Helen Geraghty, Copywriter   14 November 2019

us and filipino flags on a purple background

Leaving family and friends in the Philippines to start a new chapter of your life living in the US is a brave and life-changing decision.

Moving to a new country can be full of both ups and downs.

One of the biggest challenges faced by Filipinos in America is learning to feel at home in an unfamiliar culture.

We’ve put together some useful information and tips on how to meet other Filipinos in the diaspora and get the help and support you need to settle into your new life in the USA.

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How many Filipinos live in the USA?

Filipinos have been making the journey across the North Pacific Sea to America since the 16th century.

If you are thinking about taking this well-traveled path, then according to the US Census Bureau, you will be joining a diaspora of nearly 4.1 million individuals who were either born in the Philippines or have Filipino ancestry.

The largest Filipino populations in the US can be found in California, Hawaii, and New York. Filipinos now represent the largest population of Asian Americans in California and are the second-largest ethnicity in Hawaii.

Cities with the largest Filipino communities

As the number of Filipinos in America has grown, ‘Little Manilas’ have naturally developed across the country. These are communities with a large population of Filipinos.

While Filipinos build successful lives all over America, many people enjoy the sense of community and ‘home away from home’ offered by living in a city with a large Filipino population.

These are the five cities with the largest Filipino communities in America according to data from the 2010 US Census:

  • Los Angeles, CA (464,000)
  • San Francisco, CA (288,000)
  • Honolulu, HI (235,000)
  • New York, NY (217,000)
  • San Diego, CA (182,000)

 

Los Angeles’ Filipino Community

Los Angeles’ Little Manila lies in Echo Park, Silver Lake, Westlake, and Rampart Village and has been named Historic Filipinotown.

Where to shop

  • Chaaste Family Market
  • Bahay Natin Food Mart
  • Arko Foods International

Where to eat

  • Lasa
  • The Park’s Finest
  • RiceBar

 

San Francisco’s Filipino Community

According to the 2010 US Census, San Francisco’s SoMa (South of Market area) is home to around 5,100 Filipinos and has been named the SoMa Pilipinas Filipino Cultural Heritage District.

Where to shop

  • Undiscovered SF night market
  • Manila Oriental Market
  • Arkipelago (Filipino bookstore)
  • Hilda’s Mart and Bake Shop

Where to eat

  • Pampanguena Cuisine
  • Tselogs
  • Kusina Ni Tess

 

Honolulu’s Filipino Community

Hawaii’s beauty, proximity to the Philippines, and island culture make it a popular choice for Filipinos wishing to emigrate to the US. Most Filipinos living in Hawaii live in either Honolulu or Waipahu.

Where to shop

  • Waipahu Festival Marketplace
  • Kekaulike Market
  • Jimmy’s Produce and Filipino Store

Where to eat

  • Elena’s Home of Finest Filipino Food
  • Max’s of Manila
  • Pinoy One

 

New York’s Filipino Community

You can find Little Manilas in several corners of New York city’s bustling and multi-cultural metropolitan area, including Jersey City and Bergenfield in New Jersey and Woodside in Queens.

Where to shop

  • K’Glen Deli & Sari-Sari Store
  • Phil-Am Food Mart
  • Twin Filipino Food Store

Where to eat

  • Papa’s kitchen
  • Jeepney
  • Phil-Am Kusina

San Diego’s Filipino Community

San Diego has historically been a popular destination for Filipino immigrants. Today, the most notable active Filipino communities can be found in National City and Mira Mesa.

Where to shop

  • Filipino Depot
  • Filipino Desserts Plus
  • Manila Seafood Oriental Market

Where to eat

  • Fredcel Lumias & Catering
  • Tita’s Kitchenette
  • R&B Filipino Cuisine

Nicole Sherzinger and Bruno mars on a stage as famous filipinos in the usa“A

Famous Filipinos in America

Some of the Filipinos and Filipino Americans who have risen to fame or made a name for themselves in the US include:

  • Bruno Mars (singer)
  • Alec Mapa (actor)
  • Ben Cayetano (fifth governor of Hawaii)
  • Lea Salonga (Broadway and West End actress)
  • Joan Almedilla (Broadway actress)
  • One Vo1ce (Filipino American girl group)
  • DJ Babu / Chris Oroc (DJ)
  • Joey Santiago (musician)
  • Nicole Sherzinger (singer)
  • Christine Gambito (internet personality)

Ways to connect with the Filipino community

Meeting new people and making friends is one of the best things you can do to help you settle into a new life living abroad. 

Get involved in local organisations, join local groups, and attend events and festivals to meet other Filipinos in diaspora and find help, support, and friendship in your new home.

Organisations and groups

Filipino Migrant Center – Los Angeles

Bindlestiff Studio (Filipino American Performing Arts) – San Francisco 

SoMa Pilipinas - San Francisco

Filipino Community CenterSan Francisco

FilCom Center – Hawaii

Philippine-American Youth Organisation – San Diego

House of the Philippines – San Diego

Facebook groups – A quick search on Facebook can help you to find local groups connecting Filipinos in America.

Events and festivals

  • April – PhilFest – Florida
  • May – Filipino Fiesta and Parade - Hawaii
  • June – Philippine-American Friendship Day Parade – New Jersey
  • June – Philippine Festival – Washington DC
  • June – New York Filipino Film Festival – New York City
  • June – Fiesta Filipina – San Francisco
  • July – Philippine Weekend – California
  • August – Historic Filipinotown Festival – Los Angeles
  • September – Filipino Pride Day – Florida
  • September – Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture – Los Angeles
  • September – AdoboFest – Chicago
  • October – Filipino American Arts and Culture Festival – San Diego
  • November – Chicago Filipino American Film Festival – Chicago
  • December – Parol Lantern Festival – San Francisco

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Education

Filipino School of New York & New JerseyNew York

The Filipino School – San Diego

University societies – If you’re studying in the US, ask your university’s student union whether there is a Filipino society you can join. 

Finding a job as a migrant in the USA

Before you can begin working in the US, you will need to get the US work visa and permit.

There are several different types of visa available, each with their own set of requirements and conditions, and the type of visa that you need will depend on your circumstances.

The US government website has more information about the different types of US work visas available and how to get one.

Here are the top places to look for employment in the US:

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Tips for Filipinos in the USA


Time difference between US and Philippines

Because of the size of the United States, the country has nine different time zones.

The Philippines are 13 hours ahead of Washington DC, 18 hours ahead of Hawaii and 16

hours ahead of Los Angeles.

Use an online time zone converter tool to discover the time difference between any area of America and the Philippines.

Sending a letter to the Philippines

For letters and greetings cards, the easiest and cheapest way to send them to the Philippines is with the United States Postal Service (USPS). Visit your local post office to purchase a stamp for your letter.

You can also send packages with the USPS, but be aware that the service can take 2-6 weeks and that it is not safe to send money or checks this way. 

The USPS website provides further information on how to package and send your mail.

To ship larger items, or if you want your parcel to arrive quicker, use Registered Mail or a shipping service like UPS, FedEx, or DHL.

How to call the Philippines from the US

The cheapest way to speak to your loved ones back home in the Philippines is by using an internet call service like Skype, Whatsapp, Facebook Messenger chat, or Viber.

Internet-based chat and video services make it affordable and convenient to keep in touch with friends and family, no matter where in the world they are. All you need to make free internet calls is a smartphone, tablet or laptop, and an internet connection.

If you do ever need to call the Philippines from a US landline telephone, then the Philippines country code is +63. If friends and family in the Philippines want to call your US phone number, they should use the country code +1.

Buying clothes in the US

Clothing and shoe sizes in the US tend to be larger than in the Philippines. So, clothes that are labeled as a size small in the US would probably be closer to a size medium in the Philippines.

While men’s clothes are usually sized using a lettered system in the US, most women’s clothes are sized using a numbered system. If you take your measurements, then you can use an online size guide to find out what your US size is likely to be.

Remember that sizes do vary from one brand to the next, and it’s always best to try on clothes before buying when abroad as the sizing and fit can be quite different from what you’re used to.

Shoes are usually sized the same for both men and women in the US as they are in the Philippines.

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Sending money back home

According to data from the World Bank, in 2017, Filipinos living abroad sent nearly $33 billion in remittances to the Philippines. The best way to send money to the Philippines is with WorldRemit.

Our fast, affordable, and convenient online money transfer service helps you to avoid the poor exchange rates and high transfer fees charged by banks and high street agents.

At WorldRemit, we promise that we will always show our low-cost fees and exchange rate upfront.

We offer the following services to the Philippines.

If you want to get started sending money abroad, we’re here to make your WorldRemit registration as simple as possible. We’ve put together a quick how-to guide to the WorldRemit sign up process, so that you can send money abroad to loved ones quickly, easily and safely.

Sign up and send money to the Philippines