What is a Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO)?

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) serves as an essential bridge between the Philippines and Taiwan, fostering robust ties through a wide array of services despite not being an official diplomatic mission. Established due to the diplomatic shift in 1975, MECO has evolved into an organization that assists Filipinos in Taiwan, particularly the significant number of overseas Filipino workers there.

From consular services like passport and visa processing to cultural exchanges and economic programs such as investment and export promotions, this Office extends its support far beyond simple bureaucratic functions. It also plays an essential role in educational outreach through programs aimed at improving access to higher education for children of these workers. Anyone engaged with or interested in the dynamics between these two regions, whether they are individuals seeking consular assistance or businesses aiming to leverage cross-strait opportunities, will find its resources invaluable.

Credits: PNA

What is the Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO)?

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office acts as the Philippines’ unofficial yet primary liaison with Taiwan, fostering ties and promoting the interests of Filipinos in Taiwan. This organization sprang from diplomatic changes in 1975 when the Philippines shifted its recognition from Taiwan to the People’s Republic of China, necessitating a new, non-diplomatic avenue to maintain and enhance its relationship with Taiwan.

Significance of the Office

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office, despite its non-diplomatic status, plays a significant role in the Philippines’ relationship with Taiwan. Established in the absence of formal ties, MECO functions as a de facto embassy, handling consular duties, protecting Filipino citizens in Taiwan, and promoting economic and cultural exchange. This becomes noteworthy considering the large number of overseas Filipino workers (data from Philippine government agencies) in Taiwan who rely on MECO for assistance. Its role is further underscored by the existence of extension offices in key Taiwanese cities, highlighting the extensive Filipino community it serves. While lacking the official recognition of an embassy, the Office’s presence, as authorized by Philippine legislation, fills a major gap in unofficial relations with Taiwan.

Legal Basis and History

Established on January 1, 1993, MECO was born from its predecessor, the Asian Exchange Center, Inc. This transformation marked the continuation of the Philippines’ engagement with Taiwan through a non-stock, non-profit entity recognized under Philippine law. The Office’s inception is rooted in the need to sustain friendly and functional ties between the people of the Philippines and Taiwan, following the cessation of official diplomatic relations.

Mission and Vision

MECO’s mission is to uphold and expand mutually beneficial relationships between the Filipino and Taiwanese communities. Its vision is to exemplify an effective foreign entity that maintains robust economic and cultural exchanges while ensuring operational and financial efficiency.

Services Offered by MECO

MECO’s range of services includes:

  • Investment Promotion: Encouraging Taiwanese investment in Philippine industries such as manufacturing and tourism.
  • Export Promotion: Facilitating the export of Philippine goods and services to Taiwan.
  • Consular Services: Providing passport and visa services, and other documentation like reports of birth, marriage, and death.
  • Cultural and Educational Exchanges: Supporting various forms of cooperation including educational, cultural, and scientific exchanges.

Consular and Visa Services

MECO provides several key services:

  • Passport applications and renewals for adults and minors.
  • Various visa services including single-entry, multiple-entry, and transit visas.
  • Notarial services like authentication and general notarial acts.
  • Assistance to nationals in distress through its Assistance to Nationals (ATNs) services.

Eligibility and Requirements

Eligibility for MECO’s services generally requires Filipino nationality or relevant ties to the Philippines. Specific services like passport renewal or visa applications come with their own set of requirements detailed on MECO’s official website.

Step-by-Step Guide on How to Benefit from MECO’s Services

  1. Identify the Service Needed: Visit the MECO website to understand which service you require—be it consular, visa, investment, or cultural.
  2. Gather Required Documents: Collect all necessary documentation such as application forms, proof of identity, and any additional requirements for specific services.
  3. Submit Your Application: For consular services, submit your application online or at MECO offices. For business services, contact the Office directly to understand the procedure.
  4. Follow Through: Keep track of your application status online and prepare for any additional steps such as interviews or supplementary documentation.
  5. Receive Services: Once your application is processed, pick up documents or receive further instructions from MECO.

MECO’s Role in Scholarships and Educational Support

Besides its direct services, MECO plays a primary role in educational outreach through programs like the Congressional Migrant Workers Scholarship Program (CMWSP). This aids children of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs) in gaining access to higher education, emphasizing fields like science and technology.

Engaging with MECO

To learn more about MECO’s services or to start an application, visit their official website or contact their offices in Makati, Taipei, Taichung, or Kaohsiung.

Recent Updates

MECO Provides Relief and Assistance to OFWs Affected by Taiwan Quake

The Manila Economic and Cultural Office has distributed relief packs and cash assistance to hundreds of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) impacted by the recent earthquake in Taiwan. MECO chairman Silvestre H. Bello III visited Hualien, the epicenter of the quake, to assess the situation and express gratitude to county officials for their support and care for affected OFWs. (Manila Bulletin)

Epistar Corporation Recognized for Humanitarian Support to Filipino Worker

Epistar Corporation, a Taiwanese company, has received commendation for its remarkable humanitarian deeds in providing support to a Filipino worker suffering from severe lung disease. Despite her inability to work, Epistar continued to offer financial assistance, medical support, extended health insurance coverage, and facilitated her family’s visit to Taiwan. Their compassionate actions exemplify their commitment to employee welfare and well-being. (Business Mirror)

Exemplary OFWs in Taiwan Granted Permanent Residency and Family Reunification

Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) employed in Taiwanese companies who have demonstrated exceptional performance in their workplaces have been promoted and given the opportunity to permanently reside in Taiwan with their families, according to the Manila Economic and Cultural Office. The incentive has already been offered to 53 OFWs working with food companies in Taoyuan, such as I-Mei Foods Co. Ltd, where numerous Filipino workers have been hired over the past three decades. This allows OFWs to be exempted from the maximum period of stay in Taiwan and apply for permanent residency, fostering family reunification. (Inquirer)

Video: Taiwan, tinamaan ng magkasunod na lindol; Labi ng nasawing OFWs sa baha sa UAE, ire-repatriate – DMW

According to the Department of Migrant Workers, no Filipinos were injured in the consecutive earthquakes that struck Taiwan in the early hours of Tuesday, April 23. Meanwhile, the department is making arrangements to repatriate the remains of Filipinos who lost their lives in the widespread flooding in the United Arab Emirates, with plans to bring them back home this week.



MECO represents a significant bridge between the Philippines and Taiwan, providing a broad spectrum of services that enhance both economic ties and cultural understanding. Whether you are a Filipino in Taiwan, a business looking to invest, or a student seeking educational opportunities, this Office offers valuable support tailored to a wide range of needs.

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