I have lived in Ermita near Manila Bay on and off for ten years. I left a few years and lived in Davao and then came back. So, in the ten years I have been coming and going has it changed over that time? Yes, it has for sure.for
Living in the Philippines as a foreigner makes you stand out to the few bad people on the street. No way, am I saying that street people are bad, it is those people looking for an easy target and foreigners really are. We mostly walk around with wallets with money and go to ATMs late at night and we drink and walk back to hotels and homes.
Walking around Ermita is not as safe as it used to be, and I have had few issues over the last two years that I really did not encounter in my previous times living and visiting Ermita. Most of the problems relate to theft and most are done in daylight hours now.
Many times two or three people would crowd around you with a question or asking for money and touch you when talking as another quickly dives into your pockets looking for wallets and phones. This has happened three times to me and I have managed to stand my ground and not lose anything. But, they do start pushing and crowding to make you try and take your hands out of your pocket.
No Police are ever around and there is a distinct lack of Police in the streets, they are normally asleep in the Bay Area.
Getting in and out of Jeepneys means holding your pockets too, as several times kids rush up and shout as another goes through your pockets and as they have small hands they get inside very quickly. So far, I have lost one hanky!!
My worst experience is to have four people come out from behind a car and try and push me to the floor and go through my pockets. Despite four of them I managed to stay upright and move forward and get out of the road. People were watching and no one helped or called for help. The people involved in getting me to the floor just smiled when they failed to achieve their goal. This was a road I have walked on for years without any problem.
I have a great local bar in Ermita where I have met many foreigners who have had money stolen and have been beaten up on the way home. ERMITA is not as safe as it used to be.