FAQs about Peace Corps in Philippines
From Peace Corps Wiki
How much luggage am I allowed to bring to the Philippines?
Most airlines have baggage size and weight limits and assess charges for transport of baggage that exceeds this allowance. The Peace Corps has its own size and weight limitations, and will not pay the cost of transport for baggage that exceeds these limitations. The authorized baggage allowance is two checked pieces of luggage with combined dimensions of both pieces not to exceed 107 inches (length + width + height) and a carry-on bag with dimensions of no more than 45 inches. Checked baggage should not exceed 80 pounds total with a maximum weight allowance of 70 pounds for any one bag.
Peace Corps Volunteers are not allowed to take pets, weapons, explosives, radio transmitters (short-wave radios are permitted), automobiles, or motorcycles to their overseas assignments. Do not pack flammable materials or liquids such as lighter fluid, cleaning solvents, hair spray, or aerosol containers. This is an important safety precaution.
What is the electric current in the Philippines?
The electric current is generally 220v, 60 cycles, although the voltage is often less.
How much money should I bring?
Volunteers are expected to live at the same level as the people in their community. They are given a settling-in allowance and a monthly living allowance, which should cover their expenses. Often Volunteers wish to bring additional money for vacation travel to other countries. Credit cards and traveler’s checks are preferable to cash, although there is a risk of the credit card number being pilfered and illicitly used. If you choose to bring extra money, plan on bringing the amount that suits your own personal travel plans and needs.
When can I take vacation and have people visit me?
Each Volunteer accrues two vacation days per month of service (excluding training). Leave may not be taken during training, the first three months of service, or the last three months of service, except in conjunction with an authorized emergency leave. Family and friends are welcome to visit you after pre-service training and the first three months of service as long as their stay does not interfere with your work. Extended stays at your site are not encouraged and may require permission from your country director. The Peace Corps is not able to provide your visitors with visa or travel assistance.
Will my belongings be covered by insurance?
The Peace Corps does not provide insurance coverage for personal effects. However, such insurance can be purchased before you leave. Ultimately, Volunteers are responsible for the safekeeping of their personal belongings. If you wish, you may contact your own insurance company; additionally, insurance application forms will be provided to you, and we encourage you to consider them carefully. Additional information about insurance should be obtained by calling the company directly.
Volunteers should not ship or take valuable items overseas. Jewelry, watches, radios, cameras, and expensive appliances are subject to loss, theft, and breakage, and in many places, satisfactory maintenance and repair services are not available.
Do I need an international driver’s license?
Volunteers in the Philippines do not need to get an international driver’s license. Operation of privately owned vehicles is prohibited. Most urban travel is by bus, jeepneys, motorized trikes, and, infrequently, taxis. Rural travel ranges from buses, mini-buses, jeepneys, motorized tricycles, trucks, a lot of walking, and riding of bicycles.
What should I bring as gifts for Filipino friends and my host family?
This is not a requirement. A token of friendship is sufficient. Some gift suggestions include: knickknacks for the house; pictures, books, or calendars of American scenes; souvenirs from your area; hard candies that will not melt or spoil; or photos to give away.
Where will my site assignment be when I finish training and how isolated will I be?
Peace Corps trainees in the Philippines are assigned to individual sites at the end of the initial orientation, (i.e., at the end of the first week in-country or during the first two weeks of pre-service training). This is after you are given the opportunity to provide input on your site preferences, including geographical location, distance from other Volunteers, or living conditions. This is important because of the diversity of the language situation in the country. Once the sites are decided, appropriate languages are assigned to be learned at the pre-service training. However, keep in mind that many factors influence the site selection process and that the Peace Corps cannot guarantee placement where you might ideally like to be. Most Volunteers will live in small towns or in rural villages but will usually be within one hour from the nearest Volunteer. Some sites will require a 9- to 10- hour drive from the capital.
How can my family contact me in an emergency?
The Peace Corps’ Office of Special Services provides assistance in handling emergencies affecting trainees and Volunteers or their families. Before leaving the United States, instruct your family to notify the Office of Special Services immediately if an emergency arises, such as a serious illness or death of a family member. During normal business hours, the number for the Office of Special Services is 800.424.8580, extension 1470. After normal business hours and on weekends and holidays, the Special Services duty officer can be reached at 202.638.2574. For non-emergency questions, your family can get information from your country desk staff at the Peace Corps by calling 800.424.8580.
Can I call home from the Philippines?
Yes. The Philippines has several telephone companies. All pre-service training sites have telephones. There are public calling places in the capital towns and cities, and cell phones have become very popular in the country. Some host families also have telephones from which you may call the United States.
Should I bring a cellular phone with me?
If you bring one from the United States, you will have to take it to a mobile phone center to have it reprogrammed. Mobile phones do not cost much in the country. A good mobile phone here will cost between $70 and $120.
Will there be e-mail and Internet access? Should I bring my computer?
There are Internet cafés in most capital towns and cities that charge as low as 50 cents per hour. At present, there are more than 35 Internet service providers in the Philippines. Major online providers are available and are adding lines all the time. We discourage you from bringing a computer with you. You will have very little need for a computer in pre-service training. It is also difficult to maintain the security of the computer during this period. Your need for a computer will depend upon the role and location of your assignment. Some sites (natural resources and environmental management assignment, small business/livelihood, and water/sanitation) are in the rural areas with no electricity. If you bring one, you need to expect humidity, fluctuating current, and concern for theft.