Manila was never a safe city, but these days, it is getting more and more unsafe. In the 90s and the early 2000s I used to be able to walk around with small gold earrings without worrying that they will be stolen. It was only the very obvious jewelry that was stolen, those big chunky and sparkly necklaces and bracelets you could see a mile away, not small gold earrings.
Now, they will definitely be stolen by street kids who expertly remove them from your earlobes while jeepneys are waiting for the traffic light to turn green. It happened to me once and I lost a pair I owned since childhood. So far I have seen about 5 women who have had their earrings stolen while riding the jeepneys. Those streetkids would probably get P5000 from a stolen pair, probably enough for their family to eat for a two months or so.
It’s crazy now. To survive as a commuter, you have to look like you have no money or else you have to learn some kind of self-defense.
So far, I have had my cellphone pick-pocketed from my backpack, another cellphone taken at knife point, my small gold earrings stolen from my ears. I’ve seen several people’s earrings stolen the same way.
The hungry squatters make the city more dangerous. We’ve only got petty criminals here and most of them are minors. It’s such a disgusting issue if you think about it.
Meanwhile, those who are impotent to enact change can only try to adapt to the times. You have to look like you have nothing worth stealing about your person to be able to go about the streets safely.