Let’s talk about how to stay safe when you’re out and about on the streets, alleys, and pathways of the Philippines.
First, you should already have mission rules about wearing close-toed shoes at all times. Follow those rules. You will likely find yourselves walking through areas that have very uneven surfaces, and may even have an open sewer draining through the same path you have to walk on. (Usually, the water is just household waste water, like laundry and dish water, but you never really know.) Often, people will put rocks or broken up pavement in places along the path like stepping stones so you can walk along easily and stay out of the water, but you have to pay attention. Really, it’s not hard. If a middle aged lady in a skirt and heals can manage, a 18 year old boy in pants should be fine.
Second, while you’re paying attention to your feet, don’t forget to pay attention to your head. Many foreign visitors to the Philippines are taller than the average Filipino. So, if you’re walking through an area with… ahem… looser building codes than other areas, there is a chance that you will, quite literally, run up against the corner of someone’s second floor, or a sign, or a support beam that didn’t quite fit the building it is supporting. Don’t forget to look up.
When you are on public transport, usually a jeepney, be aware of your personal belongings. Having something in your hand isn’t always the best place, as thieves have been known to reach into jeepneys and snatch things right out of people’s hands and take off. Keep your money, wallet, and phone put away, and be aware of where they are and whether you are feeling any movement in that area. You don’t have to glare at people or be rude. The vast majority of people are honest folks just getting where they need to go. Just be aware.
Obey the rules about when you are supposed to be in your apartment. Leave in a different direction from time to time. Keep your doors locked, even if you are in the apartment. (BYU students, especially, I’m looking at you. Honestly, do the doors on BYU campus even have locks?)