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Working in Manila

Find out how to get a job and work in Manila

Are you dreaming about working in Manila? The city’s economy is quite diverse, and expats working in Manila benefit from everything this commercial hub has to offer. Read our Relocation Guide on Manila and learn all about the economy, business districts, social security, and more.

Need to move abroad? Organizing an international relocation is not something you should do on your own. As expats ourselves, we understand what you need, and offer the essential services to help you move and live abroad easily. Contact us to jump start your move abroad!

Employment in Manila

  • Manila’s trade is comprised of many different products, from chemicals to shoes.
  • The presence of various industries in Manila facilitates the process of setting up a business.
  • Attending job fairs or accessing online job portals are handy ways to look for employment.

Manila’s Economy

Expats who start working in Manila will soon realize that the city’s economy is characterized by the production and trade of a wide range of different products, such as textiles, chemicals, coconut oil, rope, and shoes. All of these goods are produced within the metropolis, providing steady jobs to people working in Manila. The city’s port is another reason that the city functions as the Philippines’ economic center.

Despite the economic growth Manila has experienced in recent years, it still faces serious challenges. A high level of youth unemployment — at 16.4% in 2014 — and a weak infrastructure are just some of them. While the recent growth resulted in a certain level of political stability, this rests on the shaky foundation of Manila’s economy. In order to create a stronger middle class and limit the need for government support, economic reforms are necessary. More investments in labor and physical capital, thanks to the greater flexibility of government spending, will hopefully improve the quality of jobs as well as increase economic growth in the near future.

Various Business Opportunities

Despite the unclear future of both Manila’s economy and its political situation, job opportunities abound for expats who plan on working in Manila. Different districts generally offer different possibilities of setting up a business and working in Manila, anywhere from manufacturing, shipping, hauling, and trucking to learning institutions, jewelry shops, gyms, and health spas.

If you’re looking to be your own boss and found a company while working in Manila, you need to apply for a business permit by submitting a business transaction form (BTF) to the Business Promotions and Development Office. There, you will receive a business identification number (BIN), which allows you to get an assessment of your corporate tax and regulatory fees and finally receive your business permit.

Central Commerce District

Strictly speaking, Manila as a whole could be considered the Philippines’ central commerce district. However, even within this giant commercial hub, certain districts and neighborhoods have become the focal point for expats working in Manila. In the past, Pasay River was the city’s commercial artery, and the area close to Manila’s port and immediately adjacent to Intramuros formed the city’s central business district. Although this area is still home to numerous transportation and shipping companies, many Chinese establishments have relocated to Binondo, also known as Chinatown.

Most expats planning on working in Manila will most likely be curious about the location of multinational companies. Both Makati and Ortigas are prime areas for MNCs and for expats to work. The Makati Central Business District (CBD) is particularly known for being the Philippines’ primary commercial and financial center. Immediately adjacent to the Makati CBD is the Rockwell Center, a development boasting both residential and office complexes.

The Ortigas Center, on the other hand, extends from Ortigas Avenue in the north, along EDSA Avenue, down to Shaw Boulevard in the south. Along with SM Megamall, the largest retail development in the country, this area hosts the Asian Development Bank and the San Miguel Breweries. It is also rapidly turning into a major IT hub, and further developments are in the planning. Other notable areas are the Alabang Business District, Fort Bonifacio Global City, and Eastwood City.

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Manila: Your Business Destination

The Job Search

Manila’s Bureau of Local Employment suggests job fairs as a potential way of finding employment. In essence, job fairs are intended to make it easier for both employers and jobseekers to get in touch with each other. At the fairs, you also get to meet representatives of recruitment agencies and organizations that offer training assistance and consulting for the self-employed. Bring along your resume, a transcript of your qualifications, and your birth certificate. You never know if you’ll be applying on the spot!

While it varies which agency arranges the job fairs, they are always supervised by the Department of Labor and Employment. If you’d rather do an online search, you can use PHIL-JobNet, the Bureau of Local Employment’s online matching system.

Register Yourself: Alien Employment Permit

Before you can throw yourself onto Manila’s job market, you need to acquire an Alien Employment Permit (AEP). If you have found a job before moving to the Philippines, you can apply for an AEP at the nearest Philippine embassy or consulate. However, if you are doing the traditional job search after arriving in Manila, you should submit your documents at the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE). If your employer has agreed to apply on your behalf, they should refer to the same department. It depends on the nature and duration of your employment how long your AEP is valid.

Expats who have a residence permit allowing them to live in the Philippines indefinitely need to secure an Alien Employment Registration Certificate (AERC) from the DOLE’s regional office. You can find more information on application requirements at the Bureau of Local Employment. Please keep in mind that an AERC is usually only valid for the specific position with the specific employer mentioned in your application.

Social Security Matters

The Philippines’ social security system covers old age, disability, survivors, sickness, and maternity, as well as work injury. Employees working in the private sector, domestic workers, and the self-employed are usually covered by the social security system. Spouses of insured individuals, Filipinos working abroad, and people who are no longer eligible to receive compulsory benefits may opt for voluntary coverage. Military personnel and government staff are covered under a different system.

Social security contributions are made as follows:

  • Insured individuals contribute 3.33% of their gross monthly income
  • The self-employed contribute 10.4% of their monthly earnings
  • Employers contribute 7.07% of the employee’s monthly income

Unfortunately, public social security coverage is not always sufficient. You should consider contributing to the social security system of your home country or to take out a private plan for more comprehensive coverage.

Familiarize Yourself with Local Business Etiquette

Doing business in the Philippines takes time and patience, as the notion that “time is money” carries little resonance in Manila’s business world. Rather, business relationships are a very personal matter and take time to grow. Thus, expats who plan on working in Manila should arm themselves with patience when developing these relationships. As a part of this business mentality, it is quite common that co-workers and business partners ask rather personal questions about you and your family. This is completely natural, so try not to be put off, and simply enjoy the friendly chit-chat.

For business meetings, you should dress conservatively and remain patient and calm. Raising your voice or interrupting your colleagues is considered terribly rude and very disrespectful. So be warned: Losing your cool will not speed up the process of closing a deal; quite on the contrary, it would likely stifle the progress already made.

Do you want to relocate? If you have never moved abroad, the process will be overwhelming, and if you have, you know the burden that lies ahead. Whatever stage you are at, InterNations GO! can help you with a complete set of relocation services, such as home finding, school search, visa solutions, and even pet relocation. Our expert expat team is ready to get your relocation going, so why not jump-start your move abroad and contact us today? Best to start early!

Updated on: August 17, 2016
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