Since the early 1900s, successive waves of Filipinos have migrated to other countries in search of employment opportunities.  Overseas migration can be traced way back to the 1920s under American colonial rule, when Filipinos worked in pineapple plantations in Hawaii.  The movement of agricultural workers later expanded to California, and to Washington and Alaska to work in fish canneries.

Successive waves of Filipino migrants followed in the 1960s, which were largely professional workers.  They were Filipino nurses, doctors, medical technicians who filled in skill gaps in the United States, Canada and other European countries.

Widespread migration

In the 1970s, the phenomenon of overseas contract workers (OCWs) emerged.  Filipinos began to leave the Philippine in even larger numbers to fill in labour shortages in rich and industrializing countries as construction workers, nannies, domestic workers, nurses and entertainers.  Mainly Filipino men filled in labour shortages in the construction industry of the Middle East, while women mainly held caregiving jobs and domestic work in booming economies in the Middle East (e.g., Saudi Arabia, Kuwait) and the Asia-Pacific (Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia) to allow women in these economies to work outside the home.

Labor Export Policy

The increasing revenue that these migrant labourers provided to the Philippine economy through foreign exchange remittances, as well as persistent, widespread unemployment and underemployment, have provided a strong incentive to systematize the export of Filipino labour.

Under Marcos, the labour export program (LEP) was established, and entrenched or enhanced under successive governments including the government of Ferdinand (Bong Bong) Marcos Jr.

For more information on the history of Filipino migration, please contact us.  We offer education sessions to raise awareness of issues faced by Filipino migrants and the Filipino people.