12% percent of Filipinos live and work overseas.

"Filipinos are very good at assimilating into their host societies. They are quite unique like that."

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Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW)

The majority of Filipinos abroad are overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) working to send remittances back to their families in the Philippines.


In 2008, the remittances of overseas Filipino workers at US$16.426B made up 12 percent of the Philippines’ Gross Domestic Product. “OFW remittances are the single most important source of foreign exchange to the economy and a significant source of income for recipient families,” says a study conducted by the Asian Development Bank.


In 2009, remittances went up 5.4 percent to a new record level of US$17.348. (With a 1.1% real GDP growth rate, remittances made up 11 percent of the Philippines’ GDP). This roughly translates to one peso of every 11 pesos spent on goods and services. Without remittances, the economy of the Philippines would have drastically shrunk as opposed to the recent growth and progress it has seen.


Last October 2010, OFW remittances hit a monthly record high of US$ 1.67 Billion according to the Central Bank of the Philippines (Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas) and in December 2010, the Brookings Institution, the London School of Economics, and the Global MetroMonitor named Manila (the capital of the Philippines) one of the ten best economic performing cities outside the United States. The first ten months of 2010 have been reported to show remittances rising by 9.3 percent. And with more and more Filipinos leaving to work abroad, the remittances are only expected to rise.


“Looking ahead, the deployment outlook for Filipinos overseas also remained upbeat given continuing bilateral talks with some host countries, aimed at matching manpower requirements with the competencies of Filipino workers.”


Countries with the Highest Filipino Populations


United States

The most recent estimate of the Philippine population in the United States was in 2007 at around 4 million making them the second largest immigration group in the country. The number has undoubtedly grown in the past years.


Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia is the largest hirer of Overseas Filipino Workers and the second-largest source of OFW remittances. The Philippine population is estimated to be somewhere between 1 million to 1.8 million, making Filipinos the third largest foreign group in Saudi Arabia. The migration wave began in 1973 and has significantly increased since.


United Arab Emirates

The population of Filipinos accounts for almost 4.3% of the overall population in U.A.E. There are around 270 to 250 thousand Filipinos in the United Arab Emirates to date, majority of who are workers. The OFWs in the UAE are estimated to have sent remittances worth US$500 million in 2007.



Up until the 20th century, the Filipino population in Canada was relatively small. However since the more liberal immigration laws were established to compensate for low population growth, Canada has become a top destination for Filipino emigrants. In 2006, the Canadian Census listed the population to be 410 thousand or 1.3% of the overall population. In 2010, the Filipino Population is expected to hit 500 thousand if not more.



Due to the ‘White Australia Policy,’ few Filipinos migrated to Australia until its abolition in 1973. In 1901, the Australian Census recorded only 700 Filipinos. But a major wave of migration was brought about after President Marcos declared Martial Law on the Philippines. Hence, the 1980s is considered to be the period of highest Filipino immigration. In the 2006 Australian Census, it is estimated that there is a total population of 160 thousand Filipinos.

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