Metro Manila · Mobile/ Cellular Services
There are several providers for prepaid and post-paid mobile phone plans available in the Megacity and it only makes sense to take some time to compare plans and options. But if you want to get SIM cards from all the providers, you can do so as well because it is not uncommon for Megacitizens to have two or three SIM cards from different telecoms. SUN-Smart-Globe is a likely combination.
In order to get a prepaid SIM card, you only need to go to a 7Eleven store, a mobile phone shop inside a mall or to the nearest Sari-Sari store. All of these places usually sell SIM cards and load. If you can't find the provider you want, you can go to that particular telecom's shop to get a prepaid SIM. If you want a GLOBE SIM, you can visit any of the GLOBE stores around the metro and don't worry, these stores are usually inside major malls.
In order to sign up for a post-paid contract, you would need more documents and a lot of patience. You definitely need to go to a brand shop (e.g. Smart shop to sign up for a Smart contract) to do this. You will have to sign a contract there, hand in an Identification (ID), show proof of a local bank account and a long term visa (depends on the company you are signing up with). Some post-paid contracts usually run for a minimum of one or two years but in return come with a free or cheap mobile phone. For the specific documents you need, call the contact number of your provider of choice and ask first because requirements might differ and therefore might give you a hard time getting all those documents together.
In case you are looking into a prepaid plan, you will have to buy load every time you run out. This can be bought at the same stores mentioned above e.g. 7Eleven, Mini Stop, the Sari Sari store around the corner and mobile phone stores inside the malls. You will easily find them because these stores usually have tarpaulins stating the name of one of the big phone companies, such as 'GLOBE, load na dito' ('You can buy Globe load here'). If you buy it as 'cards' (100, 300 and 500 Peso cards are available) you get some extra free text messages. Some vendors only offer 'electronic load' which means that they send you load from their phones. This is also perfectly okay, but you won't get the extra free text messages and you have to give the vendor your mobile phone number which might in some cases have your number end up on a scammer list (see below).
Services and Scam
The Philippines has a very well-developed mobile phone servicing system. You can transfer load to a friend or family member via phone, you can sign up for Blackberry Services with a prepaid card, you can participate in raffles, and you can even pay for certain things with your mobile phone (just send load to a number they give you e.g. at a store). But these capabilities have emboldened criminals to send text messages to people saying 'just share 50 Pesos to me'. You must ignore such text messages and, if your phone is capable of doing so, putting them on the ignore list/ firewall list would be best.
We only featured the three big companies SUN, Smart and Globe but there are some smaller companies which are subsidiaries of the umbrella companies (such as TM, which belongs to Globe) . In terms of network coverage, loading options, and services, we would recommend sticking to one of the big three so that you don't get stuck on an island without reception or without any store where to buy load from.
GLOBE, one of the biggest telecom companies in the Philippines, offers prepaid as well as post-paid services. You can subscribe to GLOBE's prepaid services by having enough load on your phone. You can also text specific messages to a service number and it will automatically activate certain services such as unlimited texting, unlimited calls, and Internet access for 24 hours. GLOBE offers also a huge variety of plans and combinations for post-paid customers as well and this also includes a family plan.
SUN offers post-Paid as well as prepaid plans. The post-paid plans include regular plans as well as plans that include mobile phones.
SMART belongs to the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company (PLDT) and provides the mobile services. SMART offers standard prepaid services as well as five customizable post-paid plans, unlimited plans and an iPhone plan. Most plans can be supplemented with extra services, such as international call time. The best way is to tell the vendor what exactly you are planning to do and how to use your mobile services. They will help you figure out what plan bundled with which services is the best for your mobile phone behaviour.