About Us

Advocate for the rights and welfare of migrant workers.


We envision a truly sovereign and democratic Philippine society where labor migration is just an, and not the, only option, and where overseas Filipino women and men enjoy the respect of peoples in other societies within the context of a just and egalitarian global order.


In the attainment of our vision, we shall:

1. Uphold the rights and welfare of OFWs and their families, especially women migrants, through gender responsive, holistic and empowering direct services, advocacy, organizing and capacity-building;

2. Engage in the prevention and fights against trafficking in women and children; and,

3. Contribute to the creation of social, cultural, economic and political conditions where rights of OFWs and their families are protected, sustainable reintegration of OFWs is facilitated and alternatives to labor migration are available.


1. Empowered OFWs and their families as manifested by the following; awareness of the national and global issues affecting migration; awareness and claim-taking of their rights and entitlements; and, participation in governance.

2. Gender-responsive community-based Structures of Care (SOCs) and governance that provide preventive, remedial and developmental services to migrant workers and their families.

3. Strong collaboration between and among advocates, service providers and other stakeholders to provide holistic and gender-sensitive services to OFWs and their families.

4. A critical mass of advocates that actively lobbies at the national and international level for pro-migrant policies, programs and services that promote and protect the rights and welfare of OFWs and their families and addresses other migrant issues and concerns.

5. Strengthened ability of overseas Filipinos to assert their rights, individually and collectively, to deepen their nationalism, and enhance participation in local economy and national development.

History and Background

Since the early 1970s, millions of Filipinos were deployed to many parts of the world by both private and government entities for the purpose of generating foreign exchange for the Philippines, and to fill-in the need for cheap, exploitative foreign labor in many developing countries in the Middle East, Asia Pacific, Europe and the Americas. Catch phrase at the time was “Katas ng Saudi.”

The six years of the Aquino administration, ironically saw the increasing “Feminization” of Overseas Filipino Workers (OFWs). Based on official estimates of the Philippine Overseas Employment Administration (POEA), 54% of the deployed workers in 1991 were women, working mainly in the service and entertainment industry. Corollary, this has led to the worsening exploitation and abuse of of Filipino workers as women coming from a third world country.

In response to the worsening situation of the Filipino migrant workers, women in particular, five (5) Philippine-based organizations, identified the need to strengthen the support services for migrant workers, especially those victims of illegal recruitment, contract violations and other forms of sexual discrimination and exploitation. These organizations are the following: the Friends of Filipino Migrant Workers (KAIBIGAN); the Kapisanan ng mga Kamag-anak ng Manggagawang Migranted Pilipino (KAKAMMPI); GABRIELA; The National Council of Churches in the Philippines – International Desk NCCP-IA); and the Women’s Resource and Research Center (WRRC) and 3 individuals (Sr.Mary John Mananzan, the late Dr. Mary Vita and the late Ms. Virginia “Gina” Alunan).

It was the late Ms. Gina Alunan, the first Executive Director of Kanlungan Centre Foundation, who laid the groundwork for the establishment of the organization. Ms. Gina Alunan were among the first group who organized the migrant workers in Hong Kong while she was connected/working with APMMW (Asia Pacific Mission for Migrant Workers). She joined KAIBIGAN when she returned back to the Philippines, and thus was tasked with the formation of Kanlungan Centre Foundation. Ms. Alunan passed away in May 2003 of Ovarian Cancer. Ms. Alunan is a graduate of Miriam College and UP-SOLAIR.

KANLUNGAN, through its Direct Support and Development Program (DSDP), has been successful to a certain degree in helping some individual workers attain justice for violations committed against them and eventually overcome a very critical stage in their life. This type of assistance, however, is not enough to determine the social effectiveness of KANLUNGAN. KANLUNGAN believes in the principle that only through enhancing the workers’ individual and collective strengths and advocating for social policy and policy change can the institution make a dent in the overall situation of the Filipino migrant workers.

Thus, another aspect of KANLUNGAN’s mission is to facilitate and assist in the development of the workers’ individual and collective strengths and capabilities through information, education, training, organizing and advocacy. Publications and other research materials are disseminated to prospective and returning migrant workers to inform them on the general situation of migrant workers, their rights and how to protect themselves from abuses. Orientation and educational seminars are provided to departing workers, community organizations of migrant families, and workers pursuing cases in courts. Campaigns and lobby work are also pursued to influence and effect policy changes for the benefit of migrant workers.

In 1992, KANLUNGAN also started its community extension service program or formation of migrant support program/desks at the community level. Implemented in Punta, Sta. Ana, Metro Manila, the program closely coordinated with the Parish Labor Center in the area. Through this, KANLUNGAN was able to establish the viability of a community-based program for migrant workers.

In May 1996, Kanlungan establish a field extension office in San Fernando, La Union. Psychosocial, economic and advocacy group formations addressing the causes and effects of migration on the individual, the family and the community serve as structures of care for returned workers and families in the locality. Direct organizing and community-based partnership with existing organizations in the community facilitate the formation of structures of care. (Now in 2009) and as a result of direct organizing in 2001, Bannuar Ti La Union (Heroes of La Union), a people’s organization, is firmly established in the eight municipalities of La Union. Bannuar Ti La Union is now a partner of Kanlungan in engaging the LGUs to set up Migrant Workers’ Action Center in their respective areas to respond to the needs of OFWs.

Kanlungan engages the Local Government Units (LGUs) in La Union and advocates for the recognition and participation of OFWs in local governance. It continued to challenge the LGUs in La Union to come up with policies and programs for OFWs.