The good news is, you don't have to be a victim of those crimes. With the help of the tips below — as well as a healthy dose of wariness and common sense — you can stay out of trouble no matter where you are.
Be Wary of Strangers
Although Filipinos are friendly, they usually don't go out of their way to talk to complete strangers. So if you meet someone like this — Filipino or otherwise — be extra careful.
For example, if you're approached by an old woman begging for money so she can "get back to (insert name of far-flung province here)," walk away as fast as you can. It might seem cruel to do that to a person like her, but if you don't want to be in the awkward situation where you meet the same woman in a place several kilometers(!) away from where you originally met her, it's best to not pay attention to her at all.
Keep Your Valuables Out of Sight
In a place like Makati, it's easy to drop your guard, since it's as close as the Philippines can get to a high-class Western city. Actually, even Makati has its fair share of shady individuals — though not as rampant as in, say, Manila or Quezon City.
If you absolutely have to carry expensive items, stash them away in a sturdy, plain-looking bag. Also, avoid taking out your mobile phone on public transportation. Stay as unnoticeable as you can, and petty thieves won't even think of targeting you at all.
Carry Only What You Need
Backpacks can be tiresome to lug around. Plus, thieves see them as potential targets, because they believe — and with good reason — that large bags also contain large valuables. If you must carry a backpack, wear it on your front like most Filipinos in the Metro do.
You can also use small bags instead. If you have a lot of stuff, you can stash your work-related materials in your office locker (if available) and take home the rest. Trust us: Your daily commutes will be easier and lighter this way.
Deposit/Withdraw Money From a Safe Place
Many automated teller machines (ATMs) are in wide open spaces, where criminals can easily see whoever's using them. If you need to use an ATM, do it in the daytime, on weekdays, and within a security guard's line of sight. This way, if something goes wrong, you can get help as soon as you need it.
Also, be aware of your surroundings while using the ATM. Keep your mobile phone close by, and take note of any suspicious-looking individuals near you. Cover your hand while using the keypad, change your PIN regularly and avoid withdrawing large amounts of money. For that last one, you can always go over-the-counter instead to stay safe.
Stay Informed About Crime Syndicates
You might've heard about the so-called "budol-budol" gang. If you haven't, here's their modus operandi: They usually target unsuspecting maids by calling them up, and informing them that their amo ("master" or "employer") has been involved in an accident. They will then ask her to bring the amo's valuables over to a specified location, so that the amo's "hospital bills" may be covered. The maid does so, and by the time she discovers she's been duped, it's too late.
If your maid is responsible for your condo while you're away, tell her about the "budol-budol" gang. Tell her that, if someone claims to call on your behalf, she should ask them for a "password" (which only the two of you know). If the person on the other end doesn't know the password, it's a sure sign that something fishy is going on. Note the updated phone/mobile numbers of the security office in your building, so these incidents will be reported and dealt with accordingly.
Use Safety in Numbers
In case you need to stay out late for any reason, ask a friend to accompany you on the way home. Ideally, this friend is someone who lives close to your condo/building, so that both of you stay safe. If you have to walk through a dark street, walk as fast as you can. You never know who's hiding in the shadows!
One More Thing
Don't get us wrong: We're not trying to scare you away from the Philippines! On the contrary, it is a beautiful country, where kind-hearted people, pleasant weather and good food abound. At the same time, it has its darker side like any other country. As long as you're aware of that, and you maintain a healthy dose of skepticism and wonder at the same time, you'll enjoy your stay here.