I've lived in Manila for 19 years and we're leaving for Hobart via Qld on Saturday. I'm really sad to go 'cause my two daughters are staying here (one is married to a local and they both just like it better here than Aus) as well as my new granddaughter, not to mention all our friends here. We had a going away party last Sunday and there were lots of tears. I know some people are freaked out at the thought of coming here. All you see on the news is coups and bombings. Yes, we get our bags checked and frisked down every time we walk into a mall or onto overhead train station and there are armed guards outside every bank and many malls but after awhile you don't notice. In 1987 there was a full scale battle within 1/2 mile of our house. That scared me 'cause I was new here but now whenever something happens we just stay home until is calms down. Crime happens. Even in Manila there are enclaves where we can feel safe. Where we are now is a small village (gated community) it's not flash and the average block is 200 square meters but this is the safest place I been in since coming here. Everyone knows my son and he can roam around. This is the first place where we've left anything of value outside (bike or skateboard) and not worried about it being stolen. In other places we've had shoes stolen from our porch, bikes, and clothing off our line - even our plastic trash can walked. In one place someone tried to saw through the bars of our house while we were inside. The main thing to watch for foreigners here is pickpockets and never let anyone you don't know buy you a drink. Our kids know there are places they just shouldn't go mainly because they're white and stand out a mile and because of crack heads. In 19 years you hear a lot of accounts of rape, both of women and children - boys and girls, stabbings, attacks, thefts. When our girls were teens we never let them go to a mall alone; only with a posse of friends - male and female. When they started dating it was a relief because their friends were as zealous to protect them from the bad guys as we were. I usually use public transport because I don't want to be in a taxi alone with just the driver. A Korean student I know was robbed at gunpoint by a taxi-driver. When I go out with a lot of cash I put it in different pockets and don't wear jewellry (I don't have much anyway - just an engagement ring - but I never wear it). If you go to the bank or moneychanger watch out forpickpockets when you come out. Meth (shabu) is a major problem here too. Jails are overflowing with people arrested on drug charges. By overflowing imagine 80+ men in a room about 80 sq m. Bunks usually have 2-3 people apiece and they line up like sardines underneath. Once you're in you can be sitting there for years while your case drags on. Am I going to miss this place - you bet. I'm actually more worried about my 13 y/o son's social life in Aus than I am about living here.