Throughout October, Californians recognize and honor Filipino Americans’ massive contributions to this state and the country during Filipino American History Month.
The month-long celebration coincides with the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States when – on October 18, 1587, “‘Luzones Indios’ came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed on what is now Morro Bay, Calif.”, according to the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS).
“(Filipino American History Month) is a great reminder to us all that we are paying attention to Filipino American history, not Filipino heritage,” said Melissa Cardenas-Dow, MLIS, MS, a social sciences librarian at Sacramento State and CFA member. “Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon has advocated for paying attention to this difference. As she said, ‘Filipino Americans made history. We helped build this nation. That’s what this month is about.’”
Dr. Bohulano Mabalon was a beloved colleague who tragically passed away in 2018. She was an associate professor of Asian American history at San Francisco State, with a focus on Filipino American history.
In 2013, Bohulano Mabalon said, “History is inclusive of heritage and culture, but it’s also about the ways we have built and changed this nation: our stories, political struggles, transformations, labor, migration, activism, impact of imperialism, and war and victories.”
More than four million Filipinos live across the country, according to a report from Pew Research Center, making Filipino-Americans the second-largest Asian American group in the US and third-largest ethnic group in California, according to FANHS.
This year’s theme celebrates the 50th anniversary of the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention, a convention that brought together over 300 young Filipino Americans to the West Coast, considered by some as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement.
FANHS put together a list of activities for Filipino American History Month, which include:
- Organize teach-ins about the Far West Conventions
- Teach about the histories of Filipino American college student organizations (like SFSU PACE)
- Highlight the history and development of Filipino American Studies/Filipino American curriculum
- Learn about the pensionados, or government-sponsored students who attended US universities in the early 1900s
There are additional resources available to better understand the history of and to honor the contributions of Filipino Americans in the US and California:
- This Filipino American Life podcast
- My Family Moved to the US for a Better Life. But What Does That Really Mean? Buzzfeed News article on Concepcion: An Immigrant Family’s Fortunes
- From the Bay to the Bayou: 10 Places That are Steeping in Filipino American History, The Points Guy article on travel.