Filipinos in Malaysia

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Malaysians of Filipino origin
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sabah, Greater Kuala Lumpur, Johor
Tausug, Chavacano, Yakan, Iranun, Maranao, Maguindanao, Sama-Bajaw languages, Filipino, English, Malay
Islam and Christianity
Related ethnic groups

The Filipino Malaysians consists of people of full or partial Filipino descent who were born in or immigrated to Malaysia. Filipino in Malaysia comprise migrants and residents from the Philippines and their descendants living in Malaysia. Because of the short distance between the two nations, many Filipinos mainly from the Mindanao islands have migrated to the Malaysian state of Sabah to escape from the war in the Southern Philippines, poverty and in search for better lives. 325,089 Filipinos live in Malaysia.[1][2] Many of them are illegal residents while there are a smaller number of migrant workers and fewer permanent residents.[1]


Most of the Filipinos especially the Bajau had lived around the state of Sabah even since before the colonial period, while the Suluk had lived on the eastern part of Sabah from Kudat to Tawau as these areas was once under the influence of the Sultanate of Sulu. Other Filipinos Kababayan such as Ilonggo, Waray, Zamboangueño (living in Semporna since prior to the creation of Malaysia), Tagalog, Cebuano and Bicolanos then come to North Borneo (present-day Sabah) in 1920s and 1930s to work under the British government and various private companies.[3] A large number of the Filipinos in Malaysia are Moros.


In December 2011, an estimated 325,089 Filipinos lived legally in Malaysia.[4] By 2011, 55,828 Filipinos were recorded working on contracts in Malaysia.[5] A majority of these workers come from the provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Palawan, Tawi-Tawi, and Zamboanga Peninsula.[6][7] There are at least 25 Filipino community organisations in Malaysia.[8]

Illegal immigration and crime issues[edit]

The majority of undocumented Filipinos live in the Malaysian state of Sabah,[9] where most of them comes from Mindanao islands and frequently became the subject of repatriation by the Malaysian government until present. In 2002, during the first major crackdown on illegal immigration, around 64,000 Filipinos were deported.[10] Every year, between 4,000 and 6,000 Filipinos are deported each year for immigration offences,[11] and the Filipino government says that there is a high estimates of Filipinos currently been detained in various immigration centres of Malaysia awaiting for deportation. Some of those including children who were even younger than 19.[6] Many of those deported were mainly due to overstaying and involved in criminal activities with around 78% prison inmates in Sabah are Filipinos, which also constitute the highest in the state than any other nationalities.[12] Since the attack by Kiram's in 2013, more Filipinos in the state facing an increase on discrimination and became the possible target for retaliation especially from the local Borneo tribes due to the killing of Malaysian police who mainly comprising the indigenous Borneo races.[13]

Notable people[edit]

Almost all figures in the list of the notable people Filipino descent in Malaysia are of mixed descent, particularly with the natives of Sabah. Mixed-marriage is a pattern which is shared with most of Filipino descent in Malaysia (excluding to the recently arrived migrants), after settling in the Malaysian soil after generations, assimilation process and the common Islamic background.

  • Arshad Zamir - Actor and a contestant on MasterChef Malaysia
  • Bella Dally - Actress
  • Wawa Zainal - Actress
  • Hans Isaac - Actor
  • Iqbal Mazlan - Actor
  • Julfekar - Composer
  • Melinda Roos - Writer
  • Maria Farida - Actress

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Uy, Vernoica (6 February 2009). "No foreign workers' layoffs in Malaysia". Global Enquirer. Archived from the original on 9 February 2009. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  2. ^ "Filipino workers in Malaysia". Philippines: Office of the Press Secretary. 2003. Archived from the original on 23 April 2009. Retrieved 19 November 2008. 
  3. ^ "Kababayan community holds first gathering in Sabah". The Borneo Post. 28 September 2015. Retrieved 10 October 2015. 
  4. ^ Department of Foreign Affairs, Philippine Overseas Employment Administration, Commission on Filipinos Overseas
  5. ^ Hunt, Luke (27 November 2008). "Malaysia's Deportation of Filipino Refugees Raises Concerns". World Politics Review. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "300 illegal Pinoys deported from Malaysia". ABS-CBN News. 17 February 2009. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  7. ^ ""Home is where greener pasture is," DSWD tells illegal Filipinos in Sabah". Philippine Information Agency. 16 May 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  8. ^ "Useful Information for Filipinos in Malaysia". phil.embassy.kl. 10 July 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  9. ^ "Undocumented Filipino migrants in Malaysia to be assisted". DOLE News. 1 February 2005. Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  10. ^ "Filipino's working abroad". Hogeschool Utecht. 2002. Retrieved 17 February 2009. 
  11. ^ Jacinto, Al (17 October 2005). "330 Filipinos home after being deported from Sabah". Manila Times. Retrieved 16 February 2009. 
  12. ^ "Foreigners make up 58% of Sabah prison inmates". Bernama. The Star. 19 March 2015. Retrieved 19 March 2015. 
  13. ^ Charlie Saceda (6 March 2013). "Pinoys in Sabah fear retaliation". Rappler. Archived from the original on 24 October 2015. Retrieved 7 March 2013. 

Further reading[edit]