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Mindanao - Travel there, or no?

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There was a fairly recent incident that happened in Maguindanao Province, located in the southwestern part of Mindanao. It was a horrendous act committed on a group of people, over nothing more than politics. One man, Mr. Esmael Mangudadatu, the current vice-mayor of the town of Buluan, was (is he still?) planning to run for governor of the province of Maguindanao. It was a group of his family and supporters, who were on their way to file his candidacy papers, so he could run in the upcoming Mayoral election for Maguindanao Province. Without going through this entire ordeal again, I will say that each of those persons needlessly lost their lives. (Use the Search Feature with the term "Maguindanao", for further information on this travesty.)


You know, one of my dearest friends, who lives in Mindanao, really hates it when I make statements that the island is safe to travel to for other foreigners. He would prefer everyone to remain terrified of it just to keep them away. But, something that I know about him, and many others there, is they are quite happy and content living in Mindanao, even after the recent murders in Maguindanao. (I will refrain from being more graphic regarding what was done in Maguindanao. Trust me, it was not a site to view for the fainthearted.) But, it hasn't stopped a single person I know, from moving elsewhere on Mindanao, to other provinces in this country, or out of the Philippines. So, that must say something, in itself.


Anyway, now, some members and guests of this forum are a bit more scared regarding traveling to Mindanao, than ever before. But, before you let this repulsive act prevent you from visiting, what is one of the most beautiful islands in this country, please keep in mind a couple of things here:


1. Politics and political murders in this country, rarely, if ever, affect foreigners. That will apply anyway, as long a we keep our noses out of Philippine politics. We, as foreigners, have no business involving ourselves in politics in this country. The Immigration website even makes similar statements regarding this topic. Foreigners can be kicked out of the Philippines and permanently blacklisted for openly voicing their political views here. Besides, why in hell would we, most living here as retirees, wish to involve ourselves in any politics? People, let the Filipinos run their country the way they choose to do so.


2. Mindanao is larger that many countries around the world. Believe it or not, Mindanao is a massive island. Often, people do not realize how large Mindanao actually is, prior to making statements like, "I would never visit Mindanao! It's far too dangerous there!" These people, in most cases anyway, have never been on Mindanao. So, they have no clue as to the actual size of the island. If I am not mistaken, it is something like 90,000 to 100,000 square kilometers in size. (Do a web search for specific information. But, I am pretty sure I am close to accurate numbers.) It takes about 8 hours of driving, a full day, to go from the northern side of the island, say from Butuan City, down to Davao City in the south. I know, because I have been up and down that highway many times in the past. So, to make such statements as I have shown above, is simply ludicrous. That is like saying you wouldn't go to the state of Georgia in the US, simply because there were mass murders, or political unrest in Alabama, or Mississippi. You see what I mean here?


So, do not miss out on visiting Mindanao in the future. Just keep your wits about you, as you should anywhere in this world, including your own home town or city.


Thanks for reading.

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Marawi is indeed one place in Mindanao no tourist should even consider visiting.   Most students at the Mindanao State University in Marawi are themselves terrified of leaving campus and walking int

Cebu has Sinulog. Davao City has Kadayawan.  In the last 2 weeks the southwestern part of Mindanao has experienced a lot of violence and deaths- including bombings. That however is nowhere near Davao 

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I agree with you Paul.Mindanao is incredibly beautiful.I've lived there for several years and Love it there.I don't like to compare what goes on in the states with the happening of the Philippines but it's something like when the college killings happened in Texas and Virginia or other horrendous killings-did everyone move out of the area-no.I think the big difference though is at least the states has law enforcement and will investigate properly and do everything they can to stop these killings.The philippines just does not have this and it would be the greatest improvement needed in the Phil.

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I have always felt safer in Davao City than in Cebu City. I don't know anywhere in the world that is really safe.

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Hell yes, go. That's always been my philosophy. Listen, the statistical probability of the grisly sort of happenings descriped in the press befalling any one of us traveling ANYWHERE in Mindanao is slim to none. Period. Each repeated trip increases the odds, as does factors such as particularly stupid public behaviors. For God sake, if any of us has an itch to see that part of the Philippines, just go, go now, before the passage of time in your life prevents you. When I finally make it back to your wonderful country, I will make a beeline there, after Cebu, of course.

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I have visited Cagayan De Oro, Zamboanga City, Butuan, and Davao。

I always felt safe。 My only negative experiences were in Butuan, but

that is only because it seemed as though everyone that I met there

had many negative things to say about foreigners。 It was as though

every negative stereotype was believed as the truth about every foreigner。

I felt safe in Butuan, I just got tired of hearing the negativity。


I would happily live in either CDO or Davao, no problems there。

No problems in Zamboanga either, but I did feel as though there

was a greater possibility for problems。


Anyway, go to Mindanao ! I almost always enjoyed myself there。

Not sure why anyone would need a guide。 The cities I visited were

just as accessible as Cebu。

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Iv'e been to the Philippines a handful of times and locals tell me not to travel to Mindanao but I have had the same warnings in Aceh Indonesia and Southern Thailand for years.....

Sure keep away from the fanatical Muslim f*%$kers but also be aware of what they believe in and their antics and the rest should be fine


I'm keen to travel around those parts looking for places that interest me, I hope you do the same!

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When I have finished my tour here in Iraq I plan to move to Cebu and use a base to check out other locations, Davao is on my list of places to see and from what I have heard much safer than most locations.

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Mindanao is approximately the size of Ireland (including Northern Ireland).Its the 2nd largest in the Philippines after Luzon.

I have travelled many parts of Mindanao by bus, including long 5 hr journeys alone, without problems.

No where in the world is 100% safe,but if we use common sense and are always aware of our surroundings,we grately reduce risk.

Common sense tells us we should keep away from the troubled western areas of Mindanao.

Many will use as a guideline,to draw a line on the map from CDO to Davao City and keep East of that line.

You have more chance of being run over by a jeepney than anything else.

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Iv'e been to the Philippines a handful of times and locals tell me not to travel to Mindanao...




I was traveling at night, back in 2003 I believe, going north up the west coast of Cebu Province to Toledo. Anyway, while driving up that evening, we had stopped at various small provincial towns along the way for fuel, food, etc. Anyway, in every town we stopped in, we met people who made it a point to tell us it wasn't safe to travel any further because of "bad people" in the towns to the north. They informed us that we should stay in their respective towns for the night. (I had already been completely around the island a number of times. So, I was well aware of where I was traveling to, that evening.)


There are people who never travel outside their local barangays or towns, and are ignorant of other areas. They can only go by stories they hear from other people. This applies all over the Philippines, and certainly to Mindanao. If you don't believe it, ask almost any Filipino if they would like to visit Siquijor. The vast majority will not wish to go there either.


Before making a decision to not visit a part of the Philippines, I would suggest asking those of us who have visited various areas to see what we think. That's just my advice, so take it for what it's worth.

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Yes I would like to go and visit there. I would take a guide with me but yes I would love to visit there.


No need a guide, my experiences traveling in Mindanao are very positive.


I remember some years ago motorcycling south of Malaybalay, I think about 20 KM before Valencia and it started pouring down. I stopped under the first suitable tree which was close to some small native huts, people came out how ever zero English, they were friendly. I hung my carry bag on the tree and stood for a while until rain stopped and tried to joke a bit with them. My bag contained money, camera, ipod and various documents.


After I left and had traveled some 10 minutes or so I realised I had forgotton my bag, with great panic turned around went searching. Biggest problem was to locate the place as so many similar type huts, once found it the people came out laughing their heads off.....My bag in hand, they loved it. Nothing touched, and I had big problems to give a reward...


As is often the case, the further out of the mainstream we are, the better the people.

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blaze pontaine

the road between dipolog and zamboanga is experiencing a rash of robberies and carjackings.

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There are people who never travel outside their local barangays or towns, and are ignorant of other areas. They can only go by stories they hear from other people. This applies all over the Philippines,..............


Very, Very true Paul. :welcome2:

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Most filipino's outside of Mindanao will say don't go to Mindanao,all they see,like other countries, is media coverage of all the bad news and think its worse than Afghanistan.

Much of the problem is that the Media generalise,which gives the impression the whole of Mindanao is a war zone,they don't specify South West Mindanao.


Many years ago all i knew,was from Media reports and i had every intention of avoiding the island myself.

Then i got to know a couple of expats who had lived there for a few years,and got a different story.

After much research and learning as much as i could my view began to change.


Maybe, i should be telling you all its dangerous and not to visit,so we can keep it to ourselves. biggrin_01.gif

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Bob Ward

There have been a number of threads on this subject over recent years. The consensus is always the same.


People who have business interests or family there hail it as the Eden of the Philippines. Pretty much expected.


People who like to travel around allot say that they made it through with little or no problems and enjoyed the experience.


Then there are the people who listen to the locals who are terrified of the area and just take their word for it. Good enough, but not a great way to make decisions.


But, this time there is a different twist everyone should be cognizant of if they plan a trip there from now till May 10th. This is a very contentious election year we are into and the stakes are high. It may not directly involve foreigners, but we are surely good pawns for their chess games. After all, money wins elections and so far the Filipinos are letting their people be killed rather than pay ransoms.


Violence in general is up in that area of the country to the point where martial law was imposed. K's father, who is a PNP officer, was headed there for six months, but got out of it due to a medical condition. But the briefings he attended were telling the real story there, not just the news version.


So all I am, or was saying, is that if someone is on holiday for a month or two, why would you knowingly enter into an area where there is trouble brewing? Unless you have some vested interest there, there are tons of places to go in the Phils that are 90%, or more the same.

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