Volunteer in Philippines
There is a lot more to the Philippines than just beaches and hopefully our featured volunteer programs will inspire you to apply. You can join short and long term programs in places Cebu, Manila and also rural locations helping people, wildlife and the environment.
Volunteer Programs in Philippines
Search structured, low cost and free volunteer programs available to book all year round.
Guide to Volunteering in the Philippines
Participating will open your eyes to a different side to the country where you will get to interact and help local people unlike your normal beach break. This country has a vibrant culture and you will get to sample the local food whilst also visiting places most tourists don't get to see - this will be an authentic experience far away from the beach resorts.
The Philippines is a very cheap destination to live and volunteer, the prices for getting around, eating and sleeping is very cheap compared to other destinations in South-East Asia like going to volunteer in Thailand. One of the biggest costs you will find is actually flying into the country due to the isolated positioning. Most local people speak English and so communicating shouldn't be a problem during your time here. There will also be lots of time to see more of this spectacular country in your free time. If you are looking for a rewarding holiday or gap year you might want to apply to join communitiy or environmental based initiatives.
Location of Projects
There are lots of community based projects in Cebu but most medical and educational programs can be joined on the island of Leyte in the capital Tacloban City. You can also join placements in the capital - Manilla. Most people who visit the Philippines fly direct to Manila and if you think Cebu and other parts of the country are busy, times that by 100 and Manila is what you get. You can also find volunteer work in places like Bohol, Boracay and Palawan.
Types of Opportunities
When you think of the Philippines you probably think about a tropical paradise and a popular tourist destination, but the reality is quite different for people living away from the tourist resorts. There have been several economic, social and natural disasters which have badly affected the country in the past decade. This country has a population of around 95,000,000 people but shockingly around 30% of these live below the poverty line. There are lots of NGO's, non profit and also international charities which operate on the ground in the Philippines which help people on the ground through funding and action. They aim to alleviate poverty and provide a better future for people with better education and living conditions. You could also work to help womens rights by providing help and training.
With more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines is a sprawling country with a rich history of biodiversity. However that biodiversity is slowly eroding due to, unfortunately, us. The Philippine coral reefs have been especially damaged, due to the increase in our population’s need for coastal development. Another big issue has been deforestation, where decades of this practice has left only 3% of the original forest cover left.
Projects that need of volunteers include raisiing awareness of human environmental impact, protecting endangered coral cays and of course, in light of recent storms, humanitarian aid is greatly needed as well. There are also eco conservation projects where you can help the environmental where you can educational local communities and also help prevent deforestation which is a major problem in places like Romblon province. Tourism is also increasing every year which has a negative effect on nature and the environment, some organisations are running sustainable tourism and eco living projects to help long term.
Medical Volunter Programs
There are medical outreach clinics set up to provide healthcare to rural and disadvantaged communities - sometimes this is the only source of medical attention some people get. If you have any medical/healthcare experience your skills will be put to good use as there is often a lack of staff/resources. Tasks can include running medical check ups and helping provide advice and recommendations to local people on how to stay healthy. These programs are perfect if you are a medical student seeking experience in a developing nation but even if you don't have any formal training or experience you can still join but you will be placed on a general assistance role.
Typhoon Haiyan Relief
We are getting a lot of enquiries regarding volunteering to help in the Philippines since typhoon Haiyan. You can either donate to an internationally recognised organisation like the Disasters Emergency Committee who are providing much needed help on the ground with experienced staff or apply to join a group building, construction and relief program. A lot of the organisations we work put a lot of their programs on hold since the disaster but are now focusing on recruiting new people.
We work with some international volunteer sending agencies like Projects-Abroad who are currently offering placements including improving educational institutions and community building / renovation, you can view this placement and apply above. Please do not just book a flight to the Philippines and expect to be able to travel to affected areas and be able to make a difference, this might do more harm than good. The area of the country hit by typhoon Haiyan is really devestated and it is best to leave the main relief efforts to well established organisations and experienced skilled staff.
Childcare & Teaching Volunteer Programs
Teachers are needed to participate on programs in the Philippines, there are a lack of educational resources and also teachers and there are lots of openings all year round to work in the country. You could help lead lessons in English, maths, science or computing helping local teachers. These positions are closed during the summer months due to the school holidays. To get a paid volunteer position you will need to take a TEFL qualification. There are also community placements at youth centers, coaching sports like football and basketball and also orphanage roles which care for the most disadvantaged children in the country.
What to Expect
From touch down in the Philippines you are greeted with the sound of hundreds of people, busy hustling and bustling as they rush to meet their loved ones and no matter what time of day be prepared for the humidity to hit you, almost as a little reminder that you are now in a truly tropical location. Like a lot of big Asian countries, the Philippines is very busy, jeepneys beeping their horns, tri-cades, motorcycles, taxis and people literally on every street corner, but don’t let this put you off, instead embrace it and get ready for the most unique and rewarding experiences of your life.
You will usually be working alongside locally employed staff (the fee you pay to join helps provide jobs in country for Philippino people) and work alongside other international participants from all over the world. It is hard to say how many people will be on each project as this depends on the time of year and also the placement. Usually you will work around 5 days per week for 6 hours per day - this can vary though and the routine can change daily. Please note some facilities and amenities might not be to the high standard you are used to but don't let this put you off - shared accommodation is usually provided but for an extra fee you can go private. Placements are usually challenging and rewarding when you will get to see the difference you can make.
Some local organisations only let people who are aged 18 and over volunteer but each placement is different so please research each opportunity. You will need to be eligible for a tourist visa to apply, no knowledge of the language is required as most people speak English in the Philippines. A positive and flexible attitude is also required.
Visa, Health & Safety
You will need a valid passport to enter the country and if you are joining a project for 3 weeks or less you will not need to apply for a visa in advance, you can just arrive and be granted one on arrival. If you plan to stay longer you will need to obtain an extension which is fairly easy to do. The Philippines is generally a very safe destination where locals are likely to greet you with smiles rather than any danger but it's best to always keep your wits about you though and at night always try to either travel with others or let people know where you are going. Problems like scams and pick-pocketing are more likely to occur in the larger cities rather than rural/touristy areas. You might want to check what vaccinations are needed prior to arrival, we recommend Yellow Fever which is required and also possibly rabies.
How to Apply
Most programs in the Philippines come part of a structured program where you will need to pay an application fee to join. The price can depend on the project, organisation and location. Generally the fee includes placements, pre-departure support, 24-hour emergency phone support, airport pick-up, arrival orientation, accommodation, meals, training by experienced staff, project equipment and materials and First Aid & CPR training. Project fee usually excludes flights, medical and travel insurance and excursions.
You can apply today through our website, most projects can be joined for a week to over a year depending on your availability and can be joined Monday of every week. There is no best time to apply but you might want to check season / weather reports before handing in your application. Alternatively you might want to view our Asia volunteer opportunities.
Philippines Volunteer Reviews
If you have ever been to volunteer in the Philippines and would like to share your experiences, write a review or give advice please contact us.
"I joined an NGO project in Tacloban with Volunteer for the Visayans which was genuinely the best volunteer experience I've had. VFV really make a difference to local communities and I really feel like I was able to make an impact." - Vicky, UK