The Philippines has the most vibrant and largest civil society in Southeast Asia, which engages constantly with government and has achieved some notable successes. This article traces the origins of the main components of this civil society—the numerous non-governmental organisations (NGOs)—and delineates their differing characteristics. NGO operations are then examined through the use of network analysis. This approach focuses on the relationships linking NGOs to one another and to the multiplicity of other actors in their arenas of operation, particularly government organisations, thus enabling an appreciation of the complex interactions that occur as NGOs negotiate their environments to achieve their goals. Also relevant are the various strategies and tactics used by NGOs to promote their values, ideologies and activities. These include advocacy, research, capacity building, legislative lobbying and protest. Clearly, while the civic engagement of NGOs in the Philippines has been much celebrated, the societal changes they facilitate are typically incremental in nature. They require continued vigilance and action to ensure sustainability in the context of a weak state where the particularistic demands of politicians are prominent and the state lacks capacity to provide the services it promises. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.