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Filipino American History Month

Filipino American History Month

What is it?

Each October, the United States celebrates Filipino American History Month. This is a month to observe the contributions, history, heritage, achievements, and culture of Filipinos and Filipino Americans.

The Filipino American National Historical (FAHNS), established in 1988, holds a Filipino convention each year that takes place at Seattle University each year. This year is the 50th anniversary, and the theme is “50 Years Since the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention”.

This year’s theme was chosen to honor earlier pioneers in the Filipino American movement, important groups of youth across the nation, and those who advocated for social justice issues affecting Filipino Americans and other marginalized groups over the past 50 years. The convention is titled the beginning of the Filipino American Movement. The first convention theme was “A Quest for Emergence '', which was mostly coordinated by Filipino Youth Activities, Inc., with Anthony Ogilvie as the convention chair.

More than 300 Filipino Americans attended the convention at Seattle University in 1971, igniting the beginning of the Filipino American movement. This first meeting would lead to a series of conferences that would later become known as Filipino People’s Far West Conventions (FWCs). Conventions were held each year between 1971 and 1982 in places including Seattle, Los Angeles, Stockton, and Berkeley. During the conventions, Filipinos organized ideas to combat issues like the Filipino Farmworkers’ rights and anti-martial law to the front of the Filipino American Movement. FWCs sparked the many student-led conferences held today.

Scholar-activists believe that the FWCs inspired the creation of Filipino American studies, taught at the College of San Francisco, and are the only department of its kind in the nation. The program was prompted, established, and assisted by Filipino American students and the community more than 50 years ago.

Why Celebrate in October?

This celebration takes place in October because the observation commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the United States. During the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade era from 1565-1815, the Spanish crossed the Pacific Ocean between the Philippines and Mexico. On October 18, 1857, the ship Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope), landed in what is now known as Morro Bay, California. The landing partner included indigenous Filipino men sailors who were on board the Spanish trading ship. On October 21, 1995, the FANHS California Central Coast Chapter placed a Landing of the First Filipinos historical marker in Morro Bay to recognize the important event. FANHS marks 17763 as the year of the first permanent Filipino settlement in the United States in St. Malo Parish, Louisiana. Filipino American History Month was first promoted by FANHS in 1991, with the first celebration starting in October 1992. In California, October was officially acknowledged in 2006 as Filipino History month by the California Department of Educated palace. The United States Congress officialized October as Filipino History Month in 2009. There are more than 4 million Filipinos, about 1.5% of the country’s population, living in the United States. Today, Filipinos are the second-largest Asian American group in the United States.

Filipino American Contribution to Labor Rights Movement

One of the biggest contributions Filipino Americans made was in the fight for labor rights for farmworkers. Led by Larry Itliong, Filipino American farmworkers to gain labor rights. Larry Itliong immigrated to the United States in 1929 at 15 and started working as a farm laborer and salmon canneries. He became a labor leader and organizer, leading labor organizations in Alaska and throughout the West Coast. In Stockton, Itliong recruited more than one thousand new members to join the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). He was such a good leader that union leaders requested that he organize Filipino grape workers at Filipino Hall to vote to go on strike. More than two thousand Filipino farmworkers started the Grape Strike. These farm workers were a part of the Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC). They demanded that they get $1.40 an hour, 25 cents a box, and the right to form a union. The strike would last for five years, however, not many people today know about Itliong and the Filipino Americans’ contributions to the farmworkers’ movement.

How to Support?

  • Invite FWC participants to speak and share their oral histories

  • Learn Filipino and Filipino American history

  • Highlight the history and development of Filipino American studies/curriculum

  • Interview Filipino Community leaders of different generations to speak about their experiences

  • Create or support Filipino American events

  • Listen to Filipino Music, read a book from a Filipino author, or watch a Filipino movie

  • Support organizations that support Filipino Americans

Research Co-ordinator - Jezreel

Editor - Vaishnavi Bhojane


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