Each year Graham Stevens visits Manila to meet the people running the projects supported by Dorcas (Wessex) Trust. You could go with him to share in the joy of serving the people there who are so often friendless and unwanted. You would go round with the team supporting the street families, attend worship groups with street families spend time in the orphanages with the children helping them with homework and talking to them in English to improve their language skills.
You may be a Gap year student wishing to experience life in Street Ministries in Manila. Contact Graham Stevens for opportunities for short or longer visits to our partner organisations.
Joel and his sister Alice spent three weeks in Manila and Mindoro helping the street families – here he is teaching a street child to make paper for Christmas Cards.
Contact the Dorcas (Wessex) Trust to discuss when Graham is next going and for details of what you would need to do to prepare for the visit.
It is more than 7000 mostly uninhabited islands. The main language is Tagalog also known as Filipino,but English is widely-spoken in the cities. About 90% of the population is Roman Catholic.
The dry season from November to April is the best time to visit. April and May are hot with high temperatures of over 35°C. During May to October, there may be torrential rain with streets flooding in 30 minutes, but even then some days will be dry. The coolest and driest months are December to February, but it is the humidity which is high all year,which may cause the greatest problem.
All major airlines fly into Ninoy Airport which is about 5km or 30 minutes drive to the tourist area. The taxi fare is about 400 pesos, but we are usually met by one of our partners who will drive us to our hotel. Visas are not required for tourist stays of less than 21 days. There is an exit tax of 750 pesos. Flights from London cost around £600 and take about 16 hours flying time with one change.
The pesos is divided into 100 centavos. The exchange rate against foreign currencies varies constantly but was, between 68 and 78 pesos to the GB pound in January 2010. There are plenty of ATM's in Manila, but they have a maximum withdrawal of 4000 or 5000 pesos per transaction and only 2 transactions per day. There are notes for 100, 200, 500 and 1000 pesos and coins for smaller amounts. There are many money changers, but U.S. dollars are the only major currency accepted.
Cost of Living
It is possible to book into a clean, en-suite room with breakfast for 1500 pesos. There are cheaper places with 5-star luxury hotels always available in the tourist area. You can eat a good Filipino meal with a drink for 100 pesos. Western food tends to be a little more expensive. (It is advisable to drink bottled water). Our partners will book us into a good value hotel in advance.
Travel is cheap, a 10 minute drive in a metered taxi costs about 70p and a 3 hour / 100 km bus journey about 120p. In Manila traffic is chaotic, the result of hundreds of Jeepneys, which form the main public transport system, which pick up and stop anywhere. You need a local to tell you which one to board, but the fare for a short journey will be 7p. You enter at the rear and sit on side facing seats passing the coins for your fare to your neighbour, who passes them toward the driver.
Visitors to the Philippines from Europe are not required to have Inoculations, though it might be worth having a tetanus booster. Take insect repellent and diarrhoea pills, although these can be bought easily. There are no street public toilets, but shopping Malls and restaurants have clean areas.
The organisations we support consider it part of their work to care for their visitors. Just by our presence we give them encouragement. The orphanage children and street and squatter families are excited to see us and although we bring gifts to them they also give us something that money cannot buy. We come back with a much greater understanding of their lives, a knowledge of how very much God has blessed us with material things and a desire to do something more for those who have so little.