Manila

Housing

The majority of SPEX expatriates live in Ayala Alabang Village (AAV), 10 minutes drive from the SPEX office and around 20 km from the central business district of Makati which can take 1 hour plus traveling time depending on traffic. AAV is one of numerous residential sub-divisions in Metro Manila. The village association takes care of garbage collection, upkeep of parks, and maintenance of roads, security and additional water supply.

Ayala Alabang Village

AAV is a gated village of around 4000 detached houses. It has its own swimming pool, tennis courts, other sports facilities, children's playgrounds and a general grocery shop. There is also a large Catholic Church and a community centre. The air in AAV is considerably less polluted than in the centre of Manila. The area surrounding AAV is referred to as Alabang, within the ‘City’ of Muntinlupa.

Facilities within the village

  • AAV Tennis Courts 
  • AAV Swimming Pool
  • AAV St James Church
  • Clinic
  • Fire Service
  • Supermarket
  • Many children’s play areas 

Temporary Accommodation

SPEX supports a maximum of one month accommodation at a Serviced Apartment near the SPEX office – “Vivere Suites”, while house hunting. 

 

House Hunting

In general, houses are very spacious and most have swimming pools and are unfurnished/partly furnished.   A typical house has three/four bedrooms, all en-suite, together with kitchen, utility room, receptions rooms and living quarters for maids and driver.   In addition many houses have covered lanais, which are perfect for BBQs and outdoor eating and entertaining.   Air conditioning is essential to survive the summer heat but does not automatically come with every house; it may however be something that can be negotiated into the price.

Generally speaking houses are usually rented out unfurnished. Unfurnished houses have no furnishings or appliances. However, some landlords may be willing to negotiate items on like blinds and/or basic appliances and air conditioning units.

HR Service Desk will advise you of your monthly rental budget on arrival.  Rental budgets are established by HRRX with the assistance of an external provider.   You will also be given the SPEX local agent’s name, to contact for list of houses to view.

When you are house hunting, make notes about each house before you view the next one. Also note down the address, as you will want to revisit the house once you have your own shortlist of suitable or possible homes. If the market is soft you may be able to negotiate for extras like blinds, air-conditioning etc to be included in the lease. However, if the house is particularly sought after then you need to make a decision quickly.

When an expatriate has chosen a house, he should inform the SPEX HR Focal Point. The HR Focal Point will coordinate with the broker and complete necessary documents to finalise the housing contract. The broker will submit to the house owner, for his agreement, a Letter of Intent to Lease stating all requirements of SPEX as well as a draft standard contract of lease for review. The letter will include among others, rental rate and security deposit. Once finalised, the contract is signed by SPEX representative (Human Resources Manager) as Lessee (Tenant) and the house owner, the Lessor (Landlord).

It is advisable to talk to expatriates already living in Alabang for insights on housing. 

When selecting a house, take into consideration the following:

  • Your personal needs and preference in terms of size and type of housing
  • Location disadvantages - near a school, village association office, backing on to large open drains, construction (current and anticipated) in the vicinity - especially in neighbouring lots
  • Pollution - if the house is near a main road or busy intersection there will be increased noise and traffic pollution.
  • How many and what types of household staff do you plan to hire - the bigger the house the more household help needed to maintain it. Bear in mind that the weather for at least six months of the year is hot and humid, so if windows are left open floors need to be washed daily. Carpeting (if at all) is usually confined to the bedrooms.
  • Importance of family privacy to you - if this is important to you look at the configuration of the rooms of the house. Will you be able to cut off part of the house from the staff i.e. having an upstairs means that you can retreat upstairs.
  • If you plan to do your own cooking make sure that your kitchen can be air-conditioned or properly ventilated. It is not common to have an eat-in kitchen.

Check that there is a water heater and availability of a water storage tank.

School

School Buses take the children to their respective schools each day and there are various pick-up points around the Ayala Alabang village.

Pre-Schools & Classes for Toddlers

The list below are most of the popular preschools in Alabang that have been used by expatriate families 

  • The Palms Preschool and Tutorial Centre:– 2-5years
  • Toddlers Unlimited, Festival mall:– 1-5 years
  • The  Little Apprentice, Aspen Towers:– 2–5 years
  • Gymboree, Westgate Centre:– 2.5–5 years
  • The Little Gym, Commerce Ave:– 2–5years
  • The Learning Child, AAV:– 2yrs and up
  • The Montessori School, AAV:– 2yrs and up

Kindergarten to High School

There are four international schools for expatriate children. These are:

  • The British School Manila (BSM)
  • The International School Manila (ISM)
  • Brent International School (Brent)
  • Eurocampus (French and German School

These are all private schools. Each of these schools has a quota of Filipino students.   Please note, it is your own responsibility to enroll your children prior to arrival in Manila.

The Japanese School of Manila only admits Japanese nationals

Both Brent International School and the International School of Manila have an English as a Second Language Program for non-speakers of English. If your children have learning disabilities it would be best to check with the school as to the precise nature of learning support they can offer.

The British School Manila  

Address: 36th Street University Park, Fort Bonifacio Global City, Taguig Metro Manila.
Tel (632) 840 1570   Fax No : (632) 840 1520 
Website www.britishschoolmanila.org
Head Teacher email head@britishschoolmanila.org
Admissions Office email admissions@britishschoolmanila.org  

  • offers the National Curriculum & International Baccalaureate (IB)
  • small school of 500 plus students
  • follows the British public school calendar
  • UK hired expatriate staff
  • small class size
  • education from Reception to Pre-University level
  • journey to school approximately 45 mins – 1 hour depending on traffic.

There is a bus service to the school from Alabang village.  You pay extra for this service and you agree the contract yourself with the bus company. For more information on this service contact AB & W Bus Service, Walter Encomienda Tel 681 11 25, or email abw@britishschoolmanila.org

The International School Manila

Address: University Parkway, Fort Bonifacio, 1634 Taguig, Metro Manila, Philippines.
Admissions Office: Tel: (632) 840.8488   Fax: (632) 840.8489    
E-mail: admission@ismanila.org
Website: http://www.ismanila.org/

Email: Admissions inquiries: admission@ismanila.org

  • curriculum is American based and courses are primarily college preparatory
  • offers the International Baccalaureate and Advanced Placement courses
  • English as a second language program
  • Optimal Learning Centre provides support for students with special learning needs and academic talent
  • Student enrolment K-12 approximately 1800
  • School Year - mid-August to early June
  • Faculty form 17 different countries with the majority coming from the Philippines, US and Canada
  • Children of 52 different nationalities
  • Journey to school approximately 60 minutes from Ayala Alabang - buses provide

Brent International School Manila

Brentville Subdivision, Barangay Mamplasan, Binan, Laguna, 4024 Philippines

Grade : K to 12
Tel: +63(49) 511 4330-39
Trunk line : +63 (02) 600 10 300-09 Fax : +63(49) 511 43 43
Cell phone : 0918  940 7778Web site: http//www.brentmanila.edu.ph

To schedule an appointment, call admission office, Mon – Fri 7.30am – 4.30pm

Admissions: hatkins@brent.edu.ph

Headmaster: drobbins@brentmanila.edu.ph    or bism@brentmanila.edu.ph              

  • associated with the Episcopal Church in the Philippines
  • American based curriculum
  • all Grade 11 and 12 students are required to take International Baccalaureate college preparatory classes
  • to complete High School students are required to take Religious Studies, Computer, Art, Music and Health
  • student enrollment is approximately 800
  • nearest international school to Ayala Alabang (journey approximately 20 mins) - buses provided
  • students from 42 countries
  • School Year early August to end of May
  • English as a second language program

Eurocampus

Address:75 Swaziland Street Better Living Subdivision, 1711 Paranaque City
French School: Tel: (632) 776 1000 Fax : 0063-2-824-6927

German School: (632) 776 1000 Fax : 00632-8241517
Website for both schools: www.eurocampus.org.ph
Email: French School efm@eis-manila.org
German School: secretariat@gesm.org

Under the collective name of Eurocampus, the school has two separate teaching streams.. The French provides education from Kindergarten to Grade 12 and the German School is from Kindergarten to Grade 10.

  • term dates of the French School beginning Sept to end June
  • term dates of the German School 3rd week of August to end June
  • student enrollment - German School approximately 150
  • student enrollment- French School approximately 180
  • school bus at designated pick-up points
  • bus journey approximately 45 minutes from Ayala Alabang

Medical

There is no shortage of healthcare in Manila.  All the practitioners speak English so communication is not a problem. Many physicians have been trained in the United States. 

SPEX employs the services of a general practitioner for the primary healthcare needs of employees and their dependents.  They are located at 19th Floor, Asian Star Building, Filinvest Corporate City, Muntinlupa. (attn : Dr Cherry Bawalan)

For specialized care, Alabang is serviced by Asian Hospital & Medical Center, a luxury hospital and medical centre, opened in 2002. Most of the best doctors in the Philippines hold clinics there and it houses the best available medical equipment. It also has a maternity unit. 

It is important to talk to friends about doctors and hospital recommendations.  As a visit to a consultant costs between 400 and 600 Pesos (less than 10 USD) it is possible to visit a few doctors until you are satisfied that you have the right one for you without breaking the bank. 

Know how to get to your chosen hospital in an emergency.  You cannot always count on ambulances, traffic is very heavy at certain times of the day.

Lists of Hospitals and Clinics

AAV-Lifeline Arrows Clinic – Located inside the village
Tel: 772-3897 to 98
Neighborhood Ctr., Narra St., AAV (Emergency
Hotline 16-911)

 

Asian Hospital & Medical Center – Located near Festival Mall
Tel:  771-9000, Filinvest Corp. City, Alabang, Muntinlupa

286 Blumentritt, Manila 711-3967

 

Healthway Medical Clinics – Located inside Alabang Town Centre
Tel: 850-6721, 850-6723 to 30
Alabang Town Center

Security

There is the general perception that the Philippines is not a safe place; is this true or false? Manila is a large city and, like any city, it has its fair share of crime. So what security risks face expatriates who live in Manila?

The security risks that an expatriate face come from these areas:

  • Petty crime
  • Banking fraud
  • Confidence tricksters
  • Lack of understanding of locals and culture
  • Industrial/company related issues

Petty crime: 44% of the urban poor live in Manila. As a result of poverty, petty crime is inevitable. This simply requires one to be more cautious - keep purses in front of you, do not hang your handbag on the back of a chair in a busy restaurant, put your wallet in your front pocket. Common precautionary measures, which are not peculiar only to Manila.

Another potential source of petty crime can be your domestic staff.  Your Outpost Team is here to assist you with choosing your domestic staff.

Banking Fraud: Just as one would be cautious about bank transactions anywhere in the world, before coming to the Philippines, establish security codes with your bankers at home and/or offshore. Check your bank statements carefully each month.   Messengers will deliver local credit cards to you or you can collect from the Bank. When throwing away credit card receipts and any banking related paperwork make sure that the paper is shredded or torn into small pieces, as you would dispose of documents with personal/confidential data.

Confidence tricksters: Telephone calls from confidence tricksters are quite common and newly-arrived people in the Philippines are easy targets. They are very convincing and their main aim is to get money from you. Such calls are usually made on the pretext that there has been an accident or medical emergency and needless to say financial assistance is the only panacea!!! At the risk of being rude, do not entertain such calls.

Nuisance calls: These are fairly common and, in a word, irritating.   If you get any calls and you do not know the caller, do not give out any information about yourself.   The easiest way to deals with these calls is to just put the phone down.

Lack of knowledge of culture and context: As in any new situation, don't base your attitude to security solely on past experience. Be aware, ask questions and understand that cultural differences result in different attitudes towards your safety and security. For example do not argue in a loud voice with a policeman in public. In the local context it is a question of saving face not rights.   A cultural course can be arranged for you when you have settled into your new house.

Last but not least, do not accept drinks from strangers, nor offers of sightseeing. Also do not divulge personal information unless it is absolutely necessary.

In the vicinity of Ayala Alabang where most SPEX expatriates live, expatriate wives feel very safe going about the activities of daily living. Most children travel to and from school by bus. The British School bus is chaperoned by two paid chaperons.. The bus is equipped with a radio, which is connected to the central bus depot, and a cellular phone. The International School bus has a paid chaperones.  This is the case also with the Brent school.

Be safety conscious, and adopt safety precautions as you would in any big city, but do not become paranoid as life is safe for expatriates; we live in walled villages with good security at the entry and exit points of the village, most houses are totally fenced in and have grilled windows and doors. Robberies and break-ins are unusual. Furthermore, most expatriates do not use public transport (hotel taxis are safe).  Your personal security is a matter of awareness and precautionary action - not of paranoia and compulsion.  Common sense and attention will make you less vulnerable to risk.  This is the same for many large cities throughout the world.

In fact most expatriate assignments pass WITHOUT any security problems. While this may be so, awareness of potential problems is important. Being alert and forewarned is being forearmed.

It is wise to register with your Embassy so that in times of emergency you can be notified and advised as to what you should do. 

The Philippine National Police (PNP) are improving their ability to suppress crime and they will almost always come to your assistance in the event of an emergency.  You should not hesitate to call them.  The telephones numbers of stations in areas frequented by foreigners are :

Makati             Tel 899 9005 - 20

Manila              Tel 523 3378

Alabang            Tel 862 2611 or 862 2721

Philippine National Police assistance Dial 166

Makati Police 24 hour emergency Dial 168

The Spex Warden Scheme

For the warden scheme, the village is split up into three areas.  Alabang 1. 2 and 3.  Each area covers certain addresses inside the village.  Covering each area you have one warden, one deputy and each person covered in the area.

Home security

Prior to accepting a house, have it checked to ensure it has satisfactory security features already fitted.  Spex will assist you with this

These are:

  • The house is located in a safe area
  • The telephone system reliable
  • There is an effective boundary wall or fence
  • The gates are lockable
  • All external doors are solid construction with mortice deadlocks fitted
  • There is a method of identifying visitors without opening the door or gate
  • All external sliding doors are fitted with good quality locking systems that hold the door fast when locked
  • Keep a list of emergency numbers by each telephone
  • Keep doors windows and garages locked at all times
  • Instruct house staff to keep entrances to your house closed and the gates locked
  • Ensure all external doors and windows are secured and locked prior to going to bed.  Keep flashlights in all main rooms and bedrooms
  • When a key is lost or a handbag with keys is stolen, then the locks concerned must be replaced.

 Street Wise

  • Carry spending money only and keep it in more than one place
  • Avoid using public transport
  • Use common sense where you wear your jewelry
  • Do not walk in poorly lit streets or park in darkened areas
  • Be alert to your surrounds
  • Observe the area in which you have stopped prior to alighting from your vehicle
  • Keep your keys in your pocket rather than a bag.  Never attach your name/address to your keys
  • If confronted, do not resist, comply with demands

Security Tips for Parents

  • Teach your children never to get into a car or go into a house without your permission
  • Do not leave your child alone in a public place, even for a moment
  • Be certain your child knows your home address and telephone number
  • Train your children not to give personal information over the telephone, even though the caller purports to be a friend.
  • Explain the importance of never divulging any information in front of strangers
  • Caution your children always to keep doors locked and never to unlock a door to a stranger without adult approval.
  • Listen to when a child tells you he or she does not want to be with someone, there may be a reason.

 Tips for Personal Security on the Road

  • Where possible carry a mobile telephone
  • Always travel with the car doors locked and the windows up. 
  • Never give lifts to strangers or stop for accidents unless you are involved
  • Stop at police check points only if you are flagged down,  Many of these check points do not require you to stop.
  • Minimize night travel outside of Manila.
  • If persons gesture to you that something is wrong do not stop until you are in a safe area. e.g. outside a major hotel or where there are security guards present
  • If you suspect you are being followed drive to the nearest secure area e.g. a major hotel or a place where there are security guards present.  Note details of the vehicle following you and call the company emergency number 876 4000.

Should there be a need for you to travel in areas outside Manila, a security briefing should be arranged with the HSSE Department before undertaking such travel.

TRAVEL

When traveling outside Metro Manila, these guidelines should be followed:

  • Always ensure that you have checked on the security of the destination and route prior to departure.
  • Always plan your journey and know the exact route and safe havens along the way
  • Ensure that your vehicle is fully equipped and in good condition to minimize breakdowns along the way. This would include checking the spare tire, ensuring a full tank of fuel, a flashlight, maps and spare water.
  • Let someone know of your travel plans and expected times of departure and arrival.
  • Do not travel at night and be conscious of planning journeys to be completed before nightfall.
  • Do not pick up hitchhikers and do not make unscheduled stops at accident or incident scenes.

Keep the doors locked whilst traveling and windows up.

Outpost Manila

Focal point: Hilde B. Vistnes
Office hours: By appointment
Languages: English, Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese
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