Overseas Filipinos

An Overseas Filipino (Filipino: Pilipino sa Ibayong-dagat) is a person of Filipino origin who lives outside the Philippines. This term applies to Filipinos who are abroad indefinitely as citizens or as permanent residents of a different country and to those Filipino citizens abroad for a limited, definite period, such as on a work contract or as students. It can also refer to a person who is of Filipino descent.

Overseas Filipinos
Mga Pilipino sa Ibayong-dagat
Total population
10.2 million

(including descendants of Filipinos and persons of partial Filipino ancestry)[1]

figures are for various years, per individual supporting sources cited.
Regions with significant populations
 United States4,037,564[2]
 Saudi Arabia938,490[3]
 United Arab Emirates679,819[5]
 Japan251,934[8] - 260,553[9]
 Hong Kong184,000[12]
 United Kingdom144,000[13]
 South Korea63,464[17]
 New Zealand40,347[18]
 Papua New Guinea25,000[20]


In 2013, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) estimated that approximately 10.2 million people of Filipino descent lived or worked abroad.[1] This number constitutes about 11 percent of the total population of the Philippines.[33] It is one of the largest diaspora populations, spanning over 100 countries.[34]

The overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) tend to be young and gender-balanced. Based on a survey conducted in 2011, the demographics indicate how the 24-29 age group constitutes 24 percent of the total and is followed by the 30-34 age group (23 percent) working abroad.[35] Male OFWs account for 52 percent of the total OFW population. The slightly smaller percentage of the female overseas workers tend to be younger than their male counterparts.[35] Production workers and service workers account for more than 80 percent of the labor outflows by 2010 and this number is steadily increasing, along with the trend for professional workers, who are mainly nurses and engineers.[35] Filipino seamen, overseas Filipino workers in the maritime industry, make an oversize impact on the global economy, making up a fifth to a quarter of the merchant marine crews, who are responsible for the movement of the majority of goods in the global economy.[36][37]

The OFW population is consistently increasing through the years and this is partly attributed to the government's encouragement of the outflow of contractual workers as evidenced in policy pronouncements, media campaigns, and other initiatives.[38] For instance, it describes the OFWs as the heroes of the nation, encouraging citizens to take pride in these workers.

Economic impact

In 2012, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), the central bank of the Philippines, expects official remittances coursed through banks and agents to grow 5% over 2011 to US$21 billion, but official remittances are only a fraction of all remittances.[39] In 2018, remittance had increased to $31 billion, which was nearly 10% of the GDP of the Philippines.[36] Remittances by unofficial, including illegal, channels are estimated by the Asian Bankers Association to be 30 to 40% higher than the official BSP figure.[39] In 2011, remittances were US$20.117 billion.[40]

In 2012, approximately 80% of the remittances came from only 7 countries—United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, and Japan.[40]


Employment conditions

Employment conditions abroad are relevant to the individual worker and their families as well as for the sending country and its economic growth and well being. Poor working conditions for Filipinos hired abroad include long hours, low wages and few chances to visit family. Women often face disadvantages in their employment conditions as they tend to work in the elder/child care and domestic. These occupations are considered low skilled and require little education and training, thereby regularly facing poor working conditions. Women facing just working conditions are more likely to provide their children with adequate nutrition, better education and sufficient health. There is a strong correlation between women's rights and the overall well being of children. It is therefore a central question to promote women's rights in order to promote children's capabilities.[41][42]

According to a statement made in 2009 by John Leonard Monterona, the Middle East coordinator of Migrante, a Manila-based OFW organization, every year, an unknown number of Filipinos in Saudi Arabia were then "victims of sexual abuses, maltreatment, unpaid salaries, and other labor malpractices".[43]

Government policy

Philippine Labor Migration Policy has historically focused on removing barriers for migrant workers to increase accessibility for employment abroad. Working conditions among Filipinos employed abroad varies depending on whether the host country acknowledges and enforces International labor standards. The standards are set by the ILO, which is an UN agency that 185 of the 193 UN members are part of. Labor standards vary greatly depending on host country regulations and enforcement. One of the main reasons for the large differences in labor standards is due to the fact that ILO only can register complaints and not impose sanctions on governments.

Emigration policies tend to differ within countries depending on if the occupation is mainly dominated by men or women. Occupations dominated by men tend to be driven by economic incentives whereas emigration policies aimed at women traditional tend to be value driven, adhering to traditional family roles that favors men's wage work. As women are regularly seen as symbols of national pride and dignity, governments tend to have more protective policies in sectors dominated by women. These policies risk to increase gender inequality in the Philippines and thereby this public policy work against women joining the workforce.[44]

The Philippine government has recently opened up their public policy to promote women working abroad since the world's demand for domestic workers and healthcare workers has increased. This has led to the government reporting a recent increase in women emigrating from the Philippines. A healthcare problem arises as migrating women from the Philippines and other developing countries often create a nursing shortage in the home country. Nurse to patient ratio is down to 1 nurse to between 40 and 60 patients, in the 1990s the ratio was 1 nurse to between 15 and 20 patients. It seems inevitable that the healthcare sector loses experienced nurses as the emigration is increasing. The Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement is seen as a failure by most since only 7% of applicants or 200 nurses a year has been accepted on average – mainly due to resistance by domestic stakeholders and failed program implementation. The result is a "lose-lose" outcome where Philippine workers fail to leverage their skills and a worldwide shortage persists. Despite the fact that Japan has an aging population and many Filipinos want to work in Japan, a solution has not yet been found. The Japanese Nursing Association supports "equal or better" working conditions and salaries for Filipino nurses. In contrast, Yagi propose more flexible wages to make Filipinos more attractive on the Japanese job market.[45][46] [47]

Results from a focus group in the Philippines shows that the positive impacts from migration of nurses is attributed to the individual migrant and his/her family, while the negative impacts are attributed to the Filipino healthcare system and society in general. In order to fill the nursing shortage in the Philippines, suggestions have been made by several NGOs that nursing-specializing Filipino workers overseas, locally known as "overseas Filipino workers" (OFWs), return to the country to train local nurses, for which program training would be required in order for the Philippines to make up for all its nurses migrating abroad.[47]

Host country policies

Wealthier households derive a larger share of their income from abroad. This might suggest that government policies in host countries favor capital-intensive activities. Even though work migration is mainly a low and middle class activity, the high-income households are able to derive a larger share of their income from abroad due to favorable investment policies. These favorable investment policies causes an increase in income inequalities and do not promote domestic investments that can lead to increased standard of living. This inequality threatens to halt the economic development as investments are needed in the Philippines and not abroad in order to increase growth and well-being. A correlation between successful contribution to the home country's economy and amounted total savings upon the migrants return has been found, therefore it is important to decrease income inequalities while attracting capital from abroad to the Philippines.[45][48]

Many host governments of OFWs have protective policies and barriers making it difficult to enter the job market. Japan has been known for rigorous testing of Filipinos in a way that make them look reluctant to hold up their part of the Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement and solely enjoy the benefit of affordable manufacturing in the Philippines, not accepting and educating OFWs.[46]

Return migration

Returning migrant workers are often argued to have a positive effect on the home economy since they are assumed to gain skills and return with a new perspective. Deskilling has caused many Filipino workers to return less skilled after being assigned simple tasks abroad, this behavior creates discouragement for foreign workers to climb the occupational ladder. Deskilling of labor is especially prevalent among women who often have few and low skill employment options, such as domestic work and child or elder care. Other occupations that recently has seen an increase in deskilling are doctors, teachers and assembly line workers.[45]

To underline what a common problem this deskilling is: Returning migrant workers are calling for returnee integration programs, which suggests that they do not feel prepared to be re-integrated in the domestic workforce.[44]

As the Philippines among other countries who train and export labor repeatedly has faced failures in protecting labor rights, the deskilling of labor has increased on a global scale. A strong worldwide demand for healthcare workers causes many Filipinos to emigrate without ever getting hired or become deskilling while possibly raising their salary. The result is a no-win situation for the sending and receiving country. The receiving countries lose as skilled workers are not fully utilizing their skills while the home country simultaneously experience a shortage of workers in emigrating prone sectors.[46]

Countries and territories with Filipino populations

Filipino Market Kota Kinabalu
Filipino Market in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia.
Lucky Plaza, Orchard Road, Singapore
Lucky Plaza mall in Orchard Road hosts products and services that cater for Overseas Filipinos in Singapore.

See also

Work Cited

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Further reading

External links

General statistics from Philippine government

From other sources

Bayan Ko

"Bayan Ko" (Spanish: Nuestra Patria, English: My Country) is one of the most recognizable patriotic songs of the Philippines. It was originally penned in Spanish by the Revolutionary general José Alejandrino, and translated into Tagalog some three decades later by the poet José Corazón de Jesús.

The song, which is a kundiman, is often considered the unofficial second national anthem of the Philippines, and is sometimes sung by Overseas Filipinos groups after the Lupang Hinirang or by itself. It is sometimes assumed to be a folk music because of its popularity, and due to the nature of its lyrics it has been used as a protest song by different political groups at various points in Philippine history.

Filipino Australians

Filipino Australians (Filipino: Pilipino-Australyano) are Australians of Filipino ancestry. Filipino-Australians are the fifth-largest subgroup of the Overseas Filipinos. According to the 2016 census, there are over 232,386 Filipino Australians.

Filipinos in Belgium

Filipinos in Belgium comprise migrants from the Philippines to Belgium and their descendants living there. While the Belgian National Institute of Statistics has 3,067 Filipinos officially registered, the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO) estimated that there are 12,224 Filipinos in Belgium in December 2013.

Filipinos in China

There are a significant number of Filipinos in China consisting of migrants and expatriates from the Philippines to the People's Republic of China.

Filipinos in Norway

Filipinos in Norway comprise expatriates and migrants from the Philippines to Norway and their locally-born descendants. As of 2013, there are approximately 18,000 Filipinos in Norway.

Filipinos in Oman

Filipinos in Oman are either migrants or descendants of the Philippines living in Oman. As of 2011, there are between 40,000 and 46,000 of these Filipinos in Oman. A large destination for Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), Oman was the only Middle Eastern nation included on the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration's list of nations safe for OFWs. The country still holds the title up to this day.

Filipinos in South Africa

Filipinos in South Africa are either migrants or descendants of the Philippines living in South Africa. Roughly half of them live in Gauteng.Many Filipinos migrate to South Africa to work in the fishing industry, in the health care industry, as skilled workers, or as engineers.In August 2008, the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs set up the Munting Paaralan school at the Philippine embassy in Pretoria, where fourteen children are enrolled for bimonthly classes.In 2011, Filipinos in South Africa sent over $6.1 million USD in remittances back to the Philippines, the largest amount from any African country in that year.


In Philippine languages, kababayan means "fellow Filipino, countryman, or townmate". It is used throughout the Philippines and throughout the various Philippine languages.

Literally, ka- means "co-" and bayan means "town". In the narrow sense, kababayan means a fellow from the same town. However, it is often used in a much broader sense to mean countrymen or compatriots, especially by overseas Filipinos, OFWs, and connotes respect for each other’s commitment to unity because of their common cultural, political, and religious background from the same "bayan", broadly defined.

It should not be confused with balikbayan, a similar Filipino word, which refers exclusively to overseas Filipinos. "Balikbayan" often refers to (often wealthier) Filipinos who reside overseas and visit the Philippines periodically, even for extended stays, whereas "kababayan", when applied to overseas Filipinos, means ones that live in the Philippines but are overseas temporarily, even for years.

Kababayan is also the name of the Filipino-American club at University of California Irvine. It has more than 400 members and is affiliated with Kaba Modern from MTV's America's Best Dance Crew.

It is also the name of a kulintang-shaped muffin in the Philippines.

List of diplomatic missions of the Philippines

This is a list of diplomatic missions of the Philippines. The Philippines has a network of diplomatic missions in major cities around the world to forward Philippine interests in the areas that they serve, as well as to serve the ever-growing numbers of Overseas Filipinos. Although attempts at initial diplomatic relations were made during the Philippine Revolution and the time of the First Philippine Republic, most nations have established diplomatic relations with the Philippines only recently.

Although the Philippine diplomatic mission network is wide, there are embassies that are accredited to other nations without Philippine diplomatic posts. There are also several honorary consulates (not listed here) maintained in other major cities. The network as of 2019 consists of 61 embassies, 24 consulates general, seven permanent missions, and one mission. Among these posts is the Manila Economic and Cultural Office and its two additional Cultural Offices in Taiwan.

In 2012, the Philippines shut down ten posts (seven embassies and three consulates general): Caracas, Venezuela; Koror, Palau; Dublin, Ireland; Stockholm, Sweden; Bucharest, Romania; Havana, Cuba; Helsinki, Finland; Barcelona, Spain; Frankfurt, Germany and Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands.The closures though have been partially reversed, as the consulate in Barcelona is set to reopen by 2019 after the House of Representatives passed a resolution urging the DFA to do so. The consulate general in Frankfurt was reopened on 15 January 2019.On September 24, 2018, the Philippine Consulate General office in Houston was reopened, 25 years after its closure.

Nigeria–Philippines relations

Nigeria and the Philippines established their bilateral, diplomatic and trade relation in August 1962. Nigeria has an embassy in Manila and the Philippines has an embassy in Abuja.

Overseas Filipino Worker

Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) is a term often used to refer to Filipino migrant workers, people with Filipino citizenship who reside in another country for a limited period of employment.

Philippine Labor Migration Policy

The Philippine Labor Migration Policy of the Philippine government allows and encourages emigration. The Department of Foreign Affairs, which is one of the government's arms of emigration, grants Filipinos passports that allow entry to foreign countries. The Philippine government enacted the Migrant Workers and Overseas Filipinos Act of 1995 (Republic Act 8042) in order to "institute the policies of overseas employment and establish a higher standard of protection and promotion of the welfare of migrant workers and their families and overseas Filipinos in distress."

Philippines–South Africa relations

Philippines–South Africa relations refers to bilateral relations between the Philippines and South Africa. Relations were established in November 1993, with the Philippines maintaining an embassy in Pretoria and South Africa having an embassy in Manila. Relations between the two states remains strong on both bilateral and multilateral levels, and the most influential in some international organisations including the Non-Aligned Movement and the Group of 77.

Philippines–Switzerland relations

Philippines–Switzerland relations refers to foreign relations between the Philippines and Switzerland. The Philippines has an embassy in Bern and Switzerland has an embassy in Manila.


Pinoy () is an informal demonym referring to the Filipino people in the Philippines and their culture as well as to overseas Filipinos in the Filipino diaspora. A Pinoy with mix of foreign ancestry is called Tisoy, a shortened word for Mestizo.

An unspecified number of Filipinos refer to themselves as Pinoy or sometimes the feminine Pinay () instead of the proper word Filipino. Filipino is the proper word to call the people in the Philippines. The word is formed by taking the last four letters of Filipino and adding the diminutive suffix -y in the Tagalog language (the suffix is commonly used in Filipino nicknames: e.g. "Ninoy" or "Noynoy" for Benigno Jr. and III respectively, "Totoy" for Augusto, etc.). Pinoy was used for self-identification by the first wave of Filipinos going to the continental United States before World War II and has been used both in a pejorative sense and as a term of endearment, similar to Chicano. Although Pinoy and Pinay are regarded as derogatory by some younger Filipino-Americans, the terms have been widely used and are in mainstream usage particularly among members of the Filipino masses and the Filipino-American sector.Pinoy was created to differentiate the experiences of those immigrating to the United States but is now a slang term used to refer to all people of Filipino descent. "Pinoy music" impacted the socio-political climate of the 1970s and was employed by both Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos and the People Power Revolution that overthrew his regime. Recent mainstream usages tend to center on entertainment (Pinoy Big Brother) that can be watched on Pinoy Tambayan and music (Pinoy Idol), which have played a significant role in developing national and cultural identity.

Pinoy Weekly

Pinoy Weekly is published by Pinoy Media Center, a non-government organization devoted to democratizing the practice of journalism in the country, and focuses on investigative stories that concern what it terms as the "underreported" sectors of Philippine society: peasants, workers, overseas Filipinos, youth, indigenous peoples, and women. Previously a weekly publication, it now publishes special print issues, a Mindanao edition, and a Japan edition. It is also an online newsmagazine.

Pinoy Weekly's writers have previously been finalists for the Jaime V. Ongpin Awards for Excellence in Journalism. It has also been cited by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, in the November 2006 issue of the Philippine Journalism Review: "If other tabloids are known for their sensationalized stories on crime and sex or splashy entertainment and sports pages, Pinoy Weekly comes across as a serious paper with analyses on issues affecting citizens, especially the marginalized."

It is currently run by an editorial team including: Kenneth Roland A. Guda, Ilang-Ilang D. Quijano, Soliman A. Santos, Darius R. Galang, and Macky Macaspac. It also features columns from progressive opinionmakers like Teo S. Marasigan, Atty. Remigio Saladero Jr., Gert Ranjo-Libang, Vencer Crisostomo, Anton Dulce, Danilo Arana Arao, Boy Villasanta, Mykel Andrada, Steven Abada, Ericson Acosta, Rogelio Ordoñez, poetry group Kilometer 64, and Rolando B. Tolentino. It also has regular contributions from other committed writers, photographers and artists.

Among its editorial consultants: multi-awarded visual artist Leonilo Doloricon, University of the Philippines journalism professor, and leading columnist Luis Teodoro, National Artist for Literature Dr. Bienvenido Lumbera, renowned nationalist writer and former editor in chief Rogelio Ordonez, and multi-awarded writer, playwright, director and activist Bonifacio P. Ilagan.

Sentro Rizal

The Sentro Rizal is a Philippine government-sponsored organization whose main objective is the global promotion of Filipino art, culture and language. Established by virtue of the National Cultural Heritage Act of 2009, its headquarters is located at the National Commission for Culture and the Arts (NCCA) office in Intramuros, Manila. The Sentro Rizal is named in honor of José Rizal.

The Sentro Rizal's thrust is to initiate and organize cultural training programs and activities for Filipinos, especially for children overseas, to promote appreciation and understanding of Philippine languages, cultures and the arts.

UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino

The UP Diksiyonaryong Filipino (UPDF; English: UP Filipino Dictionary) is a monolingual Filipino dictionary. The dictionary is maintained by the University of the Philippines Center for Filipino Language (Sentro ng Wikang Filipino; UP-SWF), with Virgilio S. Almario, National Artist for Literature and a professor at the University of the Philippines Diliman, as editor-in-chief.

The first edition of the UPDF was released in 2001, while the second edition was released on July 29, 2010, coinciding with the centennial of the University of the Philippines. A third edition is scheduled for release in 2015, and new editions of the UPDF will be released every five years thereafter. The second edition contains over 200,000 entries.In planning since 1996, the UPDF has been likened to a Filipino version of the Oxford English Dictionary. An online version also exists for the benefit of overseas Filipinos.

Voter registration in the Philippines

Voter registration in the Philippines is the process of filing an application to have a voter's record at the Commission on Election in a specific date and designated places set by the Comelec.Any Filipino citizen who is at least 18 years of age, a resident of the Philippines for at least one year, and in the place where he intends to vote for at least six months immediately preceding the election can file application for registration. There are two types of voter registration: Computerized Voter's List (CVL) electronic process and the Voters Registration Record (VRR) manual one.

Overseas Asians and Asian diasporas
By origin
By residence
Overseas Filipinos
or Expatriates

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