Helpful Cellphone Tips in the Philippines

Since most of the population and immigrant locals use Text Messaging as their main form of "talking", one should get used to this method of communication. It’s cost effective, and it keeps a written record of what was said, which can be handy later.

Network…any GSM phone that operates on 900/1800 mhz will work. This includes many models by Nokia, Sony/Ericsson, Motorola, and HTC and even Chinese models. If your phone simply has the name of your carrier on it, such as Cingular, AT&T, Verizon, T-Mobile,Vodaphone, O2, etc…check the actual model number of the unit first to verify coverage. CDMA only phones will not work here.

Providers….Smart, Globe, and Sun. Each company has certain benefits and drawbacks so just pick the one you like. Both Smart and Globe support data services so you can access the internet, email, video calling and more, using GPRS, EDGE, 3G, UTMS, HSDPA. This guide will answer most of your questions about using a cellphone with Smart or Globe. As I have never used SUN, I will simply post a link here for you to read about their services: SUN Cellular

Can you use your phone from your own country here?

if it is already network unlocked, meaning you have verified that it can be used on a telcom provider, other than the one you bought it from, YES
if not, one can usually get it unlocked in one of the many cellphone shops along Fields Ave, or at Savers Mall, SM Mall, or Nepo Mall.

Should I bring my phone with me or just buy one here?
Well, that depends. If you think you need to have all of your foreign contacts with you while here, then yes. If you just need a basic phone for calling and texting, one can be purchased for as little as p1500 brand new. That being said, your phone might have lots of bells and whistles that a cheap local phone won’t. But, many use a dedicated phone, just for the Philippines, so they reduce the risk of getting their foreign, expensive phone lost or stolen.

Basically, you buy a pre-paid SIM card, which costs anywhere from 80 pesos to 150 pesos and add load balance to it. This will now be your local Phils number. You will place it (usually underneath the battery) in your new phone, or the phone you brought over with you. Load can be added by buying a reload card and following the instructions on the card, which consists of scratching off a hidden pin number and sending a text message or making a free call to reload, or by purchasing Eload (electronic load) from one of many roadside shops or going into the telcom provider’s business office.

Texting Messaging and Predictive Texting

Get ready though, as filipinos have an interesting way of abbreviating their words, and sometimes use phonetic spelling, or "TAG-lish" so you’ll have to ask a buddy to read and decifer your incoming messages.

English speaking persons have the option of using their phone’s built in dictionary while composing text messages. Sometimes called T9, it can be activated in the phone menu, and it can really save a lot of time. Words, next letter and even next sentence choices are spelled out in advance of the word being completed, and can be chosen while typing. So instead of typing the word HELLO with 13 key presses, it can be done in 5 key presses. Be careful when spelling new words when in T9 dictionary mode, as if you mis-spell a word, it will be offered as a word choice every time until you enter so many new words as to overwrite your custom words.

To Check your balance with SMART
CALL 1515, you will hear some beeps then be disconnected. You will then receive a text message with the balance.
TEXT 1515 and send to 214
You will then receive a text message with the balance.
Use the SMART menu and select Buddy Balance.

To Check your balance with Globe

CALL 222 You will then receive a text message with the balance. This costs 1 peso.
TEXT bal and send to 222 You will then receive a text message with the balance. This is free up to 8 times a day.

To Reload Smart using a reload card by calling
CALL 1510fourteendigitpinnumber
using the pin number you have revealed by scratching off the hidden section

Reloading Instructions for Globe Call & Text Card
For GLOBE Handyphone local [Philippine] subscribers
1. Dial 223 and press Send
2. Follow the voice prompts
3. Enter the first 10 digits [Call Card Number] then press #
4. Enter the last 6 digits [Call Card PIN] then press #
5. A voice prompt will then confirm if the load attempt is successful

For GLOBE Handyphone US Roaming subscribers
1. Dial *123* + call card number + PIN + # sign. Do not put spaces in between this sequence.
Ex. *123* 1234567890123456#
2. Press SEND.
3. Wait for this confirmation message to flash on the screen. “Please wait while we process your request.”
4. You will receive a message shortly after. “Reload successful new balance is Pxxx”

International Text Roaming is really great, as you can keep in touch with persons in the Philippines and it costs them one peso to send a text message to you, as if you were still in the country. Many persons use two phones when back in their home countries, one with the SIM on roaming to receive messages, and their local foreign phone for replying. Roaming can also be used to deny incoming calls while here in the Philippines, to ensure your privacy, location, and/or help you get some needed sleep or continue with your business meeting, uninterrupted. In this case, although you can send and receive text messages, you will be unable to make or receive calls.

Roaming with SMART…

Activating International Text Roaming
Simply text "ROAM ON" and send to 333. Roaming activation will occur within one (1) hour, usually instantly. (Important: Remember to activate pre-paid roaming before leaving the Philippines.)

When your Buddy Roaming service is activated you will be able to send and receive text messages in over 100 countries in the world, anytime for only P20 per send; enjoy zero-charging for receiving text messages while roaming; and disallow all outgoing and incoming calls (even while you’re in the Philippines).

To deactivate the roaming feature upon your return, simply key in "ROAM OFF" and send to 333. De-activation will occur within one (1) hour, usually instantly. (Remember to deactivate upon arrival in the Philippines to restore voice calls.)

Once overseas it is free to receive texts as long as you maintain a 100 peso balance.

Checking your pre-paid peso balance while roaming
To check your PESO balance while roaming:
Type in ?1515 and send to 214
You will receive a text message stating your latest available balance.

To check your FREE text balance:
Type ?1516 and send to 214
You will receive a text message stating your latest available balance.

To Reload using a reload card thru text:

Through text, you can also reload SMART Buddy with a few simple commands:
a. Lightly scratch off the protective ink on your Call and Text Card* to reveal the 14-digit PIN.
b. Type in "RELOAD <’14 digit PIN’>" and send to 1510. NOTE, there is a space between reload and the pin number.
c. If you wish to load another phone number than the one you are texting the reload command from, type in "RELOAD <’14 digit PIN’> <‘phone number’>".
d. You will receive a text message confirming that the reload attempt is successful

Roaming with Globe
Just text GROAM ON [Start Date] [No. of Days] and send to 2884.

For example, if you want to activate your roaming on September 26, 2009 for ten days, just text GROAM ON 09/26/2009 10 send to 2884.

Make sure that you have P500 balance before activating your International Roaming. You also need to maintain P500 daily load while abroad to ensure continuity of your roaming service. You may request for roaming activation 7 days before departure or at least an hour before departure. Maximum number of days for activation is 180 days.

P100 maintaining balance while roaming is permanent.

Required Activation Balance Php 100
Required Maintaining Balance Php 100

The following grace periods will apply after completing your requested roaming days.

No. of Requested Days and Grace Period*

1 – 7 roaming days
8 – 90 roaming days
91 – 120 roaming days
121 – 180 roaming days
0 days grace period
3 days grace period
14 days grace period
30 days grace period

* Roaming service will remain inactive while under the grace period.

Reminder: You can only request for activation while you’re in the Philippines. If you go below the required maintaining balance, Globe Telecom will give you a text notification to reload within 24 hours, otherwise your Roaming service will be deactivated.

How to apply for extension of the Prepaid International Roaming Service:
To request for extension of your Prepaid International Roaming, just text GROAM EXTEND [no. of days] and send to 2884 before your roaming request ends. Maximum number of days for extension is 90 days.

You can extend as many times until you reach the 180 days maximum allowable roaming days.

Regular roaming text charges apply. Make sure that you have P 500 balance before making a request. You also need to maintain P 500 daily load while abroad to ensure continuity of your roaming service.

Reminder: You must request for extension at least a day before your roaming service ends.

How to make calls while roaming with Globe:
1. Dial *131* + country code + area code (or operator code) + called party’s number + #sign. Do not put spaces in between this number sequence. (e.g. *131*6327301000# ). Press SEND.

2. A confirmation message will flash on your screen.

"Please wait while we process your request."

3.Then wait for your phone to ring and you’re automatically connected.

Reminder: Maintain P80 in prepaid credits to avoid getting your call cut off due to insufficient balance.

Maintain P95 in prepaid credits to receive calls.

How to check your balance while roaming with Globe

1. CALL *122#

2.You will receive a confirmation message "Your balance is Pxxx", stating your current balance.

Checking your balance while roaming in CANADA, just by text BAL send to 2215

*Balance inquiry is free of charge and is available to you 8 times daily. On the 9th try, you will no longer receive a balance update.

For HELP while roaming, you can call Globe’s 24/7 Customer Service Hotline * Prepaid clients can call *131*6327301212# from your mobile (toll-free)

You can also email Globe at "" for help on your roaming. You can even request to reactivate your SIM’s roaming feature thru this email.

The world’s first service that allows your friends and relatives in the Philippines to send load for as low as P2.00 from their SMART cellphones.

To send load to your roaming SIM, they just have to text < your roaming sim#> space < amount> and send to 808.

Ex: Text 09182211333 2 send to 808
Available PASALOAD denominations: P2, P5, P10, P15, P20, P30, P60

SMART Ask 4 load
With Ask4Load, you can now ask for load and pasaload from anyone subscribed to the SMART Network.

How to Ask 4 load with your Smart account:

dial *808 followed by the 11-digit mobile phone number of the person you are asking.

Example: if your friend’s mobile phone number is 0917 123 4567, just call *80809171234567

They will receive a text message asking them if they want to send YOU 5 pesos load, by replying with YES or NO before midnight. If one does not wish to, the request can simply be ignored as well. You can request askforload twice a day.

GLOBE ask-a-load
Globe Prepaid subscribers can Ask-A-load from another Globe Prepaid or Globe postpaid subscriber.This service is NOT available for Touch Mobile subscribers.

How can I Ask-A-Load?
Ask-A-Load by simply texting the (amount) to (26+10 digit handyphone number). NO need to register.

Example, to ask P25 pesos from 09176660353:

Step 1: Text in the amount, say 25

Step 2: Send to 269176660353

The person you are asking load from will receive a text advise asking for load. If the person who received the request agrees, he/she simply reply by texting his Share-A-Load PIN. If the person you are asking from doesn’t have a Share-A-Load PIN (first time users of Share-A-Load service), he/she can simply text YES and the P25 load request will be transferred. To accept succeeding requests the Share-A-Load PIN is required. To register, go here: Globe Share a Load

SMART Person Finder
Ok, so you have children or a wife girlfriend that you wish to be able to locate their general location. If you were told someone is in the province, you can do this search and if it shows Balibago, Angeles City, well, you’ll know something is amiss…

This only works with SMART so both phones must have a SMART sim card.

First make sure you have access to the cellphone of the person you wish to trace. Then using YOUR cellphone, type WIS

For example WIS Karl 09181111111 and send to 386

This costs 2.50 pesos per text

The person you want to locate will receive a text message asking for your permission to locate him/her on THEIR cellphone. Using THEIR cellphone, you can authorize yourself as someone allowed to trace them. You can also password protect this feature so it cant be turned off without the password.

Once you’re authorized, you can locate the cellphone by sending either WIS (name) or WIS (registered number) to 386. This costs you 5 pesos.

Then you will receive a text message with their general whereabouts. Make sure you delete all the sent and received texts, during this process, on the person’s phone you are trying to authorize to trace. This way there willl be zero evidence. It’s not very specific, but can be useful to see what city barangay, or province someone is in. Go here for more info: Smart Person Finder

Be Sociable, Share!