Working in the Philippines — From the Same Job You Have Now

Working in the Philippines This is always one of my popular subjects … and I really think there is still a lot to say about Working in the Philippines of value.  I suggest if you are new here, or haven’t yet read this already, you look at this article first… How To Live In The Philippines Without Making A Living From The Philippines.

Working in the Philippines — Why?

Well, that’s pretty simple now, Dave, isn’t it?  because we have this ingrained habit of eating and wearing clothes and having a roof over our head … and most people have to work to make money to pay for their lifestyle.

How to Move to the Philippines Manual

Well, many who are reading this already have a job, or even better their own business, in the USA (or some other developed country) and their only option today seems limited to working that job or running that business until they are old and gray.

Then, if they are lucky enough, their retirement plan, savings, investments and Social Security (if it’s still around), will give them enough money to live in the Philippines.

Not very appealing to someone, say in their 40’s, who would really prefer living in the Philippines now.

What if I told you there is another way?

Working in the Philippines — At a US Job

Did you ever stop to think that you US job might be “portable”?  That you might be able to keep the job you have today, or keep running your business back there in the USA, or Canada, or Australia or wherever, but do it physically from the Philippines?

Now, of course, there are many jobs and businesses where this probably couldn’t be done.  But I do believe, from many conversations I’ve had, and from what I know about how the Internet and other communication tools work, that there are probably a lot more US-based earning situations that could convert to virtually working in the Philippines than many of you out there may have thought through.

And guess what?  You can try out your ideas along those lines pretty easily, with virtually no risk, without taking the big “jump” of moving to the Philippines.

I already referenced a sort of case study I did a few months back there in the recommended reading article above.

But I believe the interest is there and the “market is ripe:” for some more case study/ how it might be done articles, so here is the first of  several.

Working in the Philippines —Keep Your Current Business — Practical Tips

working in the Philippines from your old job

At Home, At Work, Your Desk Can Be Anywhere

What got me moving on this subject again was a post from y blogging colleague in Canada, “An Adobo Lover in Canada“.

He;s a Filipino by birth who successfully migrated to Canada and ‘grew’ an on-going travel agency business.

Now, like many Filipinos, the tug of the homeland is strong, and he’s looking at ways to make a move, if possible, while he’s still young enough to actually enjoy life.

This almost always means earning a living while living in the Philippines.  But, please note, he’s one of the few who have “cracked the code” and realized that earning a living while in the Philippines doesn’t have to mean earning a living from the Philippines.  The distinction is of so important.

It’s not only about the oft-expressed wish of making the move before the normal age for pensions and Social Security rolls around, either.  I thought these words were quite insightful and worthy of consideration for a lot of my baby boomer buds who seem to think that staying alive to age 65 will cure all life’s ills.

First and foremost – we are a long way from being pensioners, so that means – no work, no money. And even if I’m already receiving government pension, I don’t want to depend on that to maintain life in the Philippines.

Why? Because I don’t think a pension alone is a dependable source of stable income. Currency exchange rate fluctuates and if it does, your living expenses will be affected. When caught up in a crazy inflation, bills in a third world country like the Philippines don’t go down. They always go up. …  (full article at Why Do You Want To Go Back And Live In The Philippines Again?

So what’s a potential solution?

… I am also trying to find a way so that we can run our travel agency business in Toronto remotely. I have started to invest in the technology involved for it to happen but – the human factor is still missing and is the most difficult part of the plan. So, for now it is still incomplete with some of parts of it implemented already. …

Yep.  Just as I have written regarding other business models, it may very well be possible to make a travel agency pretty much “border independent”.

A great deal of an agency’s business today is online.  Now I’m not at all sure you could run a travel agency successfully online ony … although I do think there’s a lot of examples that prove me wrong … think Expedia, Travelocity, Price Line, and so many different aniline web sites … the list goes on.

But I’m talking about the potential for a “mom and pop” type “dirt-based” business.  You know, a storefront location with a “welcome, we’re open” sign on the door,  travel posters in the windows and a smiling face sitting behind a counter who greets you and asks “Where would you like to go today”.

Well most small businesses in the US already _have_ that sort of setup.  Can the “smiling face” behind the counter be an employee, or even a partner/family member who is not moving to the Philippines?  I don’t see why not.

What about ‘problem’ customers and itineraries that require the expertise of the business owner?  Can’t do that from the Philippines can you?

Well my answer back is, why can’t you?  What if the counter “trip technician”, faced with a question s/he can’t answer, just presses a “speed dial” key and the owner’s face and voice come up on a customer-facing scree/speakers/microphone.

Very simple (and cheap) web conferencing technology.  The tools are already out there, and free to boot … think Yahoo Messenger, Microsoft  Live, Skype … the list goes on.

Hmm, but wait, you say … sometimes there just has to be piece of paper, maybe with a signature on it.   Umm, how about a simple fax machine, or even better, a printer./scanner.  The paper can go from Canada to the Philippines and back to Canada in seconds and the original never leaves the safety of the office.

But, what if that employee back at the physical office isn’t quite as diligent and honest as you had hoped?   Good question.  That’s why they make online time clock software, surveillance cams, even call center monitor software that records the speed and efficiency of each phone answering event and even the employee’s keyboard typing speed.

Wow, I’m already up to nearly 1200 words and I know many of you prefer “short” to “long” writing, so I’ll stop here … I’ve got maybe 20 or 30 other free, or nearly free, problems/solutions regarding ‘remoting” a business from one country to another floating around in my head right now … I’ll spare you for the moment.

Now riddle me this?  What;s a real reason someone can’t earn from their home country while Working in the Philippines?


  1. says

    My family has been corresponding with another family in the Phillipines for nearly 20 years now. It’s amazing what is now possible….we have yet to even be there, but have been able to communicate like that for awhile. Thanks for the article.

    • says

      Howie (ID 5834) » Hi Howie, thanks for being a reader and for contributing with such an interesting comment.

      Indeed, the world is really changing. The other day I was talking to an older Filipino fellow and he started quizzing me about Farmville and some of the other games on Facebook … many of which I hadn’t heard of. He plays them all on his son’s computer … and also, he talks two or three times a week to his sons and daughters overseas via Skype with a video camera.

      For some reason, the subject of driving a car came up and his response (we live here in the metro Manila area) surprised me … “Oh, I’ve never driven a car, sir. I’m probably much too old to learn that now, at my age ….”

      Computers and the Internet have skipped a whole generation of technology for much of the developing world. It’s pretty amazing to me.

  2. says

    Hi Dave,

    Thank you for reading that post. I just like to tell your readers that it is possible to run a travel agency business in the Philippines while earning in the US, Canada or Europe. I was able to talk to a virtual travel agent there in the Philippines who was working for a travel agency in LA and she’s the one who gave me the idea on how to set it up.

    The real problem is training a Filipino/Filipina agent, because the Global Distribution System (GDS – the hardware and software that connects the travel agency to the airline computers) in the Philippines is different from what we are using in North America.

    That means, we have to train someone in the what we use so they can access the availability of the airline seats from our system. When I was there I interviewed a couple of tourism graduates but was not satisfied with their skills specially with computers because, honestly, it seems they do not have at least a hands-on experience on any GDS platform from school.

    Sad to say, there is no training school for our GDS system there, the closest one being in India meaning we have to send our potential candidate in India to train. So, that’s why I’m having a hard time on that part but I’m sure the person is there – I’m not able to find him/her yet though.

    In addition, I was about to blog about this link but to benefit your readers who were mostly searching for a portable job, read this article about location independent lifestyle, a lifestyle that I’m pursuing feverishly


    • says

      Manuel (ID 5841) » Thanks again Manuel for your valuable contribution. One thing I didn’t go into in the article, but for the beneift of those who worry about the security of working over the Internet. There are relatively cheap ‘black boxes’ that set up VPN’s (Virtual Private Networks) between a computer here and the office network in the USA. These are small, like a home Internet router, and ass the same evel of security to the transaction as the Fed uses in the USA to move our money around from bank to bank …so there is no particular issue with security which can’t be worked out easily.

      No training schools here, eh? Sounds like a business opportunity to me, Manuel. There was a day, not many years ago, when Filipinos used to sit and say, “Oh those lucky Indians, they get all the call center work, we have nothing’. Then, a few forward looking people looked for answers rather than obstacles and today the call centers are booming business.

      I also noted when I’ve done research on my “Earn by teaching English Online” articles that the closest school where one can get an ESL certificate is in Thailand. One of my nephews was even trying to finance a way to scrape up the money to attend one … cost several thousand USD plus travel and room and board. Even though he learned English as his first language (most of my wife’s family did), he was just mystified when I suggested to him that instead of paying some Thai thousands of dollars for a certificate, we start a school here in the Philippines and earn the thousands for ourselves.

      Biggest problem I see with doing business here in the Philippines has nothing to do with technology or even investment … it has to do with finding Filipinos who believe enough in themselves and their country that they don’t run off to other countries for education, technical training, etc.

      • Manuel says

        “Sounds like a business opportunity to me, Manuel.”

        You know, I never thought of that when I wrote my comment. That’s another portable work/business that I can use while living in the Philippines, no? I hope your readers are picking the message you’re sending via your blog. A very simple sentence that’s worth a lot.

        “Biggest problem I see with doing business here in the Philippines has nothing to do with technology or even investment … it has to do with finding Filipinos who believe enough in themselves and their country that they don’t run off to other countries for education, technical training, etc.”

        Right you are on that, Dave. The technology is ripe for the opportunity to earn in the Philippines servicing companies or individuals anywhere in the world. But finding the right forward thinking group is a difficult undertaking. I for one am wishing that we use our current skills, connections and technology so that we don’t have to go abroad to train.

        Training and upgrading one’s technical skill was the same frustration I had when I was still in the Philippines. Most training facilities are either in other parts of Asia, in the US or Germany. That’s why only Filipinos with thousands of dollars to spend or those who were sponsored by their companies were able to avail of it.

        Sad to know it’s still the same after all those years and for a very simple certificate in English at that.

        • says

          Manuel (ID 5848) » A few months back there was a news item on one of the major channels about Philippine government disaster preparedness efforts … how many agencies were ready for, say, another Ondoy in 2011? One of the guests was a senior captain (O-6) in the Philippine Coast Guard(PCG). Subject of his little segment?

          A fleet of a dozen or so inflatable rescue boats the PCG had constructed in their own shops and were distributing to several of their bases for use in future water-related disaster work. I’m talking about those sort of rubber raft thingies with big outboard motors on the back you see rescuers and commandos, frogmen and such using on the news or in war movies. Just a rubber boat with an outboard motor, not “rocket science”. They looked pretty well built and workman-like to me … I mean given the choice between no boat at all and one of these machines I would certainly have chosen one of these efficient-looking, home-grown boats.

          The Captain’s remarks, though, just made me crazy. he was well spoken and intelligent but his every word was an apology of sorts for the fact that his men had built these boats here in the Philippines (saving a lot of money and manpower resources, by the way … and doing something useful with their duty time which is something the military is not always credited with). “If only (that damnable phrase again) we could have bought foreign rescue boats, but we couldn’t so these will have to do”
          Apologizing for doing his job and leading his men to do their job well. Sad.

          I’m not a violent man by nature, but if this guy had been standing physically in front of me I think I would have had to work hard to resit the urge to just slap him.

          How sad is it for a Filipino senior officer, paid (and sworn to) uphold the Republic to apologize on national TV for leading his men to do their job … instead of buying foreign made product at 10 or 20 times the price. Obviously, this fellow was at the least educated at the Philippine Military Academy and likely a number of other schools … and he was a man in his 40’s, he’s certainly seen some of the world and his attitude can’t be ascribed just to ignorance.

          Just pitiful that people in leadership positions in the Philippines think so little of their own country. Filipinos are so dumb they can’t even build a rubber boat? Pulleeese, captain, think about what you are saying about your own country and your own men.

          As ye lead, so shall subordinates follow. We are building generation after generation of Filipinos ashamed of their own capabilities … this country desperately needs another People Power Revolution, and I don’t mean one that has anything to do with removing a politician … one that awakens Filipinos as to who they really are and what “People Power” really is.

  3. Manuel says

    Just to add, while I was in the Philippines, using our computer loaded with all the softwares and our VOIP phone, customers were able to call me and talk to me and I was ablel to book their flights. It’s just that, I don’t want to stay up late (Eastern time is reverse in the Philippines) because of my hypertension, so I’d rather find someone younger to do the work for me.

    The technology is ready for this kind of setup which was almost impossible just a decade ago.

    • says

      Manuel (ID 5842) » Yes, indeed, one thing to think about (which is definitely a plus and a minus issue) is the time difference. It’s a minus for those who like to get to bed early. It’s a big plus factor for anyone who takes in orders for something and then delivers, electronically. Example, I get occasional jobs for making electronic maps for businesses in the states. They call me near the end of their business day (which is the beginning of mine), when they come to work the next day, the product is in their email inbox … I’ve had alot of people praise my ‘overnight performance’, becuase they aren’t used to the time difference, they don’t realize I am doing the work with my morning coffee as I wake up and start ramping up for the day ahead.

  4. KeithF says

    Very nice article, informative and well laid out. Now, if I could just figure out how to manage staying an interstate commercial truck driver while living in the Philippines, I will be all set. Unfortunately, my trucks do not float too well. lol. My plans are already set in motion for my move, however, with a relocation date in about 6 years. Seems alot of preliminary groundwork to take care of first. My asawa wishes to gain her US citizenship this year, petition for her mother to come here a few years, etc., but the wheeels for our ove when I am 50 are in motion anyway.

    • says

      KeithF (ID 5849) » Hi Keith, thanks for reading and for contributing with a valuable comment. Yes indeed, it would be pretty hard to move your work as an OTR driver here to the Philippines … and believe me, you don’t even want to know what truck driving jobs are like here.

      But I have to start somewhere, and there are a lot of jobs that could be portable, especially individually owned small businesses. One of the things my wife and I did which might have been a mistake was to virtually walk away from our own small business in the US .. I was selling GPS tracking systems into the trucking and public service market … near and dear to your heart I am sure *smile*.

      We would have had to make the move and hire an employee with ‘boots on the ground’ to keep the business going, but if I had structured things differently/believe more in myself I think we could be quite successful today, operating at least partially ‘remote control’ from the Philippines. My major supplier at the time and one of my major competitors have done very, very well over the past five years, and my wife and I were poised to do quite well at the time also … since we didn’t try, we’ll never know, will we … lesson to be learned there.

      Just in case your wife needs a confidence boost, going to the US and following the sometimes over-long path to US citizenship is the right thing to do, in my view as well as my now dual-citizen wife’s view.

      My wife and I may never live back in the USA again … but never is indeed a long time, and our flexibility is so much better now than when she was a Filipino only.

      Actually, I think we live more in the Philippines for me than for her, I know if I said “let’s go back tomorrow”, likely the next sound I’d hear would be the suitcases tumbling out of the top closet as she started getting ready to pack 😉

  5. says

    Dave. you are absolutely correct – many office type jobs can now be done remotely. The internet, VPN, and Skype make it possible to work remotely for long periods of time from pretty much anywhere.

    • says

      Mike Stankavich (ID 5853) » Hi Mike, yes indeed. Thanks for reading and for contributing to the community here. I’ve got a bunch more of those sort of success stories. Many people would rather think up reasons as to why they can’t move to the Philippines than why they can, but if they come here they will always get a nudge or a “dig in the ribs” from me to try to move them along into the world of “possibility” thinking.

      One thing, also, that many don’t think about. If a guy is making, say, $100k a year in salary and living in a typical US “spend environment” for that sort of salary, it’s hard to conceive how one could move to the Philippines and find someone willing to pay him $100K. Pretty much like a “win the lottery” dream.

      But if he instead looks at what he really needs to live decently here and what he doesn’t have to spend that he’s currently spending in the US, the odds of a “winning ticket” just got much more favorable.

      Every day of one’s life does not have to be a carbon copy of all the days that went before.

      • says

        You’re so right. The only way that you’ll find a US type salary in the Philippines is to have a specialized skill that just cannot be found here. I was fortunate enough to find that sort of job, but as you say, it’s pretty rare to come up with that sort of opportunity. I was told that they had my position open for 6 months prior to opening it to expat candidates.

        The most common roles I have seen for expats are senior technical such as myself and technical project managers. There are two expat project managers on my team, one from Ireland and one from New Zealand. I’m the only senior technical expat on the team. Most of the other expats that I have met are middle to senior management.

        • says

          Mike Stankavich (ID 5858) » This is true, Mike. I have visited several large call center/BPO operations here in Metro Manila and one thing that strikes me is that relatively few Americans are in top manger spots.

          It’s (relatively) easy to get hired at lower level jobs becuase of your accent, but many of the higher level jobs are well outside the range of a lot of Americans … a sort of a chilling fact many of the “Joe Sixpacks”of the US fail to grasp is

          (and don’t worry, I’m including myself here … I spent 50 years watching the world go by, basking in the assurance that the USA was the premier country of the world and always would be)

          … there are more kids in “gifted and talented” school programs in India than there are total kids in America. About 4% of college students in America are in engineering disciplines, more than 40% of Chinese college students are in engineering disciplines.

          There are just over 300 million people in the USA, there are more than 1.3 billion Chinese (that’s 1,300 million) … long odds for those who aren’t prepared.

          Other readers might be interested in some of Mike’s comments here:

        • Fred says

          When I first came here, I was sitting in a coffee shop talking. A Filipino asked me if I was looking for a job. I just looked at him, and said I will give you 50% off my rate. 6000P an hour, 30 hours a week, anything over 31to 40 hours 9000P an hour. over 40 hours then my regular rate 12000P an hour. 1 year contract, if you do not use me for 30 hours, you still pay for 30 hours.

          By this time he had a stunned look on his face, then I added you cannot afford me!!

          In the US, I turned down a job, with following, $100.00 an hour, every other weekend on call from Friday at 4PM till Monday at 8 AM, at $200.00 an hour. If I was called out on a job, it was 300.00 an hour, portal to portal. I would have 30 minutes to get to the Regional Airport to catch a company jet, (the airport was 10 minutes from where I lived) to where the problem was. Every hour the computer system was down, cost the company 10 million dollars.

          The man was the President an CEO of the company. I played GIN with him during lunch, 3 times a week.

  6. KeithF says

    Yes , I have seen and really paid attention to the truck drivers over there. I pride myself in being able to put an 82′ semi unit just about anywhere, but the drivers there amaze me at where they take much smaller units. I would not even want to try to navigate some of the narrow streets and tight turns I have seen them driving upon. :)

    • says

      KeithF (ID 5854) » Hi Keith. Indeed. The city traffic would make the average good CDL driver in the US cringe. Of course, there are a lot of people in the trucking business in the US who won’t even go to places like New York city. The song “Give me 40 acres” comes to mind 😉 But the main reason I tell people they don’t want to look at trucking here is the pay and benefits issues. Close clearances and overloaded rigs on bald tires are one issue, but empty pockets are a whole ‘nother ball game.

      But you know your original comment about not being able to drive trucks remotely had been sticking in my mind. I think I’ll take on the challenge on that one … watch this space 😉

  7. KeithF says

    You figure out a way for me to do that Philly, and I would be over there before summer. 😛

  8. Fred says

    The biggest problem I see in running an on-line, real time business from here is Globe and PLDT. They are apparently the only 2 companies allowed by the government to be ISP’s.

    I have what is called a 3MB connection, it is as fast as my grandmother with 8 greats in front and who has been dead for over 300 hundred years.. At this moment it is downloading at a BLAZING 22 KB/sec, when I had dial-up my downloads were faster. My local INTERNET TECHIE cannot find his sit-upon with both hands tied behind his back.

    With IPV6 there are 10 to the 28th IP addresses available for every person who was alive at the end of 2010. IPV6 has already been implemented. If you call Globe an ask about it, they play DUMB, They have no idea what I was talking about!!! I kept getting switched from 1 person to another, the responses kept getting worse.

    Do not even try to get a dedicated IP address, which you do not share with every TOM, DICK an HARRY. They claim that if you are attempting to run a business from home, they claim that the primary use is as a residence and is not qualified for a dedicated IP. There is a guy near us, who has been trying for over a year to get a dedicated IP, so he can run his CCTV for protecting his house, when he is not there, and cannot get.


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