Here’s a quick lesson on Philippine Geography to make it easier for you to identify what part of the country your OFS is located in.

The Philippines is subdivided into 17 political regions, Regions 1 to 13, plus four regions that don’t have numbers in their name. Region 1 is in the northmost part of the country; then it goes down to 13, which is in the southmost part.

These regions are distributed among the 3 island groups: Luzon (north), Visayas (center), and Mindanao (south).

You can tell what part of the country a region is based on the number. Regions 1 to 5 are in Luzon, the biggest island group in the northern part of the Philippines.

Also, in Luzon are 3 of the 4 regions that don’t have a number to their name: the MIMAROPA region, the National Capital Region (also called Metro Manila), and the Cordillera Administrative Region.

Regions 6 (Western Visayas), 7 (Central Visayas), and 8 (Eastern Visayas) belong to the Visayas, the smallest island group in the middle of the country. 
Regions 9 to 13 belong to Mindanao in the south. Also included is the only other region that doesn’t have a number in its name: BARMM or the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

Why do you need to know the different island groups? So you know whether your OFS is affected by a natural disaster.

I talked about a major earthquake in Northern Luzon a few weeks ago. It made national and international news because of how strong it was. But because it happened in Luzon, my OFS living in Visayas and Mindanao were unaffected by it. I didn’t have to worry about my entire team, just those living in Luzon.

Learning about the culture also helps when working with an OFS. I talk about Philippine work culture in detail in my book, The Outsourcing Lever.