- A refugee is a person escaping his or her country because of the forced effects of persecution, war, or natural disaster.
- The year 2000 was the year that the United Nations declared 20 June at the celebration for World Refugee Day.
- The first wave of refugees that came to the Philippines was the so-called "White Russians" of which 800 was a part of a fleet of almost 8,000 refugees that fled the persecution from the "Red Russians" or those who supported the 1917 Socialist Revolution. 250 worked in abaca plantations which were then a booming industry in Mindanao.
- The second wave of refugees were the 1,200 European Jews that escaped the World War II Nazi persecution. These refugees were accepted by former President Manuel L. Quezon by issuing the Proclamation No. 173 on 21 August 1937 which later became the basis of Commonwealth Act 613 now known as Philippine Immigration Act of 1940. By this act, a Filipino can see Quezon monument in Tel Aviv, Israel, inscribed with his words of welcome for refugees, that: “the people of the Philippines will have in the future every reason to be glad that when the time of need came, their country was willing to extend a hand of welcome.”
- The third wave of refugees to the Philippines was the Spanish Republicans who fled the Falange Española of General Francisco Franco from 1936 to 1939. It was due to the absolute neutrality being implemented by President Quezon during those time of the Spanish Civil War that these refugees were accepted in the Philippines.
- The fourth wave of refugees was the Chinese immigrants that came because of the Chinese Civil War. It was in 1940 that the Philippine Immigration Act of 1940 was enacted and 30,000 Kuomintang Chinese group were welcomed. It was also the time the Philippines became a sovereign country and the foreigners were allowed to become naturalized Filipinos as stated in the Philippine Constitution.
- The fifth wave of refugees was the second wave of White Russians, 6,000 of which were welcomed by former President Elpidio Quirino in 1948. These Russians left their community in Shanghai, China due to the impending communist forces and only the Philippines replied to their request for refugee status. This was also the time that the Displaced Persons Act of 1948 was amended.
- The sixth wave of refugees to the Philippines came during the years of 1975 to 1992 wherein 2,700 Vietnamese "boat people" escaped the fallen South Vietnam Government and was allowed to stay in the country.
- The seventh wave of refugees that arrived in the Philippines were Iranian refugees in the latter part of the 1970s during the Iranian Revolution.
- The eighth wave of refugees came in 1980 to the Philippines which were made up of Indo-Chinese refugees including citizens from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. It was during this time that the Philippine Refugee Processing Center in Morong, Bataan was opened to accommodate and facilitate around 400,000 refugees from 1980 to 1994.
- The ninth wave of refugees was East Timorese during the time that the Timor was struggling for independence from Indonesia in 2000. Former President Joseph Estrada supported this action and was able to raise local funds to support these refugees.
- In November 2016, due to the crisis in Syria, President Duterte announced that he is welcoming Syrian refugees to the Philippines.