I’ve been in some fairly disreputable places through the years, like Chicago, for instance, and I generally figure that if I'm reasonably careful and aware of what's going on around me, that I'll be OK. I don't drink and do/say (exceptionally) stupid stuff, I don't get loud and rowdy and attract a lot of attention, I'm usually non-confrontational, and I don't wear jewelry or flash money around. So no problem, right?
But it’s a different matter when I hear the warnings from the locals.
When my niece and her fiance picked me up at the airport and drove me to my hotel, she told me in no uncertain terms that I was forbidden to leave the hotel alone. Her fiance, a very mature and level-headed young man who was born and raised in Zambo, added, "We're afraid you might be kidnapped, Tito Bob."
So I had escorts and drivers everywhere I went while there. I had a good time, but it certainly put constraints on me -- I like to get to know a new place by just wandering.
When I told a fellow expat about this, he remarked that his wife has Muslim family there and they had told her to not bring her foreigner husband if she visited, because “too many things can go wrong.”
I bring this up now, because the US Embassy in Manila has just issued the following notice:
Emergency Message to U.S. Citizens U.S. Embassy, Manila, PhilippinesMay 29, 2103
THE EMBASSY OF THE UNITED STATES IS TRANSMITTING THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION AS A PUBLIC SERVICE TO U.S. CITIZENS IN THE PHILIPPINES. PLEASE DISSEMINATE THIS MESSAGE TO ALL U.S. CITIZENS IN YOUR ORGANIZATION OR NEIGHBORHOOD. THANK YOU.
Kidnapping Threat in Zamboanga, Mindanao
The U.S. Embassy wishes to alert U.S. citizens that a credible threat of a terrorist kidnapping-for-ransom (KFR) plot against foreigners has been identified in the Zamboanga area on the island of Mindanao. As a result, the Embassy advises all American citizens residing in or planning to travel to the Zamboanga area to re-evaluate their personal safety situation and consider postponing travel to this area at this time.
Any U.S. government personnel already in Zamboanga have been directed to relocate to a secure area. U.S. government employees planning to travel to Zamboanga have been directed to defer their travel at this time.
As I noted in this post, the going rate on old white guys is 4 million pesos.