Filipinos in Malaysia

The Filipino Malaysians consists of people of full or partial Filipino descent who were born in or immigrated to Malaysia. Filipinos 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 Mindanao have migrated to the Malaysian state of Sabah to escape from the conflict, poverty and in search for better lives. About 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]

Malaysians of Filipino origin
Total population
Regions with significant populations
Sabah, Sarawak, Greater Kuala Lumpur, Penang & Perak
Tausug, Chavacano, Sama-Bajaw languages, Tagalog, other Philippine languages, Spanish, English, Malay
Roman Catholicism
Related ethnic groups
Filipinos, Austronesian peoples


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. Others 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] Many 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

The majority of undocumented Filipinos live in the Malaysian state of Sabah,[9] with most of them coming from the Mindanao islands. They are frequently targeted by the Malaysian immigration for repatriation. In 2002, the first major crackdown on illegal immigration occurred, with around 64,000 Filipinos being repatriated.[10] Around 4,000 to 6,000 Filipinos are deported each year for immigration offences,[11] and the Philippine government says that there are many Filipinos detained in various immigration centres of Malaysia awaiting deportation. Some of these reportedly include children younger than 19 years old.[6] Many of them are deported because of overstaying their visas, or being involved in crime. Nearly 72% of the prison population in Sabah are Filipinos.[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

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.

  • Albert Nicomedes - Hairstylist[14]
  • Andrea Fonseka - Miss Universe Malaysia 2004. She is of mixed Sinhalese (Sri Lankan), Portuguese, Spanish, Filipino and Chinese descent.[15]
  • Arshad Zamir - Actor and the winner of MasterChef Malaysia All Stars.[16]
  • Bella Dally - Actress
  • Hans Isaac - Actor. He is of Indian, Eurasian and Filipino descent.[17]
  • Iqbal Mazlan - Actor[18]
  • Julfekar - Composer
  • Julylen Liew Gizelle - Miss Supranational Malaysia 2016
  • Maria Farida - Actress[19]
  • Melinda Roos - Writer
  • Scarlett Megan Liew Zi Ling - Miss Intercontinental Malaysia 2018. She is of Sino-Kadazan-Filipino descent.[20]
  • Valentino Bon Jovi Bong - Squash player[21]
  • Wawa Zainal - Actress
  • Yazmin Aziz - Filipino Malaysian Singer, Songwriter and Recording Artist.[22]

See also


  1. 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. Archived from the original on 5 December 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  6. "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.
  14. Fiqrie Dahari (4 February 2016). "Hairstylist to the stars turns his eye to photography". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  15. Arfa Yunus (6 June 2013). "Andrea Fonseka - "I am looking forward for motherhood"". Astro Awani. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  16. MOHD HAFIZ ISMAIL (30 January 2014). "Zamir juara MasterChef Malaysia All Stars" (in Malay). Karangkraf. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  17. N. RAMA LOHAN, WONG LI ZA and SHEELA CHANDRAN (2015). "They're Malaysians, through and through". Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  18. WAHIDUZZAMAN (14 March 2010). "Iqbal Mazlan Teringin Berlakon Filem MIG dan TU" (in Malay). Mstar. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  19. Amirah Amaly Syafaat (19 November 2017). "Kemenangan ini sangat bermaruah!" (in Malay). Utusan. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  20. "Sabah's Scarlett in Miss Inter- continental Top 20". Daily Express. 30 January 2019. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  21. David William Pelino, Robert Andrew Garcia and Reymark Begomia (30 August 2017). "Philippine Squash bets fall to Singapore in SEA Games". Astro Awani. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  22. Mumtaj Begum (14 November 2018). "17-year-old Malaysian singer Yazmin Aziz juggles music and studies". Retrieved 21 February 2019.

Further reading

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