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imelda nicolas 2014

Secretary Imelda M. Nicolas was appointed in 2010 as Chairperson of the Commission on Filipinos Overseas (CFO), a cabinet-level Secretary position under the Office of the President of the Philippines. Since 1980, the CFO has been mandated to maintain strong and mutually beneficial ties between the country and Filipino communities throughout the world and to promote and protect the welfare, interests and well-being of Filipinos overseas.

As of 2012, there are approximately 10.49 million overseas Filipinos spread out in more than 210 countries, 47 percent are  permanent residents, 40 percent are temporary migrants (or more popularly known as OFWs or Overseas Filipino Workers)  with the balance (13 percent)  composed of Filipinos who are “irregular” in status.

As CFO Chairperson, Secretary Nicolas takes a more pro-active role for and with all overseas Filipinos, whether working or living in other countries (the so-called “Filipino diaspora”), to maximize the development potential of international migration while at the same time to minimize its  significant social and financial  costs.

Secretary Nicolas is guided by the recrafted CFO Vision: A community of well-respected and proudly competitive Filipinos overseas who contribute significantly to the productivity and well-being of the  countries of where they live or work  while maintaining strong political, economic, and cultural ties with the Philippines,   and driven by  the new CFO Mission to: Be the Philippines' premier institution in promoting policies, programs, and projects with Migration and Development as a framework for the strengthening and empowerment of the Filipino overseas community.

Secretary Nicolas was recently recognized by the Filipina Women’s Network  FWN) as one of  the 100 Most Influential Filipina Women in the World  (October 2013, San Francisco U.S.A.). She is currently one of the focal points of the Philippine government to the Migrants in Countries in Crisis initiative lauded together with the United States  by the United Nations’ Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon during the 2nd UN High-Level Dialogue on International Migration and Development in New York.

She chairs the Metropolis Asia Secretariat and is a member of the Metropolis International Steering Committee.  She is a member of the Experts Advisory Committee of a World Bank-funded project spearheaded by the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development (KNOMAD) and the Migration and Integration Management Training Organization (MIMTO).

Under her term, the following internationally-funded projects were implemented or are being implemented by the Commission on Filipinos Overseas: Advancing Regional Cooperation on International Migration among South East Asia Countries under the framework of the joint European Union-International Center for Migration Policy Development (EU-ICMPD) initiative MIgration EU eXpertise (MIEUX); EU and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Development Centre project on the Interrelations between Public Policies, Migration and Development; EU, UNDP  and Swiss Agency for Development Cooperation (SDC)-funded project Joint Migration and Development Initiative (JMDI) Phase II in the Philippines; United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Western Union Foundation (WUF)-funded project:  Overseas Filipinos – Remittance for Development (OF-ReD) Project; and the Philippine Financial Freedom Campaign.

She organized and is organizing the following conferences for the Filipino diaspora in line with CFO’s Diaspora to Development (D2D) program: the biennial Global Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora (2011, 2013 and 2015); Diaspora to Dialogue: First Regional Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora in Europe (2012); and Regional Summit of Filipinos in the Diaspora in the Middle East and Africa (2014).

Prior to her appointment to the CFO, she was former cabinet-level Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission (NAPC) in 2005, former Chairperson of the National Commission on the Role of Filipino Women (NCRFW) from 1992 to 1998, and Presidential Assistant helping cabinet secretaries in monitoring implementation of major government-funded infrastructures (from 1986 to 1992)

She was also chair of the Women’s Business Council of the Philippines (WBCP) and a member of the NGOs represented at the Millennium Challenge Account – Philippines (MCA-P) Board.  She is a member of the Board of Tanghalan Pilipino, the resident theater company of the Cultural Center of the Philippines and The Lewis College, a family-owned educational institution  in Sorsogon City.   

Before rejoining government in 2004, she was Vice-President for Development of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc., a New York-based multinational company, and Managing Director of TLC Beatrice China. She was also the first Filipina representative in the APEC Business Advisory Council (or ABAC) for the Philippines, 2002-2004.

She graduated magna cum laude at St. Theresa’s College, Manila and took M.A. units in Arts History at Columbia University, New York.

She has been a lifetime advocate for women’s rights and good governance.  She was the head of the Philippine delegation during the 10th anniversary of the Beijing UN Conference on Women held in 1995.


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