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While much attention is focused on the Philippine overseas labor diaspora which ranks as one of the largest in the world and serves as a key ingredient of economic growth in many countries around the globe, this paper will focus on the less iconic aspect of geographic displacement among the Filipinos: the Philippine refugees and political exiles.
Internal population movements of refugees initially tend to place strain upon the governmental resources and capabilities due to humanitarian concerns, while later they tend to acquire permanence in the Philippine context and create a need for new spatial, economic and cultural adaptation. External refugees often give rise to serious international issues for the Philippine leaders. Political exiles, from Emilio Aguinaldo to Benigno Aquino Jr. cast their influence upon the domestic political scene of their homeland, while complicating its international relations.
This examination will include political refugees fleeing conflict and violence, particularly on the southern island of Mindanao, as well as refugees displaced by natural disasters, such as typhoons, volcanic explosions and earthquakes. A distinction will be made between internal refugees (those remaining within the Philippines) and external refugees. The examination of the political exiles will deal with the members of the country’s elites and professional classes who were forced to leave the Philippines due to their opposition to repressive governance, from Spanish and American colonial masters to the Marcos dictatorship. Finally, the impact of this displacement will be examined for the host countries and regions as well, for instance Sabah or Guam.