When Disaster Strikes: You and Your Filipino Virtual Assistant

you and your filipino virtual assistant

Typhoons prevent fishermen and Filipino virtual assistants from doing their jobs. Photo credit: Bernard Testa/Interaksyon.com


No Internet connection.


These are some of the reasons why your Filipino virtual assistant won’t be able to report  for work during the months from July to October.

And they’re not lying.

The Philippines, being a tropical country in the Typhoon belt, gets ravaged by at least six storms a year.  And each year, the storms are getting stronger and stronger due to climactic changes that affect the whole world.


In the wake of Typhoon Gener

As I am writing this post,  I could still feel the the force of Typhoon Gener outside. The winds are howling and it’s raining heavily.  I’m actually thinking about packing some of our stuff and sending it to my aunt for temporary storage because the water level in our area has risen alarmingly in the last seven days. You see, Laguna de Bay is just  meters away from our house.  We might have to “evacuate” if the rains don’t stop soon.

And  I am not alone in this. Many virtual assistants I know live near bodies of water that behave unpredictably during a stormy weather.  Even if I didn’t,  they’d still have to contend with power outages and Internet connectivity problems.  That’s why it’s important that you and your Filipino VA have some sort of agreement on how things should proceed in case a disaster, whether natural or man-made, happens.  But the  most important would be to:

Establish an alternative communication channel.

I and my clients rely heavily on email communications more than anything.  In case of sudden power interruptions and Internet connectivity problems, I use instant messaging to let my clients know what’s happening. You can also use Facebook, Twitter or other social networks for this purpose. This option is actually easy for those with smart phones. For people like me who don’t have a smart phone, an SMS to your client will also work.  The important thing here is that you let your client/employer know that you won’t be able to do work for the meantime because of things you can’t control.

Typhoon Gener

This is our backyard. After 7 days of non-stop raining, half of it is submerge in water.

Now,  updating your  client/employer may be a little more difficult if there’s a flood.  Your gadgets may have been the first casualty of such a calamity as what happened to my desktop     years ago.  Or, you’re just not thinking about work anymore. When the water gets inside your house, your mind is on far more important things like getting to a safe location and saving as many of your belongings as you can.  In such cases, my advice is to find a way to get a word to your clients that you’re  hit by the flood as soon as possible.

When the commotion has died down and you’ve had a chance to breath, explore different options available to you. Your neighbors may have a laptop or smart phone you can use. If you have access to a landline, you can get in touch with  a trusted friend, relative, or co-worker and have them access your email to set the vacation autoresponder on so that anyone who will email you will be notified why you can’t respond immediately.

A disaster need not result in a disastrous end for you and your Filipino virtual assistant. Click to tweet.


The extra mile

When Typhoon Ondoy hit in 2009, a flash flood devastated our area. When one of my clients heard in the news that our town was flooded, she called me to check up on me and my family. Another client, my very first one, even loaned me money so I can buy a new desktop for work. I paid him back with my VA services.

Now, I am not saying that you send extra money to your  VA.  My point is for you to show that you care about what happens to your VA and her family during this disastrous time.  Trust me, when you do that, then you will have a Filipino virtual assistant to support you for life.


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  1. Actually, it’s not only Typhoon Gener that was responsible for the floods because it was aggravated by a really, really heavy monsoon rain. We’re really lucky that we have cellphones that can surf the internet now. These can be helpful for online jobs. Just make sure that you have spare batteries and that these are fully charged. :)
    Pinay WAHM Blogger recently posted..Mother’s Day CelebrationMy Profile

    • You’re right, Pinay WAHM Blogger, I think that is why I said “after Typhoon Gener.” I only used Gener as a point of reference because I find it really hard to imagine (as others may do) that “monsoon rains” caused all that tragedy. In my 29 years of life, this is the first time this happened.

  2. Whoa, those pictures look alarming. I wonder how the people from the Philippines can stay so calm and cool all the time.

    I actually had a tutor from the Philippines that refreshed my memory in natural sciences – over the internet – for almost two years.

    She was great. When there was a flood and she let me know about it, I didn’t even think that it could be a lie.

    (Unfortunately, not all VAs from many countries are that honest.)

    I like your idea with the Facebook notice. It frees the VA from the need to get internet somewhere.

    What my VA from the Philippines did at that time, was to find an internet cafe, spend the money herself and contact me.

    I was most impressed by her loyalty and quick response in times when I would have perfectly understood it, if she wouldn’t have contacted me at all.

    No need to say this, but I sent her a bonus payment at that time. To reimburse her for her expenses and for the quick communication.
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  3. Oh my God! Typhoon Gener really destroyed your place and even nearby. I pity those people who were affected by the tremendous typhoon. Well this time, I’m planning to donate something that could help them even for just a simple aid. I hope they can overcome this. And I’m proud of you Nica for being accommodated in terms of this situation.
    The Office Escape recently posted..The Office Escape Team Sends Love to Habagat VictimsMy Profile

  4. Oh my Nica!
    When a VA I have was ravaged by flooding I also send extra money. I don’t recommend it unless you’ve got a great relationship. In this case we had worked together for 2 years already. I hope all is well with you now. Stay DRY!
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  5. Yes, this is one of the worse typhoons that hit us.
    And being a VA, it helps to inform our clients about any difficulty that we are facing when we have the opportunity, so that expectations are managed on both sides. We don’t want them to worry or get mad for all the wrong reasons, right?
    And totally agree with you Nica, when you said about a Filipino VA’s capacity to really appreciate a caring note from a client at times like these. It’s really like tugging a Filipino’s heartstrings in all the right places. :)
    Susan Guinto recently posted..7 Things Every New Virtual Assistant Should DoMy Profile

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