Profile of the Filipino Community in Israel

The Philippine Embassy estimates that there are approximately 31,000 Filipinos working and living in Israel. A large majority is concentrated in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Haifa. There is also a considerable number of Filipinos working in Beersheva, Netanya, Rehovot and  Rishon Lezion. However, most of them maintain apartments in Tel Aviv where they normally spend their weekends.

Most of the Filipinos in Israel work as caregivers.  There is also a small fraction working in hotels and restaurants.  Women outnumber men with a ratio of 6 to 1.

True to their gregarious nature, Filipinos in Tel Aviv have taken flats near each other and have congregated in distinct areas like the Carmel Market and the new central bus station (Tachana Merkazit).  On any given Saturday evening, when most are on their day off, the Tachana Merkazit  gives the impression that one is in Divisoria or Cubao with the thousands of Filipinos letting their hair down after a week’s work.

Pangasinenses, Pampagueños, Ilocanos, Tarlakeños and Visayans are the predominant regional or linguistic groups. The Pangasinan group originates mostly from Bolinao; the Pampagueños, from Sto.Tomas; Ilocanos, from La Union, Ilocos Norte, Ilocos Sur, the Cordilleras and Isabela; the Tarlakenos, from Camiling and Sta. Ignacia and the Visayans from Cebu and Iloilo.

Religion, which has always been a facet of expatriate Filipino workers, is very pronounced with their awareness of being in the Holy Land.  Filipino worshippers usually flock at St. Anthony Catholic Church along Yefet St. in Jaffa for the Saturday masses at 5:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Weddings are usually scheduled during the 5:30 p.m. mass. The church which is run by the Franciscan friars can accommodate about 1,500 people at any one time. In Haifa, Filipinos frequent the St. Joseph Church, in Jerusalem, the Notre Dame Church, the Church of the Terra Sancta and the Holy Rosary Church.

Sunday is normally market day for the Filipinos.  In Tel Aviv, the Carmel market is very popular since,  several stores sell pork, Philippine vegetables, Filipino delicacies and other Asian products.  In Tachana Merchazit, there are many stores catering to Filipinos, selling Philippine products and delicacies, including VCDs of Philippine movies. There are also shops for airline booking and moneyt remittance.There are also videoke bars, restaurants, pubs and discoteques in Tel Aviv which cater to Filipino clients. In Jerusalem, the Filipino store enjoys popular patronage. In Haifa, two stores offer more than Philippine products, they have billiards pool, karaoke and Filipino refreshments.

 

FILIPINOS IN THE PALESTINE AREAS

Although Palestinian Authority is under the jurisdiction of the Philippine Embassy in Amman, the Philippine Embassy in Tel Aviv serves the Consular needs of the Filipinos in the Palestinian areas for the simple reason of accessibility. There are at least 100 Filipinos in Bethlehem, West Bank and other areas in the Palestine, most of them married to Palestinians.

 

THE PHILIPPINE EMBASSY AND THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY

The Philippine Embassy regularly meets with the Filipino Community through the FFCI. The Cultural Attaché and the Labor Attaché sit as advisers to the FFCI during its meetings held every third Sunday of each month at the Philippine Embassy conference room.

The Embassy has identified Filipino focal persons in major areas in Israel who will coordinate with other Filipinos in their jurisdiction in case of emergency or special events at the Embassy.  In addition, the Embassy maintains the “text brigade” which was launched in 2004 to monitor Filipinos in case of bombings and emergency situations.