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3 Pinay Teachers Share How Much They Earn Abroad

Unsurprisingly, it’s MUCH more than what teachers earn here.

In terms of salary, teachers are truly underappreciated professionals in the Philippines. The job is physically and mentally draining. Considering teachers have a bunch of students under their care—a huge responsibility—we believe they should be earning much more. 

The starting salary of public school teachers in the country is P19,077 as of 2016, and some private institutions offer fresh grads around P21,457. So like nurses and other professionals, a lot of Pinay teachers eventually look for more financially rewarding jobs outside the country. Cosmo.ph spoke to three teachers currently working abroad.

Alessandra Reynes, 27, is based in Singapore. She works for Zee Group, an institution for early childhood education. She lives with colleagues in a rented condo subsidized by the school and pays her own utility bills. She is earning a six-figure salary (in Peso), which is three to four times her previous income.


Why did you decide to become a teacher?

I want to make a difference in the world.

How did you choose where to work?

The school has a Special Education Program, which is my passion. The company employs foreign and local workers, so I applied, and after a series of interviews, I was accepted.

Do you feel like you’re properly compensated?

My company treats the locals and the foreign staff equally. There’s no bias—everything is based on meritocracy. I feel secure, since my company covers my outpatient and hospitalization expenses. Plus, I’m staying at a condo provided by the company at a subsidized rate. There are other teachers from the Philippines staying together. It feels like home. It’s also walking distance from my workplace. My company even provides lunch! I save on rent, commute fares, and meals.

Are you able to save up? Which luxuries are you able to afford?

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Yes, I’m able to save up. My biggest luxury is traveling. This year, I’ve already been to the Maldives, Japan, Indonesia, and Malaysia. I also was able to buy a car for my family in the Philippines.

Can you compare your work and life now to when you were in the Philippines?

I am forever grateful to the Multiple Intelligence International School and Miriam College (my alma mater). They provided me with great opportunities and trained me as an educator. My work now exposes me to diverse cultures. I have colleagues from different parts of Asia, and I have learned a great deal from them. In Singapore, I don’t face problems like traffic or typhoons or rallies, so there are fewer distractions and stress factors. It enables me to focus on my work better and educate the children. 

Any plans of leaving the institution you work in, going home, or shifting careers?

As of now, I plan to stay in the institution. 

Jenny Rose Santos, 26. She is also based in Singapore and works as a preschool English teacher at an institution called Bright Juniors Pte. Ltd. She is currently renting a house with her best friend along with two other friends. Jenny pays for her meals, utility bills, insurance plan, commute fares, and gym membership. She also sends remittances to her family in the Philippines. She earns around P80,000 to P90,000 a month.


Why did you decide to become a teacher?

Teaching has always been my dream job since I was a little girl. [As I grew older], I was touched and inspired by my teachers and my church leaders. They made me fall in love with the magic of touching one’s life by sharing not only knowledge but also—and more importantly—a variety of experiences.

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How did you choose where to work?

When I arrived in Singapore, I applied for different schools through online websites and referrals. I wasn’t really picky, so I was going to accept whichever school gave me a job offer first. There were some schools that expressed their interest to hire me, but “Cherie Hearts” (the first name of the school I’m working for now) was the one who made me feel like home. I was nervous back then, but my principal and colleagues were very welcoming.

Do you feel like you’re properly compensated?

Based on the standard of the Ministry of Education in Singapore, my paycheck as a foreign worker is in the correct range. But as a teacher working in my company for more than two years now, I’m a little bit disappointed with my salary. With all the responsibilities given to me, I think they should increase my paycheck or provide more benefits.

Are you able to save up? Which luxuries are you able to afford?

Yes, I even have a ledger, so I can track down all my expenses and savings. I categorize my savings into four categories: emergencies, travel, shopping or salon services, and my sibling’s school fees. For me, the luxury of traveling is the best thing. I’ve been to Thailand, Indonesia, Hong Kong, Macau, and Malaysia. I’ve traveled around the Philippines as well. Aside from that, I am not really brand-conscious, but for running shoes, bags, and my phone, I prefer branded goods.

Can you compare your work and life now to when you were in the Philippines?

I can say that I am more independent and mature now than when I was in the Philippines. Because of Singapore, I’m learning and understanding a variety of languages as well as meeting different people. It’s made my life more colorful. I can also say that I am more financially stable now. Above all, I’ve become more aware of who I really am; I know my strengths and weaknesses.

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Any plans of leaving the institution you work in, going home, or shifting careers?

Teaching is not an easy job because of all the mental and physical work, but if you enjoy what you’re doing, you will feel less stress and not think of all the negative sides. Although I’m a bit disappointed with my compensation, I do not have any plans of leaving. Staying is the best way to not only protect the school but also to ensure growth and development among the children. I’m passionate about teaching, so I don’t see myself shifting to any other career in the future. I am considering having my own business, but that’s still in line with teaching or education.

Jasmin Kay Libron, 26, is based in Hawaii. She worked for a private institution called Saint John the Baptist Catholic School (SJBCS). She lives with her family and pays part of their rent and bills. Jasmin was earning around P123,000 (gross) or P82,100 (net) at SJBCS. She is now working as an educational assistant for a public elementary school. 


Why did you decide to become a teacher?

My third-grade religion teacher inspired me. I knew I was meant to serve God, teaching and preaching His Word. Originally, I wanted to teach religion (and become a nun as well), but I opted to take math since the former wasn’t one of the options for a bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education at U.P. 

How did you choose where to work?

After graduating, I got a job as a math teacher for ninth- and tenth-grade students at La Salle Green Hills High School. I worked there for two years until my family had to migrate to Hawaii. I was working as a substitute teaching aide for another school when the principal recommended me to the principal of SJBCS as they were looking for a middle school math teacher. It was an emergency hiring, and I just happened to have a license for teaching math, so it all worked out! I am currently working as an educational assistant in a public elementary school, and I’m hoping to land a job as a high school teacher at a public school soon.

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Do you feel like you’re properly compensated?

The salary was okay. The benefits, however, were much preferable. My health and dental insurances were fully paid by the Roman Catholic Church in Hawaii. Also, the Church subsidized three percent of the amount that I was paying for my retirement plan.

Are you able to save up? Which luxuries are you able to afford?

I am able to save up since I am staying with my family. Living expenses here are higher when compared to any state in the U.S., to be honest. I’ve always been a believer of a simple lifestyle, and I am careful with my money. I haven’t really gotten anything really expensive or out of my capabilities. However, I think I was able to eat out more in the Philippines (maybe five times a week at most, usually dinner after work) because restaurants here are expensive unless it’s fast food. A usual meal in a restaurant could range from $10 to $25 (P500 to P1,285)—drinks not included.

Can you compare your work and life now to when you were in the Philippines?

In terms of the actual work, everything was the same (lesson planning, grading papers, etc.) SJBCS had a smaller community than other private and public schools with only around 170 to 180 students in total. Classes only had 20 students at most with just one class per grade level, so I taught math for fifth to eighth graders. I also got myself a certification for Emergency Response for Childcare Providers, since schools require it. As of my life now, I am thankful that I migrated with my whole family. It’s the first time that we’re complete as a family at home because my dad stopped working as an OFW when we got here. However, I miss all my friends in the Philippines so much, and I miss just about everything there like the street food, the jeeps, and the celebration of Buwan ng Wika!

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Any plans of leaving the institution you work in, going home, or shifting careers?

I’ve never considered leaving this profession! My passion is teaching, and I’ll retire as a teacher. Given all the challenges and low salary, I choose to stay because nothing beats seeing my students enjoy learning math and seeing them improve! If I had to use my own money just to give quality education to them, I would! I hope to save enough money to at least buy a house in the Philippines for my parents. My heart is always for my country. I hope to go back home to serve my fellow Filipinos as a volunteer teacher in God’s time.

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