Anti-Filipino sentiment

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A newspaper clipping from the Boston Sunday Globe depicting a Filipino blackface before and after the expansion of the United States to the Philippines. The clipping portrays the transformation of the Filipino from being "barbaric" to a "civilized man".

Anti-Filipino sentiment refers to the general dislike or hate of the Philippines, its people or culture.

Overseas Filipinos, either living or working abroad, remain vulnerable to discrimination.[1]

United States[edit]


It was the American colonization of the Philippines that marked the flocking of many Filipinos to America, either as pensionados, who came to further pursue their studies or as laborers, who worked for Hawaii plantations, California farms, and the Alaska fishing industry. The 1924 Immigration Act, dictates that Filipinos are neither American citizens or foreigners but they were colonized people. Technically they were American nationals.[2]

Racial discrimination towards Filipinos in America was evident during the American colonial period in the Philippines. Filipinos were often labelled as half-civilized or half-savage, worthless, uneducated and unscrupulous. Filipinos were perceived to be taking the jobs of the Caucasian Americans. They were accused of attracting Caucasian women which led to the passing of an Anti-miscegenation law. Crime and violence was likely to be associated with Filipinos and they were shunned for their substandard living conditions, where in one instance there were as many as twenty people sleeping in one room. These were just racial prejudices and Filipinos in America were affected by various socio-economic factors. The majority of Filipinos were men with a gender ratio with Filipino males to females in California of approximately 14 to 1. Filipino workers were forced to live in poor conditions since they were poorly waged. [3]

Filipinos were discriminated against primarily for economic reasons. Caucasian Americans disliked Filipinos for their willingness to work for low wages, thus they perceive a loss of job opportunities in favor of Filipinos. Anti-Filipino sentiment was further fueled by the preference of hiring Filipinos because their build was thought to be ideal for "stoop labor", or bent down kind of work.[3]

World War II was a significant turning point of American views towards Filipinos. During the early period of the war, Filipinos were prohibited to join the army. However in 1942, President Franklin Roosevelt allowed Filipinos to serve the armed forces. Many Filipinos fought with the Americans in Asia and Europe while some opted to be civilians involved in the mobilization efforts during the war. Filipinos earned acceptance and admiration of the Americans by the end of the war. The United States recognized and affirmed the Filipinos' right to citizenship with the amended Nationality Act of 1940. Through the amendment, non-citizens who joined the military were given opportunity to attain citizenship. About ten thousand Filipinos became American citizens through the amendment.[4]


The Montreal–Philippines cutlery controversy was an incident in 2006 in which a seven-year-old Canadian boy from a Filipino family was punished by his school in Roxboro, Montreal for using his cutlery according to traditional Filipino etiquette. In response to the media coverage of the affair, a protest was held outside the Canadian embassy in Manila, and the Philippine Ambassador to Canada José Brillantes, described it as an "affront to Filipino culture." Some commentators saw it as an example of prejudice and a culture clash, especially since the school board had previously expelled a Sikh student for carrying a kirpan.

Hong Kong[edit]

A majority of Filipinos in Hong Kong are domestic helpers. Filipinos in general are usually stereotyped as domestic helpers or maids in Hong Kong.

The Democratic Alliance for the Betterment of Hong Kong launched an advocacy that Filipinos were causing a significant rise of local unemployment in Hong Kong and costing billions in welfare treatment.[5]

Anti-Filipino sentiment in Hong Kong rose after the 2010 Manila hostage crisis, in which a bus full of mostly Hong Kong tourists was fatally besieged by a disgruntled Filipino police officer, and where subsequent investigations found Filipino officials' handling of the hostage crisis to be directly responsible for the hostages' deaths.[5][6][7] Tensions eased after Cabinet Secretary Rene Almendras and Joseph Estrada secretly went to Hong Kong to talk to officials and the victim's families.[8]



The anti-Filipino sentiment is most notable in the state of Sabah in Malaysia due to a large presence of Filipino illegal immigrants causing simmering resentment in the state.[9] The Sabahan locals refer to the illegal immigrants from the Philippines as "Pilak" which means (Filipino illegal immigrants) pejoratively.[10] The cause of this anti sentiment is due to illegals immigrants who arrived in the 1970s from the Southern Philippines insurgency[11] bringing along their social problems, culture of crime, and poverty conditions as well as taking away jobs, business opportunities and allegedly stealing Sabahan native land in the state.[9] This hatred was further strengthened when many of these illegal immigrants were involved in crime mostly robbery, murder and rape. Locals became the main victims which has affected the security of the state as evidenced by the recent 1985 ambush, 2000 kidnappings and 2013 standoff.[12][13][14][15] 72% of Sabah prison inmates are Filipinos, which also constitute the highest in the state than any other nationalities.[16] Large amounts had been spent for these Filipino illegal immigrants life maintenance and the amount remains unpaid until today despite attempts to recover the monies. Sabah Health Department said that infectious disease among the illegal immigrants was on the rise resulting to more expenditures, as well as provisions for more funds to accommodate the logistics such as medical officers and others.[17]


The estimated number of Filipinos working in Singapore tripled in the past decade to about 167,000 as of 2013, according to Philippines census data. Amid increasing general resentment towards foreigners, a backlash towards Filipinos has taken place in Singapore. In 2014, a plan to hold a Philippines Independence Day celebration on Singapore's main shopping street Orchard Road was cancelled following online complaints by some Singaporeans who said the space was special to locals.One blogger called the move "insensitive", saying: "Celebrating your Independence Day openly in the public (especially [at a] iconic/tourist location like Orchard Road) is provocative." Anti-Filipino sentiment has continued to swirl online, culminating in a blog titled "Blood Stained Singapore" suggesting ways to abuse Filipinos, calling them "an infestation". The suggestions, which included pushing Filipinos out of trains and threats to spray insecticide on them eventually caused the blog to be taken down by Google for infringing content rules.[18][19]


Anti-Filipino sentiment in Taiwan is noticeable especially in 2013 as a result of the Philippine Coast Guard killing a Taiwanese fisherman. As a result, Taiwanese businesses have started taking Filipino products off the shelves and some Taiwanese stores refuse to serve Filipino customers.[20] Sanctions placed by Taipei were removed after an official apology was made.[21]

United Kingdom[edit]

Northern Ireland[edit]

According to a report by the Northern Ireland Council for Ethnic Minorities (NICEM), which was outlined at an event in Stormont, Filipino workers are vulnerable to exploitation, especially those working in the fishing industry. The research also noted many issues encountered by Filipinos in immigration, including limited access to social security and tight restriction on bringing family members with them. In a survey of 150 Filipino correspondents, 42% said that they have experienced racial abuse in the workspace. [22]

Derogatory terms[edit]

There are a variety of derogatory terms referring to the Philippines and Filipinos. Many of these terms are viewed as racist. However, these terms do not necessarily refer to Filipinos as a whole; they can also refer to specific policies, or specific time periods in history.

In English[edit]

  • Gugus (spelled sometimes as Goo-goos)- a racial term used to refer to Filipino guerillas during the Philippine-American War. The term came from the local name of a bark of a tree used by Filipino women to shampoo their hair. The term was a predecessor to the term gook, a racial term used to refer to all Asians.[23]
  • Flip- used to refer to American-born Filipinos. The term has vague origins with many hypothesis regarding the origin of the term. It is suggested that the term has origins from the World War II era. The term was allegedly an acronym for "fucking little island people" causing some Filipinos to avoid referring to themselves by the term. However, the term is also being reclaimed by some changing the alleged originally meaning of the word to "fine looking island people". Some are convinced that the term is just a short version of the term "Filipino".[24]

In Spanish[edit]

  • Indio- literally means "Indian". The term was used to refer to native Filipinos during the Spanish colonization of the Philippines. "Filipino" was originally exclusively reserved to Spanish people who were living in the archipelago. The term developed negative connotation due to the mistreatment of people labeled as indio.[25]

In Chinese Languages[edit]

  • Huanna (Chinese: 番仔; Pe̍h-ōe-jī: hoan-á)- a term in Hokkien used by most Chinese to refer generally to non-Chinese Southeast Asians and Taiwanese Aborigines. In the Philippines, this term is used by Chinese Filipinos to refer to those of Filipino descent. The term literally means "foreigner or non-Chinese." [26] Although it is generally not considered racist, it is considered to hold the same connotations as the word gaijin in Japanese.

In Malay[edit]

  • Pilak (English: Filipino illegal immigrants) – a term in Sabah Malay used by the Sabahan locals to refers the illegal immigrants from the Philippines pejoratively.[10]

In Arabic[edit]

  • Falabban (Literally Filipinos) - a term in the central region of Saudi Arabia used by the locals to refer to the legal and illegal immigrants from the Philippines.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "OFWs remain vulnerable to discrimination, rights violation | GMA News Online | The Go-To Site for Filipinos Everywhere". 2009-12-12. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  2. ^ "Filipino Migration to the U.S.: Introduction". Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  3. ^ a b "Racial Discrimination". Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  4. ^ "Impact of World War II on Filipino Migrant Workers". Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  5. ^ a b "Hong Kong and Anti-Filipino Sentiment". Asia Sentinel. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  6. ^ "Filipinos facing harm in HK may run to gov’t commission -, Philippine News for Filipinos". 2010-08-27. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  7. ^ "RP assured of safety of Filipinos in Hong Kong -, Philippine News for Filipinos". 2010-08-26. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  8. ^ "How Philippines, Hong Kong agreed on closure". ABS-CBN News. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  9. ^ a b "Illegal immigrants causing simmering resentment in Sabah". The Malaysian Times. 22 August 2012. Archived from the original on 29 June 2014. Retrieved 21 June 2014. 
  10. ^ a b "Kamus Sabah (Sabah Dictionary)" (in Malay (Sabah Malay)). Sabah Dictionary. Archived from the original on 10 October 2014. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Riwanto Tirtosudarmo (2007). Mencari Indonesia: demografi-politik pasca-Soeharto. Yayasan Obor Indonesia. pp. 123–. ISBN 978-979-799-083-1. 
  12. ^ Patrick Pillai (1992). People on the Move: Ban Overview of Recent Immigration and Emigration in Malaysia. Institute of Strategic and International Studies, Malaysia. ISBN 978-967-947-158-8. 
  13. ^ Asiaweek. Asiaweek Limited. April 1994. 
  14. ^ Azizah Kassim; Universiti Malaysia Sabah (2005). Proceedings of seminar on state responses to the presence and employment of foreign workers in Sabah. Universiti Malaysia Sabah. ISBN 978-983-2369-35-6. 
  15. ^ Kanul Gindol (31 May 2014). "‘Localised’ illegal immigrants helping ‘foreign’ relatives in Sabah". The Ant Daily. Retrieved 31 July 2014. 
  16. ^ Shalina Roseni (7 November 2014). "55% of inmates in Sabah prisons are foreigners". The Borneo Post. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  17. ^ "RCI: Large amount spent on food, education, healthcare of illegal immigrants.". New Straits Times. 3 December 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014. 
  18. ^ "BBC". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  19. ^ "Yahoo News". Retrieved 21 March 2015. 
  20. ^ "Anti-Philippines sentiment spreads in Taiwan". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  21. ^ "BBC News - Taiwan lifts Philippines sanctions after shooting apology". BBC News. Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  22. ^ Monday, January 23, 2012 - 06:10 PM (2012-01-23). "Report warns of workplace racism". Irish Examiner. Retrieved 2012-06-25. 
  23. ^ "Lakota Country Times - - Lakota Country Times". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  24. ^ "Postcolonial Studies - Since 1996, Deepika Bahri has created and maintained content for Postcolonial Studies @ Emory with her students. In 2011, she won a Mellon grant from Emory’s Digital Scholarship Commons (DiSC) to redesign the site in collaboration with the DiSC staff.". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  25. ^ "Colonial Name, Colonial Mentality and Ethnocentrism (Part One)". Retrieved 1 February 2015. 
  26. ^ "Chinese in the Philippines". China History Forum, Chinese History Forum. Retrieved 1 February 2015.