Whether you’re looking for a volunteer trip with adventures or relaxation, the Philippines caters to both crowds from ziplining to to sunbathing. Volunteering in the Philippines not only gives you the chance to explore this world of tempting tropics and teeming cities, it also offers the opportunity to expand your world perspective and gain a deeper understanding of poverty. The limited social development along with common economic hardships among the nation's people provides international volunteers with a vast array of opportunities for volunteer work in the Philippines from placements in rural health clinics to orphanages to construction sites.
Where to Volunteer in the Philippines
The Philippines is a string of over 7,000 islands, the exact number varies with the tide, divided into three regions, and filled with over 93 million people. Although the nation is slowly becoming a tourist destination, for the most part, the Philippines remains an untouched paradise — just another good reason to volunteer in the Philippines.
Luzon is the northernmost region, best known as the location of the nation’s capital city Manila. The blend of its colonial architecture and modern skyscrapers makes for a captivating scenery. There are plenty of things to do from exploring the Cultural Center of the Philippines Complex and the Manila Zoo to jeepney rides in the mountains. Manila is also home to the Mall of Asia, where volunteers who like to shop can get lost in the plethora of stores.
The middle region, the Visayas, is home to the nation’s second largest city of Cebu. Being a cultural center hotspot in the Philippines with its imprint of Spanish influence, volunteers can visit temples and shrines to their heart’s delight. This city is also just an island hop away from the infamous wonder of the world, the Chocolate Hills. Located in Bohol, these natural limestone wonders attract tourists at all times of the year.
In Eastern Visayas in the province of Leyte lies Tacloban City. The city’s economy focuses on tourism, education, commerce, and more, and is becoming one of the fastest-growing cities in the Philippines. Visit the Leyte Landing Memorial to go back in time to the Second World War or visit Santo Niño Shrine and Heritage Museum. From caring for children to caring for the environment, this city offers a plethora of programs for interested volunteers.
Popular Projects in the Philippines
You’ll have plenty of options by volunteering in the Philippines; with unequal distribution of wealth and resources to the millions of citizens spread over thousands of islands, there are plenty of people who need help in very diverse ways. The island geography makes it difficult for those in rural areas or those on very remote islands to get the help they need. Volunteers willing to explore uncharted waters and truly dive in with an open mind will have unlimited opportunities to help improve the lives of families and communities.
Teaching English. Many rural areas with impoverished children lack teachers with native English-speaking abilities, so volunteer English teachers are an invaluable resource and will greatly contribute to their education. You’ll be opening doors and creating more career opportunities for children by helping them improve their language abilities.
Community Development. As cities grow in population, so does the need for housing and schools, where you can jump to construct these facilities. If construction isn’t your cup of dalandan (green mandarin) juice, you could also assist with coaching sports to children, empowering women in shelters, assisting medical facilities with health care, and more.
Conservation. Join a conservation expedition, where you could dive into the tropical waters of Southern Leyte, conduct coral research, and help manage marine protected areas. You could also learn about sustainable agriculture and renewable energy to teach to the locals in the area. Your participation in these programs will create ripple effects for years to come.
Costs of Volunteering in the Philippines
Overall, most programs for volunteering in the Philippines end up being quite affordable because of exchange rates and the local cost of living, in comparison to volunteers' home countries. The program fee usually covers housing, food, and emergency support.
The currency in the Philippines is called the Philippine Peso, one US or Canadian dollar is currently equivalent to about 42 Philippine Pesos while one Euro is worth just over 50 Philippine Pesos. Volunteers from developed nations typically find the Philippines to be an extremely cheap place to live; international volunteers can easily afford daily transportation and meals for under $200 US dollars a month.
Getting from place to place in the Philippines is also relatively affordable, as a weekend getaway while volunteering can cost as little as $20. Filipinos really know how to make travel convenient too, as they have developed multiple forms of public transportation which help people easily get anywhere they want to go. Domestic flight carriers also frequently have promotional fares for as low as one Philippine Peso each way, giving volunteers in the Philippines the opportunity to explore and even greater area of the country.
Volunteer Housing in the Philippines
Volunteer programs usually set up homestay placements for volunteers, in which volunteers are provided daily meals and accommodation while staying with a local host family. Living with a host family gives any volunteer priceless exposure to day to day life, and the locals welcome visitors with excitedly open arms. Finding alternative accommodation is usually not too difficult either since Filipino families frequently accept short term boarders in their homes.
Visas for Volunteers in the Philippines
Almost any visitor, including those who are volunteering, can enter the Philippines on a free tourist visa for an initial stay of 30 days. After 30 days, the cost gradually rises every month for a visa extension, but in general, if you visit the nearest immigration office or embassy punctually, then extending is a relatively straightforward process for volunteers in the Philippines. You can learn more about visa requirements in the Philippines via GoAbroad’s Embassy Directory.
Benefits & Challenges
Filipinos are extremely welcoming and particularly enjoy getting to know people from other countries. They are open and curious, so volunteers shouldn’t be surprised if they ask a lot of questions. From eating savory tap-si-log (rice, meat, and eggs) for breakfast to scrumptious leche flan for dessert, volunteers will love the taste of the local Filipino cuisines, as Filipinos love to eat! The Philippines is also very easy to navigate for English speakers, as English has become the second official national language.
International volunteers from countries like the United Kingdom, Canada, or Russia, which experience bitter cold, sunless winters, should be prepared to sweat more than they ever have before when traveling to the Philippines. On almost any day, the humidity is near one hundred percent and hardly a day goes by without blazing sunshine. Volunteers should keep in mind the hot climate when packing, but also mind the modesty that is generally widespread across the Philippines in clothing choices. Filipinos casually wear pants and t-shirts, but volunteers can still feel comfortable in shorts and tank tops as long as they are church-worthy cuts.
With its beautiful scenery and friendly peoples, along with many other natural wonders, like waterfalls, volcanoes, and even extensive caves, you’re sure to never be bored. There are thousands of beautiful islands to visit during your stay — why not make the decision to volunteer in the Philippines and make a positive difference on at least one.