Filipino Americans are celebrating 50 years of historical legacy in the United States of America this October.
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) leads the annual observance of Filipino American History Month with the theme “50 Years Since the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention”.
FANHS notes that the year 2021 marks the 50th-anniversary of the convention that is widely hailed as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement.
Over 300 young Filipino American participants from the West Coast of the U.S. participated in the event held at Seattle University in 1971.
The series of conferences held annually between 1971 and 1982 provided opportunities for organizing the community and youth activists towards bringing issues like Filipino Farmworkers’ rights and anti-martial law to the forefront of the Filipino American Movement.
“We choose this theme to honor the earlier pioneers in the Filipino American movement, as well as the subsequent groups of young people across the country who have advocated for social justice issues affecting Filipino Americans (and other historically marginalized groups) for the past 50 years,” stated FANHS in its announcement of the theme.
Why October is FAHM
The Filipino American History Month observed every October since 1991 and recognized by the U.S. Congress in 2009, honors the history, pursuits, accomplishments, and legacy of Filipinos, the 3rd largest Asian American group in the U.S.
The month of October marks the first time that people of Asian descent were in modern-day California and the continental U.S.
The FANHS records show that on Octber 18, 1587, the Manila Galleon Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza (Our Lady of Hope) landed in now-Morro Bay, California from Macao, China. Spanish explorer Pedro de Unamuno acted as the commander of the landing party that included indigenous Filipino men who worked as sailors on board the Spanish trading ship.
The historical marker for the Landing of the First Filipinos in Morro Bay in recognition of the significant event was placed in modern-day California on October 21, 1995. The FANHS also recognizes the year 1763 as the date of the first permanent Filipino settlement in the U.S. in St. Malo Parrish, Louisiana.
The FANHS recommends the following activities for the month’s celebration:
- Organize teach-ins about the Far West Conventions. Invite FWC participants to speak and share their oral histories
- Teach about the histories of Filipino American college student organizations (SFSU PACE, UCLA Samahang, Columbia Liga Filipina, UIUC Philippine Student Association, UMich FASA), regional umbrella student groups (FIND, SCPASA, MAFA), or youth organizations (FYA, PEP, PinoyTeach)
- Highlight the history and development of Filipino American Studies/ Filipino American curriculum in your region/state
- Interview Filipino American community leaders of various generations to talk about their experiences with youth organizing
- Learn about the pensionados or government-sponsored students who attended U.S. universities in the early 1900s
- Curate a panel of Filipino American artists to describe their contributions to the arts (e.g., music, dance, theater, hip hop)
- Conduct oral histories with Filipino American elders who can share perspectives about the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s in your city or state
- Organize a children’s book reading for Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon & Gayle Romasanta
- Host a panel or workshop on the anti-martial law movement and the KDP (many who attended the FWCs)
- Begin dialogues on how to advocate for Filipino American Studies in your K-12 systems or colleges/universities and more
“We believe this theme is particularly crucial in 2021, especially as we are still amidst a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities of color in general and Filipino American healthcare workers specifically. We are also still navigating a culture of state-sanctioned violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), which resembles the historical racism faced by BIPOC communities (including Filipino Americans) throughout the history of the US.
“We are also still combating anti-Asian violence that resembles the anti-Asian and anti-Filipino violence that occurred a century ago in places like Watsonville, CA and Yakima Valley, WA. We must educate others – as well as our own families and communities – about our history so that historical violence does not repeat itself over and over again,” stated the FANHS website.
The official activities led by FANHS include an Online Auction to benefit the Filipino American National Historical Society National Office, National Pinoy Archives, and preservation of Filipino American history scheduled all day Saturday, October 9 until October 10. Available for online bidding are Filipino cultural pieces, clothing, beautiful art prints, handmade jewelry, custom crafts, book collections, services, historical photos, unique collectibles, and more. Preview the catalogue and register to bid here.
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