Top 3 U.S. Regions that the Philippines’ Overseas Community is Moving to

Last updated on October 19th, 2023 at 06:16 pm

Some of the first people to move away from the Philippines arrived in California during the 16th century, and since then, these communities have enriched U.S. cities and towns nationwide with cultural and economic contributions.

In recent decades, the number of Philippines-born residents in the U.S. has quadrupled, causing this group to rank fourth in numbers after Mexico, India, and China.

As of 2016, three metro areas make up over 32 percent of the country’s overseas community from the Philippines. These cities have become highly significant cultural, economic, and social centers where overseas Filipinos gather.

Thinking about moving away from the Philippines? Learn more below about the top three metro areas where Filipinos from overseas live in the U.S.

Southern California

Metropolitan area Overseas Filipino population  % of metro area population
Los Angeles – Long Beach – Anaheim, CA 293,000  2.2%

The greater L.A. metro area is home to the most overseas Filipinos, as well as Filipino-Americans, in the U.S.

Historically, this region has welcomed the first waves of overseas Filipinos and helped them put down roots, celebrating milestones such as the first Filipina nurse to graduate from UCLA and the first Filipino Sailors to be stationed with the United States Navy.

In 2002, the city of Los Angeles designated a section of the city as Historic Filipinotown. Here, new arrivals from the Philippines are received by a well-established resource network:

  • Filipino American Library, established in 1985
  • Long-established Filipino churches
  • Local and regional Filipino meetups and online communities
  • TV and press media widely available in Tagalog

In addition to the many resources available in Historic Filipinotown, the neighborhood is home to an annual parade in celebration of Philippines Independence Day.

Central/Northern California

Metropolitan area Overseas Filipino population  % of metro area population
San Francisco – Oakland – Hayward, CA 163,000  3.6%

The first Filipino arrivals to San Francisco came to the U.S. in the mid-19th century and included businessmen, mariners, and the significant student population known as pensionados.

At its largest size, San Francisco’s Manilatown was home to more than 10,000 overseas Filipinos. In the late 1970s, several street signs in the Yerba Buena neighborhood were changed to honor Filipino history and local contributions. In 2014, San Francisco listed Tagalog as the third official language of the city

Today, many of the Filipino population in San Francisco live in the South of Market area (SoMa) neighborhood. San Francisco embraces newcomers from the Philippines with a variety of established organizations that support social welfare, the arts, and networking and organizing needs:

  • Filipino Community Center, a place dedicated to community organizing and advocacy and providing a variety of support programs and services to Filipino families
  • SOMA Pilipinas, an organization dedicated to preserving the Filipino cultural heritage of San Francisco’s SoMa neighborhood, fighting against displacement and gentrification
  • Pistahan Parade & Festival, going strong for 25 years, is billed as the largest celebration of Filipino arts and culture in the U.S.!
  • Wide availability and recent growth of Filipino cuisine and music

Check out a glimpse of Undiscovered SF, a new monthly creative night market that celebrates Filipino culture in the heart of SoMa.

New York/New Jersey Area

Metropolitan area Overseas Filipino population  % of metro area population
New York – Newark – Jersey City, NY/NJ 155,000  0.8%

A large number of overseas Filipinos call the larger New York metro area home, with many working in the healthcare industry. Hospitals such as Beth Israel Medical Center, New York Ear and Eye Infirmary, and various Catholic medical centers have benefited greatly from the recruitment of Filipino medical professionals to their workforce.

Little Manila” is a community home to tens of thousands of Filipinos as well as authentic restaurants, Catholic churches, and community centers, and there are several in the larger New York metro area. In the New York / New Jersey area, you’ll find:

  • An office of the Filipino Channel (a global Tagalog television network) in Jersey City
  • Multiple districts of Filipino culture and commerce—bakeries, doctors’ offices, grocery stores, shipping companies—located throughout the area
  • An annual Filipino Independence Day Parade on Madison Avenue (with a similar, smaller, celebration taking place in Passaic, NJ)
  • Commonplace Tagalog signage and media in Little Manila areas, including Woodside, Queens; Jersey City; and Bergenfield

Below is an example of a delicious Filipino restaurant in NYC is Ihawan, located in Little Manila in Woodside (Queens).

The long history of immigration from the Philippines to the U.S. has enriched our national cultural heritage and economy over time. (A perfect example of this positive economic impact is in the medical professions, where RNs of Filipino descent make up 20 percent of the nursing workforce in some states!)

These established, supportive communities around the U.S. allow newcomers to join a new society and workforce with ease. Neighborhoods in these various destinations provide social support and assistance for long-term success.

Living abroad can make it easier to send money home to family and friends in times of need or for special occasions, such as birthdays or holidays. Learn more about Remitly’s money transfer services.