Veteran Preference does not apply to the Senior Executive Service: http://www.usajobs.gov/vi
EEO Policy Statement: http://www.usajobs.gov/eeo
Reasonable Accommodation Policy Statement: http://www.usajobs.gov/raps
Legal and Regulatory Guidance: http://www.usajobs.gov/lrg
The following is provided to give prospective applicants a better understanding of life in Manila.
WORKLIFE: VA is one of 30 federal agencies that make up the U.S. Embassy Manila. Local Filipino employees are hired via State Departments local hiring authority and encumber all but eleven positions at the Manila Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic. The ten VA Direct-hire American employees are typically selected from stateside VA offices through the competitive process. All VA Manila employees fall under the authority of the Chief of Mission, commonly referred to as the Ambassador. As such, the ten American VA Manila employees are considered and treated as Embassy Officers and have all the privileges, opportunities and responsibilities that come with that designation. An assignment with VA Manila is unlike any other VA job for that very reason. American VA employees here are frequently called upon by the Ambassador to contribute to the Mission in other ways, such as attending after-hours social functions, making speeches, or representing the Embassy and the United States in an official capacity at events throughout the country. Other times it may mean working with a group of Embassy officers from other agencies as part of a task force to address an Embassy issue. It will also occasionally mean being assigned as after-hours Embassy Duty Officer.
FACILITIES: In January 2011 the Regional Office and Outpatient Clinic moved from their separate locations into to new state-of-the-art co-located facility on the US Embassy grounds. There are two US Embassy compounds. The Main Embassy compound houses the offices of the Ambassador, several US Government agencies, Marine Guards, a restaurant, a branch of Citibank, a small post office, clinic and a gym. Two miles from the Main Embassy compound is the Seafront Compound, home to VAs building. Seafront has a full State Dept medical clinic for Embassy staff, library, gym, gas station, restaurant, swimming pool, tennis courts and the main Post Office. There are also townhouses at Seafront where some State Department employees are housed.
CULTURE: While the Philippines is definitely a developing country with many Third World attributes, it is an extremely Westernized culture and provides a somewhat familiar environment for Americans. English is widely spoken, the Filipinos do not wear extreme native attire, the educational and political systems are based on the United States, and the predominant religion is Catholic. The Filipino people are friendly, warm, and respectful. Avoiding conflict is one of the driving forces behind societal interactions so there is little outright expression of displeasure or dislike on their behalf. The Philippines has had many cultural influences over the centuries and that variety makes the Philippines and its people fascinating, complex, and rich in history.
WEATHER: The climate is tropical with temperatures in the upper 80s and 90s all year. Humidity is a constant factor in Philippine weather. November through February is the most pleasant time of year as the humidity and temperatures are somewhat lower. March, April, and May are very hot and dry and the rest of the year is wet.
DOMESTIC HELP: Most mission employees have domestic help, the most common being housekeepers, cooks, nannies and drivers. In most instances, the housekeeper lives in (there are usually quarters in the homes) and may be the housekeeper, nanny and cook for a smaller family. Some people do their own cooking and have a housekeeper who goes home in the evenings or only comes a few times a week to clean and do laundry. However, the majority of people do have a driver, not only to assist in getting around Manila more efficiently but because parking is extremely limited and many times it is unsafe to leave your car unaccompanied. Hired help is extremely affordable in the Philippines, on average about $250 per month for a full time housekeeper, nanny or driver for about 60 hours of work per week, six days a week.
ENTERTAINMENT & RECREATION: There is definitely something for everyone in Manila and the options are constantly expanding. For those interested in cultural events the Philippine Cultural Center offers opera, ballet and theater. Tennis and golf are popular activities for Embassy employees and lessons can be taken for minimal cost. The Seafront Compound has a gym and a library available to all Embassy staff and dependents and the Community Liaison Officer offers organized day trips, weekend trips within the Philippines, trips to other countries and other activities for employees and their families. Manila has many movie theaters and show all the same movies as in the US at about the same time. There are numerous excellent restaurants in Manila offering all types of cuisine and price ranges. For those less adventurous eaters there are many fast food chains (McDonalds, Wendys, Burger King, KFC, Kenny Rogers, Krispy Krème, Pizza Hut, Dominos) and restaurants (Outback Steakhouse, Hard Rock Café, TGI Fridays, Bennigans, California Pizza Kitchen) that are the same quality as in the States and offer a familiar dining experience.
SHOPPING: There are several very large shopping malls in Metro Manila, exactly like the malls in the US. In addition, many factories are located in the Philippines and seconds and overruns of merchandise you would normally find in a retail store can be purchased for a fraction of the cost. September through December are the Christmas months in the Philippines and each weekend there are several bazaars where vendors set up booths and sell anything from clothing and fabric to local handicrafts and jewelry made from freshwater pearls, all at incredibly affordable prices. Seamstresses are very inexpensive and many people have their clothes professionally designed and made. While you can find most things on the economy, mail order is simple and safe for items you cannot find. Internet access, at the employees cost, is available and provides an additional method of obtaining hard-to-find stateside items. Most Internet retailers deliver to DPO (Diplomatic Post Office) addresses, which is what is used here.
TRAVEL: Some of the most beautiful beaches in the world are in the Philippines and they provide excellent diving and vacationing opportunities. In addition, with its centralized position in Asia, travel to other destinations such as Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong, Bali, Vietnam, China and Australia is realistic and very reasonably priced.
SALARY: To this is added a Post Differential, which is currently 20% of your base. Post Differential does not count toward your High Three so retirement is not deducted from it and you cannot pay TSP based on Post Differential. Income Tax and Medicare deductions are based on salary plus Post Differential. Post Differential is suspended during periods that your entire family is in the US. The Post Differential rate is established by the State Department and could be adjusted at anytime (either up or down). State Department currently authorizes a 5% COLA for all Direct-Hire Americans on assignment at U.S. Embassy Manila. VBA has approved this COLA for its American staff. The COLA is established by the State Department and could be adjusted at anytime (either up or down).
TOURS of DUTY: Your initial tour of duty will be 3 years. VA policy allows for a second tour of duty for an additional 2 years when recommended by the facility director, VISN or VBA Area Director, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy Manila and approved by the Administration Head, not to exceed two consecutive tours of duty and a maximum of 5 years. Administration Heads are delegated the authority to make exceptions to this policy except for positions centralized to the Secretary. Exceptions however are still ultimately at the discretion of the Ambassador.
REASSIGNMENT RIGHTS: At the successful completion of your first or second tour you will be able to exercise your reassignment rights. You are entitled to another continuing assignment in VA following your period of employment outside the continental United States. The placement may involve promotion or demotion, as well as reassignment. You will be given placement consideration based on a step-by-step priority sequence. For specifics, please refer to VA Handbook 5005, Part II, Chapter 1, Section C, paragraph 10: Employment outside the Continental United States Administrative Reassignment Rights.
HOUSING: When you take an overseas assignment, the government does not reimburse you for the cost of selling your home in the states. You can be reimbursed for the costs of a management broker to look after your home should you choose to rent it. Reimbursement for the sale is authorized upon your return to the states should you take an assignment to a location other than that from which you came.
When living in Manila the VA pays for all housing and utility expenses, with the exception of personal telephone, cable and Internet service. A Housing Board comprised of various Embassy personnel locates and assigns housing for all Embassy newcomers. The State Department has guidelines for the assignment of housing based on your position and family size. The Board will ask for your preferences, and will try to take those into account when locating housing, but will ultimately base it on job position and availability. Most VA employees reside in modern high rise condominiums in the business district. These are located within close proximity to shopping, restaurants, the International School and movie theaters, while maintaining a decent commuting time to the Embassy.
HEALTHCARE: VA-Manila employees and their dependents are eligible to receive free healthcare from Manila VA Outpatient Clinic (OPC). Employees and dependents may also make use of the State Departments Medical Clinic. For more serious medical conditions, the Manila area has several well-regarded hospitals staffed by many American-educated doctors. Numerous American-trained dentists also practice in the Manila area. Both medical and dental services obtained privately are extremely reasonable as compared to stateside rates. It is mandatory to carry FEHB coverage while in Manila in order to receive healthcare from the Embassys Medical Unit. Only PPOs are available for overseas coverage. Employees coming to Manila should be sure to change their coverage before they PCS to Manila.
HOUSEHOLD GOODS: The government will pay to ship the maximum allowable for PCS moves of 18,000 pounds of household goods, which is inclusive of long-term storage and unaccompanied airfreight allowances. Due to electricity standards in Manila, major appliances (refrigerators, stoves, washers and dryers) should not be shipped. It is recommended that you get an estimate of the weight of your furnishings, less those appliances, and ship everything that will make you and your family comfortable while here within the allowed weight. The VA will provide you with a survival kit upon your arrival. This kit will contain many staple household items (pots, pans, utensils, bed sheets, etc.) you will need until your household goods arrive.
VEHICLES: The VA will pay to ship one privately owned vehicle to the Philippines. It should be noted that road conditions and traffic are very bad in the Philippines. While a four-wheel drive vehicle is not necessary, an SUV type vehicle might give you a sense of security that a regular car will not. Some of our staff drive regular automobiles and have not had problems. American dealers are becoming more prevalent so maintenance is not a problem.
SCHOOLS: For those with children, the International School and Brent School are excellent schools providing a college prep education through high school. Many graduates from these two international schools attend the most prestigious universities and colleges in the United States. An educational allowance is paid for dependents attending post secondary schools either in the Philippines or in the US. No allowance is paid for college or pre-kindergarten. In addition, children attending post secondary school or college in the US receive a round trip ticket to Manila annually to visit family.
PETS: The cost of shipment of pets can be itemized and claimed as a miscellaneous expense reimbursement. Without receipts, reimbursement for all miscellaneous expenses is limited to the lesser of $500 or one weeks salary for a single employee, or $1,000 or two weeks salary for employees with family. Higher amounts, within limits, may be paid when receipts justify. There is basically no quarantine period, provided you have obtained all the required shots and paperwork. The majority of the leases allow animals and many people have them. As most people have live in help, there is always someone to take care of them when you travel or are working. Veterinary care is readily available and satisfactory. There are few green spaces such as parks and the weather is warm so most people have indoor pets and must walk them to provide exercise.
EMPLOYMENT FOR SPOUSE: Employment at the Embassy for spouses is limited and usually comes available during the summer months when State Department turnover occurs. Many of these positions are somewhat clerical in nature but do vary depending on the agency. Since Embassy employment is limited many spouses choose instead to become involved in organizations such as the American Womens Club of the Philippines, which is open to all American associated people in the Philippines and/or the US Embassy Club, which is strictly for Embassy staff and dependents. Both clubs allow men and women and provide volunteer and social opportunities within the community.
VACCINATIONS: You will be required to get a complete physical and a series of various vaccinations to protect you while living in the Philippines. While this is not pleasant, it is important and will allow you to live in the tropics without worrying about disease. Your County Health Department can usually tell you the shots that are suggested and they can be obtained. You may also check the Center for Disease Controls website http://www.cdc.gov/travel/eastasia.htm#region.
BACKGROUND INVESTIGATION: You must have a Top Secret clearance to work at the Embassy so a background investigation will be conducted prior to approval of your transfer. This will take some time so dont expect to transfer as soon as you hear of your selection. The entire process, from selection to your arrival, will take six to eight months. Dont get overly frustrated.
HOME LEAVE: Home leave is available to those who apply and are approved for an extension beyond their three-year tour. Currently, home leave is earned at the rate of 15 days per year. An extension entitles you to 45 days of home leave. VA pays for the airfare for the employee and all dependents to travel to your official residence of record. Further travel during that time will be the responsibility of the employee. VA-Manila employees can also take advantage of a Federally sponsored program that provides discounted airfares throughout the U.S. while on home leave.
SECURITY: Security is always an issue at a US Embassy and this one is no exception. Many protests are conducted in front of the Embassy, even those that are not directed at the US (this is the best place to get publicity). For the most part these have been peaceful, with an occasional firecracker or paint ball tossed at the building. All cars entering the Embassy grounds, Seafront, and the VA OPC are searched. The Regional Security Office will issue a radio for your home so that information can be relayed to you when necessary and so that you can contact the Marine post in case of an emergency. Additionally, all employee residences have security guards on duty 24 hrs per day.