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Travel Guide > Asia > Philippines

Philippines Health & Safety

  
 
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Eating and drinking

Drink the readily available bottled water. Buko (young coconut) juice is also safe if they have not added local ice to it. Be wary also of Buko juice vendors, some usually just add sugar to water. Buy and eat fruit that has not already been cut up. Cooked food from a karenderia (outdoor canteen) is okay if there is a fire under the pots and the food has been kept hot.

If you must drink tap water (it is usually served/contained in a small to medium plastic bag), water in Manila, Cebu City and other major cities, but it is recommended that you boil tap water for at least 5 minutes just to be safe. Elsewhere drink bottled water. There is always the risk of contracting amoebiasis when drinking tap water in the countryside. Also, this applies to ice that is usually put in beverages. Bottled water is best purchased from within stores and sheltered eateries. Bottled waters sold outside (by the roads) are more than likely used bottles filled with tap water, sealed then cooled.

Be careful of drinking pampalamig (cold drinks like Sago't Gulaman) as some of the vendors might be using Magic Sugar (formally called Sodium Cyclamate); an artificial sweetener, which has been banned by the Philippine Government because of its adverse effects on health such as higher risk of getting cancer by consuming Magic sugar, it has been used as an alternative to ordinary sugar as it is much cheaper, call 117 (Philippine National Police) if you encounter such situation. Streetfood isn't so safe to consume in the Philippines, hygienic standards aren't enforced much. It is better to eat streetfood as well as pampalamig inside malls and shopping centers than in streets as stalls in malls and shopping centers have better enforcement of cleanliness.

Diseases

CDC advises that risk of malaria exists in areas below 600 meters, except for the provinces of Aklan, Bilaran, Bohol, Camiguin, Capiz, Catanduanes, Cebu, Guimaras, Iloilo, Leyte, Masbate, northern Samar, Siquijor, and Metro Manila. Chloroquine is no longer a recommended malaria preventative for anywhere in the Philippines. In general malaria is not common in the Philippines compared to Africa and the rest of mainland Southeast Asia, and around half of the c. 40,000 annual cases are in a couple of discrete locations.

Dengue fever is common in the Philippines and cases rise every year, it is advisable to apply anti-mosquito repellents and wear long sleeved clothes whenever possible.

Rabies is also common among street animals in the country, get a vaccination for rabies if you haven't done so, if you're travelling with children vaccinate them as soon as possible as they are of high risk of getting rabies because they tend to play more with animals.

Hepatitis A and B is of a high-risk in the country, get a vaccine if you haven't had one, as having exposure to food, water, sexual contact, and blood among the local people.

If you plan to visit rural farming areas, Japanese encephalitis is common, it is recommended to get a vaccine to avoid this disease.

Avoid swimming in fresh water (chlorinated swimming pools are exceptional) areas where you will have high risks of getting schistosomiasis. Leptospirosis is often contracted from recreational water activities in contaminated water such as Kayaking, it is common in the tropical areas of Southeast Asia.

Also please note the tubercolosis is very common in the countryside, it is advisable not to stay in certain villages in areas you are not familiar with for a very long time. It is also higly advisable that if one coughs or looks weak in strength it is highly advisable to avoid contact with that person.

Bring anti-diarrheal drugs with you, as unsanitary conditions present a high risk for traveler's diarrhea. Gatorade or other "sport drinks" might relieve you from fluid loss.

Drink bottled liquids if you are unsure of the water, and always wash your hands.

Although the Philippines is a low HIV prevalence country, it still pays to take precaution. Other sexually transmitted diseases are more common than HIV.

Safety

A heavy conflict is going on in the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (Basilan, Lanao Del Sur, Maguindanao, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi) between Muslim militias and the Philippine government. In 2009 this region was declared the world's most hazardous area for journalists by the Committee to Protect Journalists, with 18 reporters dead in a massacre that claimed the lives of almost 60 people. Travelling to this region is dangerous and strongly discouraged. If it is necessary to visit, inform your embassy, remain cautious at all times and avoid public gatherings.

Use common sense when traveling to and around the Philippines, as with traveling to other developing nations. Although the people of these islands are generally friendly and accommodating, one must be aware of the prevalence of poverty (especially in big cities) and the things that, unfortunately, come with it. You must not flash your valuables (especially Apple iPods and iPhones) because they pose a pickpocketing threat. Carry small change and don't flash large bills. Pickpockets are common in the big cities. Manila is not a place for violent robbery, but the ativan scam is common practice. Don't expect any reprisal from the police and must also sometimes be wary of them as they can be easily bribed and might be entangled in their own scams. Women are advised to travel in large groups and must use caution when out at night. Do not enter alleyways and remote areas at night.

Prostitution and drugs

Prostitution is thriving but officially illegal in the Philippines, although hostess bars, massage parlors and other opportunities abound which offer this service. EDSA and Makati in Metro Manila, and Angeles City are known hot spots for these activities. The age of consent is 18. The Philippine National Police treat sex-offenders, child-molesters and people involving in prostitution harshly, catching you in an act associated with prostitution and child sex abuse will result to long term jail sentences, penalties and deportation to your country.

Marijuana and shabu (crystal methamphetamine) are widely used in the country however it is also illegal and penalties are very harsh, you might get long jail terms and get deported back to your country.

Gays and Lesbians

Gays and lesbians will slightly be fine here in the Philippines as some the younger tolerant generation are very accepting, but please use common sense (ie: avoid public kissing) as you may get stares or even verbal profanity. Also, in the countryside and with the 50 year old and up generation chances are they will condemn it. But nevertheless, Filipinos have their warm hospitality. Violence against gays and lesbians is rare but don't expect this.

Clinics in Philippines

Hospital Dr. Pablo O. Torre Sr. Memorial Hospital
(Riverside Medical Center) Considered to be the only first class hospital in the city.
in Bacolod
 
Dentist Dentalhub Bacolod
Is part of the Philippine Dental Association, offers services even in emergencies and opens during weekends.
in Bacolod
 
Dentist Mendez Dental Clinic
Part of the Philippine Dental Association, aside from general teeth problems they also serve people who have gum disease. Open during weekends.
in Bacolod
 




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