Some people have noticed that many of the articles about traveling in the Philippines have disappeared. This is partly due to the fact that I feel they were not really giving people an honest picture of what is going on in the country and what is happening as a traveler in the land of corruption.
One of the things that I want to do at Travel the Fire! is give honest, balanced and helpful information about what is going on in areas that we cover. The articles that was up was not doing that. They gave a picture that was much better than it was in reality and was based on dated experience.
The country has taken a huge change for the worst in the last 4-5 years. This has created a massive difference culturally, morally, socially and politically. The Philippines from an article written in 2010 is not the Philippines a traveler would experience in 2017. It is important to have current information when visiting an area.
It is not just that some places that I use to recommend do not even exist or that some travel options have went out of business (like ZestAir was bought by AirAsia). It is a shift in security concerns, social realities and moral views of how Filipino views people of other nationalities.
How Filipinos changed
Starting in about April 2010, I started to see a change in the behavior of the people in the Philippines. It was election time and I did not much of it. Americans are different in election years and so are Filipinos. However, it was the start of a cultural shift that has became quite liberal. Politics aside, liberal in the Philippines is not good long term.
There has become a huge rise in sexually transmitted disences, drug addictions, drinking problems are growing, and there has been an influx of white men looking to benefit from these problems. This behavior is not new to the Philippines but since 2010, it has became more widely accepted and has increased in volume.
In 2016, the country took another turn to the worse with the election of Duterte as the new President. With that, came a new wave of behavior changes. One of them has been the view that murder is a means to a end. Since he has taken office, nothing short of a genocide has happened.
The general attitude of Filipinos is very different than it would have been a decade. I remember being in Davao when about 50 people were found killed on a side of a road. There was national outcry and the military stepped in quickly to restore peace. Now, we have over ten times that many people murdered and the Filipinos smile with approval.
For the traveler coming to the Philippines, it is important to understand this and be informed. What I said in 2010 or even in 2013 is not what is happening on the ground today. Filipinos think differently, they act differently and they see people from other nations differently.
Living in reality
The moral compass of Filipinos has changed. It is just that simple. Fewer and fewer people are religious and that is leading to all types of issues. One of them is that every single day, there is over two dozens new cases of AIDS. Two dozen today and two dozen tomorrow. There is not counting all the other types of things people could catch. While most travelers are not here for sex, it is a flash point for understanding how they behave.
There was a day when the Filipinos were some of the kindest people in the world and they really did care about others. Being a foreigner as they would call us was a benefit. It was celebrated to be from another country, especially the United States. Today, it is not uncommon to hear people call the US President a “son of a whore.”
Any interaction that I have with Filipinos today is normally after considering what their motives are. I find that very few of them have pure reasons for being helpful. It might be money, status or attraction but rarely do I find people being helpful for the sake of being helpful. It just does not happen anymore.
I know that some people might point out that the Philippines is a western society (has been since 1898) and that this is a reflection of what happened in the United States under President Obama. While this could (or could not) be true, it does not really matter. What matters is we have a culture that has underwent massive change and took a serious turn for the worst.
Keep the Philippines on your bucket list!
Am I saying that you should cancel flights to Boracay or El Nido tomorrow? I am not. I am saying that you should rethink what is happening in the Philippines and it is important that people like me who write about travel tell the truth. That’s my point.
As far as going to visit the Philippines, that is a choice only you can make. I would consider several other options before coming though. There are several countries that can give you amazing experiences without the security concerns that the Philippines now offers. These include Japan, Korea and Hawaii.
I do know that having up to date information of what is happening in the country is critical. Any articles that you read on the internet, I would check to make sure they are recent and written with honesty… not like a tourism brochure. There are several bloggers (and Youtubers) that are selling the Philippines no matter how dishonest they have to be in their presentation.
I have left the most important articles up on the Philippines that people need to see like taking a ferry to Palawan, getting to Coron from Mindoro, and taking a bus in Palawan. I have updated them as needed and the information presented is as current as possible.
However, I did pull dozens of articles that do not show the current concerns and I will re-write some of them that I consider critical for people visiting the country. Some of the others will just be deleted.
My History with Filipinos
I have been coming to the Philippines many times, normally spending 3-5 months at a time over the last 15 years. However, I have been back in the Philippines since October 2013 this trip due to some personal issues.
I know Filipinos. I have lived among them. I have watched them. I have worked with them. I have eat with them. I know how they think. There is a shift underway and this is not going to be good culturally, morally, or socially.
Much of my feelings about what is happening in the Philippines is like my future travels in the country: they are in limbo. I could leave the country tomorrow and never look back. Someday, I am sure I will.