When we arrived in Davao, our mission director brought us from the airport to his house for the first week. As he pulled up to his house, he remarked, “In the Philippines, every house is a concrete fortress. This is our fortress.” The huge metal gate swung open, and we were inside his domain.
High walls around any property that looks like it might contain something worth stealing are the norm in many parts of the world, and the Philippines is one of those parts. Those who can afford it surround themselves with concrete. Those who can’t use bamboo or whatever they can find. Walls are at least 10 feet high, and topped with painful things to keep would-be thieves from even thinking about it. In many cases, as in our townhouse complex, the metal gate is guarded by a cheerful, polite, saluting, smiling armed guard, 24/7. (We assume our guard would quickly lose the smile, salute, and politeness should anyone dastardly appear before his gate.)
Here are some of the styles of wall that can be seen about town. Note the sharp stuff at the top edges of some of them. They can be forbidding enough, but their edge is often softened by attractive flowering tropical plants.
First, the basic and inexpensive bamboo fence:
Next: walls of corrugated metal roofing turned on its side and girdled with barbed wire:
A little more upscale: molded concrete with shards of broken glass inserted sharp-side up while the concrete was still wet, so that they now stick up like teeth:
Concrete and iron. A little more attractive and upscale, but still spiky:
And in case the iron spikes aren’t enough of a deterrent, you can always add barbed wire:
But don’t get the wrong impression: once you’re within the walls, your Filipino hosts are the friendliest people on earth — provided you entered by the gate. As our Lord said, “He that entereth not by the door… but climbeth up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.”