February 3, 2015

Relocating to the Philippines: What You Need to Know

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Relocating to the Philippines: What You Need to Know

Known as the ‘Land of Smiles’, the Philippines is renowned for its friendliness and hospitality. Our latest Emerging Market Watch on the Philippines discusses the key challenges for relocation when living and working in this Southeast Asian country.

The Philippines is made up of more than 7,100 islands, the 11 largest of which contain 94% of the total land area and 90% of the country’s population. For those relocating there, be sure to visit the Hapao Rice Terraces, known as the eighth wonder of the world. Watch the Cartus On the Ground video on the Philippines to find out more about this emerging market destination.

Challenges for International Assignees


•  The Philippines can be prone to violent rainstorms, typhoons, earthquakes, and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes; keep up to date on weather warnings via TV and radio.

•  Power outages occur on a fairly regular basis during the rainy season (June to November). This can be quite disruptive to daily routines, although the majority of expatriate condominiums will have back-up generators (but houses typically don’t).

•  The rainy season also brings flooding, so make sure that you know alternative routes to/from home and work.


•  Lots of different types of public transport are available, including trains and buses, although these can get very overcrowded.

•  In major cities like Manila and Quezon, assignees should use only taxis or a private car and driver.

•  Secondary cities are less congested, so assignees may use public transport (although without air conditioning, journeys can be quite uncomfortable).

Cultural Issues

•  Family is the foundation of the Filipino society, and this should be respected.

•  In business, it’s really important to build relationships with colleagues and suppliers; hospitality is key to this.

•  Many Filipinos find it difficult to overtly disagree with others and may smile to disguise anger or embarrassment. As in most Asian cultures, locals avoid ‘losing face’ and as such, assignees need to refrain from raising their voices or being too direct when communicating.

•  In business meetings, ensure that discussions are with the decision-maker. Be mindful that it may take several meetings and a lot of relationship-building to identify who this is, exactly!

•  Whether at home or in the office, assignees will have to adjust to a slower pace of life. Make allowances for this in business by allocating more time for deadlines and schedules.

View our Resource Page and On the Ground video series for additional information on moving to other Emerging Market locations.

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Posted By

Ashley Barry

About Ashley

Ashley is the director of Supply Chain Management for Asia. She has more than a decade of global relocation experience, specializing in supplier sourcing, supplier performance management, and relocations to Asia’s key emerging markets.

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