Category Archives: Working

After A Job In The Philippines? Are you 5’4”?

The anti-discrimination regulations in force in most western countries often seem like a politically correct joke in many ways. Especially as we know that even if they don’t specify X in the ad, if you don’t have X then you won’t get the job. Yes, they have just discriminated against you but then we all ‘discriminate’ every time we choose one thing over another, when we buy this brand over that and so on.

Personally I think the rules for advertising jobs are a good indicator of where political correctness can get it wrong, but then I read the job ads in Philippines newspapers. Here are a few taken at random:

Admin Assistant Female, 5?4? in height, excellent in oral and written english, keen to details and able to work independently, knowledgeable in microsoft word, excel and powerpoint.

I thought English, the language, deserved an upper case E? Maybe why they need someone ‘excellent in oral and written english’. But why 5’4”?

Japanese Speaking Guest Service Associate for Front Office Female, 27-35 years of age, 5?4? in height, fluent in japanese and english with strong customer service skills, willing to work in shifts, With at least 2 years experience working for a 5-star hotel is an advantage, college graduate.

At least they are consistent and leave out the J along with the E. What if the best candidate is 26 and 5’3”? No point sending in the resume as they will ask for a birth certificate and do a height check. OK, same employer (a five star hotel in Cebu);

Media Communications Manager Female, college graduate at least 5?4? in height, preferably single, related working experience in marketing, advertising, or journalism is an advantage, has established contact and linkages with counterparts in the city, excellent in oral and written english, customer service oriented.

And this one:

Banguet Sales Executive Female, college graduate, at least 5?4? in height, preferably single, preferably with 2 years relevant experience with a reputable hotel, excellent leadership, selling and communication skills.

Four out of eight job vacancies require females 5’4” in height. Why? Low doorways to the Ladies toilets? Only one uniform size? Of the other four job openings, one didn’t specify gender, two allowed the candidate to be either male or female and the last one wanted a female for the role, height unspecified but she had to be between 21 – 30 years old.

Trawl through any job listings for Filipino positions and you will be told how old they have to be, what gender, marital status, age and even that their personality must be ‘pleasing’. In some cases they even stipulate ‘attractive’. That means light skinned by the way.

That is the way it is here and just one more thing you will have to accept if you plan to live here. It is their Rome, they are doing it the ‘Roman’ way and you know what they say about ‘When in Rome…’


Before anyone accuses me of being a hypocrite, I freely admit I have been to Angeles in the past and I enjoyed the place for what it was then and is now.  I believe we must always have places like Angeles, they serve a purpose that human nature creates and I won’t be so naïve as to deny it.

But times and people change and I find myself quite disillusioned with the whole sordid sewer of a place that is really just a very small section of an otherwise vibrant and wonderful Filipino city.  So with that understanding between us (writer and reader), let us progress.  Angeles City sprung up to serve the needs of the US military.  Back in 1902 when the US Cavalry set up a remount station and cavalry camp there the local barangay was some distance from the camp gates.  Gradually the place grew as those bars and brothels that sprung up outside the camp gates met with the spreading tentacles of Angeles City proper.

The hey day of Angeles would have had to have been in the 1960’s and into the 1970’s during the Vietnam War.  The expats who have retired here who spent time in the USAF stationed at Clark still hold the attitude that they own the town and the people.  Or at least many I have met do.  I can understand that sentiment as the USAF poured up to a million dollars a week into the town, more sometimes.

The airmen had the money and lust, the local girls had the looks and the need.  Perfect symbiotic relationship in anyone’s book.  Clark had the highest divorce rate of any military base according to one source.  He explained it was no wonder when Mrs Obese Ohio ’74 spent her days hiding in the house because the locals stared at her and hubby was off in the bars chasing sweet young Filipina’s all night long.

I spoke to one man who was one of the team that investigated the backgrounds of women engaged to servicemen.  He said it was more of a surprise when they found out she wasn’t out of a bar or had been selling her services one way or another for some time.  Most of the Filipinas were working girls, how else would they meet their future husbands?  He said he would love to follow up on some of the cases he had back then and see how many were still together, how many were divorced and so on.  He felt that there would be a higher percentage of couples still married than the national average.  He also felt if the marriage broke down after more than five years you really couldn’t pin it on the girls’ previous employment.

June 15 1991 was the day Mount Pinatubo speeded up the inevitable.  With the nationalistic bent of many in the country; many who gained nothing from the US bases as they were but might if they were open to local development, it was a fairly foregone conclusion the Yanks would have to go home.  I have asked dozens of Filipino’s and I have yet to find one who has benefited from the USAF not being at Clark.  I have yet to find a single Filipino who doesn’t want them back!  Obviously I am asking the wrong people.  I need to get out and ask the rich minority who own businesses in the Clark Special Economic Zone that replaced the base.

Unlike Subic Bay, where far sighted Richard Gordon organised the local middle class to protect the greatest asset their town (Olongapo) possessed, when the USAF left Clark it was in a bit of a hurry.  People were assured their homes would be protected and their belongings safely packed and sent on to them but many I have spoken to claim locals simply walked on base and looted every home they could enter.  They never saw their personal effects again.

It is close to 20 years since all of that happened yet I can remember it as if it were just last week. One thing is certain, Angeles City is more than just Fields Avenue in Balibago. It is a thriving city with hospitals, universities and a heck of a lot going for it beyond the red light strip bordering Clark Special Economic Zone. Get away from the entertainment area and explore the city and surrounding province and you will find a lot more to do than just hang out in bars and drink beer.


Eighty Percent Of Filipinos Are Supported By Twenty Percent Of The Population. Part 1.

Overseas Filipino Workers are numbered at about eight million or so. The actual workforce of the country, not counting these “lucky ones” is about the same, according to an article I read in “The Expat” newspaper a few weeks ago. This suggests that out of a nation of 86 million or so, once you take away the over 65 retirees and the under 18 school age citizens, that means only 16 million or so are actually employed. Close to 70 million Filipino’s are out of work or not eligible for work or past their working prime! 70 from 86 as a percentage is 81%.

Eighty One percent of the country are living off the efforts of the other 19% and half of these are not even working within our borders! I just finished reading the Sunday issue of The Manila Bulletin and worked my way through the job ads. Page after page of jobs listed for the Middle East, KSA, UAE, Qatar even Azerbaijan and the Sudan. What is it with these Arabs, can’t they wait on their own tables or train their own people to staff their hospitals? Surely not all of them are busy barrelling up the oil their kitty litter countries float on? In fact I would say none of them actually work as the list of jobs encompasses just about everything you can imagine a society needing to be performed.

Add to this the numerous ads for caregivers for the USA and Canada, nurses for the UK and domestic helpers for Hong Kong, entertainers for Taiwan and teachers for China and you can see why so much of the workforce is heading to NAIA! Those who are left compete tooth and nail for the still numerous jobs available, at least that is how it seems on the surface.

There are several major full page ads asking for call center operators. I even saw one ad offering training in improving your “American Accent”, which apparently would guarantee a better salary and successful placement. Since the course was offered by “” I have my doubts as to its’ validity! It is an indicator of the lengths people will go to to get decent work here, though.

You can’t blame them when the top few get to go overseas and study and then the next tier grab the best local jobs thanks to their education and what remains is fought over by the third tier. Below them are the poor “masa” who are lucky if they can swing a job instead of having to go on “standby” or work a sidewalk stall until moved on by the MMDA. Half of the problem, I believe is easily blamed on the attitudes of the employers.

Every ad for a position includes the criteria of age. Few jobs state they will accept anyone over 30. I rang a few of them up and asked why the candidate had to be under 35 or 30 or whatever age was stipulated. The average, mindless, mean nothing answer was “company policy”! I asked what happened if someone got the job and then a month later had a birthday and thus was no longer within the age range specified, would they be fired? I pressed my luck with a couple and asked them to define “pleasing personality”. I also asked if the lucky job seeker would be penalised if they had the odd day where their personality was perhaps less than pleasing?

Despite what I, a foreigner, might think of the hiring practices in this country, the reality is this is how it is! They can define everything they want in an employee, from looks to height to even waist measurements! Personality, sex, marital status, everything can be included in the criteria! It isn’t fair but then at least it is “honest”. Back home we aren’t allowed to list such discriminatory criteria but of course we apply it. Look how difficult it is for a 52 year old executive to find work after retrenchment. He will go for job after job and fail, but he knows it is because he is “over qualified”. That means the company can hire a kid half his age for half the money and there is nothing he can do about it, they just can’t say as much in the job ad!

Working here is a lot tougher than back in Australia. Employers really do expect a lot more loyalty from their staff and this has to be demonstrated in various ways all the time. Staff call the boss Sir or Ma’am, or Sir Perry, Miss Milet etc, nobody is on first name terms. Staff expect to work overtime and not be paid, it demonstrates their willingness to work and do as they are told. Nobody likes it. Filipino’s get as upset as anyone at being exploited, they just hide it better than we might. A tight employment market and a hungry family will do that to you! The employee is supporting four others at least, remember? (see figures above)


Eighty Percent Of Filipinos Are Supported By Twenty Percent Of The Population. Part 2.

The employment practices in the Philippines promotes the very annoying “Out of Stock” syndrome that drives most of us foreigners at least slightly mad from time to time. It is not the staff members’ job to re-order, but they can’t remind the manager whose job it is that stock needs re-ordering as that would make them appear to think they are smarter than the manager.

The manager should know when things need to be re-ordered and bringing to their attention their failure to have done so invites wrath and revenge, usually in the form of dismissal. Filipinos can be very (to us foreigners) childlike in their behaviour when slighted and many wouldn’t hesitate to be spiteful and wield their power to fire for such an infringement as telling the manager basically that they aren’t doing their job! I know, to us it would make sense to advise the manager as the manager is human and can’t be expected to know everything, but it doesn’t work like that here!

Once a woman is 25 or 26 it is presumed she will be married and if she is married then of course she will want only to breed, so why advertise for anyone older? Certain professional women may be available for hire into their 30’s, but it is presumed they have a YaYa looking after their children and thus are free to focus on the job. Or the job will clearly state the incumbent must be single! What happens after 35? In three years of monitoring the job ads I have only twice seen ads for someone aged 40, one was a senior accountant and the other a senior chef. Both were for men, of course!

Perhaps one possible explanation for this age-ist mentality is that many Asian families expect that once the children graduate college they will support their parents. If you have four or five kids all handing over most of their pay cheque each month, you can live very well without looking for another job. You make sure you keep control of this income source so that as they marry, they bring the new spouse into the family home or compound and then you exert your influence over the new spouse and strengthen your position using the grandchildren. The alternative to that is that the employee stays with the same company up until retirement age, but often this is only possible for those lucky enough to be in professional positions. They probably enjoy some security from inherited wealth also so they are again more advantaged than the average Filipino.

Regardless of whether they are employed at home or abroad, the Filipino with a job is a happy soul! Even happier it often seems is the Filipino without a job! Somehow they always seem to get by, one day at a time and they have a smile on their face and a ready laugh. Perhaps we can take a leaf from their book and choose to be happy, no matter what life might throw our way. After all, those of us too young to have a pension or retirement income can always fly back to the States or UK or Aussie and get a job. For the Filipino that is often not an option. Even those who do win a coveted place as an OFW know that their income producing years are limited, and the clock is always ticking!

New Release from Streetwise Philippines

With over 20 years hands-on experience in the Philippines, Perry Gamsby is considered an authority on the facts of expatriate life in this fascinating archipelago.  As well as having a Filipina wife, four children and the requisite extended Filipino family, Perry is a teacher of Filipino Martial Arts and a former travel editor of the country’s leading map and travel atlas publisher. Five years ago he created Streetwise Philippines Inc. publishing eBook guides to the Philippines for expat readers.

His first book and to date, still the best seller, is “Philippine Dreams” (also sold in some markets as “StreetWise Philippines”). This comprehensive examination of the phenomenon of Filipinas, the Philippines and his own decision to move to the Philippines and pursue his dream of living in a tropical paradise strikes a chord with all who read it.  Written in an entertaining yet informative style, the eBook explores life and living in the Philippines in a special way: “This is what happens, this is why it happens, this is what you as an expat can do to understand what happens.” You can read more about Philippines Dreams at

“Philippine Dreams” created a demand for more information, especially about the four most important topics of the matrix:  meeting a Filipina, marrying and migrating a Filipina, putting a roof over your head if you decided to live in the Philippines and finding ways to pay for all of this!  The results were “Filipina 101-How To Meet The Filipina of Your Dreams” (co-written with his Filipina wife, Amelita) and “Filipina 202 – How To Marry And Migrate Your Dream Filipina”. These valuable guides dismiss the misinformation and stereotyping of the Filipina on the many online dating/matchmaking sites and provide a balanced and informative guide to men looking for Filipina wives.   You can read more about these guides at and

Perry has completed ‘Filipina 303 – Making The Magic Last’ although at this stage it has not been decided if the eBook will be released separately or as part of a three volume compilation of the ‘Filipina’ series.

Perry then released “The Philippines Property Primer – The StreetWise Guide to Buying, Renting or Leasing Property”.  This is a ‘first read’ real estate guide for anyone contemplating buying, renting or leasing property in the Philippines.  Over the years, as well as buying, leasing and renting several properties himself in the Philippines, Perry has observed many people lose large amounts of money in property here; most of the time because they are not dealing with legitimate sellers or they have not protected their investment by taking the simple precautions listed in the eBook.  The Philippines Property Primer has all of the basic information you need to assist you in making a more informed decision.  You can read more about The Philippines Property Primer at


Although the topic of how to make a living in the Philippines was covered in brief in “Philippine Dreams”, the response from readers was so insistent that a new, updated and more in depth guide on how to support yourself and your family in the Philippines has been released.  “MAKING A LIVING IN THE PHILIPPINES – The StreetWise Guide To Business, Employment and Investing”, will tell you what you need to know to operate a small business, get a job or invest in a tightly regulated, highly competitive and immensely volatile marketplace.  It has been written with the average guy in mind; the everyday guy without the big retirement income set-up or pre-arranged ‘fatcat’ expat job contract who wants to escape to the Philippines and live every day with the Filipina of his dreams but still needs to make a living!

You can read more about “Making A Living In The Philippines” at or check out all the Streetwise Philippines publications at The eBook, contains a wealth of information otherwise impossible to glean without having been there, done that.  In the safety of your own home you can learn first hand what is required to survive in a third world economy and be better equipped to decide if you should risk selling up and making that life changing move!

This E-Book will explain to you everything you need to know to start up a small business, get a job or invest in the Philippines!

The very latest publication is ‘Philippines Survival Handbook’ which takes a very holistic and comprehensive view of the things that can give you grief in the Philippines. From bent coppers to under-age girl scams, snakes and sea creatures to dangerous bus rides!