LEARN ABOUT OUR CULTURE

Below is a brief history of Filipino's in America. The FSA received this article by e-mail. Different versions of this text have been circulating around the Filipino community nation-wide via e-mail for some time. The information contained has been referenced at the end of the article (although I personally have NOT checked those references myself).


According to the U.S. census, there are approximately 9 million people living in America who are of Asian descent. Twenty-three percent of that are of Chinese ancestry; 20% are Filipino; 12% are Asian Indian; and Japanese, Korean, and Vietnamese each share about 10%. It is expected that by the year 2000, Filipinos will be the largest Asian/Pacific Islander group. Yet as Filipino Americans, we are invisible to mainstream society. How often do you see Filipinos in books, in magazines, on televesion, or on the radio? We are hidden in the shadows of our Asian/Pacific Islander brothers and sisters, and it seems that the only thing people know about us is that our youth have the highest suicide rate in the county.

Is that all that is known about Filipino Americans? Is this what we want our fellow Americans, our fellow Asian Americans, and our fellow shipmates to know? Of course not. If possible, we would like to be able to tell our friends and neighbors that there's more to being Filipino than just lumpia and pancit. We want to be able to tell our friends and family that we have a unique Asian Pacific Islander heritage, . . . a heritage that reflects our Filipinoness, a heritage that goes deep into the hearts of all Pinoys, whether we speak English or Tagalog, whether we were born in America or in our native land, the Philippines, or whether we eat "kare-kare", "dinuguan", or hamburger and French fries. We wan t to be able to tell our friends and fellow shipmates that "Our history is no mystery."

Indeed, as Filipino Americans, we need to tell our story and when our story began. Unknown to many people, Filipino American history began on October 18, 1587. Filipinos were the first Asians to cross the Pacific Ocean as early as 1587, fifty years before the first English settlement of Jamestown was established. From 1565 to 1815, during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade, Filipinos were forced to work as sailors and navigators on board Spanish Galleons. They arrived in as Morro Bay, California. A landing party consisting of Filipino seamen, namely "Luzon Indios ("Luzon Indians"), were sent to the California shore to claim the land for the Spanish king. In 1763, Filipinos made their first permanent settlement in the bayous and marshes of Louisiana. As sailors and navigators on board Spanish galleons, Filipinos (also known as "Manilamen" or Spanish-speaking Filipinos) jumped ship to escape the brutality of their Spanish masters. They built houses on stilts along the gulf ports of New Orleans and were the first in the United States to introduce the sun-drying process of shrimp. In 1781, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez Poblador, a Filipino, along with 44 other individuals were sent by the Spanish government from Mexico to establish what is now known as the city of Los Angeles. During the War of 1812, Filipinos from Manila Village (near New Orleans) were among the "Batarians" who fought against the British with Jean Lafitte in the Battle of New Orleans. This was just the beginning of the first wave of Filipino immigration into the United States. The second wave began from 1906 to 1934 with a heavy concentration going into California and Hawaii.

For over 300 years, Spain had colonized the Philippines using Manila Bay as their great seaport, trading silver and rich spices with other countries surrounding Southeast Asia and the rest of the world. In exchange for gold, the Spaniards gave Filipinos Christianity. We were called Filipinos after King Philip II of Spain. This is why we have Spanish surnames like Bautista, Calderon, Marquez, and Santos. Our Spanish connection came to an end after the Spanish-American War in 1898 when America wanted to control the Philippines. Unknown to Filipinos, through the Treaty of Paris (April 11, 1899), Spain sold the Philippines to the United States for $20 million, thus ending over 300 years of Spanish colonization.

Filipinos celebrated their independence from Spain on June 12, 1898, and declared Emilio Aguinaldo as president. However, the people of the Philippines were not truly free. In fact, they never were. America was its new ruler and had cheated the Filipinos in believing that they were free. Thus, the Filipino American War began shortly after U.S. colonization. Known in U.S. history books as the "Philippine Insurrection", it was a bloody precursor to Vietnam. The Filipino American War was America's first true overseas war. The War lasted from 1898 to 1902, and in those 3 years as many as 70,000 Americans died and close to 2 million Filipinos were killed. American soldiers were ordered to shoot and kill every one over age 10. Filipinos over ten were considered "criminals because they were born ten years before America took the Philippines." There was even a special gun designed to kill Filipinos, the Colt .45 1902 "Philippine Model", where only 4,600 were made. This is the real American history that historians, academicians, and scholars forgot to tell us about. Soon after the War, William Howard Taft, who later became President of the United States, became governor of the Philippines.

American school teachers, called "Thomasites", came to the Philippines to establish a public school system similar to American public schools. American educators taught Filipinos that "Aguinaldo and friends" were the enemy. They were taught American songs, and world history through American eyes. This is why so many of us speak such good English. The elite class of rich Filipinos also known as "pensionados" were allowed to come to America to learn in American universities. In November 1903, 103 pensionados became the first Filipino students in American universities and campuses. It was here in San Diego at State Normal School, now known as San Diego State University (SDSU), where the School Registrar's records show that there were a few Filipino students ages 16- 25 who had attended an SDSU, proof that we have been here in San Diego since 1903.

In the early 1900's, other Filipinos came to Hawaii to work on sugar cane plantations and to seek a better life in America. Filipinos came to the West Coast of the U.S., where they worked many long hours on farms and in the agricultural fields picking grapes, asparagus, lettuce and other fruits and vegetables in places like Hayward, Salinas, Stockton, El Centro, and even in Escondido. In Alaska they worked in the fish canneries. If they were not working in the fields, then they were working as dishwashers, waiters, and bus boys at the Hotel del Coronado, some at the "Casa de Manana" in La Jolla, or at the Rome Hotel on Market Street. These Filipino pioneers were known as the "manong generation" since most of them came from Ilokos Sur, Iloilo, and Cavite in the Philippines.

"Many of them Filipinos did not plan to reside permanently iin the United States. All they wanted was to accumulate as much wealth as possible within a short time and return to the islands as rich men. But due to the low-paying jobs the migrants obtained, a trip home became more and more remote as the years went by." (excerpt from Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's "Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946" p.56)

Back in the 1920's and '30's, the ratio of men to women was 20 to 1. In some places it was 40 to 1. Because they were Filipino, they were not allowed to marry white women. In the state of California, the local authorities imposed anti-miscegenation laws on Filipinos. Filipinos had to drive out of state in order to marry white women. And during this time, particularly during the Great Depression, white Americans claimed that Filipinos "brought down the standard of living because they worked for low wages".

Filipinos had to compete against other ethnic groups to earn a living. Tensions grew between white Americans and Filipinos. White Americans blamed Filipinos for taking their women and their jobs. For this reason, many hotels, restaurants, and even swimming pools had signs that read "POSITIVELY NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED!" Sometimes they read, "NO DOGS ALLOWED!" This eventually lead to the passing of the Tydings-Mcduffie Act of 1934, which limited Filipino immigration to the U.S. to 50 per year. Its main purpose was to exclude Filipinos because they were perceived as a social problem, disease carriers, and an economic threat. American attidude toward Filipinos changed with the onset of World War II. This began the 3rd wave of Filipino immigration (1945-1965). Filipinos from the Philippines joined the U.S. Navy to fight against the Japanese. Filipinos were allowed to join the navy because they were so-called "Nationals". They were not U.S. citizens, nor were they illegal aliens. In the navy, many Filipinos were given the label of "Designated TN", which many of you know stood for "Stewardsman". As stewards, Filipinos in the U.S. Navy cooked, cleaned, shined, washed, and swabbed the decks of naval ships and naval bases across America and the entire world. But despite their status, Filipinos fought side by side with American soldiers for freedom gainst the Japanese.

The 4th wave of Filipino Immigration began after the passing of the Immigration Act of 1965 and continues to the present day. This allowed the entry of as many as 20,000 immigrants annually. This wave of Filipinos was also called the "brain drain", and consisted mainly of professionals: doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, as well as the military, Filipinos who continued to join the navy off Sangeley Point in Cavite City, Philippines. From the first to the fourth wave of Filipino Immigration, it is evident that Filipinos have been in America for quite some time, yet one must persistently ask who are the Filipino Americans? Who are they and what have they done? Perhaps it would be better to ask: What is it about Filipino Americans that make them appear different, yet one and the same? The answer may lie with the younger generation, our youth, young 2nd- or 3rd- generation Filipino Americans, for some of you, your sons and daughters. Many of them do not see themselves in the American mainstream or in the community, and because of this "invisibility" they lack a certain voice that would remind them that they too are Filipino. Perhaps, this might be one of the reasons why they act more American than Filipino.

*Special thanks to Reynila Calderon-Magbuhat for providing the necessary resources for this presentation

***Footnotes*** 1--"Where Asian-Americans Reside". _U.S. News and World Report_. Basic data: estimate based on 1990 U.S. Census Bureau dat, April 29,1996, p. 18.

2--Rene Ciria-Cruz. "Looking for Asian America". _Filipinas_. May 1995, p. 38.

3--Fred Cordova. "The Importance of Being Filipino American: Community Acculturation vs. Individual Assimilation". Conference: "Making a Difference...in the Community". University of San Diego, Alcala Park, San Diego, California, Sept. 23, 1995.

4--Angela Lau, "Filipino Girls Think Suicide at No. 1 Rate". _San Diego Union-Tribune_. Feb. 11, 1995, A-1.

5--Eugene Lyon. "Track of the Manila Galleons". _National Geographic_. Vol. 178, No.3, Sept. 1990, pgs. 4-37.

6--Eloisa Borah Gomez. "Filipinos in Unamuno's California Expedition of 1587". _Amerasia Journal_. UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Vol. 23:3, Winter 1995-1996, pgs. 175-183.

7--Marina E. Espina. "Filipinos in Louisiana". A.F. Laborde & Sons: New Orleans, 1988, p.38-39, & 50.

8--Cordova, Fred. "Filipinos: Forgotten Asain Americans". Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publushing Co., 1983, p.9.

9--Ibid, Marina E. Espina, p. 50.

10--Filipino American National Historical Society Program. "Filipinos Americans: Discovering their past for the future". Seattle, Washington: Wehman Video Distribution, 1994.

11--Dario Villa. Class Lecture. Filipino Studies 100 class at Miramar College. San Diego, California, Feb. 29, 1996.

12--Ibid, Feb. 29, 1996.

13--Stanley Karnow. "In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines". New York: Ballintine Books, 1989, p. 106-195.

14--Ibid, p. 167-170.

15--Fred Cordova. "Historical Benchmarks". Filipinas. Feb. 1993, p.59.

16--Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's "Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946". University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979, p. 43.

17--Fred Cordova. "Filipinos: Forgotten Asain Americans"., p. 26-27, 37-39,57.

18--Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's "Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946". University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979, p. 57.

19--Alex Fabros. "When Hilario Met Sally". Filipinas. Feb. 1995, pgs. 0-52, 58.

20--Fred Cordova. "Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans"., p. 11.

21--Ibid, p. 114.

22--Dario DeGuzman Villa. Diversity Presentation. Sweetwater High School. National City, CA, Jan. 25, 1996.

23--Fred Cordova. "Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans"., p.119-120.

24--Statement of Understanding Concerning Duties Within the Steward Group Rating, Promotion and Assignment to Duty. NAVCRUITDET PHIL 1400/1 (5-67). Signature of applicant: Rosauro Santos Buenaventura. Witnessed by R.D. Morgan, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Recruiting Officer. 14 June 1968.

25--George Brown Tindall & David E. Shi. "America: A Narrative History" 3rd ed. vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992, p. 1352.

26--All information adopted from Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Instruction Kit 1992; The Asian American Almanac; ed. by Irene Natividad; Filipinas magazine May 1993, 14-17, Aug. 1994, Mar. 1995, July 1995, Feb. 1996, May 1996; & "The Bridge Generation: Sons and Daughters of Filipino Pioneers" by Dario DeGuzman Villa, San Diego, CA, 1996.

A note from the authors of this article:

Those of us with the Filipino American National Historical Society with the acronym "FANHS" are proud of our Filipino American heritage and proud of our Filipino Amerian identity. We are here to share this rich and unique Filipino American history, which can often be confused with Philippine history. We are Filipinos living in America, and our mission is to promote the understanding, education, enlightenment, appreciation, and enrichment through the identification, gathering, preservation and dessemination of the history and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States. Our history is no mystery. We have yet to research and document the overflow of Filipino-owned businesses -- bakeries, restaurants, video stores, insurance companies, and realtors -- situated on Plaza Boulevard and 8th Street in National City. And of course, the Filipino American businesses located on Mira Mesa Boulevard in Mira Mesa, and on Palm Avenue and Picador Road in South San Diego. There is much to be done. There is much to look forward to. As we celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Week, let our research and sharing go beyond today or tomorrow. Let it go everyday and every year. Because in this celebration, we can remember our native land and how it has culturally influenced us, but let us not forget that our home is here in America. Let us not forget that because of our "navy connection", whether we are white, black, brown, Asian, or Latino, we have contributed to this country. Did anyone tell you that you are what make the U.S. Navy the best it can be? Remember, it's not just a job, it's an adventure. And as the saying goes, "Fair winds and following seas".

"Maraming salamat po sa iyo". Thank you very much.