With a stable banking system and solid GDP growth, the Philippines is Asia’s second-largest economic power.

The Philippines is transitioning from a mostly agricultural-based economy to one based on services and manufacturing. Considered an emerging market, it is currently the 39th-largest economy in the world but Goldman Sachs predicts it will climb to 14th by 2050. In 2014, only one economy — China — outpaced the Philippines in Asia.

The country weathered economic storms in 2008-2009 better than many because it isn’t strongly dependent on exports, has resilient domestic consumption, large remittances from overseas Filipino workers and an expanding outsourcing industry.

The Philippines’ reserves are at record highs and the banking system is stable. It is also working to solve its tight fiscal situation and has had credit rating upgrades on its sovereign debt. The World Bank reported GDP growth of 6% in 2014 with predicted rates of 6.5% in 2015 and in 2016.

Infrastructure, judicial and governance reform and weak budget execution remain challenges. In addition, El Niño conditions threaten harvests and could result in an increase in food prices, but according to the International Monetary Fund, the government has taken preemptive measures and is prepared to respond.


1. Manila is the financial centre and the capital.

2. The Philippines ranks 95th of 189 countries on the World Bank’s 2015 Ease of Doing Business index.

3. It is the world’s 59th-largest exporter and 46th-largest importer.


1. You’ve got the look. Western business suits for both genders are the standard. However, men also wear the traditional, long-sleeved barong tagalog in conservative colours. Women wear light-fabric suits and dresses.

2. Just shake it. The formal greeting includes a firm handshake, a smile and light eye contact. When business cards are exchanged, Filipinos present theirs with both hands.

3. Hand it over. Business is sometimes conducted over meals, where more personal small talk, such as sharing details about family, usually comes up. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can impress your hosts by eating kamayan style — with your bare hands.

4. Mind the clock. Meetings start on time, but there is some lenience for lateness due to traffic. For social occasions, being overly punctual may be seen as a sign of anxiety or over-eagerness.

5. Confounded by confrontation. Filipinos don’t like confrontation and may give ambiguous or indirect answers to avoid it. Flat-out noes are challenging for them, and they’ll often explore other ways to move forward.


1. Warming it up. December to February are the cool months, with summer heat between March and May. The rainy season begins in June.

2. Tip-offs. Most restaurants add a 10% service charge, but you can leave an extra 20 to 50 pesos if you like (50¢ to $1.50). If there is no service charge, tip 10%. Tipping is unnecessary in quick-service places.

3. Getting around. Manila has light rail (cars get congested during rush hour), buses, taxis, jeepneys (large army-style vehicles that provide effective, if rustic, ground transport), tricycles (motorized with sidecars) and pedicabs (similar to taxis but run by foot or pedal power).


Philippines chart