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British Filipinos admiring Big Ben in London

British Filipinos who have found success in the UK

Approximately 200,000 British Filipinos are working in various fields in England, Wales, Northern Ireland, and Scotland. Yet with all these Pinoys in the country, some still feel invisible in the United Kingdom’s population of 67 million.

Luckily, times are changing, and more and more British Filipinos have earned acclaim for their hard work and talent. To name a few, here are the top 10 Filipinos who have been shining brightly in the UK:

British Filipinos in the UK’s health sector

After Indian healthcare professionals, Filipinos are the next largest non-UK nationality working in the National Health Service (NHS). Thus, it shouldn’t be a surprise if you see them in the news or at your annual check-up.

Notably, these Filipino nurses have recently made headlines for their achievements in British healthcare:

Edmund Tablay

Edmund Tablay is the first Filipino nurse to hold a high-ranking position in the NHS. He is currently the director of nursing at the University Hospitals Sussex, a position he began in September 2021.

A farmer’s son, Tablay says he built his strong work ethic in his youth while tilling the family’s land between studies. He continued farming until he graduated from West Visayas State University and became a nurse in 1996.

In 2001, he began his nursing career in the UK and worked his way up to leadership positions despite facing self-doubt and racism.

Today, Tablay hopes to inspire other foreign-trained nurses to pursue excellence in the United Kingdom.

Ariel Lanada

Dubbed Nurse of the Year at the 2021 National BAME Health and Care Awards, Arnel Lanada is credited for his hard work as a frontliner in the COVID-19 pandemic.

During the pandemic’s early days, Lanada taught fellow nurses at the Oxford University Hospital’s Trust how to ensure their personal protective equipment (PPE) was worn correctly. With the Filipino community in Oxfordshire, he also provided hot meals for Oxford’s NHS staff.

May Parsons

The globe remembers May Parsons as the nurse who administered the world’s first COVID-19 vaccine.

Born in Pasay City, Philippines and an alumna of the University of Santo Tomas, Parsons has been working among other British Filipinos since 2003. She is currently a matron at the University Hospital Coventry.

Recently, she was among the group of NHS representatives who received the George Cross from the late Queen Elizabeth II for their services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Read our interview with May Parsons here.

British Filipinos in the UK government

Pinoys aren’t only in healthcare; they’ve also gained political momentum. In fact, you may have already heard about these Filipinos working in the UK government:

Danilo Favor

Danilo Favor is the first Filipino to win a seat in the UK government, first as town councillor of Asphalts Ward in 2011, then as deputy mayor and mayor of East Grinstead in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Favor was once a registered nurse in the Philippines before he moved to the UK in 2000 to work at Queen Victoria Hospital. Eventually, he received further training at King’s College London and became an ophthalmic nurse practitioner.

In 2014, he received the Presidential Banaag Award. According to the official website of the Presidential Awards for Filipino Individuals and Organisations Overseas (PAFIOO), the Banaag Award is given to a person or group that has “significantly benefited a sector of the diaspora, or advanced the cause and interest of overseas Filipino communities.”

The Mid-Sussex District Council also presented Favor with a Community Service Award that same year.

After being elected mayor in 2019, Favor received the Pamana ng Pilipino Award from the PAFIOO in 2022 for bringing honour to the Philippines.

Cynthia Barker

After Danilo Favor, the late Cynthia Barker was among the pioneering British Filipinos in the UK’s political scene.

Born in Laguna, Philippines, Barker moved to Hertfordshire, England, to be with her mother, who was an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) in the UK.

In 2015, she became the first Filipino to become a councillor of Hertsmere Borough and the town of Elstree and Borehamwood. She was eventually re-elected in 2019, the same year she became deputy mayor of Hertsmere.

In 2020, she was elected mayor of the same borough and had planned to raise funds for the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children during her term. Sadly, Barker fell ill and died in September 2020, only three months after her election.

Though Barker’s political career was cut short, she was able to help her community and mentor the next Filipino British politician on our list.

Raymond Padilla

In 2021, Raymond Padilla was elected councillor of Gloucester, England’s Matson, Robinswood and White City Ward. This was a far cry from his first days in the UK 16 years prior.

In 2005, Padilla left a thriving career in Philippine journalism to join his wife in the UK. While his wife immigrated as a nurse, the former deputy editor of Panay News and Philippine Daily Inquirer correspondent came into the country as his wife’s dependant.

He later took on jobs as a hospital domestic assistant or janitor, and as a security guard before studying to become a nurse at the University of the West of England. He then found work at Gloucestershire Royal Hospital.

Now a nurse and the current chairman of the Filipino Association of Gloucestershire, Padilla hopes more Pinoys take an active role in local government so they can help the growing community of British Filipinos in the UK.

Carmen Legarda

Carmen Legarda is the first Filipina to run for a seat in British Parliament. She ran under The Green Party of England and Wales in 2017, on a platform of social justice and environmentalism.

Born in Sampaloc, Manila, she is the daughter of the actor Tony Carrion and Carmita Fernandez, the first Filipino woman to graduate from the University of Oxford.

On her own merits, Legarda is a trained psychologist and doctor from the Philippines who built an international career in human resources management. Her portfolio includes work with The British Council and Save the Children.

Though she did not get into Parliament, Legarda continued her career in local government, serving as a councillor of the borough of Barnet in 2018. She also had a stint as a co-secretary in The Green Party’s Greens of Colour Committee.

Filipinos in the UK’s entertainment and culture scene

Being a Pinoy in the UK, it’s important to see yourself represented in art and culture. Luckily, these creatives have been giving a voice to British Filipinos in the UK’s airwaves, theatres, and restaurants:

Rachelle Ann Go

Already a television and theatre star in the Philippines, Rachelle Ann Go made her international debut playing Gigi in the 2014 West End Revival of Miss Saigon. She bagged the role of Fantine in Les Misérables in 2015 before reprising her role as Gigi on Broadway in 2017.

In 2018, she played Eliza Schuyler in the West End’s version of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda’s award-winning Broadway production. For her performance, she won the best actress award from Broadway World UK.

Four years later, Go returned as Fantine in the UK and Ireland tour of Les Misérables.

Rex De Guzman

Food entrepreneur Rex De Guzman is known for competing in The Great Cookbook Challenge with Jamie Oliver for a shot at publishing his own cookbook with Penguin Michael Joseph.

But even before appearing on British television, De Guzman already had experience working with Michelin Star chefs. He has also won awards of his own, having earned recognition at the 2019 British Street Food Awards for his dishes at TURO TURO, his pop-up Pinoy barbecue and grill.

De Guzman currently works as a consultant for startup food and beverage brands. He is also on his way to turning TURO TURO from a pop-up into a full-blown restaurant.


British Filipina on stage with her guitar

Bedroom pop singer Bea Laus, popularly known as Beabadoobee, broke the internet when rapper Powfu sampled her song Coffee in his 2020 hit Death Bed.

She has since released two studio albums, become Billboard’s Top New Rock Artist for 2020, won an NME Radar Award, and earned a rising star award nomination at the Brit Awards.

An artist for the indie label Dirty Hit, Beabadoobee is the youngest Filipino to perform at Coachella, a star-studded music festival in the United States that has featured hitmakers like Harry Styles and Billie Eilish.

The Philippine-born musician is also heading to the US to open for Taylor Swift in the mega pop star’s The Eras Tour in May 2023.

Join other Filipinos in the UK

Building a life in the UK takes time and grit, so ensure you complete your research before you make the big move.

If you’d like to learn more about living in the UK, check out our other articles:

To find out how you can safely send money from the UK to the Philippines, click here.


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