From low crime rates to virtually being flood-free, here is an overview of some of the safest places to live in the Philippines.
Aside from price and convenience, location is an essential factor to consider when buying a home, and not just for prime real estate investment purposes. Safety in all aspects has a lot to do with where you live, which is why aspiring homeowners are often advised to look beyond a home’s aesthetics and price tag to see if a certain property is one they’d feel comfortable and protected living in for a very long time.
Here are a few safety considerations to bear in mind if you’re considering leaving your current neighborhood in search of a new one to call home.
All shook up
Most earthquakes are caused by energy release connected to rapid movement on active faults, such as the Marikina Valley Fault System (VFS). Composed of the East and West Valley fault lines, the Marikina VFS can generate an earthquake of a 7.5 magnitude. With news that the so-called “Big One” can occur within our lifetime, people are becoming more conscious of choosing where they live, taking into consideration the five-meter buffer advised by the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS).
Loss of life and destruction of property due to earthquakes can be avoided by living far from fault lines. (Photo from Shutterstock)
According to the PHIVOLCS’ detailed Valley Fault System map, the East Valley fault line traverses the municipalities of Rodriguez and San Mateo in Rizal. The West Valley fault line, which runs from Angat Dam to Cavite, touches parts of Quezon City, Marikina, Pasig, Makati, Taguig, and Muntinlupa, as well as certain areas in the provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, and Laguna. PHIVOLCS warns that structures built directly above the fault line could sustain damage in the event of an earthquake.
Based on Tremors, an online mapping tool that determines a specific location’s distance from the West Valley fault line, Metro Manila cities that are furthest from the West Valley fault line are Navotas (15.57 km), Malabon (15.18 km), Valenzuela (12.31 km), Manila (9.35 km), Caloocan (8.94 km), Pasay (5.91 km), Las Piñas (5.22 km), San Juan (3.83 km), Mandaluyong (3.52 km), Parañaque (3.36 km), and the municipality of Pateros (0.93 km). Because of their location, they could be at low risk of sustaining property damage, but factors such as a structure’s age, ground stability, and building code adherence should also be considered.
A hard rain’s a-gonna fall
As an archipelago that lies at the typhoon belt, the Philippines regularly gets hit by destructive storms that form in the northwestern Pacific Ocean, turning many locations into a water world usually between the months of July and October. In most cases, the areas that are most affected by typhoons are Northern and Eastern Luzon and the regions of Bicol and Eastern Visayas, although the National Capital Region has sustained damages from heavy rainfall and flooding as well.
To help local government units and its citizens prepare for storm surges, the Mines and Geosciences Bureau under the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) created a geohazard map that displays the risk levels of flooding in various areas of the country. According to the map, there are 10 locations that are most susceptible to flooding: Pampanga, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Tarlac, Maguindanao, Bulacan, Metro Manila, North Cotabato, Oriental Mindoro, and Ilocos Norte.
Many places in the Philippines are prone to flooding due to low elevation and poor drainage systems. (Photo from Shutterstock)
On the other hand, there are several neighborhoods in these areas that remain relatively safe from rising waters even during heavy rainfall. In Metro Manila, for instance, some of the cities that are seen to have a low risk of flooding are large parts of Caloocan, Quezon City, Manila, Parañaque, Las Piñas, Taguig, and Muntinlupa. Aside from having a higher level of elevation compared to other cities, the local government units of many of these locations have flood control programs set in place to keep rain waters from rising to dangerous levels.
In August 2015, several media outlets reported an increase in crime incidents over the first half of the same year. But the Philippine National Police (PNP) clarified the issue, stating that their own crime statistics displayed a decrease in both index and non-index crime for the period. The PNP stated that the research and analysis division of PNP’s Directorate for Investigation and Detective Management had in fact recorded a total crime volume of 509,924 for January to June of 2015, a 15.36 percent decrease compared to 602,449 incidents in the same period in 2014. In the same research, the PNP noted that Metro Manila had the highest crime rate with 116,347 incidents, while the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao had the lowest at 2,096 incidents.
Break-ins are one of the biggest concerns of any homeowner in terms of home safety. (Photo from Shutterstock)
In Numbeo, a community-driven statistics site, citizens grade cities in categories like cost of living, property prices, and crime. In the “crime” survey, visitors describe a city’s crime rate through concerns like level of crime, worries about robbery or being attacked, and problems regarding corruption and bribery. Users of the site put Makati at the top spot in safest cities in the Philippines with the highest safety index of 75.66. According to contributors, Makati has a “low” level of crime at 22.81, and its residents feel a “very low” level of worry of being attacked for their ethnicity. Valenzuela in Metro Manila ranked second with a safety index of 74.6, while Davao City is in third place with a safety index of 73.16. Fourth and fifth on the list are Cagayan De Oro City (53.52) and Cebu (51.10), respectively.
Stranger in a strange land
The Philippines often finds itself in lists of retirement-friendly countries for foreign nationals looking to spend their golden years in another land. And while one might argue that our country is often in the news because of crimes against expats, there are many locations in the country where foreigners can safely while away their days, whether as senior retirees or as young individuals who have grown to love what the Pearl of the Orient has to offer.
For a foreign national to live peacefully in the Philippines, it's essential for them to choose a community that is expat-friendly. (Photo from Shutterstock)
Expat Exchange, a website that aims to serve as a guide to foreign nationals living in the Philippines, sees several areas in the country as possible new homes for those who look for safety as much as they do convenience and cost when looking for a place to stay. For those who seek residence in the country for leisure and retirement, Tagaytay City, Subic Bay, and Baguio City are areas where expats can feel a certain degree of acceptance and safety. Financial education website Investopedia adds Dumaguete City as an ideal retirement place for ranking well in categories such as crime and existing expat community.
For younger expats who need to be in the center of busy districts to be closer to work and the night life, some of the places with a large foreign populace where they can feel safe are Makati, Bonifacio Global City in Taguig, and Cebu City.
Sources: philstar.com, tremors.instigators.io, phivolcs.dost.gov.ph, pnp.gov.ph, numbeo.com, expatexchange.com, Investopedia.com