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Dipolog/Dapitan to Davao by land through Zamboanga & Cotabato Province--do or don't?


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The posters who point out the fact that nothing may happen for 99% of the time are bang on the money. Guys like the dude mentioned will be the first to be appealing for their government for help when the 1% event occurs and they are in the s--t. Twelve years ago, a German pal of mine, who was in his mid-40s at the time and a long-term resident of the Phils (he was a lecturer at one of the universities here) made one of his frequent exploratory motorcycle trips to Mindanao. He struck up a conversation while waiting for his lunch order at a local roadside eatery in Illigan. The chap he spoke to then left and he went on to finish his meal. before doing so, the guy was back with several others and informed my pal that he was going nowhere and would in fact be going with them. He spent ten days held by his captors, who he tells me where convinced he was a US citizen rather than German. The upshot of it was that ten or so days later he was put in a boat with several of his captors, who dropped him off not far from where he was taken and strongly suggested he not return to the area. His old BMW motorcycle was still were it had been parked prior to the incident. He never did establish who his captors were or what their motives were. He is very aware that he got lucky and things could have turned out very badly for him. Moral of the story - it's safe until it isn't............  

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let me expand on the fellows comment you posted a question mark over.  your posts are bordering on reckless.  we have lived here and been involved in doing business all over this country for over a de

Even if you are correct 99% of the time a person should still consider if they are willing to risk being there the other  1% of the time.   You are commenting on a question that apparently is being

What many do not understand is that in some places in the Philippines having NPA can actually be a good thing. A few years back my son went to a High School competition down South of Butuan. The town

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Slow down for the couple of road construction messes you will likely get into.....slow down for the small places to go thru.  Give the roadside loungers a chance to crank up their cell phones to their compadres 20 km down the route so as to prepare a welcome for you.

 

Like in artillery firing call outs  for forward observor:  "On the way....Wait."    Impact: "on target...fire for effect".

 

:rofl:  :rofl:  :rofl:

 

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Tullioz

Not a good idea. Catobato is not place you will feel welcomed, if your Western looking and White.

If you ever visit Cotabato you will feel just as welcome as anywhere else you visit in the Philippines. The people found there are no different than the people found elsewhere in the country. You would be surprised how many westerners visit and live there. If you ever go to a mall in Cotabato you will find several westerners hanging around. Same in Zamboanga City. I was just at the newly opened KCC mall last month and I was surprised at the number of foreigners I saw there.

 

Let's put it this way. On any given day, you can drive through Afghanistan and nothing will happen to you. On the wrong day, - it's a shit storm.

 

It's a mistake to believe that if someone else did it safely that it will be safe (or unsafe) for you. Wrong variables for analysis in my opinion.

 

On any risky journey, you evaluate the risks in real time (not last week or a year ago or what did or didn't happen to Joe Blow and gather all the relevant intelligence you can. This forum and the State Department are good places to start, but I wouldn't place all my eggs in those baskets for information.

 

 

If someone asked me if it is safe to cross the street in downtown Davao I would say yes based on the fact that I have done it countless times without incident. Is their risk involved in crossing the street? Of course there is, and everyone knows the risks involved already. But should people stop crossing the street in downtown Davao because it might be dangerous? Of course not. The same would apply to traveling from Dipolog to Davao via the route in question. Can it be dangerous? of course. And once again, just like crossing the street, most people do it safely every day. In the same manor, people, including foreigners, take the route that was asked about daily without incident. it is just up to the individual to make the decision if it is worth the risk or not.

 

Your advice to evaluate the situation in real time is spot on and very important. This is what I have always done right up until the moment I depart on my trips regardless of where I may be traveling. If it is determined that the risk is high, I make adjustments accordingly. You mentioned earlier in the thread that I may be a danger junkie, I can assure you that that is not the case at all. I would much prefer that the places I travel to be free of any danger, but unfortunately that is not always the case. What it comes down to is that if their are people I need to see, or if I have business in an area that is considered dangerous, I will not allow that danger to be a deterrent if the reward in visiting outweighs the risk.

 

The OP needs to decide if the rewards of taking the Cotabato route are worth it nor not. Personally if I were riding a motorcycle I would probably take the CDO route, not necessarily because it may or may not be safer in terms of encountering bad people, but simply for the fact that the roads are better.

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Soupeod

Hi everyone.  I'll be traveling from Dipolog or Dapitan to Davao City and I wonder if it's going to be reasonably safe to pass through Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, and Cotabato provinces, on a motorbike, all the way to Davao.  Or are these roads going to be something worth avoiding based on present conditions?  I'd like to avoid having to go through Ozamis, Iligan, CDO, and then on down to Davao, as this will be the longer journey and I've done it before.  attachicon.gifsafe-or-not.PNG

 

Dude, do you go to YOUR embassy and read what they tell you?  Not safe.

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Tullioz

Dude, do you go to YOUR embassy and read what they tell you?  Not safe.

 

The US travel warning only says to be cautious when traveling in the area in question. Not much different than when a person crosses the street. If they are cautious and look both ways first, chances are they will make it to the other side safely. If they cross without being cautious they have a higher chance of being injured or killed. So when traveling along the route that the OP is considering, one only needs to be cautious by being informed of the current situation in the region, staying alert, and always be aware of their surroundings.

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shadow

If you ever visit Cotabato you will feel just as welcome as anywhere else you visit in the Philippines. The people found there are no different than the people found elsewhere in the country. You would be surprised how many westerners visit and live there. If you ever go to a mall in Cotabato you will find several westerners hanging around. Same in Zamboanga City. I was just at the newly opened KCC mall last month and I was surprised at the number of foreigners I saw there.

 

 

 

If someone asked me if it is safe to cross the street in downtown Davao I would say yes based on the fact that I have done it countless times without incident. Is their risk involved in crossing the street? Of course there is, and everyone knows the risks involved already. But should people stop crossing the street in downtown Davao because it might be dangerous? Of course not. The same would apply to traveling from Dipolog to Davao via the route in question. Can it be dangerous? of course. And once again, just like crossing the street, most people do it safely every day. In the same manor, people, including foreigners, take the route that was asked about daily without incident. it is just up to the individual to make the decision if it is worth the risk or not.

 

Your advice to evaluate the situation in real time is spot on and very important. This is what I have always done right up until the moment I depart on my trips regardless of where I may be traveling. If it is determined that the risk is high, I make adjustments accordingly. You mentioned earlier in the thread that I may be a danger junkie, I can assure you that that is not the case at all. I would much prefer that the places I travel to be free of any danger, but unfortunately that is not always the case. What it comes down to is that if their are people I need to see, or if I have business in an area that is considered dangerous, I will not allow that danger to be a deterrent if the reward in visiting outweighs the risk.

 

The OP needs to decide if the rewards of taking the Cotabato route are worth it nor not. Personally if I were riding a motorcycle I would probably take the CDO route, not necessarily because it may or may not be safer in terms of encountering bad people, but simply for the fact that the roads are better.

Sorry, I didn't read your whole post. in fact, I couldn't get past the first sentence;

 

"If you ever visit Cotabato you will feel just as welcome as anywhere else you visit in the Philippines."

 

I didn't feel that way at all the two times I was there. That entire area gives me the heebie jeebies!

 

I feel much more welcome in the slums of Manila or Cebu at 3 a.m.

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Davaoeno

 

 

Korandal, Lake Sebu, Gen San and Davao are very safe.

 

 

I find it amazing that the US State Department refers to Koranadal and Lake Sebu/Cebu as " very safe".  Could you please post a link to that State Dept statement

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Tullioz

Sorry, I didn't read your whole post. in fact, I couldn't get past the first sentence;

 

"If you ever visit Cotabato you will feel just as welcome as anywhere else you visit in the Philippines."

 

I didn't feel that way at all the two times I was there. That entire area gives me the heebie jeebies!

 

I feel much more welcome in the slums of Manila or Cebu at 3 a.m.

 

 I guess in traveling everyone has a different experience and a different view of the people they encounter. The guy who made this video along with many in the comments section below it share my point of view as well. But of course it does not apply to everyone. Personally I like Cotabato City as well as the people and have since made a lot of friends who live there.

 

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There is a lot of paranoia in many posts that have been posted on this site. I suggest that you take everything read with a grain of salt. Yes, danger can lurk anywhere you go just stay in the more public friendly areas. Travel with others that include at least one filipino, whether it is in the State department advises you to avoid or a tourist area. Stay out of harm's way- avoid local bars, streets with hookers etc. Use common sense. There was a post about why should a foreigner should not drive in the Philippines. I drove in Mindanao and Cebu in some of the worst traffic and in the countryside- it was fun, in a crazy way. Yes, I was with my filipino GF and her brother, but nothing happened and way more convenient. Despite the warnings about Mindanao from the US, we stayed in Davao and walked around, drove to GenSan, did the same thing, drove to Lake Sebu, which is close to the "bad' area. Did the ziplines over the waterfalls there and walked around- very safe, never felt in danger until I got stopped for speeding in Korandal, even then, when the cop saw I was from California, he was very friendly, Of course, my GF argued with him about charging me 1000 peso for the fine! I offered him the money he refused, and led us to the town hall to pay and get a receipt. Also, everyone tells you not to drink the tap water, maybe I was lucky, but nothing bad happened to me.

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Dude, do you go to YOUR embassy and read what they tell you?  Not safe.

 

He's an American. Just curious here. How much do you believe, that the US Embassy in Manila would tell you - about almost any topic? I trust them about as much as I do an ex-wife.

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If you ever visit Cotabato you will feel just as welcome as anywhere else you visit in the Philippines. The people found there are no different than the people found elsewhere in the country. You would be surprised how many westerners visit and live there. If you ever go to a mall in Cotabato you will find several westerners hanging around. Same in Zamboanga City. I was just at the newly opened KCC mall last month and I was surprised at the number of foreigners I saw there.

 

 

 

If someone asked me if it is safe to cross the street in downtown Davao I would say yes based on the fact that I have done it countless times without incident. Is their risk involved in crossing the street? Of course there is, and everyone knows the risks involved already. But should people stop crossing the street in downtown Davao because it might be dangerous? Of course not. The same would apply to traveling from Dipolog to Davao via the route in question. Can it be dangerous? of course. And once again, just like crossing the street, most people do it safely every day. In the same manor, people, including foreigners, take the route that was asked about daily without incident. it is just up to the individual to make the decision if it is worth the risk or not.

 

Your advice to evaluate the situation in real time is spot on and very important. This is what I have always done right up until the moment I depart on my trips regardless of where I may be traveling. If it is determined that the risk is high, I make adjustments accordingly. You mentioned earlier in the thread that I may be a danger junkie, I can assure you that that is not the case at all. I would much prefer that the places I travel to be free of any danger, but unfortunately that is not always the case. What it comes down to is that if their are people I need to see, or if I have business in an area that is considered dangerous, I will not allow that danger to be a deterrent if the reward in visiting outweighs the risk.

 

The OP needs to decide if the rewards of taking the Cotabato route are worth it nor not. Personally if I were riding a motorcycle I would probably take the CDO route, not necessarily because it may or may not be safer in terms of encountering bad people, but simply for the fact that the roads are better.

I did not read this in its entirety but if you want to go to Catobato? LOL, I will not stop you.HAVE FUN. I ran into some NPA's on the road near Surigao once. They were taking money,as taxes ,from people on the road in front of me.  I decided to allow the cars in front of me to get 50meters in front of me and then I went passed them in 2nd gear going 20-25 KPH and ready to step on the gas and run over anyone who tried to stop me. Becoming a hostage was just not going to happen.As I was going past them,I waved emphatically smiled and said 'HI, I AM JOE ROMANO' (like I always do!) and they waved back and I just kept going.....I had a German Shepherd dog,.357 revolver and my 85 lb. wife, and needed none of them to get home,just my truck and some quick thinking.My wife said it was probably the best thing I could have done and she was impressed.Could things have happened differently ? feck IDK and the point is: I did not want to find out and that was why I did not stop for this 'non-recognized-government' roadblock,yes? No replacing experience....and it tells me I have no business going where I am not welcome. I am Westerner and can be disliked because of it. So, thanks, but No Thanks: I'll skip Catobato, unless I am deliberately looking for trouble.I know how to do that too.

I C U commented on the roads, it is only after driving on the shitty ones in S.E.Asia that the Western traffic jam can actually be appreciated. As far as feeling welcomed anywhere in S.E.Asia? I see many veils, but not much that is genuine, except my partners family......a few of them is about it.

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I ran into some NPA's on the road near Surigao once. They were taking money,as taxes ,from people on the road in front of me. I decided to allow the cars in front of me to get 50meters in front of me and then I went passed them in 2nd gear going 20-25 KPH and ready to step on the gas and run over anyone who tried to stop me. Becoming a hostage was just not going to happen.As I was going past them,I waved emphatically smiled and said 'HI, I AM JOE ROMANO' (like I always do!) and they waved back and I just kept going...

Hard to comment on this one without having been there at the time but ...

I would think it is safer to aim to fit in and do what everyone else does, which in this case would mean, hand over a little "tax". Complete with respectful smile of course.

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JamesMusslewhite

Just wear a dark hooded helmet, long sleeve tee-shirt with 'Kiss Me I'm Muslim' printed in big letters (front and back), Muslim neck scarf, gloves and ride like the wind trying to not stop for anyone except military roadblocks and PNP checkpoints if all together possible. You get to be lucky 99% of the time where as they have to be lucky that 1% chance, which is a hell of a lot better odds than Russian Roulette, so don't sweat it...  :biggrin_01:

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Davaoeno

I did not read this in its entirety but if you want to go to Catobato? LOL, I will not stop you.HAVE FUN. I ran into some NPA's on the road near Surigao once. They were taking money,as taxes ,from people on the road in front of me.  I decided to allow the cars in front of me to get 50meters in front of me and then I went passed them in 2nd gear going 20-25 KPH and ready to step on the gas and run over anyone who tried to stop me. Becoming a hostage was just not going to happen.As I was going past them,I waved emphatically smiled and said 'HI, I AM JOE ROMANO' (like I always do!) and they waved back and I just kept going.....I had a German Shepherd dog,.357 revolver and my 85 lb. wife, and needed none of them to get home,just my truck and some quick thinking.My wife said it was probably the best thing I could have done and she was impressed.Could things have happened differently ? feck IDK and the point is: I did not want to find out and that was why I did not stop for this 'non-recognized-government' roadblock,yes? No replacing experience....and it tells me I have no business going where I am not welcome. I am Westerner and can be disliked because of it. So, thanks, but No Thanks: I'll skip Catobato, unless I am deliberately looking for trouble.I know how to do that too.

I C U commented on the roads, it is only after driving on the shitty ones in S.E.Asia that the Western traffic jam can actually be appreciated. As far as feeling welcomed anywhere in S.E.Asia? I see many veils, but not much that is genuine, except my partners family......a few of them is about it.

 

Way to go Benny !  Dont let any of those undesirables tell you what you can do or not do !! I bet those guys won't dare to mess with you again !

 

I admit to having similar feelings and attitudes myself at times  - but only if I have just seen either Rambo or The Godfather .

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Can't you just carry a big shotgun and wear bulletproof vest on the road? (and maybe a machete too - legal?)

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