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3 First Day Office-Survival Tips for Expats in the Philippines


On why I wear a sweater more here in tropical Manila than back home in Switzerland during summer.

I recently joined Spiralytics and without giving too much away, it has been an amazing experience so far. Starting a new job is always a milestone in one person’s life, but moving to the Philippines from Europe makes it even more exciting.

If there’s one thing I hear over and over again from everyone from back home plus everyone I meet here, it’s this – how is working in Manila?

Since I’ve heard that question so many times, I’ve come up with that short spiel that I say a million times too. “It’s great! It’s all I could have hoped for and more!” Don’t believe me? Some other expatpreneurs, including my boss Jimmy, will tell you why they love Manila too. It’s definitely more fun in the Philippines!

Coming from Switzerland, I definitely had to adapt since I’ve been here! Here are some tips for survival for your first day at the office, if you ever decide to work in the Philippines (you should by the way, totally worth it).

Bring a Hoodie, Sweater or Cardigan

When you think about the Philippines, you think warm, sunny weather. You think about bringing all your tank tops and flipflops and sunglasses. You fly from a country in the middle of winter, and you can’t wait to get rid of those hoodies, sweaters and cardigans. Then you land, get into the airport, and it’s freezing cold. Here’s the final piece of the puzzle: Filipinos love airconditioning.

When you walk inside any building, especially the mall, the cinema or the office, a strong breeze of cold air will take you by surprise. That’s Filipino airconditioning. Imagine dropping from 35 degrees when you’re outdoors during the summer to 18 degrees indoors. Now it may be refreshing at first, but after staying in the office for 8 hours, it begins to get to you. So don’t forget to bring something along to keep yourself warm. That way, you will never be cold again.

Buy a larger size of pants

Believe me, you’ll need a larger size of pants after a week in Manila. Filipino food is delicious. My favorites include adobo, pancit canton, tapsilog, and everyone here eats to their heart’s desire all day long. They insert meals in every single part of the day. It is not unheard of to have late breakfast at 10am, lunch at noon, merienda at 2pm, second merienda at 3:30pm, early dinner at 4pm, dinner at 8pm, and I should not forget the constant bite sized snacking throughout the entire day. Without a rigorous workout routine, you will definitely feel that belly getting squeezed by your pants. My advice? Be prepared and go buy that larger size of pants now. Embrace the food. The struggle is real.

Bring a box of pizza on your first day

We’ve talked about the abundance of food in the office and food in the Philippines. There is no better way to make a great first impression than to bring some food on your first day. Pizza, donuts and pan de sal are among the popular choices, but food will make everyone happy. Don’t worry, it’s not bribery. Everyone in the office usually buys food for other people too. If you want to earn more brownie points and make it more personal, have them try food that comes from your home country. To continue your super stellar first impression, continue bringing or ordering food to the office. As the old saying goes, sharing is caring, and in the Philippines, they share food.

There’s a lot to enjoy and to appreciate in the Philippines. Everyone will be warm, welcoming and fuzzy and you wouldn’t want to be sitting all by your lonesome self in your big old sweater, with a growing belly and your giant box of pizza. So if you want to survive, follow these tips and you should be adjusting in no time.

When everything is said and done, don’t forget to breathe and enjoy yourself. A lot is going to happen in the first few weeks and especially on your first day. Following the above tips or at least keeping them in mind should help you adjust more quickly. Hit me up when you make it to Manila and I’ll be happy to show you around.

Until Then.