Are Israelis Silently Taking Over The Philippines?

ByThe Counter Journal

Siargao Island is a tourist haven built on the suffering of Filipino locals.

Filipino locals have a story or two about the condition in Siargao. Locals who go there to enjoy their holidays face discrimination by white tourists. While locals who work there are treated with harsh slave-like working conditions by Israeli business owners.

Missing cheap meals and Siargao’s beautiful landscape

A tourist on TikTok posted how she’ll miss spending ₤4 a meal while living her best life in Siargao. The tourist received 1,000+ comments. Most of the reaction comes from Filipinos who witnessed the drastic change in Siargao.

Filipinos used to enjoy Siargao and its beauty

Tourists, especially from European countries and Israel, have flooded the island. Making prices for food and amenities in Siargao skyrocket.

A local shared Siargao was her mother’s hometown. But due to an increase in living costs, her mother had to move. She also shared that she had visited Siargao and had to spend ₱40,000 for the entire trip.

A case of gentrification?

Gentrification is defined as the character of a poor urban area being changed by wealthier people moving in. Improving housing and attracting new businesses. But it often displaces the current inhabitants in the process.

According to locals, Siargao is no longer affordable. Almost everything is catered to foreigners who come from countries that have a stronger currency.

Local business owners may profit from the sudden tourist influx. However, there is no shortage of foreign businesses setting up camp in Siargao. Israeli businesses being one of them.

Israel and Philippines ties are as old as Israel

Israel and the Philippines have good diplomatic ties. The Philippines was one of the 33 countries that voted in favour of UN Resolution 181 in 1947 to partition Palestine into two states, one Arab and one Jewish, with Jerusalem placed under a special international regime.

Many Israeli companies have been opening up in the Philippines since.

Are Filipinos being exploited?

This topic is a taboo among Filipinos. Most avoid discussing it or speaking out for fear of legal action. Most stories are told through anonymous accounts on social media. Sharing through comments what they’ve seen and or experienced themselves.

The consensus is there are many Israeli-owned companies across the Philippines, who run various businesses while buying up land. They are known to treat the local employees poorly. While Israeli tourists are seen as problematic and entitled.

The new generation of Filipinos wishes to better the situation

Tiffany Britanny on TikTok criticised the situation happening in Siargao. Her videos attracted many Filipinos to share their stories too.

Many of them are eager to continue the discussion. Some call to list down Israeli businesses, so they can boycott them. But as of now, there have been no updates.

Watch the video here

*edited for more context 1/3/2024

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