There is the saying stupid things happen to stupid people and often that is the case here in the Philippines as its doing things that can get you killed that often leads to it. There are areas of the Philippines which are dangerous due to the risk of kidnappings and currently borderline civil war at the same time the majority of the country isn’t looking to kidnap, murder or rob the tourist. If anything its the reverse as they are proud you have taken time out to visit the Philippines. In reality your going to make friends here more than enemies as long as you research locations in advance and even then talking to locals they will advise you of areas they don’t think are safe.
After living here for four years as an expat I am still learning about the country at the same time I find the place very safe in comparison to others. Reminds me of a British cyclist who cycled round the world including places such as Afghanistan the only places he got robbed were both in the U.S. Here in the Philippines people want to help you and even running into what would be communist rebels or militia depending what side your on a friend of mine sat and had a beer with the commander before being waved on his way. Keep out of local politics generally everyone’s your friend.
The only things I would be cautious of here besides the locations is making sure your transportation is safe and a lot of that has to do with time of year. In the last few days we have experienced another ferry disaster and its not unusual here in fact every year I have been here I have heard of boats and ships sinking for various reasons. Obviously the real reasons are bad weather, poor maintenance, overburdened with passengers or freight and low enforcement of anything that could prevent accidents occurring. For me sleeping on a ferry is unlikely unless its in an area that I can monitor what is going on and I would advise staying above deck where possible. May sound a little paranoid but getting to say “Matt your right” after being in a lower deck sleeping quarter is unlikely to happen if the ferry did sink.
Generally though I find the Philippines easy going and risk free in many ways. When travelling here though be aware of the weather as well. Currently we are in the rainy season that can lead to flooding, mudslides and other natural disasters, many areas of the Philippines are unaffected but worth checking when planning your routes etc. as a bad mudslide in the wrong location could leave you cut off for a few days.
For the average tourist though they are heading to Boracay, Mactan or other major locations for a holiday vacation. These places are easy to fly into and out of which means most of the transportation risks as well as weather won’t affect your trip to the Philippines. More and more though as I have seen things happen here I would say “common sense” is the best policy. If it doesn’t feel safe don’t do it because its unlikely someone will stop you here. I know in many countries there are safety nets of tour operators etc. refusing to take a boat out in bad weather etc. but I wouldn’t expect in most situations for those steps to be taken in the same way here. There are a lot of things I question regularly when reading or hearing about as just crazy at the same time that’s why I say use your common sense as its more important than anything else.
Typical example of that is heavy rain and stopping for lunch rather than trying to drive through it. By the time you finish lunch it could have cleared up and not only will it improve driving conditions but also your ability to see and enjoy the Philippines.