Migration Paths - From the Philippines to Hong Kong

By Paksy Plackis-Cheng

Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers in Hong Kong

Today, there are approximately 258 million people living in a country other than their country of birth. The World Migration Report projects the world to experience 405 million international migrants by 2050.

impactmania and University of California, Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Human Mind and Migration program asks how migration impacts our minds and cultures. We are exploring people movements—Mexicans in Boyle Heights, Los Angeles, Chinese migrants in South Africa, and Filipino domestic workers in Hong Kong. Hong Kong’s main migration matters are Chinese from Mainland China and foreign domestic workers.

Migrant workers in Hong Kong make up 5% of a population of 7.4 million. Last year (2017), the 370,000 migrant domestic workers represented 10% of the total work force of which 48 percent were from the Philippines, 49.4 percent from Indonesia, and 1.3 percent from Thailand. About 98.5% of them are women who often must leave their own families and children behind to take care of their employers’ families. These family and household caretakers are required by law to live in their employer's residences.

In 1974, Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos implemented a labor code that encouraged the export of labor in the form of overseas workers. It reduced the unemployment rate in the Philippines and increased Filipino families with money earned by foreign workers. Money sent home by migrants is one of the largest financial income streams to developing countries.

In 2016, Filipinos worldwide sent home US $26.9 billion which was 48% of the $56 billion of total merchandise exports during the year. Overseas Foreign Workers (many of them as domestic helpers) in Asian countries produced almost $3 billion of Philippine remittances in the first half of 2017 (19% of the total).

In 2017, overseas remittances contributed US$31.29 billion to the Philippine economy, according to data released by the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP).

More than a third of the population in the Philippines receive money from family abroad.

More information:

Did you move from the Philippines to Hong Kong? Share your story, take the questionnaire. 



Stories of migrant workers in artistic pursuit

In-depth interviews:

Elpidia “Elpie” A. Malicsi
Filipino migrant worker turned fashion designer in Hong Kong

Roxii Semolava, Hong Kong
Chairwoman Filipino Migrant Domestic Workers Union, Hong Kong
Migrant worker
Interview follows

Bonnie Chiu
Founder of Lensational
The organization has worked with domestic migrants in Hong Kong.

Eric Fong, Hong Kong
Professor and Chairman, Department of Sociology at The Chinese University in Hong Kong
Director, Research Centre on Migration and Mobility
His areas of research include migration, urban sociology, and race and ethnicity.

Rhacel Salazar Parreñas, USA
Professor of Sociology and Gender Studies at the University of Southern California (USC)
Her areas of research include labor, gender, international migration and human trafficking, the family, and economic sociology.


To come

Interesting fact:

Net migrations per day (the difference between immigrants and emigrants in an area): 74 on a population of 7.4 million.
(Net migrations per day for the USA: 2,492 on a population of 325,7 million).

For further reading:

Abuse or Unemployment