One of the first things I noticed with friends was that a lot are paranoid about visiting the Philippines because of Kidnappings, terrorism and just general security issues. But what I find in the Philippines is that unless your looking for problems its unlikely anyone will bother you unless the obvious “your in the wrong place”. Which is why if your going on holiday or making the trip to meet a loved one its important you research the area you are going to especially at the moment with the elections underway. There is a gun ban currently in place in the Philippines to reduce some of the killings prime example of “political murders” was the story that hit the media earlier in the year in Maguindanao which resulted in the bloody murder of 57 people. It isnt normal on such a large scale in one area but it is normal for killings involving politically motivated people running for power to attack each other so just be aware of it and stay away from anything politically motivated.
Almost 100,000 police and soldiers are being deployed across the Philippines in an effort to prevent political violence ahead of May’s elections. They will staff checkpoints aimed at enforcing a total ban on guns and limiting the size of the security escorts necessary for politicians. Their efforts will be focused on more than 500 areas identified as hotspots. Hopefully this will help reassure you in the next few months your trip will be pretty safe. But also be aware most people have little interest in foreigners except to sell you something, proud that your visiting the Philippines and want to know about you and where you come from. Or romantically interested pretty much everyone I have met have been friendly only grumpy or annoyed people I have met have been Expats whining about trivial matters.
Although people complain about corruption in government offices and the Police you “dont” have to feed the problem I see a lot of people at immigration paying for “express” routes for visas but often wonder why they bother. Because if you arrive early your processed quicker before it gets busy. If your inpatient and in a rush all the time the Philippines isnt for you. Also if your going to slip one of the crocodiles money (called crocodiles by Filipinos because they generally wear Lecoste polo shirts). You might as well pay a travel agent to do it for you and just collect your visa from them instead. Because most of the people who do use these services are ripped off even for a bribe because the people involved are very aware they are “first timers” or tourists. Either way people they can double or treble the normal fee. You can also organise all the Visas via the Philippines embassy in your home country before you leave but it does involve paperwork doing it “locally” in the Philippines can bypass most paperwork just because of the more relaxed attitude.
The important factors are to stay out of trouble this is election year and you could end up as the bad foreigner being prosecuted by the local knight in shining armour a local politician. Just stay safe and avoid things that your not 100% about.