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- More than 10 million overseas Filipinos worldwide
*Overseas Filipino Workers (OFW) or temporary overseas workers
*Irregular overseas Filipinos
*Permanent overseas Filipinos


- A Filipino who is employed to work outside the Philippines
- Staying overseas is employment related and they are expected to return at the end of their work contracts

OFWs or temporary overseas workers


- Those who are not properly documented or without valid residence or work permits or who are overstaying in a foreign country

Irregular overseas Filipinos


- Immigrants or legal permanent residents abroad
- Stay does not depend on work contracts

Permanent overseas Filipinos


- 1900’s
- Thousands fled because of the widespread poverty brought by the Philippine-American war
- Hawaiian plantations
- By 1934, there were about 120,000 Filipino workers in Hawaiian plantations
- Characterized by migration to the US with the option to stay there for good or to return to the country

First Wave


- Characterized by an outflow of professionals to the US (Doctors, dentists and mechanical technicians)
- Migration primarily induced by the desire to “look for greener pastures”
- By 1975, more than 250,000 Filipinos have migrated to the US

Second Wave


- Economic boom brought about by the dramatic increase in oil prices enabled oil-rich countries in the Middle East to pursue developmental projects
- Characterized by short-term contractual relationships between the worker and the foreign employer

Third Wave


Geometrical growth in the number of labor migrants:

1971 – 1,863
1976 – 47,835
1983 – 434,207
1984 to 1995 – 490,267 annually
Highest worker deployment in 2012 at 2,083,233



- Today, the Philippines is the largest organized exporter of labor in the world
- 8 million OFWs worldwide
*10% of the total population
- Working in 193 countries
- Each year, the Philippines sends out more than a million Filipinos
- Doctors, accountants, IT professionals, entertainers, teachers, nurses, engineers, military servicemen, students, domestic helpers, housekeepers, caregivers, seafarers and factory workers


Overseas Migration Trends (1)

- There are more Filipinos who leave the country for temporary contract work than those who leave to reside permanently abroad.
- The predominance of the Middle East as a work destination in the 70’s and early 80’s gave way to the emergence of Asia as increasingly important alternative destinations for Filipino labor in the mid-80’s and 90’s.


Overseas Migration Trends (2)

- Females dominate migrant deployment since the 80’s.
*65 to 70% who leave the country are women
- From deploying production, transport, construction and related workers in the 70’s and mid-80’s, deployment has shifted to an ever increasing proportion of service workers, particularly domestic helpers in the mid-80’s and 90’s.



- Only in the Philippines do women constitute a large part of the workforce
- 1992: 51% of newly-hired overseas workers were women
- 1994: the figure had risen to 60%
- 1999: 64%
- Filipino women rank among the most mobile or migratory in Asia



- Many male Filipino migrants work in construction
*This sector has been shrinking owing to an economic slowdown in the Middle East and the Asian financial crisis
- Jobs filled by Filipino women are less likely to be filled by women from host countries
*Demeaning work
*Domestic help: large portion of Filipino overseas workers


Financial contribution through remittances

- OFWs brought in over US$62 billion from 1990 - 2003
- In 2004, the Central Bank of the Philippines reported a total remittance intake of US$7.6 billion
- 2005 - more than US$10 billion
- 2012 – more than US$21 billion


Financial contribution through remittances 2

- Female overseas workers tend to remit 71% more than their male counterparts
*Tend to send all they can to help their families
*Filipino workers in HK, mostly domestics, sent home $36 million during the first 2 months of 1995
*The more numerous and largely male Filipino overseas labor force in Saudi Arabia remitted only $1.2 million


Increase in the income for individual families

- Overseas work enables many Filipino families to buy expensive appliances, buy new homes and send children and siblings to school
- Between 22 to 35 million Filipinos, 34 – 53% of the total population
*Directly dependent on remittance from migrant workers
- Overseas migrants are able to help other family members in ways that would not be possible, if they stayed in the Philippines


Tacoli Study (1996) of Filipino migrants to Rome

- Mothers send home the equivalent of 6.4 monthly salaries every year, higher than the 5.5 monthly salaries contributed by the fathers
- Among single workers, daughters also remit bigger amounts and on a more regular basis compared to sons
- Reveals the financial consideration in the decision to move, but underlying this is the family’s desire for social mobility


(Tacoli Study)
The process of social mobility takes the following forms:

1. Investment in the schooling of the children to enable them to go to exclusive and expensive private schools and universities
2. Funds for the purchase of land
3. Capital to set up a small business managed by the family
- Jeepney transport
- Sari-sari store
4. Money to build or buy a home for the household or to rent out


- Migrant family is better off economically than the non-migrant family
- Financial support from abroad is beneficial to the extended family
- Large houses, vehicles, education of the children, farms, money-lending business, livestock-raising, jeepney and school bus operations are all sourced from earnings of migrants

Concepcion study (1998)


Problems of OFWs

- Pre-departure
- On-site
- Return migration


- High cost of placement fees
- Lack of information on policies of host country
- Lack of preparation of migrant workers and families
- Illegal recruitment, deployment or departure
- Lack of domestic economic and employment opportunities, as well as limited job options



- Abusive and exploitative work conditions
- Contract substitution
- Inadequate mechanisms on protection, and compliance monitoring of these
- Limited on-site services for OFWs
- Ill-attended health needs
- Rampant trafficking of women
- Social and cultural adaptation problems



- Incidence of violence
- Inadequate preparation for interracial marriages
- Lack of welfare and other officials to attend to migrant workers’ needs
- Lack of support or cooperation from government of host country



- Lack of opportunity to absorb returning migrant workers
- Lack of savings
- Inability to manage income
- Broken families
- Reintegration problem of women migrant workers

Return migration


Abuses and exploitation

- Not only are overseas workers beyond the reach of their own countries’ help, they are often denied the protection of international labor standards as well
- Two Filipinos arrive in a box at the Philippine International Airport every day (1996, OWWA)
- 54 Filipinos arrive in a box every month (1997, DFA)
- Reasons for the deaths are varied
- Most of them are Filipino OCWs


Abuses and exploitation (2)

- 700 workers, mostly women, die each year following mistreatment by their employers
Most cases of death and abuse against female overseas workers occur in Arab countries


Abuses and exploitation (3): Sarah Balabagan, a domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates

- In 1995, stabbed her male employer after he tried to rape her
- Sentenced to death
- International outcry led to the reduction of her term
- Returned to the Philippines after serving 9 months in jail


Abuses and exploitation (4)

- Domestic helpers and entertainers are particularly vulnerable to abuse because of their work situation
*Work long hours
*Receive low wages arising from contract violations, contract substitution or deceptive contractual arrangements
*Subject to various forms of physical, psychological and sexual violence
*Jobs generally not covered by the labor codes and social security provisions of the host countries


Abuses and exploitation: Saudi Arabia

- Labor laws don’t offer protection to domestic helpers
- No legal rights and no means of seeking redress for contractual violations
- Difficult to escape oppressive working conditions because they need exit passes from their employer before they can leave the country


Abuses and exploitation: Singapore

- Domestic helpers are prohibited from marrying Singaporeans or entering into intimate relationships with them
- Undergo pregnancy tests every 6 months
- Deported at their own expense if found pregnant