Mabuhay! Thank you for exploring Peace Corps service in the Philippines. If you become a Volunteer, this will be the first of many warm welcomes to a wonderful country with a rich, long-standing Peace Corps history. With this information, we hope to provide you with a glimpse of what your service journey will be like as a Peace Corps Volunteer here in the Philippines.
Peace Corps service is a life-changing experience no matter when you join in life. The Filipino people are extremely welcoming, generous, friendly, and resourceful. The relationships you will develop with your host family and community as a Volunteer will stay with you long after you have completed your service and are the single greatest highlight of most Volunteers’ experience.
How to describe the Philippines? The colloquial and oft-quoted description of the Philippines is “500 years of Spanish rule followed by 50 years of Hollywood,” alluding to the significant influence of both Spain and the United States on this Asian nation. But that only begins to touch on the many social and cultural layers you will discover here. There are well over 7,000 islands in the Philippines, a dizzying 87 officially recognized languages, and many more dialects. With regard to religion, the country is overwhelmingly Catholic, with an increasing number of other denominations—and a significant Muslim minority, largely in the south.
While COVID-19 is now under control and vaccination rates nationwide are higher than in the U.S., the Philippines was hit hard by the pandemic. Many Filipinos and the economy are still very much recovering from the impacts of the pandemic. The economy is a study in contrasts: extreme wealth and poverty, with a serious income-distribution problem that leaves more than 50 percent of the population living on less than $2 a day. The pandemic has only exacerbated this disparity. The geography is diverse, with islands, mountains, beaches, and vast plains of rice fields. The climate is tropical, humid, and hot, with a few cooler oases in the mountains up north. Natural disasters are frequent here: typhoons and other major tropical storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Peace Corps Philippines has numerous safety and security measures in place to ensure Volunteers’ safety in the event of a natural disaster.
Peace Corps Philippines and our Philippine partners place a very high value on the potential of each Volunteer, both to contribute meaningfully to the positive development of people in a community and to gain experience, knowledge, and a broadened understanding during service. With these goals in mind, our staff work hard to identify sites for Volunteers based on their individual skills and the needs of the community. We make every effort to ensure that each Volunteer has a fruitful, rewarding professional experience in their host community. Still, much is expected of you in terms of adaptability, flexibility, and resiliency—three words you’ll hear much more about during training.
Becoming a productive Volunteer will be a challenge no matter what your experience, background or age. Pre-service training will equip you with an array of skills and integration strategies, but how you apply those at site will be up to you. The efforts you put into practicing the local language and time you spend building relationships at the beginning of your service will reap great benefits as you continue.
One of the most enduring and stunning characteristics of Peace Corps service is how it is both a communal and a deeply individual experience. The diversity of Americans serving with Peace Corps across the globe strengthens us. Each of you will contribute to the diversity of your group, and you will demonstrate both to each other and your host country partners how our nation’s diversity creates our ever evolving culture. Your journey will be as individual as you are. Our staff of Americans and Filipinos is dedicated to supporting you on your service journey. As fair warning, Peace Corps has lots of rules and policies. All are intended to ensure your and your peers’ health, safety, and security and ensure your service is successful.
On behalf of the entire Peace Corps Philippines staff, thank you for your interest in Peace Corps service in the Philippines, and we hope to see you here very soon!