Monday, 24 October 2016 Brussels Belgium

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Filipinos in Belgium Old
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Only 3,067 Filipinos are officially registered with the Belgian National Institute of Statistics.  Moreover, based on the findings of the Post during the OAV registration, it appears that a considerable number of Filipinos have become naturalized Belgians and Luxembourgeois over the years. Approximately 60% of the Filipinos in Belgium and Luxembourg are females.

There are "temporary migrants" such as students currently enrolled in Belgian educational institutions, as well as OFWs with pending applications under the Law of 1980, Article 9.3.  Post also considered OFWs employed by diplomats with fixed periods as falling within the purview of Temporary Residents.  These non-Belgium based OFWs employed by members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited to the Kingdom of Belgium and various EU institutions are normally brought by their respective diplomat-employers to their next place of assignment after the lapse of their tenure in Belgium as diplomats.

Filipinos in Belgium and Luxembourg engage in the following lines of work:  Barbers/hairstylers (home service); Bartenders; Butlers; waiters; Carpentry work; Children's escort service; Cooks; Dishwashers; Dog/cat sitters; Drivers; Electrical repair; installation work; Factory assemblers; Food processing plant packagers; Gardeners; House cleaners; House sitters/home managers; Hotel housekeeping staff/porters; Part-time workers engaged in laundering and ironing; Mechanics; Office cleaners; Painters; Plumbers; Wall paper and carpet layers; Baby sitters; Caterers; Elderly care service providers; Entertainers (Antwerp area); Nannies; Sewers; Tutors; Domestic helpers/general utility personnel working with Diplomatic Missions and households; professionals in private firms, e.g., abstractors, data encoders (a small number though).

Although there is a considerable demand for domestic service staff, the Office National de l'Emploi (ONEM) under the respective Ministries of Labor of Belgium and Luxembourg do not issue work permits to foreigners mainly because of the high unemployment rate as well as the restrictive labor policies of the EU.  Except for a few hotel workers and a handful of office workers, migrant workers engaged in the activities mentioned above are generally considered as "travaille noir", i.e., undeclared, unprotected and illegal.

Problems confronting majority of the Filipino workers population in Belgium are limited employment opportunities, illegal residency status and fraudulent documentation.

Filipino Community Organizations in Belgium and Luxembourg

At present, there are seventy-four listed associations of Filipinos residing in Belgium and Luxembourg.  There are umbrella organizations in Belgium such as the Council of Filipino Associations in Belgium (COFAB) with 10 member-organizations and the Council of Filipino Associations in Flanders (COFAF) with 5 member-organizations.

Among these organizations are regional groupings such as the Grand Ilocandia of Belgium, the Hinunangan Association, the Pangasinenses Group, the Victorian Community, the Novo Ecijano sa Belgium and others.  There are also four (4) Knights of Rizal Chapters.  There are also a couple of sports organizations like the Philippine Sports Community and Filipino Sports Community of Antwerp.  There are cause-oriented groups like the Samahan, several socio-cultural groupings like Sampaguita, Mabuhay Friends Club, Belga-Cultura Filipina etc, and numerous religious groupings.  Greatly noticeable among these organizations are those which have been established by Belgians married to Filipinas and who desire to help the Philippines through the organizations, among which are Cadaatan vzw, Friendship for the Philippines, Kempen-Philippines Association, and Kababayan Filipino Community.  In Luxembourg, Letzebuergesch-Philippinesch Aktioun Fir Den Development (LPAD), the Samahan ng mga Pilipino Luxembourg asbl and Philippine-Luxembourg Society are the current Filipino organizations.

The Philippine Embassy pursues active collaboration with all of these Filipino community organizations in Belgium and Luxembourg and engages their cooperation in various activities to foster a united and true Filipino community spirit.