The Philippine Diaspora in Germany
There are 62,000 inhabitants with Philippine migration background in Germany. (Statistisches Bundesamt Wiesbaden, 2014) Many arrived in the 1960s and 70s as medical professionals and seafarers. Undocumented Filipinos came after the German government banned recruitment in the middle of the 1970s and migration of Filipino women through marriage to German nationals started in the 1980s. As most professional qualifications which this new wave of migrants brought were not recognised in this country, many had to take up employment as domestic helpers.
According to a study of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), 60 percent of the total number of inhabitants from the Philippines are connected to or are active in one of the 180 diaspora organisations of Filipinos and Filipinas in Germany. (GTZ, 2008) Many of them are involved in church and cultural activities. The study says that beside their individual remittances to their families, they also donate money to Filipino associations through charity dinners, concerts and raffles to finance communal projects in their respective home towns. Such projects often benefit schools in the provinces or support street children.
Philnetz was initially created as an internet social network in 2007 and first served as a venue where Filipinos and Filipinas in Germany could know each other, share experiences and exchange information about their respective organizations and activities. An important turning point in the formation of the association was the meeting of several individuals with Philippine background at the Ecumenical Philippine Conference (ÖPK) in Eisenach on October 2010.(1) Some of these participants took up the challenge of harnessing the huge potential of Filipino migrants´ organizations in Germany as "agents of change" in their country of origin.
Philnetz e.V. was founded on September 21, 2011 and was officially registered in Bonn on October 18, 2011 with the following board members: Jack Catarata (Chairperson), Elizabeth Sommer (Co-Chairperson), Cristina Fernandez (Treasurer) and Emmalyn Liwag Kotte (Secretary/PR Officer).
New board members were elected at the General assembly that was held in Bonn on October 25, 2014.
1 ) The Ecumenical Philippine Conference (ÖPK) is an annual assembly of Germans, Filipinos and Filipinas many of whom represent church and development institutions and initiatives in Germany. It is a venue for critical discussions about current political, environmental, economic, social and cultural issues affecting the German and Philippine societies. In 2010, the conference focused on the role of overseas Filipinos as „agents of change“ in their home country.