstein, but I know what I would rather do…
Things in government offices don’t work like the US or UK or wherever. Well because they don’t have funds to make it happen. You want first class service, then pay expediting fees, or wait for normal service, which can be slow. But I get license plates, have a drivers license, bought a lot, etc… and I didn’t have a stroke in the process.
Oh, and those of you that complain about paying for overstaying your visa. How about be out of the country on time? Let me tell you, if you were a Filipino or from any other country, and came into the US and then showed up at Homeland Security on the way out and were late, it’s a 10 year ban on your US visa. So don’t cry when you have to pay a few thousand pesos to get out of your jam… Jeezus the stories I have heard on this over and over. Got get an extension ahead of time, most of the time you can get any travel agency to do it. I had my son’s extended on numerous occasions without having to go to Customs myself without any major headaches…
Oh and those mean old customs guys. They made you pay duty when you wanted to sneak in that Maserati right under their noses, even though they want 40 percent import duty on autos not made here… sniff sniff I feel your pain dude.
The stuff you bring in via FedEx gets jacked up, but that, as so eloquently pointed out by Bob, is not the Bureau of Customs, but FedEX itself. Egads, we blamed the wrong guys. Bet you never sent them a cake to apologize after exploding at them eh?
Despite what you watch in the movies, rooftop evacuations are the stuff of legend. If something bad happens, it probably won’t happen here, but more likely in Jakarta or worse yet in deepest darkest Africa. In fact if you are abducted, have someone call your embassy but don’t expect Seal Team Six to smash down the door and rescue you anytime soon. I love those Hollywood Movies though. In fact the guy that’s the “Chairman” on Iron Chef America used to do cheap B Movies. Darn bet that blew your bubble when you watch that show eh?
Enjoy the country and get a chuckle from these stories on the board about life here. It really is fun, and you can have a ball. Travel is cheap and most anywhere in Asia is 4 hours flight time away.
And turn CNN off… it will rot your brain. And remember, it really is More Fun in the Philippines!