Transitioning to living in the Philippines for the first time can be challenging. Many things that are simple and intuitive to accomplish in your home country work differently here. New staff often benefit from guidance and advice during their first months in the Philippines.
Faith Academy has a Buddy program under our Member Care that pairs current FA staff with new FA staff. This Buddy program is specifically designed to help the new staff transition as seamlessly as possible into life in the Philippines and at Faith Academy. Some mission agencies have on-site member care that also helps missionaries prepare for and navigate their move.
The following should help you get a basic understanding of what missionary life is like at Faith Academy, and guide you in conversations with your Buddy, mission Member Care, and friends in the community.
For more information, see the Prospective/New Staff FAQ. For more details, see Faith Academy’s Mabuhay! (A missionary’s Guide to Life in Manila), which you will receive at New Staff Orientation.
Check with your sending organization to see if they will assist you in finding housing. Most missionaries serving at Faith Academy rent homes or condominium units near the school. The sizes, rental costs, and conditions vary. If possible, find a home in a gated subdivision or condominium, as they are generally safer.
For missionaries who have not lived in the Philippines previously, we recommend that you consider staying in a furlough home for six months to a year. Long-term missionaries go on home assignment every few years, often leaving their fully-furnished rental home available. It’s a blessing for missionaries to have someone live in their home while they are away, and an opportunity for new missionaries to familiarize themselves with their surroundings before selecting and furnishing a home.
When considering a home, make sure to add the following to your list of questions for those assisting you and/or the landlord.
- Does the water come from the city (Manila Water/Nawasa)? This is the cleanest and provides the best water pressure (compared to a deep well or water that is supplied by the village.)
- Does the water stay on all day? Some subdivisions shut off Manila water for part of the day and the water is supplied by a household cistern.
- Are there already cables installed for a phone line or DSL?
- What is the Internet access like in the neighborhood?
- Does the neighborhood flood? (If you want to avoid a “yes or no” answer, you can instead ask “How often does the neighborhood flood?”)
- What are the monthly village fees?
- What kind of security is provided? (Are there any “roving” guards?)
- Have there been any break-ins or other security incidents in the neighborhood of late?
- Are there keys for the upstairs window bars? Do the bars even open in case of fire?
Malls are popular places in the Philippines, both for shopping and for enjoying the free air conditioning. In addition to clothing stores, restaurants, bakeries, movie theaters, bookstores, electronics, and department stores, malls generally include full-size supermarkets, as well as services like locksmiths, watch repair, and money changing. Malls near Faith Academy are mostly comprised of local retailers and restaurants (plus Starbucks and Dairy Queen). Malls a short distance west in wealthier, more international communities include Europe- and U.S.-based retailers and restaurants (and higher prices).
A number of supermarkets and public markets are within short driving distance of Faith Academy. The public market (or wet market) is where most of the country does its grocery shopping. However, if you find the lack of refrigeration and sanitation discomforting, the supermarket may be the logical choice for you. Prices at the public market are generally cheaper than at the supermarket, though not by too much (5-10% on meats). However, you do have the option to haggle on price, which is not done at the supermarket. The public market also offers services, such as money changers, tailors, some clothing retailers, locksmiths, etc. English will not be as comfortably spoken in the public market, and the only acceptable form of payment is cash.
Supermarkets, on the other hand, accept most major credit cards (including international Visa, Mastercard, and American Express cards) as well as electronic debit payments using your ATM card. Supermarkets vary in size and offerings, and you may want to check out a few to find the one that best suits your needs. Most supermarkets include an imported foods section.
Faith Academy is not easily accessible by public transportation, so it is recommended that you budget for a car. This should be discussed with your mission organization. Some staff do choose to take public or arrange for riding with others.
Public Travel Information
When traveling by train (LRT or MRT), Jeepney, taxi, UV Express Service, bus, tricycle (trike), or pedicab, we recommend that you have someone walk you through the process at least once. Jeepneys all have specific routes, so watch for their endpoint destinations indicated on the signs hanging on their front and/or back windows. Jeepneys and trikes cost P8.5 for the first kilometer, then P1 for each kilometer after that. UV Express Service cost P15, but they are usually air-conditioned and provide for a more comfortable ride. Taxis start with P40 on the meter. Drivers are not legally allowed to charge you more than is on the meter when you reach your destination.
For directions via public transportation to anywhere, here are a couple of websites to check:
Buying a Car
From SUVs to minivans to sedans, there are plenty of used (and new) vehicles on the market. If you are like most missionaries whose budget allows only for a second-hand car, here are some things to keep in mind.
Things to Consider
- Check the license plate and confirm that the no-drive day (number coding) is not on a day that conflicts with your schedule.
- Diesel fuel is cheaper than unleaded fuel.
- Some vehicles imported from Korea have been “converted” – having had the steering column moved from the right side to the left side. Be warned that these have had incidents of failure on the steering columns. There are also models manufactured in Korea for export to the Philippines which are safe.
- Vehicles that have been caught in a flood tend to rust and show more problems.
- Check more than the obvious body work. Labor is cheap here and dings and dents can easily be made to disappear. Check for rust in the bodywork, on the car’s floor, on the brake pipes, and under the car too, for corrosion.
- Bring a trustworthy mechanic with you and have them inspect the engine. Check for rust on the suspension and steering mounts.
- Take a look at the engine oil (not dark or thick) and the coolant (clean, not rust-colored).
- When you start the engine, do you notice black or dark smoke? Any rattling or strange noises?
- Take the car for a test drive for a minimum of 20 minutes. If you are near Valley Golf, test it along some of the hills.
Stickers and Gate Passes
Most private subdivisions you visit will require you to leave your driver’s license or other valid I.D. with the guard at the entrance. They will then give you a gate pass to enter the village, which you will exchange for your license on your way out. If you live in a village or frequently drive through a particular subdivision, you can purchase a sticker for your windshield from the village’s business office. Stickers for Valley Golf can be purchased at FA’s Business Office.
Things to Keep in Your Car
- Photocopies of your car’s official registration and receipt for registration. Make sure you do not leave the originals in your glovebox. Keep originals at home.
- A good map of Metro Manila. National Bookstore has a variety of maps you can choose from. METRO-MANILA CITIATLAS by ACCU-MAP is good, but does not cover much of Cainta, Taytay, or Antipolo. PeriPlus Manila Street Atlas does, but it is double the price.
- A printout of the traffic violations and what to do if you are in an accident. (These can be found in the Mabuhay book you receive at Faith’s new staff orientation.)
- Lots of coins – for tipping, pay parking fees, buying a newspaper in traffic. etc.
- Gospel tracts – If you choose to respond to someone begging in traffic, you can hand out a Bible tract along with whatever you give.
- Always have a good spare tire (it is illegal to not have one), and be sure to have the necessary tools to change a tire if the need arises.