If you live in the Philippines, one topic that comes up regularly is safety. Anytime you come into contact with other Westerners, they always comment in some way regarding the lack of safety in the Philippines.
“You are very brave to live there, you could be killed at any time!”
“Don’t you worry that your kids will be kidnapped?”
“I would never leave the USA, I’m scared for my safety in other countries!”
These are common statements that I hear from people that I have contact with, sometimes even my own extended family. Frankly, though, in my opinion, these people are uninformed, misguided and generally ignorant when it comes to the matters they are speaking about.
Let me first look at each of the questions that I hear, as listed above:
- When people say that I could be killed anytime, I get a real chuckle out of that. Frankly, you can be killed no matter where in the world you live or go to, it can happen in the Philippines, but it can happen in Kansas or Germany just as well. The odds of being killed in the Philippines are, frankly, no higher than being killed in other places.
- Kids being kidnapped? No, I don’t worry about that. If I thought it was a concern, I certainly would not have my kids living here! Look at the spree over the past 20 years or so of school shooting incidents in the USA. Those kinds of incidents are way more frequent than any kinds of kidnapping here in the Philippines. Honestly, the only incidents of children being kidnapped in my memory are of children of wealthy businessmen (usually Chinese), and that usually happens in Manila, since that is the Business/Financial center of the country. School shooting incidents, or other school violence just doesn’t happen here at all in my opinion. I just don’t ever remember a case of anything like that happening. Because of this, I honestly feel that my kids are safer here than they were in the USA. Now, don’t take me wrong, I didn’t worry about safety there either, but if you just look at the raw numbers, the USA is marginally more dangerous than it is here.
- For an American to say something like they won’t ever leave the USA, and they fear going to other countries is, frankly, just silly. Bad things can (and do) happen anywhere in the world, the USA included. Limiting yourself like that is, in my opinion, no way to live an enjoyable life.
On another issue regarding safety, I regularly get e-mails and questions from people asking if Davao is safe, and if there are terrorists on the streets of Davao, and such. Lately, I have begun to ask myself – how can a person be living in the 21st Century and come to the conclusion that Davao City is a killing field? Back in the 1980’s, there were killings on the streets of Davao, and it was a dangerous place. But, those years are only a distant memory, and Davao is, frankly, one of the safest cities in the Philippines. Our City government here in Davao, led by Mayor Duterte, are very serious about maintaining a safe place here. They are vigilant about keeping the City safe from attacks, killings and such.
Sometimes a person will tell me that they feel Davao is unsafe, even quite dangerous. I ask why they feel that way, and the response is usually something like:
I have a Filipino co-worker, and he told me that Davao is very dangerous!
My normal response is this:
Ask your co-worker if he has ever been to Davao. My bet is that his answer is “NO.” Well, I have lived in Davao for years, and I can say from personal experience that the place is safe.
The other day, I found an online tool that fits in with this topic that I am writing about today. It’s called the Global Incident Map, and shows a world map with notations of Terrorist Incidents and other suspicious events no matter where in the world they occur. You know what? If you go look at the map, the biggest cluster of such “incidents” is in the United States! If you focus in on the Philippines, there are 4 incidents shown (and one of them is on the map by mistake because it happened over a year ago, and also turned out to be a false report – I am talking about a kidnapping that is shown on the map). On the US part of the Incident Map, there are 49 incidents shown at the time that I type this. So, more than twelve times the number of terrorist or suspicious incidents. The population in the USA is about 3 1/2 times the population of the Philippines, yet on a per capita basis, the incidence of these incidents is 12 times higher! Is that safety? I really find this Incident Map very interesting, because it shows a clear graphical view of crime that is happening everywhere in the world, and it’s hard to deny what is shown right in front of you.
The same people who have the Global Incident Map also have a “School Safety & Security Map” which shows the USA only. The number of school related safety incidents shown is quite shocking! About the only school safety incidents that I remember in the Philippines are a couple of cases where students ate food that was not good and came down with food poisoning. That is not good, but preferable to me when compared with shooting, bombings and such!
Anyway, really I am not saying that the USA is unsafe. I am only using the crime statistics for the USA because so many Americans tell me how dangerous the Philippines is, yet when you sit down and look at the occurrence of actual incidents of crime and violence, the US is way ahead (?) of the Philippines.
My advice for anybody is that there is crime and violence anywhere in the world these days. Watch what is happening around you wherever you are and be vigilant. That is the best way to ensure your personal safety.