Study in the PHILIPPINES with YES Abroad!

With the fourth longest coastline in the world and 7,107 islands, the Philippines is an environmentally bio-diverse nation home to nearly 107 million people. The country is geographically delineated into three main areas: Luzon, the Visayas, and Mindanao.

The Philippines became an independent nation in 1946 after periods under Spanish and U.S. jurisdiction. Influence from the Spanish colonization of the 17th to 19th centuries can be felt throughout the country and reflections from United States' rule in the early 20th century continue today as well. These periods of influence, combined with a firm sense of Filipino identity, are expressed in the modern details of Filipino cuisine, language and everyday life. As such, the Philippines has adopted a unique perspective that incorporates both Eastern and Western elements.

Nearly 175 languages and dialects can be heard across the country’s diverse landscape, though the primary languages used in the Philippines remain English and Filipino, including eight major Filipino dialects. Nearly 90% of the Filipino population identifies as Catholic, but religions such as Islam and Hinduism have grown in recent years.

The tropical marine climate is punctuated by a northeast monsoon season from November to April and a southwest monsoon season from May to October. These rains cultivate the colorful environment that is also reflected in the warm personality of the people. 

Most host communities are urban, suburban, small town, or rural, and while some host families may own a car, the most common forms of transportation include cars, buses, jeepney, motorized tricycle, pedicab, motor-scooter, metro rail/light rail, and walking. Students typically commute anywhere between 5 minutes to 1 hours each way by jeepney, motorized tricycle, pedicab, motor-scooter to their host schools.

Learn more about being a YES Abroad student in the Philippines:

Host Family

Students will live with host families in order to experience true immersion in the local culture. Families are selected based on recommendations by members of the local community, and each is carefully screened by AFS staff and volunteers. While each family is highly regarded by their neighbors, host family situations and accommodations vary, and each provides a unique experience for each student. Host communities exist through the presence of a strong support network, with a local volunteer, staff member, or "liaison" available to each student.

Your High School

Students will attend local private or semi-private schools, which, in the Philippines, tend to be sectarian. The primary language of instruction will be English and Filipino, and a local dialect may also be used. School typically runs from Monday to Friday and uniforms are customary. Students will have the opportunity to participate in a number of extramural and extracurricular activities such as art, music, sports, and academic interests.

The Political & Security Environment

The United States enjoys good relations with the Philippines. The Philippines is an active member in organizations such as the UN, the WTO, EAS, and ASEAN. 

For more information, visit the CIA World Factbook.

Health & Safety

With a 22-year presence in the Philippines, AFS draws on strong local connections, and deep understanding of the intercultural, health, safety, and security issues. Students are given safety briefings by AFS staff and are registered with the U.S. Embassy in Manila to receive travel alerts. AFS works closely before arrival and throughout the exchange year to discuss and prepare for students’ well-being. Students are supported on the ground by AFS staff members and volunteers. Each student is given a mobile phone upon arrival for emergency use, along with the contact number for the local support representative and the national AFS-Philippines office. YES Abroad students are covered by medical and political and security evacuation benefits. Students, host families, and natural families have access to a 24-hour emergency number, and AFS staff and volunteers are trained to deal with incidents that may occur on-program. For further in information on the Philippines, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Enrichment Activities

You may have the opportunity to take part in various activities to increase your interaction with local peers in the Philippines. Activities may include field trips, sporting events, cultural excursions, social outings, and community service projects. Examples of previous enrichment activities include:

  • Meeting with the Public Affairs Section of the U.S. Embassy;
  • Volunteering in the community during Global Youth Service Day in April;
  • Linggo/Buwan ng Wika (Week/Month of National Language) in August;
  • Various festivals to celebrate regional values or traditions.