Working in Manila?

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Working 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 Expat Guide on Manila and learn all about the economy, business districts, social security, and more.
The Ortigas Center is home to the SM Megamall and the Asian Development Bank.
  • 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.


We do our best to keep this article up to date. However, we cannot guarantee that the information provided is always current or complete.

Jacques Paillard

"All expatriates in my company joined InterNations because it really helped me get accustomed to my new life in Manila. "

Adriana Rodrigues Zon

"The idea of getting to know other expats in Manila was very appealing to me, and I've greatly expanded my network in the Philippines. "

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