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Preface Last Updated: 1/26/2004 9:57 PM

"Three hundred and fifty years in a convent followed by fifty years in Hollywood." This is the way one observer has described the profound impact of over three centuries of Spanish colonialism and over four decades of American political control on the culture of the Philippines.

It is indeed true that evidence of Spanish rule can be found everywhere in the Philippines, from the architecture and the surnames to the predominance of Catholicism. In addition, the continuing close relationship between the Philippines and the United States, and the assimilation of American cultural icons into Philippine society, create an especially accessible and welcoming environment for Americans. However, both the Spanish and American influences constitute a thin veneer over the deep-rooted foundations of Malay culture, which, more than anything else, define Filipino society. The resulting mix is a rich and colorful tapestry that is more complicated than it may appear on the surface, occasionally confusing and frustrating, but always interesting.

A tour in the Philippines provides a rare opportunity to gain a more thorough appreciation of the richness and diversity of a unique society in Southeast Asia.

The Host Country

Area, Geography, and Climate Last Updated: 1/26/2004 9:58 PM

The Philippines is composed of 7,107 separate islands (7,106 during high tide), only 880 of which are inhabited. The three major geographical areas in the Philippines are the large island of Luzon in the north, which includes Manila; the large island of Mindanao in the south; and the group of islands lying between them, known as the Visayas. The three stars on the Philippine flag symbolize these three areas.

The island geography of the Philippines includes about 21,000 miles of natural coastline. Much of the coastal area is rugged and irregular, punctuated by numerous natural harbors and picturesque coves. The Philippines also has some of the most spectacular beaches to be found in the South Pacific. Sites that would live up to anyone's fantasy of a pristine South Pacific paradise of white sand beaches and crystal blue waters, they are a popular destination for tourists from around the world. Unfortunately, the heavy pollution and rocky coastline of Manila Bay render the metro Manila area itself unsuited for leisurely Sundays at the beach.

The interior of the country is generally mountainous, with several mountain peaks reaching almost 10,000 feet. In addition, the Philippines has extensive fertile plains along the coast and in the center of the country. It also features lush and scenic rolling hills, with rich valleys crossed by rivers. There are numerous volcanoes in the country, and some are frequently active. The most recent and infamous example was the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo on June 12, 1991, which was the largest volcanic eruption of the century. The Mt. Pinatubo eruption permanently altered the topography of northern Luzon and continues to cause flood control problems.

Minor earth tremors occur frequently. In 1969 and 1970, major earthquakes hit Manila, resulting in moderate damage and some loss of life. In January 1982, an earthquake measuring 6.8 on the Richter scale hit Northern Bicol. In August 1983, an earthquake measuring 5.7 occurred in Ilocos Norte. Both caused extensive property damage and loss of life. On July 16, 1990, one of the largest and most destructive earthquakes ever to hit the Philippines struck in Central Luzon. At its epicenter near Cabanatuan, it measured 8.0 on the Richter scale. This "killer earthquake" caused great destruction and loss of life in Baguio and some other cities of Central Luzon but did not seriously damage Manila.

The Philippines is a country rich with unique tropical rain forests and coral reefs. It has been referred to as the Galapagos Islands times ten. It hosts more than 510 species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians that exist nowhere else on earth. The country is also on the East Asian Migratory Flyway for birds that travel from the south pole to the north pole and back again each year. The Olango Island Wildlife Sanctuary, just minutes from Cebu City, has won international ecotourism awards for its educational tours and conservation efforts. Scuba diving and snorkeling on the biologically diverse coral reefs are also popular activities, with good resorts and coral reefs within driving distance from Manila.

Illegal logging, over-fishing, and destructive fishing practices (e.g., use of dynamite and cyanide) threaten the forests and coral reefs. Less than 18% of the land area remains covered by forests-only about 5 million hectares. And only 800,000 hectares of this forest is considered old growth forest. These natural resources provide the basis for food security and employment for millions of Filipinos. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and other partners are working to strengthen the ability of local governments and communities to protect these forests and coastal resources.

The Philippines has a tropical climate, but it is marginally less hot and humid than many tropical countries for most of the year. Although the sun shines almost year round, there are slight seasonal variations in the weather. The dry summer season, which runs from about late April to early June, is comparable to summer in Washington, D.C. - i.e., hot and humid and with little rainfall. Many Americans find the heat during this period too intense to enjoy outdoor activities. The typhoon season runs from June to September, with frequent drenching rains that can temper the heat somewhat but also preclude any outdoor activities. The downpours are often limited in duration, but the resulting flash floods can create chaos by blocking streets, stranding motorists, and bringing the already congested traffic of Manila to a virtual standstill. The most pleasant season follows the rainy season, from November until March. During this time of year, mornings can be fresh, and even the midday temperatures remain bearable, with frequent breezes that temper the heat. Most Americans will find it enjoyable to engage in outdoor recreational activities during this time of year. However, even when the temperature is at its most pleasant, the poor quality of the air in Manila may preclude many outdoor activities, particularly for those individuals with respiratory trouble.

The temperature range in Manila is relatively narrow, with minimum temperatures in the mid-70s and highs in the mid-90s, and an annual mean of about 80°F. Average relative humidity ranges from 69% in April to 84% in August or September. The warm and humid climate of the Philippines can lead to problems with mold and mildew. Air-conditioning in the Embassy and all staff housing alleviates serious problems, but any valuable items, such as furniture, rugs, cameras, books, etc., must be watched carefully for mildew. A home dehumidifier is useful in storage rooms, particularly during the wet season, and many closets have light bulb sockets. A light bulb of about 100 watts usually generates enough heat to suppress mildew. The tropical climate is also a breeding ground for fungal and ear infections, especially for swimmers. In addition, most Americans in the Philippines will suffer from some sort of respiratory discomfort during their stay here, which is often compounded by the poor air quality. Manila is a particularly inhospitable climate for those with asthma or other chronic respiratory ailments.

The usual tropical insects abound throughout the Philippines and are especially prevalent in rural areas and during the rainy season. The mosquito nuisance in Manila is at a tolerable level and is less than most Americans would expect in a tropical climate. In addition, the mosquitoes in the Manila, Baguio, Cebu, and Davao area are of the non-malarial, nuisance variety. Anyone visiting rural areas overnight, however, should consult the Embassy Medical Unit about the need for anti-malarial precautions. Mosquitoes can also carry dengue fever during certain times of the year, including in Manila's residential neighborhoods.

Cockroaches and ants are a common problem in Embassy housing. Residents are advised to keep sweets and breads in the refrigerator so that they do not attract insects. Regular spraying of Embassy residences usually keeps the pests to a tolerable level, however. The small lizards that often make their homes on the walls and ceilings of Embassy housing are harmless and can be useful, since they eat mosquitoes and other insects.

Baguio, the original summer capital of the Philippines, is located 155 miles north of Manila at an altitude of about 5,000 feet. The climate varies between the dry and the very wet season, each lasting about six months. The dry season runs from December to May, with temperatures ranging from the 50s and 60s at night to highs in the mid-80s during the day. Baguio averages 176 inches of rainfall a year, about half of which falls in July and August alone. The rains begin tapering off in September and are light in October and November.

Baguio traditionally has been a popular destination for Mission employees to escape the heat and pollution of Manila. The U.S. Embassy maintains an official residence in Baguio that includes a large and elegant main house and a cabin, surrounded by fragrant pine trees. Embassy personnel are entitled to use these facilities, when they are not needed for representational purposes.

Population Last Updated: 1/26/2004 9:59 PM

The Philippines is inhabited by about 80 million people of varying races, traditions, cultures, and religious beliefs, speaking 87 different dialects. The island geography of the Philippines has created a number of distinct and separate cultural and linguistic groups, and inhabitants of different areas of the country identify closely with their home provinces.

Filipinos can be divided into four major religious/cultural groups: Catholics, Protestants, Muslims and indigenous groups. Catholics and Protestants comprise over 90% of the population and are generally found in the lowlands. Some 80% of Filipinos are Roman Catholic. About 9% belong to the Philippine Independent (or Aglipayan) Church, the indigenous Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ), and various Protestant faiths. Muslims comprise about 5% of the population and are concentrated on the southern island of Mindanao and the Sulu Archipelago. The fourth group, composed of indigenous mountain peoples (Igorot, Ifugao, Negrito, and Mangyan), is found in the mountainous interior areas of the country.

Anyone who has spent time in the Philippines will agree that its people are one of the country's great natural resources. Filipinos are noted for their warmth, friendliness, and hospitality. Philippine nationalism can at times be tinged with an anti-American flavor because of the U.S. colonial past. However, these tensions subsided with the removal of the American military bases in the early 1990s. Americans and American culture are generally respected and admired by Filipinos, and most Filipinos are eager to develop friendships with Americans who live in the country. It is very easy during a tour in the Philippines to develop strong personal relationships with minimum effort, and most Americans will find that Filipinos share many of their hobbies and interests. Filipinos enjoy socializing and are extremely generous in sharing their culture with American guests.

Working with the Filipino employees in the Embassy is one of the high points of a tour in Manila. The Embassy is fortunate to have some of the best local employees to be found anywhere in the Foreign Service, combining a strong work ethic and professionalism with a pleasant, friendly demeanor.

Because of America's historical relationship with the Philippines, Filipinos have an especially keen interest in travel and immigration to the United States. Anyone who works at the Embassy, regardless of his or her position, is presumed to have knowledge of and influence over the visa process, and it is not unusual for the subject of visas to come up in conversation with even casual acquaintances. The Filipino tradition of helping those who have helped you often makes it difficult for Filipino friends to understand why it is impossible for Americans to pull strings to arrange a visa. Maintaining a sense of humor about such encounters, along with professional integrity, is a must.

Social customs of the people of Manila are superficially Western, but Americans should keep in mind that the underlying culture is Asian. The society is cosmopolitan, but not nearly as international or heterogeneous as in other major Southeast Asian cities such as Singapore or Hong Kong. Western clothing styles are common, but many locals (and some Americans) adhere to traditional Filipino dress, which is more appropriate to the sultry local weather, especially on formal occasions.

The family remains at the heart of Philippine culture. Filipinos have a strong sense of family cohesion and responsibility. Women in the Philippines are highly educated, well respected, and generally share an equal status with men, both in the home and in the workplace. American visitors will be impressed by the preeminence of female leaders in business, commerce and politics throughout the Philippines. At the same time, however, women are exploited in bars and sometimes trafficked as prostitutes.

English remains one of the official languages of the Philippines, along with Tagalog. English is the common language of business, commerce, and higher education, and many leading newspapers, magazines, and a few TV and radio programs are in English. However, Tagalog is the predominant language in everyday life in many parts of Luzon, including Manila. In addition, Filipinos from other areas speak a native dialect, with Tagalog taking a back seat to a more familiar second language, such as Cebuano, Ilongo, Bicolano, or Ilocano. In numerical terms, Cebuano is the native language for more Filipinos than Tagalog.

There has been a marked decline in the use of standard English in the Philippines in recent years, especially among the lower classes, and many Americans will find the brand of English spoken by Filipinos hard to understand at first. A combination of Tagalog and English, called "Taglish," is the standard language used in everyday life in the Philippines and on TV and radio programs. There is a noticeable gap between the level of spoken English, which is generally excellent among educated Filipinos, and the standard of written English, which tends to lag behind. It is at times challenging and frustrating to communicate with those in the service industry in Manila, such as taxi drivers, store clerks and waiters, particularly in light of the Filipinos' propensity to say 'yes' to any statement they do not understand. Americans should remember that their brand of English sounds different to Filipino ears, so they should speak slowly and politely. It is increasingly useful for Americans in the Philippines to have at least some knowledge of Tagalog.

Public Institutions Last Updated: 1/26/2004 9:59 PM

The Filipino people made history in early 2001 with "People Power 2," the non-violent ouster of President Joseph Estrada. Then-Vice-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was sworn in as President, following days of large, peaceful demonstrations calling for Estrada's resignation in the wake of corruption charges. (The original "People Power" movement refers to the EDSA Revolution of 1986, in which Corazon Aquino's followers successfully demanded the removal of President Ferdinand Marcos.) Americans who experienced either of these peaceful revolutions were impressed by the ability of the masses to affect a change in their government simply through sheer numbers and persistence.

After Mrs. Aquino assumed the presidency in 1986, a new constitution was ratified, which returned the Philippines from the Marcos dictatorship to an American-style presidential system. The national government is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial branches. Despite occasional attempts to destabilize the government, democracy, Philippine-style, is alive and well, but is less efficient, more corrupt, and more personality driven than the American model.

Each of the People Power revolutions in the Philippines resulted in tremendous optimism and ambitious plans for reform. Goals included the elimination of corruption in the government, and economic improvements that would lead to greater foreign investment in the Philippines. Unfortunately, successive administrations have been unable to deliver on many of these goals. As of the winter of 2004, President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is still striving to improve the standard of living and economic conditions in the Philippines.

The Executive Branch is composed of the President, who serves for a single six-year term, and his or her cabinet, consisting of the Secretaries of government departments. (Note: Under the Constitution, President Arroyo may seek another full term in the2004 national elections.) The bicameral legislature consists of the Senate, with 24 nationally elected members, and the House of Representatives, with up to 250 members elected by local constituencies and through a party-list system designed to increase the participation of under-represented sectors. Judicial power is vested in a 15-member Supreme Court and lower courts that operate on a hybrid of the American system of common law and the European version of civil law.

The national government maintains branch offices of its executive departments in provinces, cities, and towns across the country. However, these local jurisdictions elect their own officials and manage most of their own affairs. Administratively, the 79 provinces are divided into 15 regions plus the Manila National Capital Region.

President Arroyo made a state visit to Washington in May 2003; President Bush reciprocated in a successful state visit to Manila in October 2003. These visits highlighted our common struggle against global and local terrorism, and our bilateral and multilateral efforts to bring peace and development to conflict-affected areas in the Philippines.

The Philippine Government has had limited success in implementing a constitutionally mandated program of regional autonomy in the south, where the Muslim population is concentrated, and in northern Luzon, where sizable cultural minorities live in mountainous areas. However, separatist groups, such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Jemaah Islamiyah, continue to pose a threat to the stability of Mindanao. The violence associated with Muslim rebels has been confined mostly to certain parts of Mindanao, though its impact occasionally has been felt in Manila. The New People's Army, a communist insurgency, operates in various parts of the country, including Manila, inflicting "revolutionary taxes" on political figures, judges, businesses and the general population. Overall, however, travel for tourism in many parts of the country is safe, and Mission employees enjoy frequent domestic travel with family members. Americans are advised to heed the travel advisories of the Regional Security Office with regard to Mindanao and certain other areas of the country.

Arts, Science, and Education Last Updated: 1/26/2004 10:00 PM

Arts. Before the independence of East Timor, the Philippines was East Asia's only predominantly Christian country. Western ideas and values have strongly influenced its arts, which are diverse and robust. In Manila, for example, there are two ballet companies, two symphony orchestras, and strong drama and musical theater presentations --many of them in English -- including a long-running production of the musical "Miss Saigon." In addition, foreign companies and international artists perform throughout the year.

The Sciences. The government and university administrations realize that they must strengthen their scientific institutions in order to keep pace with the international scientific community. Despite insufficient resources, the country is progressing in some scientific fields. The Department of Science and Technology actively supports academic science. For example, Philippine scientists, working with their international counterparts at the International Rice Research Institute in Los Baños, developed new strains of miracle rice that made many countries self-sufficient in rice production.

Increasingly, Philippine scientists are working with their international colleagues on such critical issues as environmental degradation, energy and water conservation, reforestation, and pollution control and abatement. Phenomena such as El Niño have given even more urgency to the push to institute conservation measures. However, distilling scientific research into practicable policies remains a great challenge.

Filipinos are known as talented computer programmers. AOL's International Help Line facility, manned by 900 employees, is located just north of Manila. In addition, the so-called "Love Bug" computer virus originated in Manila.

Education. The Philippines is home to an extraordinary number of educational institutions. According to the Department of Education, there are 10,666 preschool institutions, 41,288 elementary schools, 7,890 secondary schools, and 1,479 colleges and universities, 272 of which are public institutions. Though more teachers are needed to respond to the rapidly growing population of the country, the number of professional teachers is large. There are 354,063 elementary teachers, 119,235 secondary teachers, and 93,884 university- and college-level instructors. Unfortunately, the quality of instruction in public schools at all levels suffers due to severe overcrowding, lack of resources and insufficient preparation of teachers. Nevertheless, both the Department of Education and the Commission on Higher Education are working on strategies to improve education at all levels, and USAID, PAO, and the Peace Corps are now providing some assistance in this area.

Commerce and Industry Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:23 AM

From the end of the Marcos era in 1986 to the present, the Philippine economy has begun a gradual transformation from inward to outward looking. In the face of political upheavals, external shocks such as the Asian financial crisis, and natural disasters such as the eruption of Mt. Pinatubo, successive administrations have managed gradually to lower trade barriers, privatize government corporations, reform financial markets, and ease restrictions on foreign investment. During this period, national income (GDP) increased by an average of 3% per year. Annual population growth of around 2.5% per year, however, has meant that the Philippines has fallen behind most of its Asian neighbors, including China, in terms of per capita income.

Services make up about half of the Philippine's national income, while industry accounts for 35% and agriculture the remaining 15%. One bright spot in the services sector has been the success of information technology firms, while investments made by electronic components manufacturers have boosted industrial output. Agricultural workers, however, make up about 45% of the work force, with service workers at about 40% and factory labor at only 15%. Agriculture remains inefficient in the Philippines, with so much of the labor force accounting for so little national income, in large part because the economic reforms of the last 15 years have not extended to this sector. Agricultural tariffs are still high (in many cases over 50%), and ineffective land reform efforts have reduced many landowners to sustenance farming.

Over 30% of the Philippine population is poor, with the highest incidence of poverty among households engaged in agriculture. This rural poverty has led to rapid urbanization, as farmers move to Manila, Cebu, Davao, and other cities in search of higher salaries. These aspirations often do not pan out, and many arrivals from the countryside end up in city slums, such as the ones along the Pasig River or railroad tracks in Manila, living in conditions worse than those they left behind.

Economic liberalization in the Philippines has pushed the country to extend its formal international economic links. The Philippines is one of the founding members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is also a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum. Through these organizations, the Philippines has pledged to continue lowering trade and investment barriers. Meanwhile, bilateral trade and investment relations between the United States and the Philippines are broad and deep. The United States is the Philippines' largest trading partner, while the Philippines is the United States' 20th largest partner. The United States is also the largest foreign investor in the Philippines.

The outlook for the Philippine economy is mixed. Some of the immediate benefits of economic reform already have been realized, such as the beginnings of trade and investment liberalization. The challenge will be to sustain those efforts, while moving forward with more difficult changes such as agricultural and tax reform. There is also a broad range of legislative, bureaucratic, and judicial reforms that will be needed to combat corruption and improve governance and transparency in all sectors and at all levels of government. In addition, the government needs to expand and improve its efforts to provide basic services, such as education (to ensure a steady flow of skilled, English-speaking workers prepared to enter the 21st century world of e-business) and infrastructure (so that exporters can get their goods from the factory or field to the airport or harbor).

The Philippines has the lowest percentage of paved roads among countries in the Association of Southeast Asian nations, including Indonesia. It also has fewer telephone lines than Thailand or Malaysia, and power costs are high. Some economists believe that the Philippines was unable to match the economic growth rate of its Asian neighbors over the last decade in part because the country's infrastructure could not handle the strain of more business.

Transportation Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:24 AM

Traffic is a major concern throughout Metro Manila. Along with bad air quality, traffic is a primary contributing factor to Manila's hardship differential. It is impossible to truly appreciate the traffic in Manila without experiencing it firsthand. Getting around Manila at any time of the day or night can be a stressful and daunting task, and, as a result, some people simply choose to stay home and avoid certain parts of the city rather than face Manila traffic.

It is difficult to predict when and where a major traffic jam might occur in the congested city streets, and a Manila traffic jam can mean sitting literally immobile for long stretches, surrounded on all sides by exhaust-belching buses and jeepneys. Industrious Filipino youths stroll among the stranded drivers, selling food, drinks, and cheap toys.

For most Americans, the most frustrating aspect of traffic is the uniquely Filipino style of driving, which is often erratic and unpredictable. Those with orderly driving habits will find it difficult to adjust to the chaos of Manila's streets. Lane markers and crosswalks painted on the streets of Manila, as well as many stoplights, are often ignored. Buses stop in the middle of the streets to allow passengers to exit into oncoming traffic, and taxis cross cars stacked five abreast to make left turns from the far right lane. Drivers also turn into oncoming traffic when the proper lane is too congested, while pedestrians and cars play a dangerous game of "chicken" to see who will get to the intersection first. At the same time, Filipino drivers are remarkably polite and less prone to road rage than their American counterparts. To some extent, the absence of stringently applied traffic rules compels the average Filipino driver to be more aware and attentive to his surroundings than the average American driver.

Although most city streets are concrete or asphalt, many are in a constant state of disrepair. Some Manila streets become treacherous mazes of potholes, open sewers, garbage and other hazards during the rainy season. Side streets can be narrow and hazardous year round, and traffic signals often are broken. Traffic guards attempting to regulate the flow of vehicles at major intersections are sometimes ignored. There are many unauthorized vendors and beggars in Manila, who must constantly be removed by the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA). Caution is always the rule to follow.

The MMDA has completed construction of a modern light rail system (MRT), designed to alleviate some of the congestion by connecting major commercial areas of the city. This rapid transit system is clean and efficient, but its network unfortunately is not extensive enough to make a significant impact on Manila's heavy vehicle traffic. The MRT station begins on the corner of Edsa and Taft, ending on North Avenue, Quezon City. Most Americans have found the light rail network too limited in scope to present a viable alternative to automobile travel. In addition, stations are often inconveniently located and not easily accessible on foot. The rapid transit system can, however, be a very pleasant alternative to a private car or taxi when traveling to certain parts of Makati, the business and commercial district of Manila.

There are several new toll roads connecting the city to certain outlying areas, with further construction planned for the future. In theory, this should help to alleviate some traffic problems in the next few years. However, planned improvements in the transportation infrastructure of Manila often suffer serious delays and slowdowns during construction, and the increasing number of private cars on the streets has more than kept pace with the implementation of upgrades to the transportation system.


Automobiles Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:25 AM

An automobile can be useful in Manila, but driving in the Philippines is not for the timid. Many Embassy employees choose to hire full-time drivers instead of driving themselves. Good drivers are readily available in the Philippines for about $150 to $200 a month.

If you plan to ship a car to Manila, ensure that you arrive before your car does. Philippine Government regulations require that you, not your representative, sign the tax exemption certificate and certificate of title or sales invoice for release of the vehicle from customs. Vehicle clearance through customs normally takes about three weeks. Storage fees are also high. The vehicle's bill of lading should describe the car fully, including the vehicle's make, type, year, model, engine and serial numbers, color, weight, number of cylinders, and piston displacement (either in cubic centimeters or cubic inches).

Air-conditioned cars are an absolute necessity because of Manila's hot and humid climate, pollution, and annoying dust. It is also useful to drive with the windows rolled up, to avoid harassment and petty theft that may occur at intersections. Cars should be undercoated, tropicalized, and equipped with heavy-duty springs and shock absorbers. Due to heavy rains, frequent flooding, and poor road conditions, employees planning to travel outside metro Manila often import vehicles with a high clearance. The following are useful spare parts to include with a vehicle: a muffler, tail pipe, fan belts, extra fuel, air, and oil filters, brake pads, and radiator hoses. If you ship a U.S. model car, include a good supply of spare parts, especially those that are susceptible to Manila's heat and humidity. It is virtually impossible to make it through a tour in Manila without several minor dents and dings to your personal vehicle, so touch-up paint and chrome protective lacquer are also useful. The good news is that bodywork in Manila is cheap, and technicians are competent. Alternatively, you can sensibly resign yourself to the inevitable and stoically accept that a vehicle with a few dents is just as drivable as one with pristine body and paintwork.

High humidity and poor road conditions accelerate the deterioration of vehicles in the Philippines. Repair facilities are available for most U.S., European, and Japanese cars, at prices comparable to the United States. Exceptions are repair services for automatic transmissions and power electronic features, which are expensive and hard to find. Most spare parts and tires are available at slightly higher than U.S. prices.

Unleaded gas and diesel fuel is available on the local economy. Major oil companies (Petron, Caltex, and Shell) operate gas/convenience stations in and around metro Manila. Super and regular unleaded gasoline, premium and regular leaded gasoline, and diesel fuels are also available in major cities in the provinces. The mission also operates a fuel station that provides both unleaded and diesel fuels.

U.S. Mission personnel are allowed to import one tax-exempt personal motor vehicle to post. Administrative and technical personnel can import one vehicle duty free (as well as personal and household effects) at any time during their tour of duty. Employees may import or purchase locally a second duty-free vehicle (at the owner's expense) if they are accredited staff members, administrative/technical personnel, or if their spouses hold a valid Philippine driver's license. It is advisable to wait until after arrival at post to request a second duty-free vehicle, as authorization is subject to prior approval from the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA). Please check with the Embassy's Transportation Unit before making any commitment to buy a second vehicle.

Replacement of an initial vehicle may be authorized only after two years of registration at the Land Transportation Office (LTO), except in extenuating circumstances (e.g., theft, accidental damage, or hazardous safety condition due to mechanical faults). The DFA must approve the replacement. Theft of privately owned vehicles is not a major concern in the Philippines, and there is no indication that American-made cars or the vehicles of Embassy personnel are in any way singled out.

The DFA exercises import restrictions on diplomatic, official, and all other vehicles shipped into the country. There are no exceptions to these restrictions. You may import a gasoline-powered passenger vehicle or a diesel-powered vehicle, including passenger cars. Under the Philippine tariff and customs code, vehicles such as jeeps, sport vans, econo vans, panel vans, pick ups, wagons, and other vehicles with a similar configuration are classified as utility vehicles.

The Philippine Government considers a motorcycle a privately owned vehicle, whether imported or locally purchased. If an employee intends to register a motorcycle, the government will need its own shipping, import, and customs documentation. If you are shipping a motorcycle in your HHE shipment, be sure that the bill of lading clearly shows that a motorcycle is included. The bill of lading also should show specifications, such as the make, model, and year of the motorcycle.

Sales of vehicles registered to diplomats must be approved in advance by the DFA. The sale of cars to non-privileged buyers will be authorized only if such vehicles have been registered in the Philippines for at least two years, and if the owners of such vehicles are departing the Philippines for a permanent change of station, after having completed a tour of duty of at least 12 months. DFA permission to sell a vehicle may not be requested more than 90 days prior to your scheduled departure date.

Employees whose tours of duty have been curtailed are entitled to sell vehicles that have been registered for at least one year. Personnel who depart without a year of registration, due to curtailment, reassignment, or resignation, may be authorized to sell a vehicle to another privileged buyer by "exception" from the DFA. Employees temporarily departing post on home leave or other travel or serving an extended tour do not qualify to sell vehicles under DFA regulations.

The LTO requires Mission personnel to have a valid driver's license from the United States or another country, so they can obtain a Philippine driver's license. Local third-party auto insurance with a Philippine insurance agency of the employee's choice also is required. This coverage must be for at least P750,000, with P20,000 for compulsory third-party liability and P365,000 each for bodily injuries and property damage. Third-party liability insurance, as well as comprehensive and collision, can be obtained from several local agencies that also provide claims processing and accident assistance. In addition, many people at post carry comprehensive (damage to your vehicle from causes other than an accident) and collision coverage, through a U.S. insurer that will insure in the Philippines. Be sure to check with your U.S. insurer to find out if it will provide such coverage in the Philippines. Incoming personnel are encouraged to purchase a marine insurance coverage policy for personal vehicles being shipped to Manila.

Some standard automobile makes are available locally at higher prices. You may place special orders for a variety of U.S.-, Japanese-, and European-made vehicles through the Overseas Military Sales Group. A few used vehicles are available at reasonable prices from departing employees of the U.S. Embassy and other foreign missions in Manila, particularly during the summer transfer season. If you decide to order a new car after arrival, expect a 90-day wait for delivery.


Local Transportation Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:26 AM

Personally owned vehicles are the most convenient mode of transportation, but many people manage very well for an entire tour in Manila without them. City transportation varies, but most Mission employees without cars commonly use air-conditioned taxis that are usually plentiful in Manila and its suburbs. The quality and condition of Manila taxis (and their drivers) can vary widely, but most taxis are safe and affordable. Those without air-conditioning drive with windows open, making passengers vulnerable to heat, pollution and petty crime. Most taxi drivers are able to speak and understand basic English and can understand instructions. Good judgment regarding the condition of the vehicle and the competence of the driver should govern your decision on whether to take a particular taxi.

Taxi prices are extremely reasonable, particularly as compared with the United States, but drivers frequently try to avoid using the meter by negotiating a higher price in advance (often double or triple the normal fare), particularly when the passenger is a foreigner. Embassy personnel who already know the standard taxi fares in Manila can avoid this type of scam by insisting that the driver turn on the meter. Taxi drivers are also known to refuse passengers who want to travel to especially inconvenient or congested areas, or may try to negotiate a higher fare for such trips. Many drivers attempt to get more money by arguing that traffic is heavy, but traffic is always heavy in Manila. Use your own judgment in deciding whether the higher fare is worth it.

Buses are plentiful, extremely cheap and very popular with locals. Their use generally is discouraged, due to the possibility of petty crime, such as pick pocketing. Also, most Americans find the open-air buses too uncomfortable, due to overcrowding, heat, and exposure to exhaust fumes. One of the most enduring (and endearing) forms of mass transit is the jeepney, the uniquely Filipino jitneys that clog the streets of Manila by the thousands and contribute significantly to the city's poor air quality. The jeepney was born when the Philippines inherited a huge stock of surplus Army jeeps after the American occupation. The Filipinos placed passenger compartments on top of the jeeps and thereby created a cheap form of public transportation. Even though jeepneys are now manufactured from scratch in the Philippines, they still maintain the same awkward design and charm of their cobbled-together ancestors. In addition, jeepneys have developed into an art form of their own. Each owner decorates his jeepney in bright decals that announce the name of his children, his favorite American cartoon characters, sports teams or products, etc.

In addition to jeepneys, Manila is populated by scores of public buses and tricycles, which are motor-driven or manual bicycles with a passenger compartment attached to the side. Traffic is further congested by occasional horse-drawn carts, which are popular for sightseeing but largely impractical. The use of buses is discouraged, due to uneven standards of maintenance and safety, and the reckless driving habits of many drivers. Tricycles may be used with caution, and they can be quite convenient for short trips when a taxi is not available or feasible. However, tricycle drivers often ignore traffic laws and are especially accident-prone, due to the tricycle's small size and its tendency to weave in and out of traffic.

Train travel is not recommended because of unsafe roadbeds, low standards of car cleanliness and maintenance, and frequent pilferage. Travel by ocean ferry can be a fast and enjoyable alternative to land travel, but Americans should use common sense in selecting a carrier. There are a number of reputable ferry services -- like the WG&A, Inc. ferries that operate between Manila and various other points in the Philippines -- that use modern, well-maintained equipment and observe standard safety procedures. However, there is no enforcement of safety precautions or maintenance standards among commercial passenger ships, and some can be extremely hazardous as a result. Several large, overloaded ferries have capsized with loss of life in the past few years. The CLO and GSO have current information regarding which boat lines are deemed safe and trustworthy.

Two major highways lead out of Manila: the Northern Highway, which leads to Angeles City and Baguio, and the South Superhighway. Employees often travel by U.S. Government vehicle or by air when going outside of Manila, due to the poor condition of roads outside the metropolitan area and frequent traffic jams. Philippine Airlines (PAL), Air Philippines, Asian Spirit, and Cebu Pacific make scheduled flights to important Philippine cities and towns. It is possible to make a one-day round trip to some destinations, including Cebu.


Regional Transportation Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:27 AM

International air travel can be arranged to numerous destinations in Asia from Manila. Many employees cite their ability to make frequent weekend trips to places such as Hong Kong, Bangkok, Singapore, Beijing, Kuala Lumpur, etc., as one of the major benefits of a tour in Manila, although air travel around Southeast Asia can be quite expensive. Airlines connecting Manila with other points in Asia, Europe, and the United States include Air France, British Air, Cathay Pacific, China Air, China Southern, Egypt Air, Emirates Airlines, EVA Air, Gulf Air, Japan Airlines, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Korean Airlines, Lufthansa, Malaysian Airlines, Philippine Airlines, Qantas, Singapore Airlines, and Royal Thai. Northwest and Continental, as well as Philippine Airlines, have daily scheduled flights to the United States.

Mission employees can make business or personal travel arrangements at the Travel Office on the 4th Floor of the Chancery Annex Building. USAID has a separate travel facility for its employees. There also are several reputable local travel agencies that often work with Embassy personnel and offer frequent package tours and weekend getaways. These agencies are familiar with U.S. Government regulations regarding R&R and other types of official travel.


Telephones and Telecommunications Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:42 AM

Over the past three years, the clarity of telephone communications within the Mission has vastly improved, due to the upgrading of trunk lines via optical fiber connections. This has facilitated the use of efficient Internet service within the Mission over the same telephone lines. The Embassy also has several International Voice Gateway (IVG) lines to the United States that employees can use free of charge.

Domestic telephone service is common in the Philippines, but it is not as reliable as in the United States. Although almost all telephones in Metro Manila are serviced by digital exchanges, there are not enough links between the four major telecommunications companies that service the city. As a result, there are frequently connection problems during peak hours, especially when trying to reach a number connected to a different service provider. Also, wrong numbers are a constant problem, due both to faulty connections and hopelessly outdated directories and phone records. Storms and even showers can disrupt telephone service, and repairs can be extremely slow. U.S. Government-leased lines can be repaired by requesting assistance from the Mission's Information Management Office.

Most government-owned and leased residential units already have a phone, and occupants are responsible for paying the monthly fee (around $15 for local service from a single phone) and any additional long-distance charges. A second phone number may be requested at the resident's expense. The waiting period ranges from two weeks to two months.

Long-distance service to the United States is excellent, with the cost of direct-dialed calls averaging only $.40 per minute. However, operator-assisted calls can run as much as $4.37 for the first minute and $1.54 for each succeeding minute.

Embassy employees may use the IVG line to Washington, D.C., free of charge during non-peak hours, and this line may be accessed from the residences by calling the Embassy operators. The IVG line gives you a dial tone in Washington, D.C., from which it is possible to make calls with a calling card as though the call were being placed from the D.C. area. Most employees find this an economical method of making calls to the United States. It is advisable to arrange some kind of calling card before arriving in the Philippines that may be used in conjunction with the tie line. It is also possible to arrange for such service after arrival at post. GlobalPhone has become a popular option with many employees, because it may be arranged via the Internet.


Telephones and Telecommunications

Wireless Service Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:44 AM Cellular phones have become almost indispensable for most Americans and are relatively inexpensive in the Philippines. These serve the added purpose of remaining functional even during power outages, and provide additional security while on the road or stuck in traffic. Most Filipinos, many of whom do not have access to a personal computer, use "texting" (text messaging) by cellular telephone to deliver messages (and jokes). The Philippines sends more text messages daily than the rest of the world combined-about 40 million messages a day! It is not uncommon to see Filipinos sending and receiving text messages on the street, in movie theaters, restaurants, and even during business meetings.


Internet Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:44 AM

Internet service is widely available in the Philippines, and there are numerous Internet providers in the Manila area offering service at competitive rates. Much of Manila, including the business and residential areas of Makati, are now served by cable modem, which has greatly improved the speed and quality of Internet connections in those areas. Several Internet providers in the Philippines offer unlimited monthly Internet usage for a set rate, while many others provide service on an hourly basis or in some sort of package that includes a set number of hours. Pre-paid dial-up cards are also available for quick access or while awaiting a more permanent service installation. Fees tend to be higher than most in the United States, and Americans will also find the speed and consistency of Philippine Internet providers a bit disappointing, when compared with the standards of U.S. Internet service.


Mail and Pouch Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:45 AM

FPO facilities to and from the United States, and to other FPOs and APOs, are available for all U.S. Government agencies and officials, members of the U.S. Armed Forces, and American personnel with official government positions in the Philippines. Mail is sent to and received from the United States via American and foreign flag carriers seven days a week. Transit time is usually five-six days for first class letters or Priority Parcels. FPO parcel post services are available. Merchandise can be mailed to the United States, its territories and possessions, any APO/FPO address, and foreign country members of the Universal Postal Union. All merchandise mailed through the FPO is subject to customs inspection and the required customs duty.

Parcels mailed by FPO to the United States are subject to certain limitations. No package may weigh over 70 pounds or be over 108 inches in length and girth combined for priority mail. The proper address format for the Embassy is:


PSC 500, Box [varies by agency or office]

FPO AP 96515-1000

The address for international mail is:

American Embassy [Agency if not Department of State]

1201 Roxas Boulevard

Ermita, Manila 1000

The Philippines



PSC 502, Box I

FPO AP 96515-1200


Radio and TV Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:45 AM

Radio and TV stations in the Philippines are commercial and highly competitive, resembling those in the United States. American movies, television programs, and popular music are all widely available in the Philippines, and many popular American TV programs are shown in English. Increasingly, local TV stations are producing their own programs in Tagalog. Local news and public affairs programs on early prime time TV (5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.) are in Tagalog, while those on late prime time (7:30 p.m. - 1:30 a.m.) are in English. The frequency and repetition of television commercials in the Philippines can be annoying.

Five national networks, all located in Metro Manila, dominate TV broadcasting in the country. ABS-CBN 2, PTV 4 and GMA-7 broadcast their prime time programs nationwide via satellite. RPN-9 and IBC-13 use ground relay stations and affiliates to reach their national audiences.

Cable TV service is available in all residential areas, and many Mission personnel subscribe to one of three cable service providers in metro Manila. Cable packages include a varying array of English-language channels, such as CNN, Fox News, NBC-Asia, CNBC, ESPN, Cinemax, MGM Gold, HBO, Discovery, TNT, Animal Planet, National Geographic, etc. Cable service providers also include all local TV stations and stations from other countries such as BBC World, Deutsche Welle, TV-5 from France, and Malaysian, Indonesian, Indian, Arab, Spanish and Japanese stations. All stations are in color.

There are 517 radio stations in the Philippines, with 50 in metropolitan Manila. Station programming consists of news, music, drama, and talk shows. Music varies from European classical to jazz to new age, hip-hop and rock, and listeners can hear American pop music of the past four decades on a variety of radio programs. There are 24 Manila stations that broadcast in FM stereo. Radio/TV stations report on international and U.S. news. One FM station carries CNN news on the hour.

Electrical power in the Philippines is 60 cycle, 110v or 220v, depending upon wiring in individual homes, which may have dual wiring for both voltages. TV in the Philippines is broadcast using NTSC format, the same system used in the United States. American TV sets can be used without modification (except for power if a 220v receptacle is used). There is generally no three-wire grounded electrical service in residences, except in the Seafront Housing Compound. Bring transformers for TV sets as well as other electrical appliances, since homes may have 110v, 220v, or a mixture of the two currents. Check the voltage on wall outlets before plugging in any appliance or lamp. Since most receptacles are not grounded, use of spike/surge protectors does not necessarily protect sensitive electrical and electronic equipment from power surges. Computers and other sensitive equipment should be unplugged when not in use. Sporadic electrical power blackouts, sometimes province-wide, can last from minutes to hours and are hard on appliances.

Radio and TV sets are sold at Philippine duty-free outlets but are expensive. The latest models are not always available and selection may be limited. The most widely used videotape format is VHS. Laser discs and DVDs also are popular. Local video rental shops carry wide selections of current family movies and American television programs and specials.

Movies are popular and extraordinarily cheap (about $2.00 for first-run movies), and there are many comfortable, air-conditioned cinemas. Seating in movie theaters is usually ample, except on Sundays and Philippine holidays. However, Americans may be frustrated by the tendency of a few in the audience to engage in conversation, talk on the phone, and move about during the showing of a movie.

Recently released American and international films play in the Philippines but generally have runs of only a few weeks in any individual cinema. American films and television programs are subject to substantial censorship for profane language and sexually suggestive content. Popular Filipino movies in Tagalog are not subtitled or dubbed.


Newspapers, Magazines, and Technical Journals Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:45 AM

There is a vigorous and competitive free press in the Philippines. Nine major English dailies are published in Manila, and three other papers specialize in current business and trade affairs. Newspapers sometimes feature splashy headlines and undocumented "facts." Most major hotels and bookstores sell The Asian Wall Street Journal, USA Today, and The International Herald Tribune, usually on the day of publication. Many English-language magazines are published locally, e.g., Metro, Mega, Preview and FHM. Three magazines, the Philippine Free Press, Philippine Graphic and Newsbreak, specialize in political news. Several dailies feature commentary by well-known American journalists, some carry articles for specific audiences, and weekend newspaper supplements have short articles of general interest. Among popular local magazines are Women's Home Companion, Celebrity, The Journal Weekender, Women's Journal, the Philippine edition of Cosmopolitan, the recently launched monthly Men's Zone and Focus Magazine. Most articles are light, human-interest features or other nonpolitical subjects. Occasionally, periodicals carry in-depth analyses of current events. Weekly Asian editions of Time, Newsweek, The Far Eastern Economic Review, The Economist, and Asiaweek are available by subscription and at local newsstands or bookstores.

Limited supplies of many American magazines, four-six weeks old, and paperback books are sold at local newsstands and bookstores, such as National Book Store. To ensure regular receipt of favorite magazines, you should subscribe to them through the FPO.

Health and Medicine

Medical Facilities Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:46 AM

Manila: An excellent Embassy Medical Unit is located on the Seafront Compound. Its staff consists of a Regional Medical Officer (RMO), a Foreign Service Nurse Practitioner, three Filipina nurses, a laboratory technologist, one X-ray technician, a secretary, and a receptionist. There is also a small walk-in clinic on the Chancery compound, staffed by one local nurse.

The Medical Unit is responsible for the delivery of primary health care to direct-hire American personnel and their eligible family members. The Medical Unit will act as your primary care provider, referring you for consultation with a specialist when appropriate or desired. The Medical Unit also advises the Mission on preventive and administrative medical matters. Excellent and inexpensive dental care is available on the local economy, including periodontics, endodontics, and orthodontics.

The Medical Unit also provides care for on-the-job illnesses and injuries for Filipino employees. Employees of the Department of State, USAID, and other Government agencies covered by the Department of State Medical Program, receive medical care at the Medical Unit under a shared administrative services agreement. Agencies not covered under the Department of State Medical Program may be granted access to the Medical Unit after entering into an ICASS agreement.

Manila's hospitals, such as Makati Medical Center and St. Luke's Hospital, are staffed by excellent medical staff, many of whom are U.S. Board Certified, but nursing and other support services are sometimes considered inadequate, and equipment can be outdated or incomplete. Obstetrical delivery is not recommended in Manila.

After working hours, most medical emergencies are handled at the Makati Medical Center's emergency department. Other facilities are also adequate for emergencies, including Manila Doctors Hospital and San Juan de Dios Hospital, which is located within a quarter mile of the Seafront Compound. The medical officer on duty can contact emergency department staff to organize initial care and admission, if needed.

Baguio: In general, common diseases may be treated locally. The two hospitals considered adequate are Notre Dame de Lourdes Hospital and Pines City Doctors' Hospital.

Health and Medicine

Community Health Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:47 AM

The following general health advice is applicable throughout the Philippines.

The general level of sanitation in the Philippines is lower than in the United States. Manila's population growth since independence in 1946 has greatly overtaxed city water supplies, sewage and garbage disposal, street cleaning, and utilities. Water at the Chancery and the Seafront compounds is safe for drinking, as the Embassy has its own source of treated water for those locations.

Manila has open sewers in many areas, which are a health risk. Waste disposal and food handling in many areas are inadequate. However, most Mission and all U.S. Government-owned buildings have septic tanks or adequate sewers. Garbage collection is also adequate in most government-leased quarters. Cockroaches, ants, mosquitoes, fleas, ticks, termites, rats, and mice abound in the Philippines and require periodic pesticide service.

Health and Medicine

Preventive Measures Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:47 AM

Occasional gastrointestinal upset, due to poor sanitary conditions, and colds and other respiratory ailments, are almost unavoidable in Manila. Asthma patients may experience difficulty in the Manila area, due to the extremely high level of air pollution. Despite reasonable precautions, serious diseases such as hepatitis, typhoid, bacillary dysentery, and intestinal parasites also occasionally occur within the Mission community. You should be inoculated against typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, poliomyelitis, hepatitis A and B and rabies. In addition, children should be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, and hemophilus B. Tuberculosis also is very common in the Philippines, so yearly skin tests are recommended. All household help and drivers should have periodic physical examinations, stool tests, and chest x-rays.

Many areas of the Philippines, including Manila, are relatively free of malaria. However, several forms of the disease, including chloroquin-resistant Falciparum, are prevalent in many rural areas around the Philippines. Personnel traveling in these areas must take appropriate malaria prophylactics, which can be provided by the Medical Unit. Mosquitoes also carry dengue fever, which does occur in Manila.

Although the level of incidence still is relatively low, AIDS/HIV infection has been identified in many areas throughout the Philippines, especially among bar girls and the homosexual community. All other sexually transmitted diseases also are present, including drug-resistant gonorrhea. Hepatitis B, which is transmitted in the same ways as AIDS, is endemic in the Philippines.

Rabies is on the increase in Luzon, and is present throughout the Philippines.

Stray animals must be avoided, and domestic pets should be vaccinated.

Rabies vaccine (pre-exposure) is recommended for all personnel prior to coming to post but may also be obtained after arrival.

Fresh fruits and vegetables and drinking water should be approached with caution. Peel, soak, scrub, and/or cook local produce appropriately before eating it. Do not drink untreated or unboiled water. Boil water for five minutes to sterilize it. Bottled beverages are plentiful and safe. Bottled beverages or hot tea or coffee are safer than water in public places. Americans patronize many fine restaurants in Manila without concern. Ice is always suspect, and remember that alcohol does not kill bacteria. Do not let children eat ice cream and food from street peddlers.

Overexertion and excessive fatigue should be avoided in Manila. The tropical environment makes for rapid dehydration, and you may not recover from exercise as quickly here as in temperate areas. Short exposure to the sun may result in serious burns, particularly on weekend excursions to beach resorts. Heat rash responds best to frequent cool showers, air-conditioned rooms, and loose clothing to reduce perspiration. Superficial skin infections are extremely common in the tropics. Carefully clean even the smallest wounds with an antibiotic disinfectant, and cover.

The Embassy Medical Unit dispenses some medications for acute medical problems to American personnel and their eligible family members. Generally, you must supply your own medicines for chronic conditions. Larger pharmacies in the Philippines stock most standard medicines at prices equivalent to those in the United States, although brand names may be different and unfamiliar. Vitamins, over-the-counter medicines, bandages, and first-aid supplies are usually available locally. Drugs that are unavailable locally can be ordered from the United States and delivered by FPO, if labeled as prescription medicines. Most employee health insurance plans now have pharmacy services that provide prescription drugs for long-term use by mail at nominal cost.

Employment for Spouses and Dependents Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:48 AM

Manila has one of the largest overseas Embassy family employment programs in the world. Both full-time and part-time positions within the Mission become vacant throughout the year as Mission families come and go. It is usually possible to place in jobs all eligible family members interested in working, but not always in the type of position they would prefer. Many available jobs are clerical in nature and pay less than a professional's customary salary.

Eligible family members interested in employment within the Mission are encouraged to enroll in the M/FLO Skills Bank program and to forward a completed SF-171 (Application for Employment) to the Human Resources Office and to the CLO in Manila. Vacant positions are advertised via Administrative Notices, which also are available on the Embassy's web site. The Embassy often hires family on a temporary and intermittent basis. In general, those applicants with office and/or computer skills will have a better chance of finding a job within the Mission.

There is a Bilateral Work Agreement between the United States and the Philippines that permits family members to work in jobs on the local economy after approval is granted by the Department of Foreign Affairs. However, because of high unemployment and the availability of local professional and technical skills in the local labor market, chances of obtaining employment in the private sector are slim. Salaries in general also are very low by American standards.

The International School in Manila and Brent International School employ family members who are qualified teachers or administrators. Compensation is in both dollars and pesos. For ISM teachers recruited overseas, the beginning salary range is $16,100-$29,632, paid in 50% pesos, 50% dollars. The local hire pay scale is $4,082-$13,587 per year, paid in 50% pesos and 50% dollars on a one-year renewable contract. In addition, there is a bonus of $1,000 paid at the end of the school year, plus $150 paid in December and $150 paid in June. The pay scale at Brent School is similar. Direct requests for employment information for teachers (either local or overseas hire) can be made to:


International School Manila

P.O. Box 1526 MCPO

1255 Makati City, Philippines



Brent School of Manila

University of Life Campus

P.O. Box 12201

Ortigas 1600

Pasig, Metro Manila, Philippines

In Washington, D.C., contact:

U.S. Department of State

Office of Overseas Schools


H328 SA-1

Washington, D.C. 20037

Phone: (202) 261-8203

Make direct requests for other types of employment to:

American Chamber of Commerce

of the Philippines, Inc.

Corinthian Plaza, 2nd floor

Paseo de Roxas

P.O. Box 2562 MCPO

Makati City, Philippines

Generally, a family member working outside the Mission must apply for a Philippine Labor Permit, which is usually a pro-forma requirement. The Human Resources Office can make the necessary arrangements with the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs after you find a job in Manila.

American Embassy - Manila

Post City Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:49 AM

Metro Manila, located on the main island of Luzon, is a major city along the coastal lowlands of Manila Bay and the Pasig River. Legend has it that originally the town was known as Maynilad, which is Tagalog for "many nilads grow there." The nilad is a water lily that can still be seen floating on the Pasig River and into Manila Bay. Greater metro Manila currently has a population of about 12 million and encompasses Quezon City, Pasay City, Caloocan, Makati, Mandaluyong, Paranaque, and San Juan.

Manila Bay, one of the largest and finest harbors in Asia, is Manila's outstanding feature. It is rimmed by distant mountains and islands, dotted by ships, and is frequently the setting for spectacularly colorful sunsets. Pollution has made the water of Manila Bay unsuitable for swimming, and there is no beach along the bay.

The Embassy sits on Roxas Boulevard, which follows the shoreline for several miles, in the Ermita-Malate section of the city. Roxas Boulevard was one of the main thoroughfares of the city several decades ago when the historic Embassy building and the Philippine Government buildings around it were at the heart of downtown Manila. However, the business and commercial center of the city has moved to Makati, about seven miles from the Chancery, along with virtually all of the other Embassies in Manila. Although Ermita has lost its commercial significance, it has recently made a comeback as a dining, shopping, and entertainment district.

Roxas Boulevard is lined with a variety of buildings, including office buildings, apartments, hotels, nightclubs, and the Cultural Center of the Philippines (CCP), which was built under the supervision of Imelda Marcos during the Marcos era to become one of the region's premier arts centers. The CCP remains a showplace and the vibrant hub of the Philippine artistic community. Roxas Boulevard typifies the contrasts that exist in Manila: a luxury high-rise apartment building occupied by Mission employees sits on one side of the street, directly across from a shanty town of squatters built on land reclaimed from Manila Bay.

There are still remnants of the rich architectural heritage of Manila's 300-plus years of Spanish culture, particularly in the old city of Intramuros near the Embassy. However, much of the city was destroyed during World War II, and the prevalent architecture of the city is a modern American style. The high-rise business district of Makati could pass for the downtown area of any large U.S. city. New construction is ubiquitous in the Philippines, particularly office and apartment space, but projects are sometimes delayed or abandoned in mid-construction, due to lack of financing, or sit empty upon completion due to lack of renters.

More than 150 American businesses have active operations in Manila, and many more have agencies or representatives here. The oldest American Chamber of Commerce in any foreign country is located in Manila. Manila's foreign community includes over 150,000 Chinese, 6,000 Americans, and a large number of Spaniards, Japanese, Indians, Britons, Germans, Swiss, and other nationalities.

The Post and Its Administration Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:50 AM

The Embassy is located on Roxas Boulevard between United Nations Avenue and Padre Faura Street. It fronts on Manila Bay, looking west to renowned Corregidor Island at the mouth of the harbor 26 miles away.

The Embassy is organized along traditional lines, with the Ambassador and Deputy Chief of Mission exercising overall supervision of the Mission. As senior representative of the United States in the Philippines, the Ambassador ensures that the programs and activities of all Mission agencies are coordinated and contribute to the attainment of U.S. foreign policy objectives. The Embassy community includes the Consular, Economic, Management, Regional Affairs, Public Affairs and Political Sections. Each section is headed by a counselor. Commercial and Agricultural counselors are also assigned to the Mission, as well as Air, Army, and Naval attachés.

Several regional offices of the Department of State are attached to the Embassy in Manila. These include the Regional Information Management Center (RIMC), the Regional Security Office (RSO), and the Regional Printing Center, a publishing facility with a large offset printing plant (the only such State Department facility outside of the United States) located on the Seafront Compound

USAID head offices are located in an office complex just off of Roxas Boulevard that also houses the Philippine Senate, next to the Cultural Center of the Philippines and near the Seafront Compound. The Economic Cooperation Administration, the forerunner of USAID, established an office in Manila in 1951. Its successor agencies and USAID have provided continuity of assistance operations and continue to work closely with the Philippine Government to improve the welfare of Filipinos.

Other organizations that make up the U.S. Mission family in Manila include the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), the Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS), the only office of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (DVA) located outside the United States, and the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) office. ABMC takes care of the American Cemetery and Memorial located within the former U.S. Army Reservation at Fort Bonifacio in Manila. The Philippines Transmitting Station (International Broadcasting Bureau) is also under the jurisdiction of the Embassy and is located just outside of the metro Manila area.

The Commercial and Agriculture Sections are located in Makati. The Joint U.S. Military Assistance Group (JUSMAG) has offices in Manila. Headed by a colonel, it is composed of Army, Navy, and Air Force representatives. The Thomas Jefferson American Center, which is operated by the Public Affairs Section, recently moved to the Chancery Annex from its former home in Makati.

Just over 100 Peace Corps volunteers currently serve throughout the rural provinces of the Philippines. Recent projects have included a sustainable island development project with an environmental focus, with volunteers working in coastal resource management, local development planning, and water and sanitation. About 50 Peace Corps volunteers are involved in English-language programs in the Philippines, including teacher training, curriculum development, and resource material development. The Peace Corps presence in Filipino host agencies and communities has helped to sustain and renew Philippine-American cooperation and understanding, and its programs in the Philippines are considered a model of success.

The Embassy's Management Section provides a variety of support services to all Mission agencies. In addition, Manila's management team has regional medical, pouch, and communications responsibilities. The U.S. Delegation to the Asian Development Bank (USADB) is also provided limited support by the Embassy.

Most agencies operate on the same schedule: 7:30 a.m. to noon, and 1:00

p.m. to 4:30 p.m. The agencies that differ are as follows: American Battle

Monuments Commission, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. (public hours are 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.); USAID, 7:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. and 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.; U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 7:30 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.; Drug Enforcement Administration, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; and Department of Homeland Security, 7:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

The Community Liaison Office (CLO) administers a sponsorship program to ease the arrival of new employees. Ensuring a smooth, friendly transition for our new personnel and their families is of the highest priority. Your community sponsor ensures that your housing is ready upon your arrival, stocks the cupboards and refrigerator with the basics (on a reimbursable basis, meets and assists you at the airport, escorts you around the Embassy and familiarizes you with the Mission, and in general introduces you to the community (i.e., social contacts, where to shop, school registration, etc.). Prior to your move, the CLO is available to answer any questions you might have about your transition to Manila or lifestyle issues. You can contact the CLO by e-mail at During the summer rotation cycle, the CLO and the Human Resources Office sponsor several newcomer orientation tours to acquaint newcomers with Manila and the Mission. New employees should inform the CLO, as well as their respective agencies, of their arrival plans as soon as possible to make arrangements for a sponsor, provide appropriate information regarding housing and assist with school enrollment in Manila.

Housing Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:50 AM

Housing assignments are made for all agencies (except for Peace Corps and JUSMAG) by the Inter-Agency Housing Board (IAHB) approximately two months prior to an employee's scheduled arrival, based on rank, family size, and timing of arrival at post. The IAHB also considers any other factors that are specific to the employee being assigned, such as medical requirements, physical limitations of elderly EFMs and any preferences the employee may have expressed. Any specific housing requirements, concerns or preferences should be clearly communicated to the GSO Housing Coordinator and the CLO. The earlier the Housing Board receives this information, the better. If you consider your assigned housing inappropriate, you may appeal to the Housing Board for a change of your housing assignment; each case is considered individually on its own merit.


Temporary Quarters Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:51 AM

When possible, the Mission assigns newcomers to permanent quarters immediately upon arrival at post. However, if immediate placement is impossible, the employee will be assigned to temporary accommodations, usually in a vacant unit in the post's housing pool.


Permanent Housing Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:51 AM

The American Embassy in Manila provides both government-owned (GO) and short-term-leased (STL) living quarters for all employees at post. There are 42 GO units at the Seafront, and 177 STLs: 109 apartments and 68 houses, making a total of 219 units in the housing pool.

Embassy personnel are generally housed at three locations: 1) government-owned apartments and townhouses on the Seafront Compound, about 2 miles from the Chancery; 2) commercially leased apartments in the Malate District about a mile from the Embassy; and 3) leased houses and apartments in the Makati residential areas and villages (Bel-Air, Magallanes, Dasmariñas, Forbes Park, San Lorenzo and Urdaneta), which are located five to seven miles from the Embassy. The Marine Security Guards live in the Marine House on the Chancery Compound, and the Ambassador's residence in Forbes Park also is government-owned. About 69% of U.S. Government personnel in Manila are assigned to apartments or townhouses; 31% to single-family homes. School bus service to both of the schools typically attended by Embassy children is provided from all residential areas.

The government-owned Seafront Compound includes a staff apartment building for single employees and couples, and a townhouse compound for couples and families (and a limited number of singles). These units are generally considerably smaller than commercially leased apartments and are well below the square footage allowances for most occupants. They also are older than many apartments available on the Manila/Makati housing market. Most standard-level personnel are assigned to the Seafront Compound, including the vast majority of junior officers. The Housing Board is required to fill the government-owned units at Seafront before it can make assignments to leased housing outside of the compound.

Some employees prefer the safety and convenience of the Seafront Compound to other housing in the city. Armed security guards are on duty 24 hours a day at the compound and access is strictly regulated, which creates a safe play area for children. It also features a number of recreational facilities that are run by the American Recreation Club (ARC), including a swimming pool, tennis courts, squash and racquet courts, library, gym and spa, and community center. ARC membership costs $190 per year per family or $120 per year for singles. There's also a preschool run by Amerikids, a playground and ball field for everyone's use. There is a restaurant on the compound. Electricity on Seafront Compound is 110v, so employees can use all U.S. electronic equipment and appliances. The compound is equipped with a heavy-duty generator that provides power to all homes during Manila's frequent power outages. It also has its own source of treated water, so the tap water at the Seafront Compound is safe.

The three-story staff apartment building currently includes a mixture of one, two and three-bedroom apartments. A complete renovation of the staff apartments was begun in 2000 in different phases. This project will combine two of the older staff apartments into one large three-bedroom apartment, featuring marble floors, separate dining rooms, modern kitchens and bathrooms, at least two bathrooms, and a laundry room. All of the apartments have split-type air-conditioning units in each room. Storage space is at a premium in both the old and renovated staff apartments.

The 24 Seafront townhouses are a mix of two-, three-, and four-bedroom units with central air-conditioning, washer, dryer, and dishwasher. Most of the townhouses are multi-level units, with a living room, dining room and kitchen on the first level and bedrooms on the upper levels. The townhouses are newer than the staff apartments and feature an aesthetically pleasing modern design with generous outdoor terraces and balconies. The townhouses are especially popular among families with younger children.

Ample parking is available for both the staff apartments and townhouses directly adjacent to the units. The Seafront Compound also includes dormitories for domestic employees, as the housing units are not large enough to accommodate them.

The houses leased by the U.S. Embassy are located in residential villages in the Makati area. Though not necessarily contemporary in design and often lacking modern accessories, the houses are comfortable and functional three- and four-bedroom dwellings. They are comparable in size to their American counterparts, with interesting lay-outs and facades. Some houses have a swimming pool in the yard, others have limited yard space. Most have limited storage space.

Subdivisions, such as Bel-air, Forbes Park, Magallanes, San Lorenzo and Dasmariñas and Urdaneta Villages, are incorporated into associations that provide gate guard service, garbage collection, and street maintenance. These gated communities are desirable for families with children, as they include playground facilities and are closer to the International School of Manila and Brent International School South Campus. The streets are clean and private, conducive for bicycling, jogging, and walking.

A new cluster of very modern apartment buildings at a former camp, Fort Bonifacio, has also become very popular to the expat community, including embassy families. These buildings include many amenities such as outdoor/indoor swimming pools, walking trails, tennis courts, gym and spa areas, as well as very good security and service from the building management staff. These housing areas are located in a more desirable neighborhood than the apartments closer to the Embassy, with excellent shopping, dining and cultural opportunities within the development (commonly referred to as The Fort) as well as in nearby Makati. Because of the convenience of these new, modern apartments and the greater security they afford, post has consciously sought to increase the number of such residences for our personnel. Since post no longer authorizes security guards for any single-family residences other than for the Ambassador and DCM, all chiefs of agencies who believe that additional security measures are required for their safety will automatically be assigned to the newer, very secure high-rise apartment complexes.

However, the five- to seven-mile commute to the Chancery, the USAID office building, and the Seafront Compound can take from 20 to 60 minutes or longer from either the villages or the Fort, depending on the traffic, which is wildly unpredictable.

The majority of government-leased apartments and houses in the Embassy pool are wired at each outlet for 110-120 (American) and 220v (Philippine), 60 cycles (two-prong round plugs for the 220 and regular, American-style flat plugs for the 110). However, housing units on the Seafront Compound are inadequately equipped with functioning 220v plugs, so employees assigned to the Staff Apartments or Townhouses should assume that they will only be able to use 110v (American) electrical equipment. There are enough outages and fluctuations in Manila's power supply to make surge or spike suppressors essential for the protection of sensitive electronic equipment, such as musical instruments, stereo equipment and computers.


Furnishings Last Updated: 1/27/2004 4:53 AM

The residence of the Ambassador and the homes of the DCM and the Director of the Asian Development Bank are completely furnished, including representational needs, such as dishes, silver and glassware, and artwork. State, USAID, and most other agencies in Manila supply basic furnishings that are predominantly American made, with occasional locally manufactured accents. Most furnishings are upholstered with imported fabric, comparable to American styles, and replaced on a six-year cycle. Upholstered furniture will be in one of three standard, neutral color schemes. Drapes will be installed in all rooms of the house (excluding maid's rooms), also in standardized, neutral colors.

The following is a list of basic furnishings for the majority of the Embassy's housing units. The quantity of furniture is based upon room sizes, number of rooms and availability of property in the warehouse. Upon the discretion of the Property & Supply office, furniture will be scaled accordingly, or quantities reduced to accommodate room sizes.

Living Room

1 three-seat sofa

1 loveseat

2 armchairs

1 coffee table

2 end tables

2 table lamps

1 area carpet

Dining Room

1 dining table

8 dining chairs

1 china cabinet

1 buffet

1 bar/server

1 area carpet

Master Bedroom

1 queen bed with headboard

1 chest of drawers

1 dresser

2 nightstands

2 table lamps

1 occasional or armchair

1 mirror

1 area carpet

1 air purifier

Other Bedrooms

1 single bed with headboard

1 chest of drawers

1 dresser

1 nightstand

2 table lamps

1 desk with chair

1 desk lamp

1 mirror

1 area carpet

1 air purifier (occupied

bedrooms only)


1 three-seat sofa

1 loveseat or 2 armchairs

1 coffee table

1 end table

1 table lamp

1 desk with chair

1 desk lamp

2 bookcases

1 area carpet


1 refrigerator/freezer

1 freezer

1 gas or electric oven/range

1 washing machine

1 clothes dryer

1 A/C each living room and

dining room

1 A/C each occupied bedroom

or den

1 microwave

Draperies are installed in all rooms of the house (excluding maid's rooms) in a standardized, neutral color. Bedroom draperies are lined. Draperies and area carpets are either shampooed or replaced, depending upon the replacement cycle of the item.

The majority of the furniture at post reflects those items featured in the State Department Package Furniture Program, with the addition of some locally manufactured pieces. The furniture consists mostly of light-finished transitional pieces, with a limited supply of traditional dark-finished items. Furniture items, such as kitchen tables and chairs, etageres, additional bookcases, television stands, outdoor patio furniture, etc. are available, but in limited supplies. Furniture suitable for a den is generally available but cannot be guaranteed. GSO does not provide computer furniture for residences.

In keeping with State Department regulations, furniture will not be provided for the use of maids or other household employees and is the sole responsibility of the American employee. Based upon availability, vacuum cleaners, ironing boards and baby cribs can be furnished temporarily until household effects have arrived, provided they are in stock.

Some of the leased free-standing houses and larger apartment units, particularly units meant for executive employees (regardless of family size) and housing for families, may have sufficient space to accommodate other furniture items that employees may wish to include in their household effects, such as bookcases or an extra refrigerator. You should inquire about the specific space limitations on your unit once your housing assignment has been made. However, government-owned Seafront townhouses and apartments have very limited space for additional furniture and no space for extra appliances. In addition, GSO cannot store issued furniture in order to make space for personal furniture items brought to post.

For employees of agencies participating in the post housing pool, a Welcome Kit is set up in every housing unit prior to a new employee's arrival. This kit is for your use until your household effects have been delivered and then must be returned to GSO. The kit includes pillows, sheets, towels, blankets, dishes, pots and pans, glasses, flatware and some kitchen utensils, iron, ironing board and toaster. You may want to include in your airfreight shipment such items as casseroles, baking pans, mixer, blender, mixing bowls, refrigerator storage containers, teapot, coffee maker, broom, mop, bucket, dish drainer, etc. These items are available at the Duty-Free stores and the local stores, however. Bear in mind that Seafront apartment have few or no outlets to accommodate the 220v currency of locally manufactured appliances.


Utilities and Equipment Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:00 AM

Metro Manila, as well as most of Luzon Island, suffers from occasional electrical outages, called "brownouts" locally. These are usually brief interruptions of several minutes, but they can on occasion last several hours during the typhoon season and other severe weather conditions. Both the Chancery and Seafront Compounds are equipped with backup generators to provide full power during power outages. In addition, the Mission has attempted to locate as many employees as possible in apartment buildings with back-up generators. Generators in these buildings have varying capacities, ranging from power for emergency lighting and one elevator to full back-up power. Most of the freestanding houses do not have back-up power sources, and in some cases the water also goes out, due to the failure of the electrical water pumps during power outages.

Some periods of low water pressure in the city may cause water shortages. Seafront apartments and townhouses have modern, well-maintained plumbing, and all units have bathtubs. All other units in the housing pool have modern plumbing, but plumbing problems are frequent in the Philippines because of poor construction and lack of owner maintenance.

Food Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:01 AM

Although Americans usually are not enamored of Filipino cuisine, with its fried pork and sweet sauces, it is possible to eat very well in the Philippines. Manila features a wide variety of restaurants that appeal to American palates, including a broad spectrum of outstanding Asian cuisine, such as Chinese, Thai, Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese. There are numerous other ethnic dining options in Manila as well, including excellent Italian restaurants and other specialties such as Indian, Mexican, Spanish and French cuisine. All of the major hotels feature upscale dining that is usually a version of Continental cuisine with a Filipino or pan-Asian flair. Exceptional and reasonable buffets are a favorite among both locals and expatriates. Fish and seafood also are fresh, cheap and plentiful in Manila (although not from Manila Bay), and there are countless seafood restaurants. Local fish, many of which are unfamiliar to Americans, are extremely inexpensive and good, and a limited range of familiar imported fish also are available at somewhat higher prices. Local budget shellfish offerings include shrimp and prawns, clams, oysters, mussels, crabs and squid. Other luxury seafood, such as lobster and scallops, are generally imported and expensive.

Filipinos and Americans share a special fondness for fast food. There are countless outlets serving Filipino and Asian food, many of them little more than stalls. Questionable sanitation leads most Americans to avoid them. However, numerous American fast food chains are represented in abundance in Manila (and to a lesser extent in other parts of the Philippines), including McDonalds, Burger King, Wendy's, Pizza Hut, Dominos Pizza, Kenny Rogers Roasters, KFC, Dunkin' Donuts, Starbucks Coffee and Shakey's Pizza, as well as 7-11 convenience stores. Expatriates are pleased to learn that most of these establishments, as well as many other restaurants, offer home delivery. Jollibee, the homegrown equivalent of McDonalds, tends to serve sugar-added foods (hamburgers, hotdogs, and spaghetti) that on average are far too sweet for the American palate.

Manila is home to a number of supermarkets, most of them connected to the large department stores at major shopping malls, featuring a broad array of local, Asian, and Western products. Most supermarkets include a section specifically devoted to imported foods (usually at significantly higher prices than local goods), and a new membership-only supermarket recently opened in Makati features many imported American products. Although a few specific specialty food items may not be available at any price on the local economy, most Americans have found that the range of products available in local supermarkets is adequate to satisfy the majority of their family's food needs. Supermarket produce can be especially disappointing to Americans, however, because the selection is sometimes limited, the produce is often not fresh or of mediocre quality, and the prices can be quite high for certain fruits and vegetables popular with Americans.

The crowds in the supermarkets can be daunting, so Americans tend to shop early in the morning to avoid the rush. The stocking of supermarket shelves in Manila can be rather haphazard and random, which means it is impossible to count on finding a particular product simply because you saw it in a particular store once before. In addition, supermarket employees, although invariably polite and helpful, tend to be poorly trained and unable to effectively assist customers with problems or inquiries.

An alternative to the supermarkets are numerous outdoor "wet markets" that feature extremely reasonable fresh products, such as fruit and vegetables, meats, seafood and fish and eggs. The smell of these markets can be intense, particularly toward the middle of a hot and humid Philippine day. As a result, many Americans prefer to send their domestic employees to the wet markets with a little cash and a shopping list. Many of the local domestic staff are able to work miracles in the wet markets on a very limited budget.

One of the delights of a tour in the Philippines is the availability of delectable tropical fruits of every imaginable variety (and some you never would have imagined) at prices that Americans will find astoundingly low. Many people develop a strong yen for certain fruits during their stay in the Philippines, especially mangoes, pineapples, and the tiny super-sweet tropical bananas.

Fresh vegetables are a more mixed bag in Manila. Certain vegetables, such as peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, zucchini, cabbage, onions, etc., are cheap and plentiful. Other items that Americans are accustomed to finding in the United States, though, may be expensive and of lower quality in the Philippines, such as broccoli, tomatoes, cauliflower, celery, carrots and mushrooms. Good lettuce is particularly hard to come by. There is, however, a wide assortment of Asian vegetables that may not be familiar to Westerners but are cheap, interesting and abundant. There is a vast selection of cheap, low-quality meats in commercial supermarkets, but it can be a challenge to find acceptable meat, especially beef. Locally raised chickens are fed on fish meal and have a peculiar fishy taste and texture unpalatable to many Americans. Better quality meats and vegetables, as well as a number of imported cheeses, wines and other specialty items, are available in a limited number of small and expensive European-style markets, primarily located in the Makati business district.

Clothing Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:02 AM

In general, cotton and other lightweight clothing are worn year round in Manila. Some heavier clothing may be necessary for visits to Baguio or winter travel to colder Asian locations such as Korea, China or Japan. Sweaters and shawls also can be useful in air-conditioned rooms and public areas. Nylon, polyester and heavy wool clothing are usually too warm and uncomfortable during the extreme heat of the hot season in the Philippines, and most people prefer cotton or cotton/synthetic blends. Most personnel at the Embassy recognize that comfort in the tropical heat takes precedence over style, and they dress accordingly.

Manila in general is a very style-conscious community, and Filipinos tend to follow the latest fashion trends. Personnel attached to the Embassy will likely attend more (and dressier) social functions than they would in the United States. Several formal and semiformal events are held throughout the year. Long and short evening dresses are usually required for women, and men will need a tuxedo or a formal barong. Formal attire for both genders can be made locally at reasonable prices.

Clothes wear out much faster in the Philippines, due to the climate and the attendant need for more frequent changes and washings. Shoes also deteriorate more rapidly during the rainy season and because of poor sidewalk conditions. Unless clothing is stored in air-conditioned rooms or dry closets, it needs to be aired on a regular basis to prevent mildew. Clothes and shoes are readily available for purchase in petite and small sizes, but larger size clothing and shoes (which includes clothing for people who would be considered average-sized and not overweight by U.S. standards) are difficult to find in the Philippines. Some exclusive stores do carry Western sizes at premium prices, and virtually anything can be made to order in Manila.


Men Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:03 AM

Many men have discovered the "barong Tagalog" as a pleasant alternative to shirt and tie for the office. The barong is a traditional, loose-fitting Filipino shirt. Barongs designed for daily wear are usually made of cotton or synthetic fabrics (as opposed to the dressier barongs made of delicate, sheer fibers) and can be either short or long-sleeved. Barongs are available ready-made in any local department store or can be made to order easily and cheaply. Barongs are popular among American personnel for their convenience and comfort as compared to suits and ties, and locally are considered the dress equivalent of a shirt and tie.

Suits made of lighter wool or other lightweight fabrics can be worn during the cooler months in Manila, as well as in Baguio, Hong Kong, Korea and Japan. Washable suits are convenient and practical, but dry-cleaning services are readily available in most hotels at rates comparable to those in the United States. Dacron and cotton blends are most useful. If possible, bring several pairs of washable slacks. Formal attire is necessary on several occasions during the year. If you do not already have formal summer evening clothes, you can have them tailored in Manila at reasonable prices. In addition to a tuxedo, a formal "barong Tagalog" is appropriate at any formal occasion. A formal barong is made of sheer material (usually banana fiber) with an embroidered collar, cuffs, and front, and worn with a T-shirt over dark trousers during the day or in the evening.

Cotton underwear (including many American brands and styles) is appropriate for use in Manila, and is readily available locally. Cotton, rayon, or wool socks are all suitable, according to preference. U.S.-made shoes are quite expensive on the local market. In addition, Filipino shoe sizes are significantly smaller than American sizes, and men with a shoe size larger than 8 may find it difficult to find shoes. On the other hand, men with small feet will be delighted with the selection and prices of local shoes as opposed to those in the United States. In general, shoes that would be appropriate for use in the summer in Washington, D.C. will be equally suitable and comfortable in Manila.


Women Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:03 AM

The term "casual" on an invitation in the Philippines means a simple cotton dress, or a skirt or dressy slacks and blouse for women. Cocktail dresses tend to be dressier than those in the United States and are worn more often by Mission personnel and family members than in the United States. These are often made of cotton or linen, but silks, brocades, laces, chiffon, and similar materials are popular and comfortable during the cooler months (October through January). Long dresses or evening skirts with blouses also are suitable for cocktail parties. Therefore, bring several long dresses, but not necessarily formal ones.

Lightweight fabrics of all kinds are available in the Philippines, and local dressmakers can make all types of women's clothing, from simple and basic work suits to expensive "haute couture" clothing. Prices and results, however, will vary accordingly. A seamstress will work at your home for about $15 a day. She will use your sewing machine and other necessary tools and will also expect you to provide thread, buttons, zippers, etc., unless you and she agree that she purchase these items on a reimbursable basis. Most Filipina seamstresses sew from a picture or a sample rather than from a pattern. If you do not have a machine or require a seamstress on a limited basis, you can arrange to have things made by someone who sews in his or her own house or shop. These seamstresses and tailors are usually more expensive, charging by the garment. In any event, a trial-and-error period is necessary to find the seamstress or tailor who best matches your needs.

Appropriate fabric is available at many well-stocked shops in Manila that carry American, Japanese, European, and local materials. The latter include Dacron/cotton, ramie/tetoron (a linen-like fabric), cefrele polyester knit, piña (pineapple cloth), jusi (banana fiber cloth), and hablon (hand-woven cotton/silk). Simple Dacron/cotton and ramie/ tetoron dresses, which usually have hand or machine embroidered fronts, are popular for everyday and office wear. Piña and jusi cloths are stiff, sheer materials similar to organza, beautifully hand embroidered, and are made into pantsuits, evening dresses, and cocktail dresses. Real silk is hard to find and expensive, as are good quality lining fabrics. Some Americans like to bring fabrics from the U.S. or Hong Kong to supplement local selections.

Most Filipina women wear stockings or pantyhose to work and on special occasions. Many shops sell attractive handbags and costume jewelry. Since only a limited stock of bathing suits is available locally (Philippine sizes generally fit only the very petite American figure), several should be brought to post. Local shoes are comfortable, stylish, and reasonably priced. They also are only available in smaller sizes (below size 8) and are often too wide for American feet. You can have them made to order inexpensively, however. Remember that Philippine leather is generally softer than that used for shoes sold in the United States. Bring shoes to post if you have unusually narrow or wide feet or wear sizes larger than 8.

Other necessities include raincoats, umbrellas, rain boots, and other rain accessories. Umbrellas and plastic raincoats are also available locally. Bring an adequate supply of cotton underwear. Undergarments in both nylon and cotton are available on the local market, but the selection of styles and sizes is quite limited. Therefore, bring an initial supply of your favorite brands and styles, especially bras.


Children Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:05 AM

Children wear the same clothing here as in summer in the United States. When they play outdoors, they will need many changes of washable, durable play clothes, including shorts, jeans, short-sleeved or sleeveless T-shirts, and knit shirts. Bring extra bathing suits, because correct sizes may be difficult to find, and kids can swim for most of the year. Teenagers generally follow American clothing trends for parties, school, and sportswear. Bring a good supply of underwear and socks, especially cotton socks for infants, which are difficult to obtain at post. Sturdy shoes for young children are hard to find through size 8, though local stores carry a good supply of sandals, sneakers, and lightweight shoes. These shoes are usually available in medium or wide widths and wear fairly well. Daytime wear for infants and toddlers is usually diapers, shorts, sunsuits, bathing suits, cotton dresses, and embroidered cotton shirts, which are available in abundance locally at reasonable prices. Local disposable diapers are either of poor quality or very expensive. Any special school dress considerations can easily be met at post. Small children need lightweight rainwear. Remember to bring some warmer clothing for children when traveling to Baguio or out of the country.

Cub Scout, Girl Scout and Brownie uniforms can be ordered from the United States. Girl Scout leaders in Manila will do the ordering for the entire troop. You can place individual order for Brownie and Cub Scout uniforms from the United States, and delivery is easy through the FPO.

If your child has a particular clothing or shoe need, such as unusual size or an allergy to certain fabrics, it is advisable to identify a U.S. source prior to coming to post, in order to place call-in or on-line orders at a later date. In addition, mail-order catalogs are available at the CLO.


Office Attire Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:05 AM

Office wear for men at the Embassy is generally more casual than in the United States or at embassies in European countries. A traditional business suit or a barong is required for some meetings and other occasions, particularly for section heads and those personnel whose duties include frequent contact with high-level officials outside the Mission. Most other men dress more casually, generally in dressy slacks and shirt and tie. Shirts should be of lightweight summer material, and may be either long or short-sleeved for office wear (few men wear jackets in the office). Short-sleeved cotton sportshirts, such as polo shirts, are most common after work. Long-sleeved sportshirts are useful in Baguio.

Women working in the Embassy wear suits, dresses, skirts and blouses, and pantsuits. A light sweater or jacket is often useful in air-conditioned offices. Women's off-the-rack clothing tends to be small and tight on the average American figure. It also tends to contain more polyester and double knit than is popular in the United States, largely because of its easy care qualities. Most women either order clothing from the United States or have it custom made locally, which is easy and inexpensive. Sports clothes, such as slacks and shorts, may be worn after work or during sports activities.

Supplies and Services Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:06 AM

Shopping is one of the national pastimes of the Philippines. It is difficult to say whether shopping malls or karaoke bars are more ubiquitous in the Philippines, as it is difficult to travel more than a few blocks without running into one or the other. Department stores and supermarkets in Manila carry a wide range of household, clothing, and recreational items. As long as you are reasonably flexible and not too wedded to a specific brand name, style or color for the items you routinely need, you should be able to find most products that are available in the United States and generally at more reasonable prices.

More adventurous shoppers also take advantage of numerous outdoor markets throughout the city, including the expansive (but not expensive) Divisoria market near the Embassy. Items of every description can be found at Divisoria, the most popular of which for American shoppers is fabric. Prices are very reasonable, and haggling for even lower prices is the accepted practice.

The U.S. Embassy Club hosts a large biannual "Shopper's Day," with similar monthly events on a smaller scale, sponsored by the American Women's Club of the Philippines. Shopper's Day brings together artisans, craftsmen and merchants of all kinds from throughout the Philippines under one roof to give the expatriate community an opportunity to shop for crafts such as basketry, quilts, woodcarvings, furniture, clothing, and a variety of other local specialties. Shopper's Day has become so popular that Americans from surrounding Asian countries fly to Manila for the event.

The shopping experience itself in Manila is different from going to your local mall in the United States. Shopping centers in the Philippines tend to be a recreational destination for scores of Philippine youths and families, primarily because they are pleasant and air-conditioned, and as a result they are routinely packed, particularly on weekends. Most Americans have learned to get their shopping out of the way early in the morning in order to avoid the crowds. The stocking of items in Philippine stores tends to be rather random and unpredictable, and often only a single size or color of a particular item may be available at any given time. Also, store clerks and cashiers tend to be poorly trained when compared to their American counterparts. The level of English ability among retail employees is inconsistent, and even those with a reasonable command of English may be unable to answer questions regarding products, help locate different sizes or styles, or offer shoppers any other sort of the basic assistance to which Americans are accustomed. Even if there appear to be about five clerks for every customer in many of the department stores, shoppers should be prepared for inefficiency and long waits at the cash register.

Pharmacies in Manila offer most products that are available in the United States, including over-the-counter versions of many items that are available in the United States only by prescription. Pharmacies in Manila differ from their American counterparts in that they offer only medicines and related products, but not a wide range of toiletries and other products often found in U.S. drugstores. These are available in supermarkets and department stores instead.

Supplies and Services

Supplies Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:07 AM

Because Manila has FPO service at post, it is very easy to order a wide range of products from the United States via the Internet. Catalog orders also are possible from Manila because 800 numbers in the United States can be accessed without cost using the Embassy's IVG line during off-peak hours. Shipping to the Philippines usually takes a week to 10 days, and most personnel at post routinely receive a wide variety of products via the FPO from the United States, including clothing, books, food items and medications.

In general, you should be sure to bring any items to Manila for which you have very specific preferences or requirements that you may be unable to fulfill locally, such as medications, cosmetics, shoes, and any items that may be of an unusual size. The following are specific items recommended you bring to post:

Mop: Bring enough mop head refills to last your entire tour. Household employees are accustomed to using the string mops that must be wrung out by hand but quickly adapt to the sponge-head type. String mops are available locally.

Broom: American-style brooms are hard to find in Manila, so you should bring one if you plan to do your own cleaning. However, your domestic staff will prefer to use a local version of the straw broom, available in stores for around a dollar.

Dish rack set and sink tub: The majority of homes in Manila do not have dishwashers.

Kitchen gadgets and tools: Basic kitchen gadgets and tools are available here. If you use something beyond the basics, bring it with you.

VCR/DVD: There are several video rental stores near most of the housing, with rentals costing about $1.00 for 2 days. Be aware of the many cheap counterfeit tapes that also can be purchased locally.

Video cameras: Bring one if you have one. It's great to send a tape to friends and family back home!

Cookware: Pots and pans are not always available on the local economy or, at least, are not the quality to which Americans are accustomed.

Computers: It is best to pack these in the original boxes and styrofoam if you still have them. It is not recommended that high value electronic items be included in airfreight shipments, because the required inventory makes such items more susceptible to pilferage.

Computer accessories: Buy your printer ribbon and paper in the United States. Since the military bases have closed, these items can be expensive and difficult to find.

Surge protectors: Buy these for all major electrical appliances (microwave, TV, VCR, computer, dehumidifier, etc.). In the past, blackouts have been a daily occurrence, and without surge protectors, your electronic equipment will be ruined quickly.

TVs: Available locally but very expensive.

Vacuum cleaners: Bring enough replacement bags and belts to last your tour here. The local stores basically carry the Philippine-made brands.

Area rugs and carpets: Most of the houses do not have wall to wall carpeting. Typically the houses have a marble-like floor or wood tile floor. GSO provides area rugs for some areas, but most residents of houses find that a few additional rugs are desirable. Rugs can be expensive locally. Bathroom decor: Bring items such as shower curtains, commode covers, shower rings, toilet brushes. Local stores typically have the basic cheap curtains and accessories, but if you want something nice, it can be quite expensive.

Shoes: If you have a shoe size larger than 8, it is best to purchase shoes in the United States prior to your departure.

Bathing suits: In the Philippines, suits are made for the local population and therefore usually are not large enough for Americans. Diveskins for scuba diving can be ordered locally to fit your body measurements and are completed in less than a week.

Women's clothing and undergarments: The best fabric for the Philippines is cotton due to the heat and humidity.

Fabrics: Philippine fabrics typically are not of the same quality as U.S. fabric. Some fabric balls, fades, and falls apart after being cleaned. Usually, the better fabrics are imported, and excellent fabric is available in nearby countries such as Thailand or Hong Kong. Local barong fabrics for men are of good quality.

Notions: The local fabric shops have a good variety of buttons, lace and sometimes zippers, but buttons are sold individually in the Philippines. Thread comes in a good array of colors, but is not of U.S. quality. If you use shoulder pads in any of your clothing, buy your pads in the United States, because the Philippine version tends to be stiff or have to be made from scratch. Fabric and notions in Manila are usually comparable in price or even more expensive than in the United States.

Cosmetics: Most department stores stock the less expensive make-up, such as Cover Girl, Maybelline, Revlon, L'Oreal, etc., as well as some higher end brands, like Estee Lauder, Clinique, etc. However, selection and availability are uneven, and in-stock items may be very old. Virtually all cosmetics in the Philippines are imported from the United States and therefore are quite expensive locally.

Pantyhose: U.S. brands such as L'eggs cost in excess of $8.00 in department stores.

CDs: Many local stores (including Tower Records) carry CDs at prices comparable to those in the United States, but local music tastes differ from those in the United States, and many artists and musical styles are unavailable in the Philippines. In addition, many lower priced CDs are counterfeit (particularly those from booths in shopping malls) and the quality is unpredictable.

School supplies: Basics can be purchased locally. The local international schools will issue a list of items that students will need, and the school bookstores will sell all paper, notebooks, pencils, etc., together in a pack according to grade level. You can buy attractive, stylish backpacks cheaply (Jansport, Barbie), as well as decorative pencils and accessories in the Philippines. Lunchboxes, as well as insulated bags and mini-ice chests, are all available locally at reasonable prices.

Car parts: Bring enough hoses, tune-up items, air, gas and oil filters and belts to last your entire tour, especially if you have an American-made car. The Philippines has no auto supply stores as we know them and parts are frequently more expensive. Another alternative is to use a mail-order car part company that will mail parts through the FPO.

Medication: If you are on medication, bring an extra supply with you. You should contact the Medical Unit at the Embassy in advance to see if they have certain medications that you need or whether they can be bought locally. Drugs, serum, eyeglasses, etc., written on a prescription can be sent to you via the FPO. and other on-line drugstores provide fast, efficient delivery of prescription and over the counter medications.

Pet supplies: Ticks and fleas are a problem in the Philippines. Sprays, shampoos and collars are sometimes available on the local market but can be expensive. Pet toys and accessories are cheaper in the United States but can be ordered through a pet supply catalog after you arrive at post.

Sewing Machine: If you don't have one and you would like to have your own seamstress make a wardrobe for you, you may want to buy one in the United States. A basic, non-computerized machine is adequate for a local seamstress. There are several tailors that can also sew garments if you provide the fabric.

Garden tools: Avoid electrical tools, and bring manual hedge clippers, shears, rakes, shovels and other small gardening tools. A step stool also will be useful.

Entertaining: National Book Store and other stores carry party decorations and favors, but may not provide the variety you require. Party goods can be brought from the United States or ordered on-line. Christmas, Valentine's Day, Halloween, and Easter decor are available at a number of stores and at Shopper's Day. Hannukah and other seasonal decorations should be brought from the United States.

Christmas decorations: The celebration of Christmas in Manila begins in September. There are a wide variety of ornaments and tree skirts, and house decorations are available from local craftsmen. The local Christmas "trees" or "Philip pines" are made of dried twigs in the shape of a tree and are painted green, red or white, so you may want to bring an artificial tree if you prefer something a bit more traditional. Imported fresh-cut Christmas trees are available at prices somewhat cheaper than in the United States. The supply of Christmas cards on the local market can be limited, and the themes tend to be heavily religious.

Frames: Bring anything that needs framing. Prices and quality for framing are excellent in the Philippines.

Insect/pest traps: Unfortunately, ant traps, cockroach traps, and mousetraps are very useful in Manila.

Mail order catalogs: The CLO office has limited number of copies, but there is heavy demand for these.

Outdoor barbecue equipment: A great way to entertain. Be sure to bring the accessories as well, such as charcoal and lighter fluid. You can find propane for a gas grill.

Dehumidifiers: These are very useful due to the high humidity and mildew problems.

The following items can be purchased locally at very good prices and are popular among the expatriate community:

1. Furniture made of wicker, rattan, bamboo and local hardwoods.

2. Picture frames.

3. Handmade linens such as quilts, embroidered tablecloths, placemats, etc.

4. Clothing for infants and very young children.

5. Paintings made to order from photographs (e.g., of your family)

6. Wooden folk art and carvings.

7. Decorative ceramic pieces.

8. Woven basketry of every size and shape.

9. Pearls and silver jewelry.

Supplies and Services

Basic Services Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:07 AM

Most Americans in Manila cite the inexpensive and high quality personal services available in the Philippines as one of the things they will miss most when they leave the country. The only downside is that Americans doing a tour in the Philippines may become a bit spoiled and accustomed to exceptional service, which will make it more difficult to move on to a Post where good help is not so easy to find.

Supplies and Services

Domestic Help Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:07 AM

Filipino domestic employees are responsible, hard working and loving with children and pets. In addition to serving the expatriate community in the Philippines, Filipino domestics can be found working in households around the world. All types of household help are available in Manila: yaya (nanny), all-around (cleans, cares for children, does laundry and may cook simple meals), cook (can read and follow English-language recipes), laundress, driver, gardener, etc. Full-time maids earn $100 to $150 per month; drivers earn up to $150 to $200 per month. Gardeners work on a daily rate of $10 to $15. In general, domestic employees are handed down from one generation of American employees to the next, and many have been working for Embassy families for years. In addition, advertisements can be found in the Jeepney Journal and the Domestic Servants Registry under the auspices of the American Women's Club. The CLO maintains a survey of the wage scale that is updated annually. In short, it is possible to find any type of excellent household help on a full-time or part-time basis.

Americans also enjoy a variety of other luxuries in the Philippines. Excellent massage therapists are popular among American employees, and a two-hour session in your home runs about $20. Several manicurists also make weekly visits to Embassy personnel at their homes and offer a manicure and pedicure for about $10. In addition, local beauty salons offer a full range of quality cosmetology services at reasonable prices. However, some Americans have found that permanents and hair coloring often are not of an acceptable quality.

The availability of cheap, high-quality fabric in Manila and throughout Asia makes seamstresses and tailors another popular service provider for Americans. Most seamstresses make home visits for fittings, and several Mission employees employ full- or part-time seamstresses to work in their homes. Although most seamstresses have limited ability to design clothes and may not be able to follow patterns, they are highly skilled in following samples or pictures, and they can produce quality garments at reasonable prices. It is not uncommon for women to leave the Philippines with a stylish new wardrobe. In addition, tailors often visit men at the Embassy to fit them for suits, shirts and tuxedoes, which are available at prices dramatically lower than those in the United States. The quality of men's garments is acceptable but not comparable to the United States or even other Asian countries.

A wide range of classes and instruction from skilled instructors is available in Manila at very low prices. Many Embassy employees take advantage of tennis lessons, golf lessons, scuba training, swimming lessons, aerobics and other fitness activities, and other sports instruction. The Seafront Compound includes an adequate gym for aerobics and weight training, and memberships in more upscale fitness facilities are available at good prices in area hotels. Excellent and very cheap music lessons, such as piano, voice training, and instruction on other musical instruments, are available from professional local teachers.

One especially popular service among the American community is Lasik surgery to correct nearsightedness. The procedure is available in Manila by U.S.-trained doctors using modern equipment at a much lower cost than in the United States. The current fee, which includes all follow-up care, is about $1,000. In addition, competent skin care and plastic surgery is available in Manila at low prices.

There are numerous other personal services available to Americans in Manila, and the choices are limited only by your own interests and imagination.

Religious Activities Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:08 AM

The Philippines is an overwhelmingly Catholic country, and not surprisingly, Catholic churches can be found in abundance throughout Manila. Masses are scheduled in Tagalog and English and are held at various times throughout the week, and in many unusual places, including shopping malls.

Service for other denominations are also available in English, although the variety of times and locations may be a bit more limited. Most have some sort of prayer meeting or other activity during the week in addition to regular weekly services. The following is a sampling of area houses of worship; additional information about these or other religious activities in Manila may be obtained from the CLO.

Protestant: Bethany Baptist Church, Dian St., Makati; Church of the Holy Trinity (Anglican/Episcopalian), 48-A McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati; Cosmopolitan Church (United Church of Christ), 1363 Taft Avenue, Manila; International Baptist Church, Dela Costa, Salcedo Village, Makati; International Lutheran Church of Manila; Ayala Museum, Makati Avenue, Makati; The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormon), Makati Word Chapel, H.V. dela Costa, Salcedo Vill., Buendia; Union Church of Manila, Legaspi cor. Rada Sts., Legaspi Vill., Makati.

Roman Catholic: Malate Church; 1016 M.H. del Pilar St., Malate; Santuario de San Antonio, McKinley Road, Forbes Park, Makati; St. Alphonsus Mary de Liquori Parish, Humabon Place, Magallanes Vill., Makati.

Other Denominations: Jewish Association of the Philippines, Temple Beth Yaacov, Tordesillas cor. Dela Costa Sts., Salcedo Village Makati; Greek Orthodox Church, (The Anunciation of Theotokos Mission), Filipinas Avenue, United Paranaque.


Dependent Education

At Post Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:09 AM International School of Manila. The International School Manila (ISM) is a nonsectarian, college-preparatory, and general academic day school for boys and girls of all nationalities in preschool through grade 12. Formerly called the American School, it was founded in 1920 by American and British residents of Manila. It was incorporated as a private, independent school and is registered under the laws of the Republic of the Philippines on a non-profit basis. The school is approved by the Department of Education of the Republic of the Philippines. In 1970, the name was changed to International School to reflect the increasingly international composition of the student body.

About 1,600 students are enrolled at ISM, of whom 21% are Americans, 18% Filipinos and 61% students representing about 50 other nationalities. The children of U.S. Government employees usually comprise about 3% of the total population. The school comprises an elementary school (Nursery-5), middle school (6-8) and high school (9-12). ISM is located at a state-of-the art campus facility in Ft. Bonifacio that was newly opened for the 2002-2003 school year.

The school is divided into three sections, elementary, middle and high school. The elementary school has its own covered playground, soccer field, gymnasium, media center and dining facility. The middle school also boasts its own media center and gymnasium. All other facilities, such as the science/biology/chemistry laboratories, art and music rooms, computer laboratories, sports complex with a 400meter running track and playing fields, competition pool, diving pool and training pool and six tennis courts, are shared with the high school. Additional shared facilities include dance, drama, fitness and martial arts practice rooms, a gymnastics gym, an open seating experimental theater and an 850 seat Fine and Performing Arts Theater. All indoor facilities to include the gymnasiums are air-conditioned.

The school year runs from mid-August to early June, with two semesters for middle and high schools and a trimester calendar for the elementary school. The Superintendent, the Curriculum and Staff Development Administrator, the directors for counseling and guidance, athletics, and aquatics, and other key consultants are from the United States, England, Australia, India, Canada, and New Zealand. There are about 176 full-time and 14 part-time professional staff members, including about 47 U.S. citizens, 77 host country nationals, and 66 persons of other nationalities. The 10-member Board of Trustees devises school policy. Each family with a child in school is an associate member of International School, Inc. Trustees are elected to a three-year term at the annual meeting.

A child transferring into the international community may enter the school at any time during the year, provided he or she has an acceptable academic record, does not have unresolved discipline or emotional problems, and meets the standards set by the Admissions Committee. If you cannot begin your tour in time for the opening of school, orientation and assistance are offered through the Guidance Center program. A child must be five years old by September 1 to enter kindergarten and six years old by September 1 to enter first grade. No exceptions are made.

Instruction is in English. The curriculum is based on the American system, which is broadened to include curricula from other systems throughout the world. Modern languages including Spanish, French, Chinese, Japanese, and Pilipino are offered as foreign languages. High school students may earn a regular U.S. high school diploma or an International Baccalaureate diploma. A wide variety of advance placement courses are offered in grades 11 and 12. There is a special language development program (teaching English as a second language) for non-English speakers. The testing program includes the College Entrance Examination Board Test, the American College Test, the National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test, and the Secondary Schools Admission Test. The school is fully accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges.

Academic standards are more rigorous than those found in U.S. public schools, and students are expected to do homework. Students transferring from other schools in the United States or overseas, especially those entering high school, should confirm that their records and course grades are complete in order to receive full credit at ISM.

Eight full-time counselors provide counseling services: two in elementary, two in middle school, and four in high school. They offer students and parents personal and academic counseling and college and vocational planning.

The International School provides an Optimal Learning Match education program for learning support and talent in the schools. It is not able to educate students with severe visual and/or hearing impairments or those with neurological or behavior disorders. However, staff will review cases of moderate impairment and decide on an individual basis if an appropriate program of instruction can be offered.

A wide variety of extracurricular activities supplement the academic program to encourage physical well-being, intellectual exchange, diversification of interests, and participation in social activities. Students are encouraged to participate in such activities as Model United Nations, Math Counts, other academic games, chess, and a complete Fine Arts program, including drama, band and strings. Other activities include student government, committees, numerous clubs, the honor society, and school publications.

The sports program includes interscholastic baseball, basketball, cheerleading, golf, badminton, soccer, dance, swimming, tennis, track and field, and volleyball. ISM is a member of the Philippine Secondary School Athletic Association. International competitions provide ISM teams the opportunity to travel to other countries for sporting, cultural and academic events and to host these countries in return. Active intramural competition is offered in many sports.

For further information and admission forms, contact the CLO or write:

Admissions Director

International School Manila

P.O. Box 1526 MCPO

1255 Makati City, Philippines

Phone: (63)(2) 896-9801-10

Direct Line: (63)(2) 897-5576

Fax: (63)(2) 899-3964

E-mail address:

Web site:

Brent International School. Brent International School, Manila, is an international, co-educational day school of nursery school through grade 12 and is associated with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines. It carries the following mission statement: "Brent Schools, in an ecumenical environment in the Philippines, are committed to develop individual students as responsible global citizens and leaders in their respective communities, with a multi-cultural and international perspective, and equipped for entry to colleges and universities throughout the world."

Brent strives to provide an atmosphere of academic excellence, discipline and Christian values. Students wear a prescribed school uniform and attend weekly chapel services. The full International Baccalaureate Diploma Program is offered at Brent, and it is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). The school year begins in mid-August and ends the last week of May.

The original Brent campus, located at the University of Life Complex in Pasig City, offers nursery through 8th grade only. A new school facility opened in August 1999 at Mamplasan, Laguna, about 20 miles south of Metro Manila. The Mamplasan campus has centrally air-conditioned classrooms, two gymnasiums (one fully air-conditioned), a theater, a 25-meter competition swimming pool (covered), a 400-meter all-weather track, soccer field, computer laboratories, networked classrooms, media center, play areas, covered drop-off area and a 225-car underground parking garage. Currently, all Embassy children enrolled at Brent School attend this campus. Daily bus service is provided from Makati and other Embassy housing areas. The average commute is 45 minutes to one hour each way.

Brent offers a wide range of after-school activities, including a Varsity and Junior Varsity sports program that offers boys and girls basketball, soccer, volleyball, tennis, badminton and bowling. The school is a member of the Asia-Pacific Activities Conference, together with Shanghai American School, American International School of Beijing, Seoul Foreign School, Canadian Academy, and Osaka International School.

Curricular activities include plays and musical presentations, choir, art exhibits, literary publications, and participation in inter-scholastic forensic competitions. The school has a debate team, which competes with both local schools and schools in the international circuit. Clubs cater to a wide variety of student interests, such as art, science, literature, and community service, such as the Good Samaritan Club. Brent also runs a "house" system, in which all students, teachers and staff are divided into three teams. The "houses" compete in academic and sports events throughout the year. This fosters school spirit and a sense of belonging.

At the high school level, Brent offers both the International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) Programs. These programs give high school students an opportunity to pursue college-level studies, while still in high school. Depending on the college they attend, IB and AP courses can lead to advanced placement (skipping entry-level courses) or college credit for the coursework completed under these programs. The AP courses are accepted at virtually all U.S. colleges and universities, while the IB program has more limited acceptance within the United States.

The AP program was instituted in the United States to offer more challenging courses to capable high school students. Students in the AP program are enrolled in introductory college-level courses, followed by an examination in May. The examination, administered by the Educational Testing Service in the United States, is scored on a five-point scale. Many overseas and American high schools participate in this program. Classes can be taken in just one subject or in a variety of subjects.

The IB program was designed through an international cooperative effort and is based in Geneva, Switzerland. This program offers an academically challenging curriculum emphasizing the philosophy of learning and the integration of disciplines for the last two years of high school. It can be supported by a curriculum beginning as early as elementary school. Because it is a comprehensive two-year program, it can be difficult to transfer during the last two years and complete the IB diploma at a different school. Individual tests, however, can be taken for courses completed, even if the full diploma program is not completed. Exams are completed in May, with all exams centrally evaluated to set criteria by international examiners.

For further information and admissions forms, contact the CLO or write:

Brent International School, Manila


Brentville Subdivision, Barangay Mamplasan, Biñan,

Laguna 4024, Philippines

Telephone: (63)(49) 511-4330-39

E-mail Address:

Web page:


P.O. Box 12201, Ortigas Center

Post Office 1605 Pasig City, Philippines

Telephone: (63)(2) 631-1265 to 68

E-mail address:

Web page:

The British School. The British School in Manila accepts students from age five through 12 or 13 and has an enrollment of 280 students. Class sizes are about 15 each. It follows the British system, is staffed solely with expatriate British teachers under a British headmistress, and offers a wide variety of after-school activities.

Nursery/Preschools. AmeriKids Pre-school opened on the Seafront Compound in August 1999. This preschool services the families of American personnel connected with the U.S. Embassy and who are members of the American Recreation Club (see page 36). AmeriKids offers a comprehensive "American style" preschool. AmeriKids has access to all Seafront amenities, including the swimming pool, library, Med Unit, and playground. At its current location, the preschool can accommodate 15 children with a one to five adult/child ratio. Amerikids follows the same class calendar as the International School and Brent School.

Manila also offers several local preschools. Concepts vary from Montessori to social learning. All of the preschools offer a variety of activities and instruction for the preschool child. The schools often have small classes and offer a clean and stimulating environment. The general age for acceptance in preschool is around 2-1/2 years of age or diaper-trained. Some preschools admit children at 18 months of age, however. These schools all follow the Filipino class calendar, with summer falling between April and June.


Dependent Education

Away From Post Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:09 AM Some families from Manila, as well as families from other Asian posts, send their older children to Brent School in Baguio City. Founded in 1909 under auspices of the Episcopal Church, Brent is the only doubly accredited (accredited with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges in the United States and with the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges, and Universities), coeducational, nonsectarian day and boarding school in Southeast Asia. The 27-acre Baguio campus, situated at 5,000 feet, offers an invigorating and healthful climate conducive to year-round study. The school has a library, chapel, gym, playing fields, tennis courts, and an infirmary with a registered nurse on duty 24 hours daily.

Brent's curriculum combines the best public and private school practices and includes SMSG math, BSCS biology, and PSSC physics, which are high-level courses. Classes are small, with a teacher-pupil ratio of one to eight, individualized education, and close personal contact between students and faculty. Brent School has active creative arts and performing arts programs and encourages participation in both individual and group sports. In-depth cultural studies, curriculum-related field trips, and special "mini" courses contribute to an educational program that combines the richness of a Western heritage with the experience of living and learning in an Asian environment.

As tuition and board fees change yearly, you should contact post for the most recent fee schedule. For information concerning the school, please write:


Brent School

P.O. Box 35, 2600,

Baguio City, Philippines

E-mail address:

Web site:

Special Needs Education Last Updated: 12/21/03

The Philippines has very few programs for the physically challenged child or for children with learning disorders. Please contact the Community Liaison Office at post for information.


Special Needs Education Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:10 AM

The Philippines has very few programs for the physically challenged child or for children with learning disorders. Please contact the Community Liaison Office at post for information.


Higher Education Opportunities Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:10 AM

The University of the Philippines, one of the premiere institutions of higher education in the Philippines, is accredited with American colleges, especially for upper level courses (junior/senior level). The main campus is located in Quezon City, about a 60-minute drive from the U.S. Embassy, with various branches throughout Manila. Other high-quality private colleges and universities, such as De La Salle and Ateneo de Manila universities, also are open to college-aged students.

The Philippine system provides only 10 years of pre-college education, six years of elementary school and four years of secondary school, with no middle or junior high school. Most American children choose to go to U.S. colleges because of this difference. Discipline and scholastic requirements at local universities are less rigorous, and libraries and laboratories are not up to U.S. standards. Some spouses have taken special courses and obtained degrees during a tour in the Philippines. Several very good computer programming and analysis schools are located in Manila. Private teachers and colleges offer adult and children's courses in music, art, and foreign languages. Limited Tagalog courses for employees and their eligible family members also are available at the Embassy.

Recreation and Social Life

Sports Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:11 AM

There are nearly unlimited opportunities for water sports of all kinds outside of the metro Manila area. The Philippines is a scuba diver's paradise, and enthusiasts from all over the world come to the Philippines to take advantage of the pristine waters and the diversity of exotic coral and marine life found here. In addition, many areas of the Philippines remain relatively remote and undiscovered by divers. Expert scuba instruction is readily available, and many Americans have chosen to become certified divers during their tours in the Philippines. Other popular water sports include snorkeling, sailing, wind surfing, jet skiing, swimming, and fishing.

A number of sports facilities are available on the Seafront Compound for the use of all ARC members, including tennis, racquetball and basketball courts, a swimming pool, and a baseball diamond. Basketball is probably the most popular sport in the Philippines, in terms of both spectators and active participants. There is an active national basketball league, and the Embassy also has a basketball league with teams representing various offices and agencies that compete in regular tournaments. Other organized Embassy sports leagues have included baseball, softball, bowling, tennis, volleyball, and pistol shooting.

Golf is another popular sport in the Philippines. There are numerous high-quality golf courses in the Philippines, including an excellent course set against the walls of the old city and within walking distance of the Embassy. Golf is popular among Filipinos as well as Americans, and many Embassy personnel have found golfing to be an excellent opportunity to make local friends as well as valuable professional contacts. The cost of golf in the Philippines is extremely reasonable as compared with the United States. The Embassy has a Golf Association that sponsors tournaments and other social events for its members.

Bowling is another popular pastime in the Philippines, and modern, American-style bowling allies are abundant in Manila. Other popular local sports include mahjong, darts, cycling, tennis, badminton, and many others. There is even an ice rink in one of the local malls. The only restriction is that many Americans will find it occasionally too hot and polluted to engage in prolonged outdoor activities in Manila.

Recreation and Social Life

Touring and Outdoor Activities Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:11 AM

The tropical climate of the Philippines provides almost year-round touring and outdoor recreational opportunities. However, the heat of April and May and the typhoons of the rainy season from July to November may restrict some activities, and the pollution in Manila also can make many outdoor activities unpleasant.

The Philippines is full of beautiful beaches and resorts to meet every taste and budget, from rustic and charming native bamboo huts to upscale five-star resorts with a full range of services and amenities. The proximity of the outlying islands makes it easy to take advantage of spontaneous weekend getaways to any one of a number of beaches, and many Americans also plan more extended beach holidays during their tours in the Philippines. Among the most popular destinations are the powdery white sand beaches of Boracay and the secluded, high-class beach resorts of Palawan, such as El Nido. Puerta Galera, on the island of Mindoro just west of Luzon and within easy reach of Manila, has an active social scene that makes it a popular spot for younger people.

There are numerous natural wonders within a convenient distance of Manila. Tagaytay Ridge, with its spectacular island volcano, is about 35 miles south of Manila. At 2,000 feet, the ridge enjoys cool breezes year round and commands a dramatic view of rugged mountains and valleys, as well as Lake Taal and the Taal Volcano, the world's lowest known volcano. Beyond Tagaytay are the Pagsanjan Falls, about two hours from Manila. Visitors to the falls take a trip upriver on a native banca (a small dugout canoe) through a gorge that features 300-foot walls rising perpendicularly from the banks and covered by luxuriant tropical growth. The return trip passes through shooting rapids, providing the water levels of the river are high enough. This river gorge was the site for the final scenes from the movie Apocalypse Now.

Corregidor is a pleasant 30-minute boat ride from Manila. This historic island was the site of the heroic but futile struggle by Philippine-American forces during World War II against the Japanese army, after escaping from which General Douglas MacArthur gave his memorable quote: "I shall return." The remains of the island's fortress have been faithfully preserved and restored, and entertaining and informative tours are conducted daily.

Baguio is a beautiful mountain resort city situated at 5,000 feet above sea level, which makes it a haven from the heat of Manila. Baguio is 155 miles from Manila, about a 6-hour drive or an hour by air. During the rainy season, landslides on the road and poor visibility at the airport may hinder travel to and from Baguio. The Embassy's property at Baguio consists of the Official residence, a cabin, and a cottage. These facilities are available to U.S. Mission personnel and their families. The residence, which was the site of the surrender ceremonies in September 1945 of Japanese General Yamashita to American forces, has been redecorated to include period pieces from World War II and has seven guest bedrooms.

The Banaue Rice Terraces north of Baguio are known locally as the "Eighth Wonder of the World." This spectacular man-made landscape features a chain of mountains that were terraced to their highest peaks for the cultivation of rice by Ifugao tribesmen countless centuries ago. The Banaue Hotel has good accommodations for overnight or weekend stays.

Manila itself features a number of interesting sightseeing opportunities, such as numerous buildings, monuments and other structures of architectural or historical significance. The highlight is the old walled city of Intramuros (which means "within the walls"), a monument to the Spanish era of Philippine history. Many tourists choose to view this unique and picturesque combination of the Orient and the Occident in one of the many horse and buggies that line the streets. The focal point of Intramuros is Fort Santiago and the Rizal Museum, which chronicles the last days of Jose Rizal, the foremost hero of the Philippine struggle for independence. Other places of interest within the walled city include the Casa Manila, a model of a 19th-century upper-class urban home; the Spanish-inspired Manila Cathedral and St. Augustin Church; and Plaza Roma, with its statues of three martyred priests. In addition, Intramuros contains a number of modern art galleries promoting the work of local and regional artists. Naturally, Intramuros also is home to quite a few souvenir shops offering native crafts.

The Manila American Cemetery and Memorial, established in 1960, is located at Fort Bonifacio in Manila. The cemetery site covers 152 acres and includes the graves of over 17,000 U.S. servicemen who fought in the South Pacific. The cemetery is a peaceful urban oasis with flowering trees, shrubs, and palms.

Recreation and Social Life

Entertainment Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:11 AM

Manila is full of leisure activities, with restaurants, clubs, bars, discos and cabarets of every description. These are concentrated in the two main entertainment districts of Malate, which is near the Embassy and the Seafront Compound, and Makati, which is about seven miles from the Embassy and is near most of the Embassy's single-family dwellings. Because Filipinos are gregarious and sociable, the city of Manila is vibrant well into the night. As with anything else in the Philippines, the cost of entertainment is very reasonable by American standards.

One aspect of Manila nightlife that is sure to make an impression on any visitor is the Filipinos' love of music. The Filipinos love to sing, and live music can be found throughout the city. Many clubs and bars feature live bands and singers of surprisingly high quality, and many Americans appreciate the fact that such locales are not simply gathering places to sit and drink. The Filipino taste in music is decidedly Western, so Americans will find the musical offerings particularly resonant. Another favorite pastime is karaoke, either in the comfort of one of the hundreds of clubs featuring private karaoke rooms for you and your friends, or in a large club that coaxes the participation of its patrons. It is almost impossible to escape a tour in the Philippines without being coerced into singing at least once.

The cultural offerings of Manila are excellent and appeal to Western preferences. The theater community is especially robust, and there are numerous highly professional dramatic and musical productions throughout the year, mostly in English. There are a number of high-quality dance companies, including two excellent ballet companies and several national dance companies that perform native folk dances. There also is a good local symphony. In addition, the Cultural Center of the Philippines regularly hosts visiting artists and groups from throughout Asia, and less frequently from other parts of the world. There are numerous modern and comfortable movie theaters featuring a good range of first-run U.S. movies, as well as local movies in Tagalog.

Americans may take courses at one of the accredited universities in Manila, as well as non-credit classes in calligraphy, music, etc. The American Women's Club and the U.S. Embassy Club provide opportunities to expand your circle of friends and participate in a number of volunteer projects. The Museum Volunteers of the Philippines can open the door to Southeast Asia with study groups, lectures and tours. The In Touch Foundation offers workshops, counseling and some interesting training courses.

Recreation and Social Life

Social Activities

Among Americans Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:12 AM The large official U.S. Government family and American business community in Manila provides many opportunities for social activities among Americans. Such opportunities also are found through schools, churches, and the various American civic organizations and lodges, which also usually include significant Filipino memberships. These include the American Chamber of Commerce, American Association of the Philippines, Eastern Star, Elks, Fraternal Order of Eagles, Jaycees, Knights of Columbus, Lions, Masonic Lodge and Shrine, Reserve Officers Association, Rotary International, Toastmasters Club, Veterans of Foreign Wars, YMCA, YWCA, and the American Women's Club of the Philippines (AWCP).

The United States Embassy Club (USEC) meets monthly and is open to U.S. Government employees and their family members. USEC sponsors cultural and social programs and promotes charity projects, including a nutritional feeding center and day care centers. It also sponsors scholarship programs for children of Embassy Foreign Service Nationals and the biannual Shopper's Day bazaar, which provides funding for several local charities serviced by USEC. The most popular charity of USEC is Project Smile, which funds surgical procedures for indigent local children and adults suffering from cleft palates and other facial and dental defects. Over the past 37 years, Project Smile has helped thousands of Filipinos.

Filipinos are very sociable and newcomers are encouraged to form acquaintances among the Filipino community, as well as with foreign residents. Manila is a socially active community, and it is easy to establish relationships through official and social contacts. Filipinos, Americans, and other foreign business and diplomatic community members attend large diplomatic and consular parties and receptions throughout the year, as well as smaller private gatherings. Several local clubs have international membership. Although memberships are becoming harder to obtain and more expensive, you might be able to join a number of local clubs. The Manila Polo Club, adjacent to Forbes Park, offers swimming, tennis, bowling, badminton, and polo. The Manila Boat Club, on the Pasig River in Santa Ana, has squash courts and rowing (sculls, pairs, and fours). The Boat Club is inexpensive, has no waiting list, and prides itself on its relaxed, informal atmosphere. The Manila Yacht Club, which has a clubhouse and sheltered basin for boats, is located on Roxas Boulevard. You can join the Manila Overseas Press Club and use its dining room and bar. Other private clubs include the Casino Español, with a predominantly Spanish membership, and the Manila Club, which is a British club.

Other social and community organizations include the Association of International College Women, Hospitality International and Infocenter, the All Nations Women's Club, the Latin American Women's Club, the Manila Symphony Women's Auxiliary, and Manila Theater Guild and Friends of the Repertory. Volunteer work is welcome through USEC, the AWCP, or through the Red Cross or various charity/welfare organizations, such as Youth with a Mission, Philippine-American Guardian Association, Pearl S. Buck Foundation, and many more.

Official Functions

Nature of Functions Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:12 AM

Social responsibilities of senior officials and spouses impose a significant burden on their time, but the demands of official entertaining in Manila are no different than in other similarly sized missions. Most entertainment consists of cocktail parties and informal buffets, with more occasional sit-down dinners. Although other staff members face fewer social demands, they often attend or host official or semi-official parties. During the dry season, many large social events are held outdoors, both on the Embassy lawn and in outdoor representational spaces, such as at the Ambassador's residence and the DCM's home. During the rainy season, these cocktail parties are smaller and held indoors or in covered outdoor areas. In addition, much official entertaining is conducted at local restaurants and clubs.

Official Functions

Standards of Social Conduct Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:12 AM

An Embassy community sponsor will meet and welcome you upon your arrival. Soon after, telephone your supervisor to report your arrival and stop by your work area during the check-in process. The American Mission in Manila is large, but every attempt is made to help the new arrival feel welcome. Sponsors, when contacted in advance, will stock your house or apartment with food for your arrival, and will make sure transportation is available to get you to and from work.

Hail and farewell receptions occasionally are held at the Ambassador's residence and at the Seafront compound. New personnel will be scheduled to meet the Ambassador and DCM as part of the check-in process. All family members are encouraged to attend the courtesy call on the DCM. Calling cards and invitations can be printed in Manila after arrival at reasonable cost. For additional protocol procedures, please contact the Protocol Office.

Special Information Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:13 AM



Uniform items are not available in the Philippines, so officers and enlisted personnel should bring all required uniforms and accessories. Military uniforms are worn during all official functions, appointments with Philippine military officials, and official U.S. visitors. The class "B" uniform is the most common uniform and is worn with all ribbons and badges. Class "A," Mess Dress and BDU's are worn only occasionally. Military personnel are authorized to wear civilian clothes for normal workdays at the Embassy and will be authorized a civilian clothing allowance for this purpose. Shirt and tie or "smart casual" are the norm.


JUSMAG personnel do not participate in the Embassy housing pool. All JUSMAG personnel are placed on the Overseas Housing Allowance (OHA) system. OHS provides for a monthly housing allowance (based on pay grade) that is sufficient to obtain very nice housing on the local economy. JUSMAG will assist new personnel in obtaining local housing. Since most homes use a 220-volt electrical system, JUSMAG will provide major appliances, including a washer/dryer, refrigerator, air conditioners, oven, freezer, fans, and a generator.


You will be required to obtain a Philippine driver's license. Please ensure that your U.S. license is current and has not exceeded the expiration date. The Philippine Government will not issue a driver's license if your U.S. license has expired.

USAA does not insure automobiles in the Philippines. There are several local companies in Manila that will insure vehicles at very reasonable rates.

Address for JUSMAG personnel in Manila:


PSC 504, Box 1

FPO AP 96515-1400

Telephone: 63-2-523-1001

(ext. 6337/6338)

Fax: 63-2-338-4126

Notes For Travelers

Getting to the Post Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:15 AM

Two U.S. carriers currently service the Philippines. There are daily flights from the U.S. out of Los Angeles on Continental Airlines, via Hawaii and Guam, and Northwest offers daily flights from Detroit via Japan.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Customs and Duties Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:16 AM

All personnel are entitled to duty-free entry of personal effects imported throughout their tour in the Philippines. This includes clothing, new and used household equipment of all kinds, and other non-expendable household supplies for personal use. Embassy personnel also enjoy duty-free entry for automobiles. Details regarding the shipment of automobiles can be found in the "Transportation" section earlier in this report. Further details can be obtained from the GSO.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Passage Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:16 AM

Permanently assigned personnel and all of their family members need to apply in advance for a diplomatic visa at the Philippine Embassy in Washington, D.C. You should ensure that you have been issued a visa that will be valid for your entire tour of duty in Manila and that is the correct category (9E1 for diplomat or 9E2 for administrative & technical staff). Some employees have discovered only after arrival in country that their Philippine visas were of the wrong type. All new personnel should bring a minimum of 12 small photos (American ID card size, about 1' x 1') for identification cards at post. If these cannot be obtained in advance of your arrival, you can have them taken at post.

A number of immunizations are recommended for those being posted in the Philippines but are not required by the Philippine authorities for entrance into the country. These include typhoid, tetanus-diphtheria, poliomyelitis, hepatitis B and hepatitis A, and rabies. In addition, children should be vaccinated against measles, mumps, rubella, and hemophilus B. Anti-malarial medication is not recommended for the Philippines, except for extended visits to rural areas outside of the metropolitan Manila area. In this case, malaria medication may be obtained from the post's Health Unit.

Customs, Duties, and Passage

Pets Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:16 AM

Veterinary care is available in Manila and is generally good. An import permit can be obtained prior to the arrival of a pet. If you plan to bring an animal to post, please provide details to the Embassy's Transportation Unit at least three weeks prior to its arrival. These include kind of pet, breed, color, sex, weight, and age; shipping mode (accompanied or unaccompanied); valid rabies vaccination; and health certificate issued at the point of origin not more than 10 days before the shipping date. The fee for the import permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) is P575 ($11).

Firearms and Ammunition Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:17 AM

The Embassy prohibits the importation of dynamite, gunpowder, ammunitions and other explosives, firearms and weapons of war, except under a very narrow set of circumstances. Anyone wishing to bring any firearms or ammunition in-country should consult with the GSO and RSO before doing so.

Currency, Banking, and Weights and Measures Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:17 AM

The Philippine monetary system is based on the peso. The peso is divided into 100 centavos. All transactions are made by using coins in denominations of 5,10, 25 centavos and 1, 5, 10 pesos, and bills in denominations of 10, 20, 50, 100, 200, 500 and 1,000. The Philippine peso is on a floating rate of exchange against the U.S. dollar. In accordance with a Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines) circular, local transactions are payable in pesos.

Settling-in expenses are an individual matter, but you should have $500 to $1,000 readily available for writing checks upon arrival. Personal checks of up to $1,000 a day, limited to $4,000 in any 30-day period, may be cashed at the Citibank branch on the Chancery compound, payable in dollars or Philippine pesos. Higher amounts may be authorized on a case-by-case basis, if additional funds are needed for a specific purpose. The use of credit cards in the Philippines is increasing but there is considerable fraud and unauthorized use of credit card numbers. However, most employees have successfully used credit at major hotels, resorts, and with reputable merchants who have a long-standing relationship with Embassy employees.

The Philippines has adopted the metric system, and most items are measured in meters/centimeters and kilograms/grams. Road distance and speed are measured in kilometers on the two main expressways (North Luzon and South Luzon) linking Metro Manila to neighboring provinces. However, some sectors still use the British standard. Some grocery stores sell items by pounds and ounces or have labels showing both British and metric measurements.

Taxes, Exchange, and Sale of Property Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:17 AM

American diplomats are theoretically exempted from the local Value Added Tax (VAT) on goods and services. All U.S. Mission employees and qualified family members are issued a VAT exemption letter that may be presented at the point of sale. This exemption was only instituted in August 2000 and has been met with tremendous confusion on the part of Filipino merchants. However, many merchants and business establishment are now deducting VAT at point of sale. As an alternative if VAT is not taken at point of sale, receipts may be submitted to GSO for reimbursement on a monthly basis. VAT and Excise reimbursement processing from the Philippine Government have improved, and there are now few pending claims for reimbursement presently being processed.

Recommended Reading Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:18 AM

These titles are provided as a general indication of the material published in this country. The Department of State does not endorse unofficial publications.

General History

Foreign Service Institute. In Our Image (video). A PBS video and companion book that is part of FSI's advanced Southeast Asia Area Studies course. An analysis of American colonialism in the Philippines.

Jenista, Frank. The White Apos.

Karnow, Stanley. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines. Random House: 1989. How the U.S. brought peace and civil government to the Cordillera at the turn of the 19th century.

Bain, David H. Sitting in Darkness: Americans in the Philippines. Houghton Mifflin: 1984.

Corpuz, O.D. The Roots of the Filipino Nation. Aklahi Foundation, Inc.: 1989.

Dolan, Ronald, ed. Philippines: A Country Study. Federal Research Division, Library of Congress: 1991.

Empire by Default. Historical Analysis of the Causes, Prosecution and Results of the Spanish-American War.

Steinberg, David J. The Philippines: A Singular and Plural Place. Westview Press: 1982.


Kekvliet, Benedict J. The Huk Rebellion: A Study of Peasant Revolt in the Philippines. University of California Press: 1977.

Jones, Gregg R. Red Revolution: Inside the Philippine Guerilla Movement. Westview Press: 1989.

Taruc, Luis. He Who Rides the Tiger. Praeger: 1967.

Military Bases

Bengson, Alfredo, and Paul Rodrigo. A Matter of Honor: The Story of the U.S. Bases Talks. Anvil Publishing: 1997.

Berry, William E. Jr. U.S. Bases in the Philippines: The Evolution of the Special Relationship. Westview Press: 1989.

Marcos Years and People Power Revolution

Bonner, Raymond. Waltzing with a Dictator: The Marcoses and the Making of American Policy. Times Books: 1987.

Chapman, William. Norton. Inside the Philippine Revolution, 1989.

Mamot, Patricio R. People Power: Profile of Filipino Heroism. New Day Publishers: 1986.

Mercado, Monina Allarey. An Eyewitness History: People Power, the Philippine Revolution of 1986. James P. Reuter S.J. Foundation: 1986.

Romulo, Beth Day. Inside the Palace: The Rise and Fall of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos.

Seagrave, Sterling. The Marcos Dynasty. Harper and Row: 1988.

Philippine Internal Politics

McCoy, Alfred. An Anarchy of Families: State and Family in the Philippines. Ateneo de Manila University Press: 1994.

Romulo, Beth Day. Philippine Presidents: Memoirs of Carlos P. Romulo. Carlos P. Romulo, Cellar Book Shop: 1989.

Wurful, David. Filipino Politics: Development and Decay. Ateneo de Manila University Press: 1988.


Carlos P. Romulo, Praeger: 1987.


Joaquin, Nick. Manila, My Manila.

Lerner, Ted. Hey, Joe.

Roces, Alfredo and Grace. Culture Shock! A Guide to Customs and Etiquette (Philippines). Graphic Arts Center Publishing Co.: 1992.

Local Holidays Last Updated: 1/27/2004 5:25 AM


HOLIDAY LEGAL DATE CLOSING DATE New Year’s Day (USA/PHL) Thursday, January 1 Thursday, January 1 Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Birthday (USA) Monday, January 19 Monday, January 19 President’s Day (USA) Monday, February 16 Monday, February 16 Maundy Thursday (PHL) Thursday, April 8 Thursday, April 8 Good Friday (PHL) Friday, April 9 Friday, April 9 Araw Ng Kagitingan (Bataan & Corregidor Day) (Heroism Day)(PHL) Friday, April 9 Friday, April 9 Labor Day (PHL) Saturday, May 1 Saturday, May 1 National & Local Elections Day (PHL) Monday, May 10 Monday, May 10 Memorial Day (USA) Monday, May 31 Monday, May 31 Independence Day (PHL) Saturday, June 12 Saturday, June 12 Independence Day (USA) Sunday, July 4 Monday, July 5 National Heroes Day (PHL) Sunday, August 29 Sunday, August 29 Labor Day (USA) Monday, September 6 Monday, September 6 Columbus Day (USA) Monday, October 11 Monday, October 11 All Saints’ Day (PHL) Monday, November 1 Monday, November 1 Veterans Day (USA) Thursday, November 11 Thursday, November 11 Thanksgiving Day (USA) Thursday, November 25 Thursday, November 25 Bonifacio Day (PHL) Tuesday, November 30 Tuesday, November 30 Christmas Day (USA/PHL) Saturday, December 25 Friday, December 24 Rizal Day (PHL) Thursday, December 30 Thursday, December 30 Last Day of the Year (PHL)* Friday, December 31 Thursday, December 30

*Anticipated Special Holiday

Adapted from material published by the U.S. Department of State. While some of the information is specific to U.S. missions abroad, the post report provides a good overview of general living conditions in the host country for diplomats from all nations.
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