About the Philippines

The Philippines is easily accessible from the travel capitals of the ASEAN Region. Air travel time to Manila from: Singapore (3 hours), Kuala Lumpur (3 ½ hours), Bangkok (3 hours, 15 minutes), Jakarta (2 ½ hours), Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (2 ½ hours). For more information on tourist sites in the Philippines, log on to and

Geography and Population

The Philippines is an archipelago of 7,107 islands bounded by the South China Sea, the Philippine Sea, and the Celebes Sea. It is comprised of three main islands: Luzon, where the capital, Manila, is located; Mindanao, the largest island in the country; and Visayas, a cluster of small islands in the middle of the archipelago. The country has 79 provinces grouped into 16 regions.

The Philippines’ greatest asset is its people and their unique cultures. There are more than 100 ethno-linguistic groups in the Philippines, each having its own cultural and linguistic traditions drawn from common origins, but shaped distinctively by their own physical environment, historical experiences and exposure to foreign cultures. This diversity in the demographic make-up of the country and the various cultural influences it received from other countries produced a rich cultural landscape that is essentially Asian-Pacific in character but enriched by Hispanic-Latin and Euro-American influences.

Climate and Clothing

The Philippines has two seasons. The wet or rainy season takes place from June to October, and the dry season from November to May. Within the dry season, the cooler period is from November to February and the dry period is from March to May. Average temperatures ranges from 24 C (76 F) to 31 C (87 F) throughout the year.

Light casual clothes are recommended. When visiting churches, mosques and temples, propriety dictates that shorts and scanty clothing be avoided.


Filipino is the national language. English is the business language and is widely spoken.


The Philippines’ currency unit is the peso, divided into 100 centavos. Foreign currency may be exchanged at any hotels, big department stores, banks and authorized money changing shops accredited by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Central Bank of the Philippines). International credit cards such as Visa, Diners Club, Mastercard, and American Express Card are accepted in major establishments.

Customs and Duties

Visitors are to fill in the Baggage Declaration Form before disembarking to facilitate Customs examination. The following are allowed duty free: reasonable quantity of clothing; jewelry and toiletries; 400 sticks of cigarettes or two tins of tobacco; two bottles of wine or spirits of not more than 1 liter each.


Philippine standard time is 8 hours ahead of the Greenwhich Mean Time.

Tipping and Taxes

Tipping is expected for many services. The standard practice is 10% of the total bill. Tipping is optional on bills that already include 10% service charge. A value added tax of 12% is added on product and service bills.


The power supply is reliable and is supplied at 220 volts A.C. 60 cycles. Most hotels provide 110-volt outlets. A plug with 2 flat parallel prongs is the norm.

Business Hours

Private and government offices are open either from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Some private companies hold offices on Saturdays from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon. Most shopping malls, department stores, and supermarkets are open from 10:00 am to 8:00 pm daily. There are 24-hour convenience stores and drugstores.

Banks are open from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm Mondays to Fridays, with automated teller machines (ATMs) operating 24 hours.

Click here for the Types of Visa for Foreign Student in the Philippines

Philippine Education System

The Philippine educational system is largely patterned after the American system. The school year starts in June and ends in March with a two-month summer break from April to May, one week of semestral break (every last week of October), and a week or two of Christmas break. The teaching medium in a vast majority of schools is English.

University / College Education

Tertiary schools in the Philippines are either colleges or universities. Colleges are tertiary institutions that typically offer one or a few specialized courses, for example, in Science or in Liberal Arts. Universities, on the other hand, house several constituent colleges or institutes, each offering academic degree programs of a particular type (i.e., college of commerce, college of law, college of dentistry, college of education, etc.).

All tertiary institutions, also called Higher Education Institutions (HEIs), are licensed, controlled, and supervised by the Commission on Higher Education (CHED). Volunteer accrediting organizations such as the Philippine Accrediting Association of Schools, Colleges and Universities (PAASCU) also exist to upgrade the standards of higher education in the Philippines.

Tertiary schooling in the Philippines is more cosmopolitan, with thousands of international students enrolling here, the vast majority of which come from South Korea, the United States, India, Pakistan, and other Southeast Asian countries as well as European countries like Sweden and Italy.

Short-term courses

Short-term language courses, such as English courses, may also be availed of in the Philippines.

For a list of Higher Education Institutions in the Philippines, visit

For information on schools/universities allowed by the Bureau of Immigration to accept foreign students, kindly check with the school or with the Bureau’s Student Desk through the following contact details:

Bureau of Immigration Bldg
Magallanes Drive
Intramuros, Manila
Tel. No. +632 527-3260 | +632 527-3248

Why Do Business in the Philippines

People Power

The Filipino workforce is one of the most compelling advantages the Philippines has over any other Asian country. With higher education priority, the literacy rate in the country is 94.6% - among the highest. English is taught in all schools, making the Philippines the world’s third largest English-speaking country. Every year, there are some 350,000 graduates enriching the professional pool.

Strategic Business Location

The Philippines is located right in the heart of Asia – today the fastest growing region. It is located within four hours flying time from major capitals of the region. Sited at the crossroads of the eastern and western business, it is a critical entry point to over 500 million people in the ASEAN market and a gateway of international shipping and air lanes suited for European and American businesses.

First-class lifestyle

Discover the best of sun, sea, sand and style in the tropical setting teeming with the best of western amenities. The Philippines is second home to expatriates who enjoy the company of the warmest people in the region, the country’s openness to varied cultures and a decidedly global outlook. Expats enjoy accessible and affordable luxuries – business centers, housing, schools, hospitals, shopping malls, hotels and restaurants, beach resorts, and recreation centers.

Abundant resources

An archipelago like the Philippines offers diverse natural resources, from land to marine to mineral resources. It is also the biggest copper producer in Southeast Asia and among the top ten producer of gold in the world. It is also home to 2,145 fish species, four times more than those found in the Bahamas. The 7,100 islands boast of beautiful beaches and breathtaking sceneries that offer soothing leisure and relaxation spots for vacationers and tourists.

Low cost of doing business

Wages are typically less than a fifth of that in the U.S. Local communication, electricity and housing costs are also 50% lower compared to the U.S. rates. Foreign companies that are now outsourcing programming and business processes to the Philippines estimate 30 to 40% business cost savings, 15 to 30% call center services and application systems and 35 to 50% software development.

Liberalized and Business-Friendly Economy

An open economy allows 100% foreign ownership in almost all sectors and supports a Build-Operate-Transfer (BOT) investment scheme that other Asian countries emulate. Government corporations are being privatized and the banking, insurance, shipping telecommunications and power industries have been deregulated. Incentive packages include the corporate income tax, reduced to a current 32%, with companies in the Special Economic Zones are subject to only 5% overall tax rates. Multinationals looking for regional headquarters are entitled to incentives such as tax exemptions and tax and duty-free importation of specific equipment and materials.

Unlimited business opportunities

As Asian economies integrate within the vast framework of the ASEAN Free Trade Agreement (AFTA), the Philippines is the natural and most strategic location for firms that want access to the large ASEAN market and its vast trade opportunities. The Philippines has enhanced and primed up various areas for investors and offers a dynamic consumer market accustomed to an array of product choices created by a competitive domestic economy.

Developing Infrastructure for Global Growth

A well-developed communication, transportation, business and economic infrastructure links the three major islands and distinguishes the Philippine economy. Highly accessible by air, water and cyberspace, liberalization of inter-island shipping and domestic aviation further sparked improved facilities and services. The container terminals are suited to handle cargo traffic at the highest levels of efficiency. Communication provides redundant international connectivity 24/7 with fiber optic cable as primary backbone network and satellite as backup. Economic reforms emphasize regional growth, converting remote areas into business centers. The landmark BOT legislation allows private investors to build and operate infrastructure, then turn it over to the Philippine government after a set period of time.

All you need and more

The Philippines offer state-of-the-art telecommunications facilities, adequate and uninterrupted power supply. There are ready-to-occupy offices and production facilities, computer security and building monitoring systems, as well as complete office services in specialized IT zones. With the government's focus on building up an IT-enabled economy, the Philippines is on its way to becoming the E-services Hub of Asia.

For more information on doing business in the Philippines, log on to (Board of Investments), (Department of Trade and Industry), and (Philippine Trade and Investment Center, Vietnam)