Phone in Philippines
- Fire, medical and police emergencies: 117 by voice or text message.
The National Emergency Network Philippines (ENP) is also called Patrol 117 and routes emergency calls originating anywhere in the Philippine archipelago to the appropriate one of the sixteen PSAPs located in various cities across the country.
When a Patrol 117 call is made from a mobile phone, this call is automatically forwarded to the nearest emergency call centre. However, 117 is not registered as an emergency number that can be dialled even without credit, roaming agreement or even SIM card on most mobile phone models or SIM cards. For this reason, the ENP also supports the dialling of 112 or 911 as an emergency measure. (These alternative numbers do not usually work from the fixed network!)
- Philippine Coast Guard Action Centre: +63 2 527-3880
- National Poison Control Line: +63 2 524-1078
- Motorist Assistance’: 136 (Metro Manila only)
- Tourist hotline: +63 2 524-1728 and 524-1660
- Immigration hotline: 527
- Directory enquiries: 187 or 114 (chargeable)
The country code for the Philippines is 63.
The international access code for an international call from Philippines is 00.
The area code for Metro Manila is 2.
Telephone numbers in the Philippines have the format +63 35 539-0605, where “63” is the country code, the next one, two or three digits are the area code and the remaining 7 digits are the “local” part of the subscriber number, which can be called from the respective area using speed dialling.
Mobile numbers in the Philippines must always be dialled with all 11 digits (including a “0” preceding the “8nn” or “9nn” within the Philippines), regardless of where they are called from. The “8nn” or “9nn” is a mobile prefix, not an “area code” as such, and the second and third digits (the nn part) denote the mobile network originally assigned. As with most mobile numbers, they can also be called inside or outside the Philippines in international format: +63 996-202-4961.
Most toll-free numbers cannot be called from outside the Philippines, but can be dialled domestically using the format 1800-1855-0165.
You must dial a “0” before the geographic code if you are outside of that code (but still within the Philippines).
The cheapest way to call to and from the Philippines is via internet telephony (VoIP). There are several licensed VoIP providers in the Philippines. One of the best known is Vodini Telecom [www].
Most Philippine toll-free numbers cannot be called from outside the Philippines, so they are not listed in international format. e.g.: 1800 1855 0165
Mobile numbers in the Philippines must always be dialled with all 11 digits (including a “0” preceding the “8nn” or “9nn” within the Philippines), regardless of where they are called from. The “8nn” or “9nn” is a mobile prefix, not an “area code” in the strict sense, and the second and third digits (the nn part) denote the mobile network originally assigned. As with most mobile numbers, they can also be called inside or outside the Philippines in international format, as listed in our Philippines articles
There are three major companies operating GSM 900/1800 networks: Globe , Smart and Sun Cellular. Your home provider should have agreements with one of these, so check with them before you leave home. Roaming, as elsewhere, can be quite expensive. However, prepaid SIM cards from these networks are easy to purchase and cost as little as ₱30 and offer a cheaper alternative. If your device is tied to your home carrier, mobile phone repair shops in various shopping malls offer unlocking options (the typical unlocking fee is ₱300, but can be as high as ₱2,000 for certain devices like a Blackberry). If you don’t have a phone yet, you can buy a complete pre-paid kit with phone and SIM card for as little as ₱1,500. Phones that come with these offers are usually tied to a local network operator, and you would need to have it unlocked before you leave if you want to use it at home.
GSM mobile phones are widely used throughout the country. 3G technology is available through Globe and Smart, but is poorly implemented and often not functioning properly, especially outside urban areas. Cellular service will be available in most urban areas and in many resorts. Please note that Sun cellular does not work outside the main island of Luzon. The usual cost for an international long distance call to the US, Europe or other major countries is $0.40 per minute. Local calls cost ₱ 6.50 per minute for prepaid calls (a new law has been passed requiring per-pulse billing, i.e. per 6-second rate), but unlike other countries, you are not charged for incoming calls. Text messages usually only cost ₱1 and the Philippines is usually dubbed the “SMS capital of the world”. International text messages are charged at a higher rate of ₱15-25. Plans for unlimited calls and SMS are offered by networks, but are almost always limited to those to parties within the same network.
Recharging prepaid SIMs (known as “recharge/loading” or “top-up/topping-up” in other countries) is a breeze. Electronic charging stations (e-loads) are everywhere, from small corner shops to large shopping malls, where you simply give your mobile number and the amount you want to top-up (Globe, Smart and Sun each have their charging denominations you can choose from for e-loading). If you have a friend who uses the same mobile operator as you, you can top up with as little as a few pesos by having him/her pass on some of his/her credit to you. If you need hundreds of pesos worth of credit, you can buy prepaid cards, which are available in denominations of ₱100, ₱300 and ₱500.
Due to the widespread use of mobile phones, pay phones are becoming increasingly obsolete. They still exist in some shopping centres and public places and are usually either coin or card operated. Globe and PLDT are the usual operators. Phone cards are usually sold by shops that offer prepaid mobile phone charges and cards. Note that phone cards from one company cannot be used with card-operated phones from the other.
Internet in Philippines
Internet access with broadband speeds is plentiful in city centres, much less so outside cities, but it is growing rapidly. Internet prices depend primarily on where you surf and what medium you use (e.g. Wi-Fi or wired). Internet services offered by hotels and shopping malls are expensive and can be as high as 200 ₱/hour, but neighbourhood cafes can be as cheap as 10 ₱/hour. Public Wi-Fi services in the Philippines offered by Airborneaccess.net and WiZ are likely to cost ₱100 for up to an hour. But if you want it cheaper, there is an internet café chain in SM malls called “Netopia” that offers a landline internet connection for about ₱20 per hour. Coffee shops like Starbucks and Seattle’s Best as well as malls usually offer Wi-Fi service and some are free to use. The SM mall chain also offers free Wi-Fi, so you can sit virtually anywhere in the mall and use free Wi-Fi.
In addition, you can consider buying a mobile broadband modem from ₱995 if the service is also offered by Globe, Smart or Sun. Mobile broadband signals vary depending on the available infrastructure in your particular location, but generally Smart has the largest network in the country, followed by Globe and then Sun. It takes up to 24 hours for internet to be available on a new SIM card. Mobile broadband comes in both postpaid and prepaid varieties. To buy a modem and subscription, you need to go to one of the bigger cities – the small shops that only sell mobile phones and SIM cards are not able to sell mobile broadband. “Charging” often costs as little as ₱20 per hour for most mobile internet modems. However, service is usually slower at certain times – especially in the evenings – due to heavy surfing. Even with a fast broadband dongle, the service is almost guaranteed to slow to a standstill then.
Mail in Philippines
Besides the Philippine Postal Service, FedEx, UPS and DHL courier services are also available. Local courier services such as LBC and Aboitiz are also available. Mail from abroad often gets “lost”, so do not send anything valuable.
Newspapers in Philippines
English-language newspapers are available throughout the Philippines, and there are also some Japanese and Chinese language options. The Daily Tribune, Malaya, Manila Standard, Manila Bulletin, Business World, Philippine Daily Inquirer [www] and Visayan Daily Star [www] are some of the English-language newspapers.