Originally Posted by nuccifilms
much appreciated. i was hoping for someone like you to catch this thread. although, you never did say what got you to change your PH plans? also, you mentioned samal island. they have a beautiful and cheap marina there. my wife even owns 3 lots of property with a view of the marina. however, i heard of some canadians recently had their boats taken siezed by terrorists, who ended up executing them. i've been advised against the mindanao region. if that recent event is enough to X off at least that area. i've only been considering north palawon and luzon region as a safe locations. i'll also be going through all related info. i can find on the board, as you suggested. thanks
I don't want my answers below to discourage you or anyone else from visiting PI or making your own plans or decision to invest or live there. I am glad I went there, and consider it a good experience for me, even if it did not turn out to be what I hoped it would be.
Others on this forum have had different experiences (in different locations) and we all are different too.
My decision to leave the PI before I expected did not have anything to do with not liking PI or the culture or the people or the place, nor was it based on feeling unsafe. I made a lot of friends, and enjoyed the place and people. I went to explore a possibility for my future (business related, not personal, not marriage), and spent enough time to see what I needed to see to reach a decision for me. My decision was based on my business interests.
But, since you mentioned Samal and wrote something about the killings there, I will focus my following remarks on what may be most important to anyone reading this thread.
Yes, the Mindanao area is considered the most risky island to visit for non-Filipinos and has had very recent acts of "terrorism" including an explosion in downtown Davao that killed and injured many in a public market. I wrote more about this in another of the linked threads.
Just last fall (one year ago in October) four cruisers were taken by terrorists from Samal's Marina ("yacht club") and were not found despite a massive manhunt by the police and military. Later, two of the foreigners (both Canadians as I recall) were killed, with one beheaded and his head
thrown into a public square (City Hall as I recall) in the city.
Before that, the Samal island Marina was highly recommended to cruisers and considered "safe" harbor. That changed dramatically when four cruisers were taken by a gang of armed men
who approached the marina by boat and while there was an armed security
guard somewhere on the gated Marina property.
Before that, there had been other terrorist activities, including bombing of a movie
theatre at a shopping
mall. And, over the last year I have noted several sailors have been taken from their boats by "pirates."
So, it is a place that can be literally a grave risk, mostly for foreigners (non-Filipinos).
As for the other islands, you will find other answers, in those linked threads where other cruisers will give you their view of their experience (on Mindanao, Samal, and other islands too).
In short, I think you will have to make your own judgement on what you consider "safe" for you or how you desire to live.
I prefer to live in a place where I can travel freely, go outdoors, walk at night, visit the countryside, interact with locals, go camping, go trekking, go sailing when and where I want, and to live in a society where rule
of law is practiced. I am accustomed to traveling alone, and yet when I mentioned I wanted to go hiking and to a volcano outside of Davao, my friends said it was unwise and too risky to travel by bus or car to the location, because I was a foreigner, and far too risky to be in the countryside as a foreigner (even some locals did not feel safe doing this). So, those kinds of limitations of movement and activity did not fit the lifestyle I enjoy.
One thing I should mention here, is that one of the foreigners I met and talked with told me that he did not feel safe even walking on his own plantation due to the risk of being kidnapped (on Mindanao). He was very serious about this, and regretted this as he bought a big plantation, had lived in PI for years, had married a Filipina, had a child, and ran a business.
Another plantation owner (smaller land holdings) was born in PI, married a local, but had blond hair and a German last name. He stood out visually. He also expressed his concern for safe travel and the risk of kidnapping, etc. Very similar story.
Others told me similar stories. And, some locals (Filipinos) advised me against traveling alone anywhere outside of Davao, some said even IN Davao, and several advised against it in Cebu and Manilla too. These were local Filipinos I befriended who expressed their concerns about my safety
, and they were at different times and from different areas (some from Cebu, some from Manilla, some from Mindanao, some from Davao). Their message to me was very consistent and took place over several months. While I was in Davao, I never felt threatened (I felt safe) and every night walked the streets alone to go to dinner or shopping
etc. So, while I felt "safe" about town, several of my local Filipino friends and acquaintances thought it was UNsafe for me to do this.
One thing that is currently happening and that is the increased "extra judicial" executions (killings, murders) of possibly thousands of people since the election of the new president (Duterte). This is discussed in those threads too.
Good luck on your decision.