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Having lived in the Philippines for the past four months or so I have come discover some very interesting things with regards to Employment.  Being just recently in the heart of the Scuba Diving world as a PADI Course Director, everyone at some point or other has said they would love to work in the Philippines at a Dive Center.  I personaly found employment in the Scuba Diving industry in British Columbia, Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia over the past 7 – 9 years.  I have seen first hand the differences in pays for virtually the same jobs.  So for example, a Western Diving Instructor in Cambodia where I worked made $1000.00 USD a month, the boat Captain $150.00 USD and a Dive Guide maybe $90.00 USD. The pay was grossly skued for the Westerners, as many of my friends would be pissed and refused to work if they did not make at least what we did and of course they expected to make more.


Since I am not working here in the Philippines nor am I allowed to since I am on a Toursit visa, I have have been asking questions of different people about pay in their current employment.  Many of the Westerners I know, have said how cheap and inexpensive the Philippines is, and now that I live here full time, I am waiting for that cheap and inexpensive living arrangements to kick in and it’s been four months now and I have yet to see what they are talking about.

My big question is how do the locals do it.  I mean seriously, a local can expect to be paid minimum wages for their work which is about PhP 285, or $8.63 CDN a day.  Now, they work hard, long hours with little time off, but seriously they get paid peanuts.  So you can expect a monthly pay about PhP 7000/$209.58 CDN.

I know there will be someone who is reading this and they will say in the back of their heads, “Should have paid attention in School”  we, I hate to tell you they did!  Most of the jobs I see advertised you must meet the following criteria!

4 Yr University Degree Ages 18 – 24 Single

Now this criteria is required form many if not most of the jobs I have seen advertised.  If you want to work at SM (Super Malls) in the department store, the requirement has need listed as a 4 year University Degree, you must be between the ages 18 – 24 and single otherwise they will not even look at your resume.  Now, I laugh as I see many commercials that are put out from SM, indicating they are giving back to the community in forms of employment opportunities, well if you are between the ages 18 – 24, single and have a 4 year degree.  So if you fit in the criteria you can possibly get the minimum wage job, how you pay back the schooling, or afford to live is still a big question.

I am living here in Bacolod City, and I looked around until I found a reasonable housing cost, I pay PhP 5,500 monthly for rent, plus approximately PhP 1,000 for electricity and Php 204 for water, and an additional Php699 for internet.  My basic living conditions are more then the average University Degree work makes in a month.  My big question is if these hard working people who make it in the criteria to apply for work can barely afford to live based on simple math, how do the food cart peeps or the little mom and papa stores do it selling smokes as singles and chewing gum or candies.  A smoke is 5 pesos and a candy is 1 peso.  I mean seriously.

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Street Food

Cost of Living

Now I know for a westerner rent is pretty darn cheap, but that is where it stops.  I still pay about $80 – $100 a week for food the same as I do back home, and no I did not shop for the more expensive Western products.  The cost of a simple coffee is $3.00 or more, shoes come with North American prices, electronics are even more expensive then back in your country mostly, and if you buy it at home you have a warranty that will stand behind you and clothes in SM have the same prices as North America.

Phone service I am rather surprised is actually behind here in the Philippines then what it was like living in Cambodia, and it’s more expensive compared to Cambodia and the prices are in line with what you would pay in Canada.


Interesting thing I have seen happening here as well is the Employer will not cover the cost of things for the employee.  For example, in order to get their business licence their employees must have a Green Card, this is health card saying they the employee is healthy to work, no infectious disease.   Now one would thing this is a great idea, but having seen someone go through it first hand, it’s a joke.  They employee most go and have a chest x-Ray, and once that is completed they will go to the Healthy Department and present the xRay findings.  Then they need to take an anti-worming pill in front of the Healthy Department Official.  Once that is completed they will get a Green card with their picture on it, deeming they are heathy to work.  The x-Ray costs Php 180, De-worming pill 5 pesos and and the Green Card an additional 40 pesos.  If the company can not produce proof of all their employees are Carded then there is no Business Licence given.  The cost of this is solely the responsibility of the employee, who once again can barely afford to live as it is.

Overseas Filipino Workers

I now can totally understand the OFW’s all around the world for their employment opportunities.  I feel badly for many as they have to leave family and kids in order to find a job that will pay reasonable wages so they can help support their families back home.  I think these amazing people here are some of the hardest working people in the world.  I take my hat off and wish everyone the best in their future endeavours.

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