Washington celebrates Filipino-American History
Washington State Governor Jay Inslee signed the into law legislation declaring every October as Filipino American History Month in Washington State. Credits to Filipino American National Historical Society.

The state of Washington is set to officially celebrate the Filipino-American History Month (FAHM) for the first time this October 2019.

The Filipino-American History Month across the state of Washington was declared with the passing of Senate Bill 5865 in March and signed by the President on April 18, passed at the House on April 17 and signed by the Speaker on April 23. The legislation was signed by the Governor of Washington State on May 7, 2019.

The United States Congress had previously recognized the Filipino-American History Month back in 2009, however, it was not yet celebrated annually pending the passing of the bill.

October was marked as the month for the celebration as “the earliest documented proof of Filipino presence in the continental United States was on October 18, 1587, when the first ‘Luzones Indios’ set foot in Morro Bay, California…. today Filipino Americans continue to make a lasting impact on the history and heritage of Washington state and the United States.”

In passing the legislation, the U.S Congress noted that “the writings and teachings of American history have often overlooked the role of people of color, among them the history of Filipino Americans, whose heritage spans a colonial, political, economic, and cultural relationship with the United States.”

The Filipino American National Historical Society started celebrating the bond between Filipinos and Americans back in 1992 to commemorate the first arrival of Filipinos on U.S soil.

Nine years worth of lobbying efforts from Wapato local Rey Pascua are credited as what led to the FAHM approval by the Senate and the declaration as an official month-long celebration.

Pascua expressed his wish for the declaration to lead to the teaching in schools of Filipino American heritage in the state of Washington, noting that the Filipino hall is in Wapato on the Yakama reservation where the tribe allowed Filipinos to lease and buy land to farm which led to the building of strong ties between the two cultures.

“I think school districts better get ready to teach about the diverse ethnic groups in the state,” Pascua said in a report by Yakima Herald.

“This makes it possible and important for future generations to study their history,” Pascua added.

Filipino-American and Army brigadier general Oscar Hillman acknowledged the value of Pascua’s efforts saying, “We’re the third-largest Filipino community in America, so it means a lot to us. We have a month to celebrate this.”

Filipino-American National Historical Society Executive Director Dorothy Cordova remarked, “Even though there’s an interesting history of us in the United States, we’re often overlooked. Everybody looks at it like we’re recent immigrants. We’ve been here longer than a lot of people.”

The Filipino American National Historical Society will celebrate the October 2019 event with the theme “Pinay Visionaries: Celebrating Filipina American Women” and their contributions to history and the Filipina/o American community nationwide.

Filipino bonds with other nations leading to the establishment of mixed cultures have also been commemorated and celebrated in Canada’s first Filipino Heritage Month last June where a Jose Rizal monument was set up in Markham City’s version of the Luneta Park, and in Madrid, Spain where Jose Rizal has been honored.

With reports from Marclee Agustin, Angie Quadra Balibay.

SEND congratulations in the comments below to the Filipino American community in Washington for the upcoming Filipino American Heritage Month celebrations!

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