Welcome to the Philippines!
Settling into your new home will take some time, but like most things it is always easier when you have the help of people who have “been there, done that.” ALIG is one of the best sources of information you can have when moving to Alabang.
If you are wondering how to order bottled water, have your internet installed, find household help, buy a car, choose a school or if you just need to see some friendly faces, then please come to one of our newcomers coffee mornings. The morning is free and held in a member’s home, usually in Ayala Alabang village. It is very informal and it is the best place to bring your list of questions and get some settling in tips.
Whether you’ve signed your lease on a house in the village, or if you are considering moving here, here is a few of the most frequently asked questions we get about life in Manila South.
Where is the best place to buy my groceries?
Like most Asian postings you’ll probably find yourself going to more than one supermarket just to complete your regular weekly shop. Fortunately there are plenty of good supermarkets close to the village gates. Makati Supermarket and Metro Supermarket are at the Alabang Town Center (ATC). South Supermarket is on Filinfest Avenue, Alabang and S&R (membership shopping) is at Westgate. Shopwise and SaveMore are located in Festival Mall. Other options include the Union Jack (goods from the UK) at Festival Mall and Santis Deli and Pure Gold Supermarket in Molito Shopping Complex. There is also a Rustan’s Supermarket in the village at Cuenca Park. Between these you’ll be able to pick up almost everything you need.
For fresh fruit and vegetables visit the Thursday Morning Organic Market (in the ATC carpark) or the Village Saturday Market at the carpark on University Drive. If you aren’t intimidated by a local wet market, there is a daily produce market near Metropolis. You can also get cut flowers and fish here. On Saturday mornings take advantage of the relatively light traffic into Makati and visit the excellent Salcedo Market which has organic vegetables, imported goods and lots of tasty cooked foods from fine French bread and cuisine, to spicy samosas and plenty of local standards.
What about wine and spirits?
Wine, beer and spirits are available at all supermarkets. For a better wine selection try the Wine Depot in Westgate and Santis or Ralphs at Molito Shopping Complex.
Who should I use for my home internet and telephone connection?
The performance of any supplier can vary street by street on any given day. The main Internet suppliers are Globe (Fibr), PLDT (Fibr) and SkyCable (broadband).
The main telephone companies are PLDT, Globe or Smart (new providers pop up from time to time). When choosing your supplier find people who live near you and ask them who they recommend.
Can I bring my electrical equipment to the Philippines?
The Philippines generally uses 220 volts at 60 Hz with U.S. style flat blade attachment plugs (symmetric). Some older buildings also have 110 volt wiring.
Be careful though as using equipment at the wrong voltage may destroy them.
If you come from North America, using 110-120 volts, 60 Hertz, your plugs will fit, but you will have to make sure that your equipment can handle the voltage, which is twice as high as at home. As a general rule, if the equipment has a motor, it probably won’t work. This will be things like your refrigerator, washing machine or vacuum cleaner. Some equipment (such as lap-tops) can automatically detect and adjust to the higher voltage while other equipment will need to be manually adjusted, often with a small switch on the back. A lot of audio equipment and televisions cannot be adjusted. They will require relatively expensive transformers that also use a lot more energy, and electricity is expensive in the Philippines.
If you come from Europe, Australia and New Zealand, using 220-240 volts, 50 Hertz, the voltage will match, but not the plugs and the frequency. Check the manuals of your equipment, as a mismatch of frequency might cause a problem. Audio equipment such as amplifiers may work at reduced power outputs.Especially be aware of equipment with an electric motor, such as washing machines. Flat blade attachment plugs can be bought at any hardware shop, but some of the cheaper ones aren’t exactly safe. Adapter plugs are also available, but a little more difficult to find.
Electricity supply in South Africa is 220/230volts AC50HZ. Most plugs from South Africa are 15 amp 3-prong or 5 amp 2-prong with round pins. Adapters can be purchased locally if you didn’t bring one with you.
Television and DVD System Compatibility
Televisions and video recorders use the American NTSC system, so if you come from North America you will have little trouble. Most newer equipment sold in Europe, Australia and New Zealand (PAL and SECAM) also have no problem handling a NTSC signal, but it is worthwhile to verify this before shipping your things. The other way round, that is using PAL on NTSC equipment, is normally not possible.
DVD players in the Philippines are supposed to be locked to region 3, and most international DVDs sold in the Philippines are also restricted to region 3, which means that an unmodified North American (region 1) or European (region 2) player will not play them. Fortunately many players can easily be modified to accept all regions. Verify this before buying one.
In the Philippines, GSM is used, both at 900 and 1800 MHz. GSM phones are very popular: with a 100 million text messages a day (!), the Filipinos are the world champions in text messaging.
In general, your GSM phone will work in the Philippines, and as most providers have agreements with several Philippine providers, you will be offered access to several networks. However, if you make a lot of local calls, it is considerably cheaper to get a local SIM card (sold for PHP 40), and use Philippine pre-paid cards. If you have a local bank account, you can also opt for a post-paid plan.
What are the nearby medical facilities?
Alabang village itself has a medical clinic located in the management complex on Narra St, and many ALIG members use it for check ups or mild problems. They have a schedule of visiting specialists so you can make appointments to see paediatricians, chiropractors or any other specialist. The clinic even runs their own ambulance for emergencies.
The Asian Hospital and Medical Centre is one of the best hospitals in the Philippines and located on Civic Drive, Alabang, only 10 minutes away from the Ayala Alabang Village. Plus, you can ask other ALIG members for referrals, whether you need a child-friendly dentist or an ENT-doctor.
Many doctors at Asian also have clinic hours at St. Luke’s Medical Centre in Bonifacio Global City, which at many points during the day is only about 30 minutes away. Excellent facilities with state of the art technology and digital records.
Another option in Alabang is the Tokyo Healthlink Medical and Diagnostic Centre.
Should I be concerned about dengue?
Dengue is present in the Philippines, and we in Ayala Alabang are certainly not immune to it. AAVA carries out regular spraying around the village, but you need to educate yourself about dengue and take appropriate precautions. Click here to visit the CDC website for more information. If you suspect you have dengue symptoms go straight to the AAVA clinic. They’ll check you and if necessary call ahead to Asian Hospital (10 mins from village) to admit you.
Are there any restaurants or nightlife in Alabang?
There is plenty to do to while away a day or an evening whether you want to stay in the Alabang area or drive into Makati (evening traffic tends to be much lighter, and you’ll get home within 30 minutes if you leave Makati after midnight).
In Alabang there is an ever expanding range of restaurant choices. The popular Molito Commercial Complex seems to be constantly growing and restaurants in the Westgate area like Caviar and Cafe Breton remain a favorite. Commerce Centre houses Italian restaurant Mona Lisa, as well as the Black Pig and a good Korean restaurant. ATC continues to grow and add to its’ variety of restaurants and shops. You have the choice of any cuisine, including local Pinoy, and finish with a coffee from a number of speciality coffee houses.
There are a number of bars in Alabang. Appenzeller on Zapote Road serves generous plates of tasty Swiss/German cuisine. The Union Jack Tavern in Festival Mall has the best of British food and beer whilst Draft and The Perfect Pint at Molito is a relaxing place for a drink within walking distance of the village gates. The Sapphire Lounge Bar in Westgate has live music every Friday night or go to Red behind Festival Mall for some rockeoke. There are several 5 star hotels in Alabang which also offer a variety of bars and live music so ask around for recommendations. For the coldest beer in Alabang, a visit to Manongs at Southpoint is recommended.
For a quiet night you can visit the movie theatres in ATC, Commerce Center and Festival Mall.
It has to be said that the nightlife can’t be beaten in Makati or Bonifacio Global City though. For a comprehensive listing of what is on check out Click the City. If you start at Greenbelt, there are plenty of restaurants to choose from and you can dance until the wee small hours of the morning at Havana or any number of other bars.
What should I tip?
Tipping in the Philippines is usually expected unless a service charge is already added. As a guideline 10% is acceptable but this does vary depending on service.
How is the commute to Makati?
This varies markedly. It can be as little as 25 minutes on a Saturday morning, or can take 2+hrs if the weather and traffic conspires against you. Rush hour is invariably a nightmare so avoid 7-9am and 6-8pm. As a rule of thumb allow yourself 45-60 mins to get into Makati. The Skyway in combination with an RFID sticker are the best option if you make this trip frequently.
What should I pay my household helpers?
Generally the company you are associated with in the Philippines will often provide guidelines.
For a broader perspective, the employment of household helpers, drivers and other staff is regulated by the Kasambahay Law (PDF).
For quality help, expats will tend to pay more than Filipino families and this is known in the employment market.
Why and how do I have to pay social benefits for my household helpers?
Paying for SSS, PhilHealth and Pag-Ibig is a legal requirement if you have full-time employees.
There are a number of benefits for your household staff regarding the Social Security System (SSS), like a cash benefit paid for retirement beginning at the age of 60 and in case of sickness, maternity, disability or death.
Phillippine Health Insurance Corporation (Philhealth) provides Filipinos medical benefits at an affordable cost.
Pag-Ibig benefits your employee as they can apply for a housing loan.
The SSS-contribution is based on the employee’s salary (not including their allowances). Contributions to the SSS are made by both the employer and the employee. There is a straightforward chart that demines the amount to pay.
Make sure the SSS, Philhealth and Pag-Ibig is written in your name and you get the proper receipts back from your house help for your own filing and prove you have followed the law.
The systems don’t apply for the employers of independent, self-employed workers, like your gardener and pool men.
The Ayala Alabang SSS branch office is located at the Alabang/Zapote junction behind Jollibee. Once a month, you can get information and application forms at the AAVA office too (see the backpage of Ayala News).
Health and fitness
ALIG offers a number of options including walking groups, golf lessons and the like. Alternatively there are some gyms nearby in Westgate and Molito shopping centres, together with pilates and yoga centres.
Barangay Ayala Alabang offers regular classes like Zumba, self-defence, yoga or basketball. These classes are usually free (or low fee) for residents!
How do I prepare for emergencies?
The Philippines is subject to a wet season every year which is often accompanied by floods and typhoons. Being prepared for these reduces associated stress and possible danger. It may result in being confined to your home, perhaps without power, water or phone and, at worst, you may need to leave in a hurry. Attached are some helpful lists you may wish to follow.72 Hour Go Bag or ALIG_Disaster_preplist_gobag.
Still have questions? If your question is still unanswered after this, please contact us anytime! We look forward to hearing from you.