Working in Iloilo

Iloilo, Philippines
Updated 2023-07-12 09:41

Located in the Visayas region, Iloilo was given the title 'Queen City of the South' for being the Philippines' second city after Manila. Iloilo consists of a total of 5 districts, 42 municipalities and 1,721 villages with a population of 2,051,899 as of 2020, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority. The city is very welcoming towards expatriates, providing many professional opportunities in different fields. Hence, finding a job there is possible.

The economy and labor market of Iloilo

Agriculture is the region's main economic pillar through the production of rice, sugar, mangoes, fish, etc. In fact, the province ranks first in the country in terms of production. In regards to the Iloilo Fishing Port, it is primarily intended to maximize river and deep-water fishing in the region. The Iloilo International Port Complex is a multi-purpose port terminal for the treatment of local and international goods containers.

The tourism industry is an ever-growing sector in Iloilo. There has also been exponential growth in medical tourism. The industry caters to the health and wellness of tourists. Facilitated by the corporate sector, medical tourism mixes leisure, fun, and relaxation together with healthcare.

Other industries such as pottery, ceramics, weaving, wood works and related commercial activities also make a significant contribution to the city's economy. Finally, Iloilo hosts many commercial real estate, industrial, and investment projects along with real estate agencies and project promoters who work hand in hand. BPO companies have also spread throughout the city, such as Transcom, Startek, Teletech, and Straive (formerly SPi Global.)

Iloilo is home to the following economic zones:


Iloilo Business Park

Information technology:

  • Iloilo Commercial Development Corp. Building

  • Iloilo Technohub

  • Cornerstone Business Center

  • SMCI IT Center

  • GST Iloilo Corporate Center

  • Amigo Mall

With an employment rate of 95% and around 12,250 registered businesses, it's easy for job seekers to find a job in Iloilo. Many international companies also have branches in the region, such as Johnson & Johnson's, Crawford & Company, Marriott Hotel, DynCorp International, Ford, Mazda, and AXA, among others.

Salaries for expats in Iloilo

Iloilo is in the top 14% of the least expensive cities in the world and 47th out of 86 provinces in the Philippines.

The average salary for locals in Iloilo is php244,000/ USD 4,401 per year. For qualified expats who have acquired a job (a specialist job that does not impinge on the local work pool; a job that cannot be sourced locally), salaries can be anything between php100,000/ USD 1,808 and php250,000/ USD 4,520 per month and above if working for a multinational company in Iloilo.

How to find a job in Iloilo

If you don't have a specific company in mind yet, you can use the Philippine government's official job portal, PhilJob Net, but Iloilo also has its own job search function on its government site. There is also, Foundit, Monster and Indeed, where you can filter companies around the Western Visayas region. Linkedin is another invaluable tool to network and increase your chances of finding a job in Iloilo.

Applying for a job in Iloilo

Job-hunting in Iloilo will require the expat to be armed with an updated CV and a cover letter, with applications made through the relevant company HR (unless otherwise stated) or recruitment agency. The CV should include a 2'x2' photo, be written in formal language (rather than any local terms common in your home country.) and include references and projects that have been completed.  Let your CV be relevant to the job you are applying for.

The cover letter should be directed at the company and referring that you are knowledgeable about the company and industry. You are advised to get the CV and cover letter right the first time, as first impressions last!

If called for a job interview in Iloilo, it is recommended that you dress smart, be on time, ask the right questions, and have strong communication skills.

The work culture in Iloilo

The general working business language for multinational companies of Iloilo is English. However the more common day-to-day dialect among the locals is a form of Visayas called Ilonggo, a variety of Hiligaynon.  Ilonggo is spoken by over 7 million people in the province and metro of Iloilo.

The standard Hiligaynon, simply called Ilonggo, is the dialect that is used in the province of Iloilo, mainly in the northern and eastern portions of the province. It has a more traditional and extensive vocabulary, whereas the Urban Hiligaynon dialect spoken in Metro Iloilo has a more simplified or modern vocabulary.

Some useful Ilonggo phrases are:

  • Maayong aga! – Good morning!

  • Maayong hapon! – Good afternoon!

  • Maayong gab-i! – Good evening!

  • Salamat! – Thank you!

  • Damo nga salamat! – Thank you very much!

  • Kamusta ka? – How are you?

  • Asta sa liwat! – Goodbye!

  • Indi ako makahambal sang Ilonggo. – I can't speak Ilonggo.

  • Langtaw sang maayu! – Look out!

  • Kinihanglan ko sang bulig mo. – I need your help.

  • Naduli ako. – I'm lost.

The people of Iloilo are renowned for their smiles and soft-spoken nature. They are known to be some of the most friendly people in the Philippines. The locals are non-confrontational people, meaning that you should always request clarity in tasks and in administering tasks. Do not be shocked to be asked about your marital situation and your likes and dislikes, as the locals can view workmates as an extended family as it is a huge honor to work.

Birthday parties are a huge occasion for Iloilo locals and Filipinos in general, so be prepared for many celebrations in the workplace and a genuine bond among your peers within the workplace!

Working conditions in Iloilo

The next step after landing a job in Iloilo is understanding and arming yourself with the necessary knowledge about the local labor laws to ensure your rights as a foreign worker are upheld. In Iloilo, employees work for approximately eight hours a day, totaling 40 hours a week. In the more rural areas, it is not uncommon for an extended lunch (which is a big meal followed by a Spanish-style siesta).  Employees usually have two rest days, which are commonly Saturdays to Sundays (some local companies work Saturdays also, but government bodies only work 5 days). Officially overtime is paid at 30% above the normal hourly rate.

Five paid days of leave are also included per year once you have completed a full year of service in the company. Iloilo (and the Philippines in general) has a total of eighteen national holidays each year, and any employee who works on a holiday is entitled to receive double the amount of their regular hourly rate.

The professional dress code in Iloilo

Like in other parts of the Philippines, Iloilo's weather can reach uncomfortably hot temperatures, and the work dress code takes this into consideration. For men, it is not uncommon to see executives wearing sleeveless shirts with no ties. Try to avoid jeans (although it has been known for local government officials to wear jeans), and remain on the side of caution with formal trousers. You may also see local men wearing a ‘barong tagalog', a traditional style long-sleeved shirt.

Most women in Iloilo wear light suits and dresses to reflect the conservatism in the country (which permeates into the workplace) - dresses that cover your knees, shoulders and chest.

Visa requirements for working in Iloilo


To work legally in Iloilo, the most common visa is the 9 (G) visa, also known as the Pre-arranged Employment Visa. It allows employers to employ expats with skills, qualifications, and experience that are not available in the country.

Please note that if there is a skilled Filipino who can do the particular job in question, then they will be prioritized for the job. Also, keep in mind that it is strictly forbidden to work in Iloilo with a tourist visa. Refer to our article about Visas for the Philippines for more information.

Work permit

Expats who plan to work in Iloilo are required to obtain a work permit. Visit the Department of Labor and Employment and the Bureau of Immigration websites to find the permit that's pertinent to you.

To apply for an alien work permit, the following documents must be submitted to your local DOLE office:

  • Completed application form

  • Employment contract

  • The employee's passport with a valid visa

  • The employer's Business Permit

Good to know:

If the duration of employment is less than 6 months, a Special Work Permit should be acquired. If the employment is more than 6 months, then an Alien Employment Permit (AEP) should be obtained by the expat.

Useful links:

Government of Iloilo






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