Why be afraid of GenSan and not Manhattan?

In no particular order, here’s a list of (outrageous) things I or somebody I know had experienced with regards to the safety of Mindanao, or Philippines in general:

  1. A girl from the Netherlands was eager to participate in our first ever international yoga teacher training in General Santos. She wanted to stay in the Philippines for three months. She put in her deposit for the yoga teacher training and applied for a three-month visa. She was DENIED the visa because she indicated that she was going to General Santos City, the southernmost city in Mindanao. It’s interesting to note that this was the Philippine Embassy that denied her the visa. *frustration ensues*
  2. A girl from one travel group in Facebook asked for travel tips in the Philippines. Many of those who commented said that it’s generally safe in the Philippines, EXCEPT the south, i.e. Mindanao. It would have been okay if it were the foreigners who advised her not to come here, but it was mostly Filipinas who did. *frustration continues*
  3. A couple from Venezuela and Portugal touched base with my studio about wanting to come here for our next open yoga teacher training. We had a nice conversation about what to expect in the training. We did not discuss the history of Mindanao. Fast forward a few weeks later, said couple decided not to pursue coming here because the Embassy (which I hope to God was not the Philippine Embassy ~again~) advised them not to come. *getting really tired of people propunding ignorance of the matter*
  4. I had a guest teacher from all over the world, originally Australia, who initially asked me about the security situation. Of course I was honest about it and said there had been incidents in the past but we live peacefully now. She said she wasn’t scared, having lived in Colombia and Israel, she knew what these stigmas can do.
  5. I had guests from India who received news articles discouraging them to come to Mindanao. But being stubbornly brave, they came anyway. They were pleasantly surprised that General Santos City is not actually a warzone, but a quaint peaceful town near gorgeous white sand beaches.
  6. I have had guests from all over the world who experienced how safe and pleasant it is in General Santos. It’s those who have never been here that have a lot to say about our security. *thank God for brave people*

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The people of Philippines’ Region XII have been working hard to promote tourism because it’s honest-to-God filled with beautiful scenery. But when your own government, i.e. Philippine Embassies all over the world, and your own people, e.g., Manilennials and Baby Boomers NOT from Mindanao, are discouraging tourists to come down here, then we are wasting millions of pesos in advertising and thousands of work hours just to promote our region. We might as well shut down travel blogs about Region 12 and abolish Region XII Department of Tourism.

I understand that safety is of primary concern. But in this new age where travel is so accessible and the west continually attack countries in the Middle East, is there any place that is completely safe?

Are we forgetting that crime and terrorism can happen anywhere? It can happen in America, where airplanes were used to crash into the World Trade Center Twin Towers, killing nearly 3,000 people who did not expect to die that day, where elementary schools are targets of mass shootings even to this day, where marathons can be the perfect spot to set off an improvised grenade. It can happened in Paris, where the Al-Qaeda massacred 12 people out of spite for Charlie Hebdo magazine’s satirical pieces mocking the Islam faith. It can happen in England, where an improvised explosive device was used to attack Ariana Grande’s concert audience. Are we gonna let these incidents stop us from seeing those places?

Why be afraid of GenSan and not Manhattan?

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