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Filipino-Amercian History Month- October

September 21, 2007


The month of October is officially observed as Filipino-American History Month. And in the spirit of this wonderful occasion, there will be one interesting fact for every day of the month. Please take the time to read, think about it, and share your knowledge with others.

Fact for October 1
Question: Did you know who invented the flourescent light? Answer: AGAPITO FLORES invented the flourescent light in the early 1940’s, thus the name FLUOR-RES-CENT. Source: Information adopted from Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Instruction Kit 1992

Fact for October 2
In 1902, the U.S. Congress passed into law the Cooper Act which made it AGAINST THE LAW for Filipinos to:
a) own property
b) vote
c) operate a business
d) live in an “American” residential neighborhood
e) hold public office
f) become naturalized American citizens
Imagine that?! It was later repealed (the exact year is not known).
Source: Information adopted from the National Filipino-American Empowerment Conference 1997 brochure.

Fact for October 3
Back in the 1920’s and ’30’s, the ratio of men to women was 20 to 1 (because of World War I). 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 during 1926, the local authorities imposed anti-miscegenation laws on Filipinos. Filipinos had to drive out of state in order to marry white women.
Source: Information adopted from the National Filipino-American Empowerment Conference 1997 brochure.

Fact for October 4
Did you know that the Governor of the State of Hawai..i is a Filipino-American named Benjamin Cayetano? He is the highest ranking Filipino-Americna in politics to date.
Source: Information adopted from the National Filipino-American Empowerment Conference 1997 brochure.

Fact for October 5
Major General Edward Soriano of the U.S. Army, a Filipino-American, became the second highest ranking Asian Pacific American in active-duty miltary service this past July 1997. Major General Soriano was born in Pangasinan, Philippines, and moved to the United States during the 1960s. He joined the army after graduating from San Jose State University with a degree in management. He also holds a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Missouri.
Source: Information adopted from Asian Week, August 22-28, 1997.

Fact for October 6
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.
Source: Marina E. Espina. “Filipinos in Louisiana”. A.F. Laborde & Sons: New Orleans, 1988.

Fact for October 7
With all this talk about the astronauts in space, did you know that a Filipino-American named Eduardo San Juan designed the Lunar Rover or “moon buggy” which was used by the Apollo astronauts to explore the moon?
Source: “Filipino Americans – Just like Me!” Compiled by Mencie Y. Hairston

Fact for October 8
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.
Source: Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida’s “Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946”. University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979.

Fact for October 9
Immediately after the Katipuneros (freedom fighters) won their independence from Spain, the United States began to impose its own brand of neo-colonialism on the Filipinos. It is known in U.S. history books as the “Philippine Insurrection,” but is hardly ever taught in schools. The Filipino American War lasted from 1898 to 1902, and in those 3 years: 70,000 Americans died & 2 million Filipinos were killed.
Source: Stanley Karnow. “In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines”. New York: Ballintine Books, 1989.

Fact for October 10
Did you know that at George Washington University, something is named after a great Filipino-American? That’s right, last year the Gelman Library named the circulation desk (1st floor) after our very own advisor, Jonathan Melegrito, for his 25 years of service to GW and the Gelman Library. It is officially known as “The Jonathan Melegrito Circulation Desk.”

Fact for October 11
Venancio C. Igarta, an artist, is the first and only Filipino to be exhibited at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. He took the New York City art world by storm in the 1940s. He is featured in the October 1997 issue of FILIPINAS MAGAZINE.
Source: Sison-Paez, Marites. “Igarta Unbound.” Filipinas Magazine, October 1997, pg. 46.

Fact for October 12
In the early 1900’s, Filipinos came to the U.S. and settled down in many areas. In Hawai..i, Filipinos worked on sugar cane plantations. They also 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.
Source: Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida’s “Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946”. University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979.

Fact for October 13
Since it’s Columbus Day….Filipinos first crossed the Pacific Ocean as early as 1587, fifty years before the first English settlement of Jamestown was established.
Source: Eugene Lyon. “Track of the Manila Galleons”. National Geographic. Vol. 178, No.3, Sept. 1990, pgs. 4-37.

Fact for October 14
As the baseball season winds down….Do you know who the first Filipino American in the major leagues was? His name was Bobby Balcena, and his era was during 1948 to 1962. Bobby debuted on September 16, 1956, with the Cincinnati Reds. He managed to score two runs. Balcena passed away on January 5, 1993, at the age of 64. Another Filipino-American first!
Source: Emil Guillermo. “Pinoy in the Outfield.” FILIPINAS. October 1997.

Fact for October 15
Unknown to many 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. That was quite a bargain for the United States!
Source: Stanley Karnow. “In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines.” New York: Ballentine Books, 1989.

Fact for October 16
When Filipinos came to the United States in the early 1900’s, they 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.
Source: Cordova, Fred. “Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans”. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publushing Co., 1983.

Fact for October 17
Did you know that ROB SCHNEIDER is Filipino-American? You all know him from Saturday Night Live, the movies “Judge Dredd,” “Demolition Man,” and “Down Periscope.” He’s the guy who says stuff like “fumble…laya.” He is also the star of Men Behaving Badly on NBC.
Source: “Filipino-Americans — Just Like Me!” Compiled by Mencie Y. Hairston

Fact for October 18
Yet another Filipina leader is a GW GRADUATE – Dr. Helena Z. Benitez. She earned her master’s degree at the Graduate School of Education & Human Development in 1939 and was awarded GW’s Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 1961. Dr. Benitez is described as “the leading female figure in the Philippines today.” She serves as the chairperson of The Philippine Women’s University. She has also served as a Philippine senator, assemblywoman, and ambassador. Even more impressive are her years at the United Nations, where she became the highest ranking woman in the U.N. Secretariat. You can learn more about her at:
Source: GW Graduate School of Education & Human Development Alumni Directory 1997, pg. XIV.

Fact for October 19
Where did the term Pinoy originate?
It is believed that the term Pinoy originated from the early Filipinos who came to the United States. The Manongs (uncles) as the “oldtimers” were also known to call themselves Pinoys to distinguish themselves from Filipinos living in the Philippines. (Contributed partly by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon whose family has been using the term Pinoy/Pinay since the 1920’s.)
Source: Philippine History 101 website

Fact for October 20
It was on October of 1890 that San Miguel Beer was born. San Miguel Corporation is the largest employer in the Philippines other than the government. San Miguel Corporation has over 39,000 full-time employees. It was the first brewery in Southeast Asia. San Miguel Pale Pilsen is the best selling foreign beer brand in: the South of China, Hong Kong, Beijing, and Nepal. FOUR out of EVERY FIVE beers being drunk in the Philippines is a San Miguel.
Source: San Miguel Beer Home Page

Fact for October 21
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.
Source: Cordova, Fred. “Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans”. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publushing Co., 1983.

Fact for October 22
Loida Nicolas Lewis, a Filipina-American, is chairman and CEO of TLC Beatrice International Holdings, Inc., a multinational food company with sales in 1995 of $2.1 billion. Working Woman magazine hailed her as the top businesswoman in the country for 1994. Mrs. Lewis was the first Asian woman to pass the New York State bar exam without having studied law in the U.S. She speaks several languages: English, French, Spanish, Italian and Filipino. She was a sponsor of the National Filipino-American Empowerment Conference held this past August. She is particularly committed to the passage of the Veterans’ Equity bill in Congress.
Source: Ann On-Line

Fact for October 23
The 4th wave of Filipino Immigration to the United States began after the passage 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.
Source: Cordova, Fred. “Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans”. Dubuque, Iowa: Kendall/Hunt Publushing Co., 1983.

Fact for October 24
No fact available.

Fact for October 25
On October 25, 1944, General Douglas MacArthur fulfilled his promise to return to the Philippines. After destroying the Japanese fleet in the Gulf of Leyte, General MacArthur, then in the company of the greatest armada ever to sail the Pacific, landed in Palo, Leyte. The Japanese were forced to leave the Philippines soon thereafter.
Source: Stanley Karnow. “In Our Image: America’s Empire in the Philippines”. New York: Ballintine Books, 1989.

Fact for October 26
Did you know that TAMLYN TOMITA, from the “Karate Kid II” and the “Joy Luck Club” is part Filipina? Why do you think she’s so beautiful?
Source: “Filipino-Americans Just Like Me!” Compiled by Mencie Hairston.

Fact for October 27
The 3rd wave of Filipino immigration was from 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. But despite their status, Filipinos fought side by side with American soldiers for freedom gainst the Japanese. These veterans are were denied benefits and are still to this day fighting for their rights. If you are interested in working on the passage of the Equity Bill through Congress, contact the National Federation of Fil-Am Associations at (202) 986-9300.

Fact for October 28
The Philippines was named after the Crown Prince Philip II of Spain. He was reputed to be an extreme introvert, humorless, and unpopular. Dubbed the “Spider of the Escorial” because he seldom left his palace, Philip II reigned over the vast Spanish empire handed down by his father, Charles V, and was a leading patron of Catholicism.
Source: From Bong Barrameda’s Pinoy Trivia Vol. 2, Anvil Publishing, 1993.

Fact for October 29
Did you know that in the state of California, there are more Filipinos than there are of Chinese. And in San Diego County, Filipino Americans are the largest Asian Pacific Islander group. It is estimated that by the year 2000, Filipinos will surpass the Chinese in being the largest Asian-Pacific Islander group in America.
Source: National Filipino-American Empowerment Conference, August, 1997.

Fact for October 30
Did you know that Dr. Abelardo Aguilar, a Filipino-American, discovered the now widely used antibiotic known by its generic term as erthyromycin. Chances are, you’ve already used this antibiotic.

Fact for October 31
Both Ruben Aquino and Cynthia Ignacio, two Filipino-Americans, were instrumental in the creation of the Disney animation film “THE LION KING.” Aquino has been with Walt Disney Studios for over a decade and was the supervising animator of the character Simba. Ignacio, born and raised in Maryland, started as an intern at Walt Disney, but eventually was promoted to a full-time artist and layout specialist.
Source: Ayuyang, Rachelle. “A Great Lion of Work.” Filipinas Magazine, September 1994, pg. cover, 7.

If WE DON’T know our own history, WHO else WILL?
Fil-Am history doesn’t end here!

This information was taken from Rodney J. Salinas’ “Filipino American Trivia” website.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. September 23, 2007 12:26 pm

    *THANK YOU!* for sharing this! I learned a lot from it and hope to maybe even use it in our homeschool each day in October. (((((HUGS))))) sandi

  2. Lechonero permalink
    October 5, 2007 9:16 am

    Very nice write up, very inspiring. I found this and I’d like to share this Fil-Am artist’s work on Filipino Americans in honor of Fil-Am month:


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