Expats working in the Philippines will find themselves in an ethnically diverse and multicultural working environment that has been influenced by Spanish, American, Malay and Chinese cultures and traditions. The country has a highly skilled and educated workforce and presents an emerging economic market.

Seen as a gateway to the Southeast Asia region, many multinational corporations base their regional head offices in Metro Manila. Most of these are based in Makati, the financial and business centre of the Philippines. Makati is also the diplomatic centre of the Philippines and as such, many foreigners live and work here.

Job market in the Philippines

Recent economic growth and the presence of international corporations have made the Philippines a popular destination for expats seeking work opportunities abroad.

Mining, food processing, construction and tourism industries offer the most opportunities for expats. Many foreigners also move to the Philippines to teach a foreign language, while call centres and other business outsourcing units have been another booming sector.

Finding a job in the Philippines

Many expats moving to the Philippines have pre-arranged employment and move as part of a corporate relocation within their company or go there to work for a multinational corporation.

When looking for a job, we suggest visiting the websites of companies which operate in the Philippines to search for vacancies. Job hunters can also explore listings on online job portals and employment networking websites such as JobStreet.com and Glassdoor.

Expats who want to work in the Philippines will need to obtain a valid work visa, which should be arranged before arrival in the country. Work permits are usually organised by the employer. 

Generally, it’s recommended to secure employment before relocating to the Philippines. This is because, to get a work permit, hiring companies must prove that the position cannot be filled by a Filipino.

Work culture in the Philippines

English is widely spoken in the workplace and most Western expats won’t struggle to communicate with their colleagues. Nevertheless, we encourage expats to familiarise themselves with the local business culture in the Philippines. 

In particular, expats working in the Philippines should be aware of the concept of ‘saving face’. Self-esteem is important to Filipinos. Public displays of anger and disparaging someone in front of others can cause 'loss of face', something that Filipinos avoid at all costs. So, expats doing business here are recommended to avoid publicly criticising or arguing with Filipinos colleagues.

The working week in the Philippines is from Monday to Friday. Office hours are generally 8am to 5pm, with a one-hour lunch break. Few offices are open on weekends.