Filipino American History Month is celebrated every October in the United States. It is a time to recognize and honor the contributions of Filipino Americans to the nation’s history, culture, and society.
But when was Filipino American History Month established? Let’s take a closer look.
Origins of Filipino American History Month
The idea of having a month-long celebration of Filipino American history and heritage can be traced back to the 1970s. In 1972, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) was founded in Seattle, Washington. The organization aimed to promote research, preservation, and dissemination of Filipino American history and culture.
In 1988, FANHS launched a campaign to establish October as Filipino American History Month. The month of October was chosen because it marks several significant events in Philippine and Filipino American history:
- October 18 – The arrival of the first recorded Filipino in North America, named “Luzon,” who landed in Morro Bay, California in 1587
- October 24 – The birthday of Rafaela Cifra, who became the first Filipino woman to practice medicine in the United States
- October 25 – The date when longshoreman Larry Itliong initiated the Delano Grape Strike in 1965, which brought together Mexican and Filipino farmworkers to demand better working conditions and wages
- October 31 – The day President Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which allowed more Filipinos to immigrate to the United States
After years of advocacy by FANHS and other community organizations, Filipino American History Month was officially recognized by Congress on August 17, 2009 through House Resolution 780 and Senate Resolution 298. The resolutions acknowledged Filipino Americans’ contributions to American society, their sacrifices and struggles, and their rich cultural heritage.
Since then, Filipino American History Month has been celebrated nationwide through various events such as parades, cultural festivals, exhibits, film screenings, and lectures. It has also been recognized by state governments such as California, Hawaii, Illinois, Nevada, and Washington.
Importance of Filipino American History Month
Filipino American History Month is important because it highlights the often overlooked or forgotten contributions of Filipinos to American history and culture. It also promotes awareness and understanding of Filipino Americans’ unique experiences as immigrants or descendants of immigrants who faced discrimination, segregation, and assimilation.
By celebrating Filipino American History Month, we honor the resilience and achievements of our community’s pioneers and trailblazers who paved the way for future generations. We also affirm our identity as Filipinos in America and our pride in our heritage.
In conclusion, Filipino American History Month was established in 1988 by the Filipino American National Historical Society to recognize the contributions of Filipinos to the United States. It was officially recognized by Congress in 2009 through House Resolution 780 and Senate Resolution 298. Celebrating this month is essential in acknowledging the significant role that Filipinos have played in shaping America’s history and culture.