Before any of my fellow Filipinos react, let me say that I am in no way in agreement with this extension. In fact, the reason for my writing this post is to express my disagreement with it! This travel alert against the Philippines was issued late last year after the egregious issue of the Maguindanao Massacre hit international headlines.
We all have to admit that that was a horrible affair and that it did nothing to improve the image of the Philippines. Everyone condemned – and continues to do so – that incident. However, that does not mean that the Philippines is an unsafe country. In fact, in the past months, I have interacted with numerous foreign visitors – and each one of them have all their hair in their heads untouched.
For one, Maguindanao is in the southernmost island of the Philippines. There are many tourist attractions in other parts of the country that are totally safe – both for foreigners and locals alike. That massacre is not an ordinary happening in our country and not everyone is like whoever those people behind that massacre are.
Indeed, I went on a trip in December – to a province that is not very touristy. This weekend, a group of my friends are on a weekend trip to another isolated island in the northern part of the country. They are perfectly safe.
This travel alert is a prime example of how the news can be exaggerated and how mountains are made out of mole hills. Primary lesson: don’t believe everything that you hear or read. Not even when it comes from the government. Maybe especially when it comes from the government.