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Blog - Milan, Philippines

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Connections and cultural mixes created by global migration can be surprising.

For this reason, if you are Milanese and you are going to explore the Philippines, you might find some information useful.It’s not only the Italian landscape that is being modified by foreign immigration, but also a piece of Italy is carried over by the citizens many miles away as demonstrated with the various “Little Italy” versions spread in the United Stated. Only this time, the difference is that the Filipino version of Little Italy are made by Filipinos themselves.

Filipinos are one of the most spread foreign nationals in Italy. In fact, for the last 9 years (2002-2011), Italy holds the most number of emmigrant Filipinos all over Europe at 33%, with Spain as the 2nd only at 15% (Commission on Filipino Overseas). Many of them live in Milan, and a big part of them are working in services dedicated to families, thanks to a human predisposition that Italians particularly appreciate.

On we can observe that in 2011, only in Milan, 33,753 Filipino Citizens were registered by the Municipality: 2,55% of the inhabitants of Milan and the most numerous foreign nationality of the city. More than 130,000 Filipinos are spread all over Italy (2011 data, see

Update 2020: as of December 31, 2019, Filipino citizens in Milan are 41,290.

The image of Italy benefits from this dynamics: many families now, thanks to the money sent from Italy, can send children to schools and to Universities. Some open a small business (the most evident are Internet Cafè, mini-stores and Beauty Salon) or they buy a transportation vehicle and make earnings out of it (a Jeepney, a taxi or a tricycle). Probably these are the most visible activities, but many more could be listed.

Those staying in Italy for a longer period can even afford to have a nice house built in the Philippines. The image of Italy in this way is the one of a cool country, a favorable destination, and signs of gratitude are spread in the urban landscape: it is easy to encounter a salon called “Milano”, a bar called “Amore” and many jeeps and taxi cabs go around with a symbolic Italian-flag sticker.

Just an hour out of Manila, in Batangas, I also saw a whole area called Milan or Milano from the locals. In this little town, many people migrated to Italy a couple of decades ago and now has built nice houses. These decent and comfortable homes will be used for them to stay once they are back home, some give them to the families they left behind, or they just use them for holidays waiting for the time to retire.

The way to Milan, as well as  many other destinations of the world where more than 2 million Filipinos migrated, (thanks to their knowledge and fluency of the English language, skills and dedication to work) is not always easy. It may be disseminated with adventures, troubles and stories that now are part of the culture of the country. These stories also inspired a very successful Filipino movie, entitled “Milan” which was shot in Milan (the movie was out in 2004 and main actors are Miss Claudine Barretto and Piolo Pascual, two of the biggest local movie stars, who played the role of immigrant workers). The movie’s main setting is Milan, but many scenes featured Rome, Venice, Verona and Como Lake as well.

If you will travel from Italy to the Philippines, you might find something familiar around and have an idea of the impact that immigration has also in the country of origin, not only on the one of destination. These, and a lot more other scenarios and influences are demonstrations of the scale of globalization happening not only between Filipinos and Italy but also all throughout the vastness of this diverse planet.

(written on June 2013)

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