In Italy, Filipinos rank fourth in the population register of migrant
communities, coming after the Moroccans, North Americans and Tunisians.
Official records registered 42,072 legally residing Filipinos in April
1991, while other non-governmental organizations and research institutions
offer a more realistic figure of between 175,000 - 200,000, including the
unauthorized workers, making Italy the country with the biggest
concentration of Filipino migrants in the whole of Europe.
An important feature in the population is the overwhelming presence of
women, approximately 160,000 or 80% of the total number. Over 90% are
employed in the service sector, mainly as private domestic helpers. They
are concentrated in the cities and outlying areas of Rome, Bologna,
Florence, Milan and Naples.
Filipino migrant workers came to Britain in large numbers during the
1970s, in a response to a short-lived labor shortage during this boom
period. According to the UK Department of Employment, 20,226 work permits
were issued to Filipinos between 1968 and 1980. Some 47% of the work
permits were issued for those who came to work in hospitals and welfare
homes as hospital auxiliaries, catering workers and to nurse-trainees. The
second biggest category of work permits were for chambermaids, followed by
catering and waitering staff.
Not all Filipinos came with working permits, many came in as students and
visitors, and who were able to change their residence permits to be able
to work. Some Filipinas came in through marriage bureaux, while others as
domestic servants accompanying their employers (diplomats or Middle
Eastern royalty, etc.). All categories of migrants generally then applied
to be joined by their families.
The Immigration Act of 1971 and subsequent legislation imposed
restrictions that made (legal) primary immigration virtually impossible
for the community. Work permits for unskilled labor were withdrawn, and
many of those who entered with work permits were forced to leave. Domestic
servants, however, were still allowed to enter (outside the Immigration
rules) as a concession to their employers. This arrangement led to
widespread abuses of these domestics, since they were not allowed to stay
if they left their employers.
There are varying estimates of the number of Filipinos residing in the UK.
Estimates by CFMW-London are: between 40,000-50,000 Filipinos in London
and about 65,000 to 90,000 in the UK as a whole. The majority of Filipinos
in the UK are women - 65% is the current estimate. While Filipino migrant
workers are scattered all over Britain the greatest concentration is in
London. The majority live in the London Boroughs of Camden, Newham,
Islington, Westminster, Kensington & Chelsea, and Hammersmith & Fulham.
The majority of the first wave of migrants were college educated (in 1979,
90% of female Filipino migrants had at least 2 years of college
education). Many were trained as nurses, teachers, engineers and
accountants. However, because of restrictions on work permits, they came
in as unskilled labor. Second generation Filipinos and those that came in
as family members or students have faired better. As a community, there is
a growing trend towards professional qualifications and employment in the
Combined figures of the Filipino Chaplaincy, migrant organizations in
Barcelona and official Spanish government data estimates the population of
Filipinos at 50,000. Post-regularization data officially registered 25,000
Filipinos in 1992. Before these regularization campaigns, about 75% of the
community did not have any legal status. 85% of the population are women.
As in Italy, an estimated 90% of the population are also employed mainly
as private domestic helpers. Because of the type of work they are engaged
in, most Filipinos are found in the cities, e.g. Barcelona, Madrid, and
around the tourist areas, e.g. Malaga, Las Palmas and the Balearic
Islands, where they find work in holiday villas, hotels and restaurants. A
small section of the community have become self-employed, establishing
businesses in catering, shipping and freight, and modest import-export
A report on the educational attainment of Filipino migrants in Spain
revealed the following data: 41% have completed university studies,
including degrees in Commerce, AB Economics, Dentistry, Secretarial, BS
Education, BS Elementary Education, Medical Technology, Midwifery and
Nursing. Many held professional jobs before leaving the Philippines.
The Filipino population in Greece has now reached 40,000, 90% of whom are
women. This is according to estimates of Kasapi-Hellas, an organization of
the Filipino migrant community there. Some 60%-70% of this population is
undocumented. This number is set to increase with the implementation of a
new law which limits to five years the maximum length of stay of migrant
workers in Greece.
Majority (95%) of the Filipino migrant workers are employed as domestic
workers, working in homes of rich Greek families. A growing number are
also being employed by middle-income families, to enable both husband and
wife to engage in paid employment. Many are employed as domestic staff of
diplomatic missions to Greece. Still within the service sector, some work
in restaurants and hotels. The limited number of nurses who worked before
in hospitals have had to earn their living later on as domestic helpers,
since the government stopped the issuance of work and residence permits
for them. A small number of Filipinas are married to Greek men.
Of the migrants in Greece, 35% are college graduates with work experience,
and 25% finished high school.
In the case of Germany, there were two waves of migration, according to a
member of the Philippinenburo, a resource center on the Philippines. The
first wave of migration, which began in the early 1970s, consisted of
nurses and midwives who worked in Germany's hospitals and retirement
homes. The second wave was in the 1980s, and composed mainly of Filipinas
married to German men.
In 1990, the number of officially registered Filipinos in Germany from the
Statistics Office in Wiesbaden totaled 21,484, with about 80% of them
women. Not included in these figures are those who have acquired German
citizenship, and the undocumented migrant workers throughout the country.
Based on estimates of various Filipino migrant organizations and
non-government agencies in Germany, the total number of undocumented
Filipino migrant workers could easily reach 20,000.
There is also a significant number married to German nationals. In the
past years, an annual average of 1000 women applied at the Philippine
Embassy for a Certificate of Legal Capacity to Contract Marriage. An
estimated 1500 Filipinos are added each year to the current migrant
population through marriage.
The majority of the estimated 18,000 Filipinos in France work as domestic
helpers. Half of these are in the 26-35 years age bracket, followed by the
36-45 years group with 29%, 16% are in the 16-25 years age range, while
the 46-60 years range has only 6%.
Those who have stayed 1-7 years comprise 80% of the Filipino migrant
population, while 15% have lived in France for 8-15 years.
Almost all (95%) of Filipino migrant workers in France are women, and only
5% are professionals. 60% of the Filipinas are either married, separated
or widowed, while the remaining 40% are single (including single mothers).
Of those who are married, 10% are married to French nationals. 5% are
practicing their professions as artists, writers, managerial workers, and
there are also many students in the various universities in France.
Of the women workers, an alarming high 90% are unauthorized, having no
legal documents. The large number of Filipinos who came in the 1980s had
availed of tourist visas which were then easily obtainable for entering
Some 20,000 Filipino nurses, majority of them women, work in the different
hospitals of Austria. A large concentration of these nurses can be found
in the big cities such as Vienna. Most of the nurses are recent graduates
from the Philippines with only two to three years of work experience.
Their average age is between 24 to 34 years old. There are also a few
hundreds working as domestics and chambermaids.
Filipinos have come to the Netherlands as nurses and seamstresses (1960s),
seafarers (beginning in the 1970s), spouses in intercultural marriages,
performing artists, students and political refugees (1980s), and au pairs
and oil rig workers (1990).
According the Dutch Central Bureau of Statistics, there were a total of
5462 Filipinos in the Netherlands in January 1996. The Filipino community
estimates that there are between 7000 to 10,000 Filipino residents in the
Netherlands, not counting the children of Filipino couples and mixed
marriages. In addition, at least 300 Filipino seamen pass Dutch ports
daily, and around 500 Filipinos work in the oil rigs in the North Sea.
About 1500 Filipinas are in the country as au pairs (about a third of the
total in the Netherlands).
About 60% of the migrant community in Belgium are undocumented. Majority
(85%) of the migrants are women, most of whom are employed in private
domestic work. Particularly in Brussels, many of the women are employed as
domestic staff in diplomatic missions. There is a preference for Filipinos
by the diplomatic corps, especially because they are known to be
well-educated, hard working, not trouble-makers, and speak very good
English. As in France, Spain and Italy, Filipino domestic helpers have
become a status symbol for their employers.
Other important sections of the migrant population include the seafarers
who either transit on board international vessels in Antwerp, or
"stand-by" while waiting to be hired, or "jump ship" and take up
employment on land. Some of them also marry into the resident Filipino
community or find Belgian or other European partners. Especially in bars
and nightclubs around the port area, Filipina entertainers, "cultural
artists" and dancers are recruited by an international network of
traffickers to engage in prostitution.
The number of officially registered Filipinos in Ireland was 257 in 1991,
90% of whom were women. Most of the earliest arrivals were married to
Irish nationals; later Filipinos came in as domestic workers in diplomatic
Recent data on the Filipino communities in other countries of Europe, e.g.
Switzerland, Luxembourg, Portugal, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland,
Iceland are still missing (they weren't included in the 1995 CFMW-Kaibigan
This set of profiles is based on a combination of official government
data, data from non-governmental organizations and international agencies
working with Filipino migrants, and extrapolations from estimates compiled
by Filipino migrant organizations.
Most of the entries here are excerpted from "Europe-Philippines in the
'90s:Filipino Migration - The European Experience", by CFMW (Commission
for Filipino Migrant Workers) and KAIBIGAN, March 1995.