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Updated 11 months ago

It is important to understand Filipino culture to be able to develop a good social network in Manila. There are various organisations to tap into like German Club Manila, AIESEC, The American Women's Club of the Philippines, and The Philippines-Japan Society which can connect you with fellow expats. Websites like meetup.com and expatriate forums like Expat.com can help as well.

Understanding the local culture

The unique fusion of east and west in the Philippines shows both in appearance and culture. Filipino culture is still conservative due to strong religious influences brought upon by Spanish colonisation. This society also places great importance on close-knit family relations as influenced by the Chinese. Family values are important and family always comes first. This mix of cultures is sure to be foreign to most Westerners, and expats will probably experience a degree of culture shock when first landing in the Philippines. But with a little time and effort, expats will soon see and appreciate the Filipino people’s distinct character and positive outlook on life.

It is crucial to understand one’s culture to be able to develop a social circle in Manila. Most Filipinos are very accommodating and friendly to foreigners, who can therefore easily feel at home in the Philippines. Filipinos are often commended for their hospitable nature and their very welcoming demeanour, particularly with foreign visitors.

Almost everyone in Manila can speak and understand English, which means that everywhere you go, communication won’t be a problem. However, it will be easier to get along with the locals and break the ice if you put some effort into speaking their native tongue, Tagalog. Some simple greetings like “Kumusta ka?” (How are you?), “Magandang umaga” (Good morning) and “Magandang gabi” (Good night) will be helpful. Phrases such as “Salamat” (Thank you), “Walang anuman” (You’re welcome), “Oo” (Yes) and “Hindi” (No) will also come in handy.

It is not uncommon for Filipinos to be the first to strike up a cheerful conversation. But it is natural for expats to seek communities that they can truly identify with and where they can feel part of the family.

Popular networking groups in Manila

German Club Manila

The German Club prides itself on being a home away from home for its multinational members and distinguished guests. They provide comfortable ambience, excellent food and beverages conducive for family gatherings or business communications. They have their own bar, restaurant and library where they accommodate members and hold events, charities and various club gatherings.

AIESEC Philippines

AIESEC is an international organisation providing opportunities for young people to work or volunteer abroad in non-familiar environments. They offer various cross-cultural exchange experiences managed in teams. It is a great way to meet and socialise as they have wide multicultural memberships all across the world.

The American Women’s Club of the Philippines

The American Women’s Club of the Philippines supports a variety of charities throughout the country. They have lent support to charities that offer education and housing sustainability projects and livelihood missions. They have various weekly and monthly activities like a monthly book club, social lunches and holiday parties for your children, weekend social events, game nights and much more.

The Philippines-Japan Society

The Philippines-Japan Society is an organisation that aims to promote Philippines-Japan friendly relations based on principles of equality, mutual respect and better understanding. The organisation hosts the annual Philippines-Japan Society Dinner and Awards Night which aims to honour Filipinos and Japanese who have made outstanding and exemplary contributions to society. They also hold gala dinners, golf tournaments, sponsored scholarships and various exchange programs fostering cultural exchange between the two countries.

Social networking websites

There are also websites like Meetup which host different gatherings you can choose from, like Makati Runners Club, Spanish Language Meetup of the Philippines, Friday Nights Philosophy Club and other such events. You could also socialise with people through expatriate forums where you can connect with fellow expats.

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