The rapid growth of the Philippine population has led to considerable internal migration. On Luzon, frontier-like settlements have pushed into the more remote areas. Mindoro and Palawan islands also have attracted numerous settlers, and hundreds of thousands of land-hungry Filipinos have relocated to less densely populated Mindanao. There also has been a massive movement to metropolitan Manila, especially from central Luzon. Emigration abroad is substantial. In 1989 it came to 55,703. Emigration to the United States particularly has been considerable: as of the 1990 US census, 1,406,770 Americans (chiefly in California and Hawaii) claimed Filipino ancestry. To reduce domestic unemployment, over 500,000 Philippine citizens were working abroad in the late 1980s and early 1990s, mainly in the Middle East, but also in Hong Kong and Singapore.
As of 1998, there were still 1,589 asylum-seekers from Vietnam in a Palawan camp, who were refused refugee status but allowed to stay pending a repatriation solution. Distinctions between Indochinese and other nationalities have been dropped, and all are now referred to as urban refugees. As of 1999, the Philippines hosted 306 urban refugees and their dependents. More than half of these were from the Middle East, including 33 Iranians, 24 Iraqis, 19 Palestinians, and 21 Somalis. Many refugees became legal exiles while studying in the Philippines following political or military upheavals in their homelands; a majority have since married Filipino nationals. In 2000, the net migration rate was -2.6 migrants per 1,000 population, amounting to a loss of 190,000 people. The number of migrants that year was 160,000. The government views the emigration level as too high, but the immigration level as satisfactory.