Filipino Chronicles

Filipinos in Europe

We know that there are a lot of Filipinos or people of Filipino origin residing in the European continent.  Some people believe there are probably around a million Filipinos now in West Europe mainly, with a growing (albeit still smal) number in the emerging countries of East and Central Europe.  We at Filipino Chronicles have been wondering how we could answer the question:  Just how many are we in the European continent? 

Our first port of call has to be the statistics compiled by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas from CFO, Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA) and other sources covering some 222 countries on the global movements of workers to different parts of the world.  In their compendium for the end of 2008, the CFO came up with the following figures, based on their estimates of Permanent, Temporary and Irregular workers in each of the countries covered.

Where Filipinos are found in Europe
United Kingdom203,49729%
Rest of Europe21,2043%
(Source:  POEA Stats 2008)


The above figures are interesting, to say the least.  If we take the case of Spain, the statistics show that there are only over 50,000 Filipinos in the country as opposed to the massive numbers in the United Kingdom.  Spain, if people care to remember, would be a natural destination (apart from the USA of course) having been our coloniser, and because a lot of Filipinos seem to have a smattering of Spanish.  Since we have been travelling to Spain as a nation since the time of the conquest presumably, how could there be only 50,000 Filpinos there?  The UK only became a destination for Filipinos in the early 1970s onwards, and residents estimate that there are probably around 300,000 in the country.

Italy is also surprising.  It has been bandied about that there are probably many more Filipinos in Italy than in the UK because of the ease of getting there (remember the film 'Milan'?).  And yet the official statistics only show almost 120,000.

It is also fascinating to note that in the whole of Europe there are an estimated 295,000 permanent residents (ie "immigrants or legal permanent residents"), and a slightly higher number of 300,000 temporary residents (ie those
"whose stay overseas is employment related, and who are expected to return at the end of their work contracts").  It is clearly however from the CFO's bracketed descriptions that students (in the UK for example)  are excluded.  We know that at the end of the financial year 2009, there were some 13,000 outstanding student applications at the British Embassy in Manila.  So who counts them, if at all?

The biggest wonder though is a figure of almost 99,000 provided by the CFO/POEA statistics of irregular Filipinos (ie "those not properly documented or without valid residence or work permits, or who are overstaying in a foreign country").  It is easy to see that a tourist who decides to overstay in a given country (or who came in on a 'baklas' fake passport) probably would not want to visit the Philippine Embassy until their passport needs to be renewed.  So how did the Missions actually work out the numbers?

But the figures are a good start.  We will explore with readers how best to address our numbers in Europe.  This is important because as we grow in numbers, so should our voting power, our purchasing power, our stake in the continent also grow.  And in a way this is partly our role in Filipino Chronicles -- to map out Filipinos in the continent and to provide a platform for all their concerns and aspirations.  We hope that you, dear readers, will help us with this endeavour throughout the next few years.

With best wishes for Christmas and the New Year. 

Gene Alcantara

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