Filipino Americans: Wikis


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Filipino American
Cristeta ComerfordJose CalugasEleanor Mariano
Steve AustriaVanessa HudgensBenjamin Cayetano
Notable Filipino Americans (L to R, from top left):

Cristeta Comerford - Jose Calugas - Eleanor Mariano - Steve Austria - Vanessa Hudgens - Benjamin Cayetano

Total population
3.1 million[1] - 4 million[2]
1%- 1.5% of the US population (2007)
Regions with significant populations
California, Hawaii, Nevada, Chicago Metropolitan Area, New York Metropolitan Area[3]

American English, Tagalog, Ilocano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Bikolano, Visayan languages, others


Predominantly Roman Catholic; minorities of Protestantism, Aglipayan, Islam, and others.

Filipino Americans are Americans of Filipino ancestry. Filipino Americans reside mainly in the continental United States and form significant populations in Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, and Northern Marianas.

The earliest recorded presence of Filipinos in what is today the United States occurred in October 1587, when mariners under Spanish command landed in Morro Bay, California.[4] The earliest permanent Filipino Americans to arrive in the New World landed in 1763, later creating settlements such as Saint Malo, Louisiana and Manila Village in Barataria Bay. These early settlements were composed of formerly pressed sailors escaping from the arduous duties aboard Spanish galleons and were "discovered" in America in 1883 by a Harper's Weekly journalist.

Significant immigration to the United States began with the need for agricultural laborers in the 1900s,[5] with Filipinos settling primarily in what was then the Territory of Hawaii and California, after the Philippine-American War, which turned the Philippines into a territory of the United States. This immigration would slow to a trickle during the 1930s due to multiple factors, including the United States' recognition of independence of the Philippines on July 4, 1946. Filipino immigration to the United States would not see a resurgence until the late 1960s. Of the immigrants who arrived after the late 1960s, most settled in California, while others found a new home around U.S. Navy bases, major metropolitan areas, the West, and to a lesser extent the South. Some came looking for political freedom, but most arrived looking for employment and a better life for their families.





The Filipino American community is the second largest Asian American group in the United States. Filipino Americans are also the largest subgroup of Overseas Filipinos.[6]

The U.S. Census Bureau reported that the 2007 American Community Survey, identified approximately 3.1 million persons as "Filipino alone or in any combination." The census also found that about 80% of the Filipino-American community are United States citizens.[1] Also in 2007, the U.S. State Department estimated the size of the Filipino American community at 4 million[2] or 1.5% of the United States population. There are no official records of Filipinos who hold dual citizenship.

Intermarriage among Filipinos is not uncommon, as they have the largest number of interracial marriages among Asian immigrant groups, as documented in California.[7] It is also noted that 21.8% of Filipino Americans are multiracial, second among Asian Americans.[8]



The first permanent Filipino settlement in North America was established in 1763 in Saint Malo, Louisiana. Other settlements appeared throughout the bayous of Louisiana with the Manila Village in Barataria Bay being the largest.

Mass migration, however, began at the beginning of the 20th century, when the demand for labor in the plantations of Hawaiʻi and farmlands of California attracted thousands of mostly male laborers.[9][10] This migration was reduced to 50 persons a year following the Tydings-McDuffie Act, but was offset by the United States Navy's recruitment of Filipinos, which were exempt from the aforementioned quota.[11] Thus Filipino American communities developed around United States Navy bases, whose impact can still be seen today. Also Filipino American communities were also settled near Army and Air Force bases.[citation needed]

Due to their isolation and enforced segregation, the migrants created the first Little Manilas in urban areas. As time passed, immigration policies changed, and enforced segregation diminished, Filipino Americans had a tendency to settle in a more dispersed fashion than other Asian Americans such as the Chinese and the Vietnamese. This led to a decline in the presence of Little Manilas.

In areas with sparse Filipino populations, Filipino Americans often form loosely-knit social organizations aimed at maintaining a "sense of family", which is a key feature of Filipino culture. Such organizations generally arrange social events, especially of a charitable nature, and keep members up-to-date with local events. The associations are a small part of Filipino American life. Filipino Americans also have formed close-knit neighborhoods of their own, notably in California and Hawaiʻi. A few townships in these parts of the country have established "Little Manilas", civic and business districts tailored for the Filipino American community.

As of 2008, one out of every four Filipino Americans make their home in Southern California, numbering over 1 million.[12] Greater Los Angeles is the metropolitan area home to the most Filipino Americans, with the population numbering around 370,000. Los Angeles County alone accounts for over 262,000 Filipinos, the most of any single county in the U.S. The City of Los Angeles designated a section of Westlake as Historic Filipinotown. San Diego County has the second largest Filipino American population of any county in the nation, with over 145 Thousand Filipinos, alone or in combination, in 2000[13], with later claims of that number being higher.[14] In addition, San Diego is the only metropolitan area in the U.S. where Filipinos constitute the largest Asian American nationality.[13] A portion of California State Route 54 in San Diego is officially named the "Filipino-American Highway", in honor of the Filipino American Community.[15] Orange County also has a sizable and growing Filipino population.

The greater San Francisco Bay Area is home to approximately 320,000 residents of Filipino decent, while metropolitan areas such as Chicago, Atlanta, Houston, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Washington, D.C. and Seattle are also seeing dramatic growth in their Filipino populations. In Census 2000, the state of Hawaii had a Filipino population of over 275,000.[16]

New York City is home to 215,000 Filipinos.[17] It annually hosts the Philippine Independence Day Parade, which is traditionally held on the first Sunday of June at Madison Avenue. The celebration occupies nearly twenty-seven city blocks which includes a 3.5-hour parade and an all-day long street fair and cultural performances. Devout attendees include Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Senator Charles Schumer.

Another area that has a significant Filipino American population is the Southern United States, which contains about 11% of the country's Filipinos.[18]

In June 2002, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and representatives of U.S. President George W. Bush presided over the grand opening and dedication of the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu, Hawaiʻi. It is the largest Filipino American institution in the United States, with the goal of preserving Filipino American history and culture.



The background of the most Filipino people is Austronesians who originated from eastern Taiwan and settled the Philippines. But there are also Chinese and Spanish ethnic elements from colonizations and various settlements as well. The history of American rule and contact with merchants and traders culminated in a unique blend of Eastern and Western cultures, both in the appearance and culture of the people of the Filipinos.[19][20][21]

Human fossil records indicate that the Philippines may have been inhabited as early as 50,000 years ago. After these early settlers, the Negrito arrived, whose ancestors include the Ati and the Aeta. The Negritos were related to the first groups out of Africa and reached the Philippines about 30,000 years ago.

Two other Australoid groups followed, the proto-Malay, probably Murrayans (proto-Ainu) from Thailand, and the Australoid-Sakais, who were probably Carpinterians from South India. Murrayans probably came to the Philippines 17,000 YBP and Carpinterians probably came 13,000 YBP. (Both groups went on to Australia and were descendants of the Australian Aborigines.)

The next people to settle in the Philippines were the Nesiots, of unknown origin - some say Taiwan; others say Indonesia - who came in two waves, the first starting about 5000 years ago. These earlier settlers - Negritos, proto-Malay, Australoid-Sakais, and Nesiots - today represent only a tiny fraction of the Filipino population.

Starting about 2300 years ago, two waves of Austronesians came from Taiwan, both waves almost exclusively related to the Ami aborigine tribe originating from eastern Taiwan. They are traditionally called Malays, but they were from Taiwan, not from Malaysia, nor from Indonesia. The majority of Philippine people today are descendants of these Malays who migrated to the islands in successive waves over many centuries and largely displaced the Negritos, proto-Malays, Australoid-Sakais, and Nesiots. The overwhelming majority of present-day Filipinos, including, for example, Tagalogs, Ilocanos, Bicolanos, and Visayans, are descended from the second wave, which came from about 1900 years ago to 700 years ago. There is also a heavy southern Chinese admixture in the current-day population, resulting from a large wave of southern Chinese who came on boats about 900 years ago and created settlements and mixed in with the Ami-descended groups. The Filipinos of today are primarily a Southern Chinese people, genetically related to the aboriginal eastern Taiwanese tribe, the Ami, and to the Guangdong Han from around Hong Kong.[22]

The largest ethnic minority now is the mainland Asians (called Chinese), who have played an important role in commerce for many centuries since they first came to the islands to trade. Arabs and Indians also traveled and traded in the Philippines in the first and early second millennium. As a result of intermarriage, many Filipinos have some Asian mainland, Spanish, American, Arab, or Indian ancestry.[21]

Ethnic Groups: 91.5% Christian Malay, 4% Muslim Malay, 1.5% Chinese and 3% other.[19][20][21]

The bayanihan or spirit of kinship and camaraderie that Filipinos are famous for, is said to be taken from Malay forefathers. The close family relations are said to have been inherited from the Chinese. The piousness comes from the Spaniards who introduced Christianity in the 16th century. Hospitality is a common denominator in the Filipino character and this is what distinguishes the Filipino. Filipino and English are constitutionally established as official languages in the country, and Filipino is designated as the national language, with English also in wide use.[23][24][25][26]

Culturally, the Philippines is a country of diverse ethnicities in Asia/Pacific. Reflecting its 333 years of Spanish rule, many Filipinos were given Hispanic surnames (see: Catálogo alfabético de apellidos), have numerous occasions titled 'fiestas', and the enfused practice of the Catholic religion representing close to 90% of the entire archipelago. Some Filipinos still retain native surnames, which are characterized by repeating syllables (e.g., Cayubyub) or more frequently multi-syllabic (e.g., Lingayan). The other major religion, Islam, is prevalent in the Southern Philippines (Mindanao) and represents nearly 5% of the total Philippine population. Many Filipinos speak American English due to American colonial influence in the country's education system (see:Thomasites).


Tagalog language spread in the United States.

Two official languages --- Filipino and English. Filipino, which is based on Tagalog, is the national language. English is also widely used and is the medium of instruction in higher education.

Eight (8) major languages spoken are by a majority of the Filipinos: Tagalog, Cebuano, Ilocano, Hiligaynon or Ilonggo, Bicolano, Waray, Pampango, and Pangasinense.[20]

Filipino is the language which is used nationally as the language of communication among those who speak different regional languages. Like any living language, Filipino is in a process of development through loans from Philippine languages and non-native languages for various situations, among speakers of different social backgrounds, and for topics for conversation and scholarly discourse. There are about 76 to 78 major language groups, with more than 500 dialects.

There are over 170 languages in the Philippines, almost all belong to the Austronesian language family. Of all of these languages, only 2 are considered official in the country, at least 10 are considered major and at least 8 are considered co-official. Filipinos speak Tagalog, Ilokano, Kapampangan, Pangasinan, Visayan languages, Bikolano, and other Philippine languages at home. However, an overwhelming majority of Filipinos are fluent in English since it is one of the official languages in the Philippines and many Filipino American parents urge their children to enhance their English-language skills.

Tagalog is the fifth most-spoken language in the United States, with 1.262 million speakers.[27] The standardized version of this language is officially known as Filipino. Many Filipino American civic organizations and Philippine consulates offer Tagalog language courses.

Many of California's public announcements and correspondences are translated into Tagalog due to the large constituency of Filipino Americans in the Golden State. Tagalog is also taught in public schools as a foreign language course, as well as in higher education. Another significant Filipino language is Ilokano, which is taught in school as a foreign language course.

Fluency in Tagalog, Kapampangan, Visayan and in the other languages of the Philippines tend to be lost among second- and third-generation Filipino Americans. This has sometimes created a language barrier between older and younger generations.


Following the discovery of the Philippine Islands on March 16, 1521 by the Portuguese navigator Ferdinand Magellan, the Philippines was evangelized by Spanish Friars, thereby becoming the first Catholic nation and "the cradle of Christianity" in Asia. Filipino American religious beliefs and values are rooted in their Christian heritage. This is caused by the introduction, and subsequent adoption, of Catholicism and Christian values by Filipinos as a result of 333 years of Spanish colonial rule.

In New York, the first-ever Church for Filipinos, San Lorenzo Ruiz Church, is hosted by the city. It is named after the first saint from the Philippines, San Lorenzo Ruiz. This is officially designated as the Church for Filipinos in July 2005, the first in the United States, and the second in the world, after a church in Rome.[28]

There are other religious faiths with smaller numbers of Filipino American adherents, including various Protestant denominations, Islam, Buddhism, Taoism, and Hinduism. Atheism and Agnosticism also exist.



Much of the Filipino-American community is strongly middle class.[29][30][31] The representation of Filipino Americans is high in service-oriented professions such as healthcare. When compared to other Asian American groups (other than Indian Americans), Filipino Americans had a strong median household income.[32]

Median Household Income: 2004.[33]fig.13
Ethnicity Household Income
Indians $68,771
Filipinos $65,700
Chinese $57,433
Japanese $53,763
Koreans $43,195
Total US Population $44,684

Among Overseas Filipinos, Filipino Americans are the largest senders of US dollars to the Philippines. In 2005, their combined dollar remittances reached a record-high of almost $6.5 billion dollars. In 2006, Filipino Americans sent more than $8 billion, which represents 57% of the total amount received by the Philippines.[34]

Many Filipino Americans own restaurants, while others are in the medical, dental, and optical fields. Several are in the telemarketing business. Over 125,000 businesses are Filipino-owned, according to the 2002 US Economic Census.[35] These firms employ more than 132,000 people and generate an almost $14.2 billion in revenue. Of these businesses, 38.6% are health care and social assistance oriented and produces 39.3% of the collective Filipino-owned business revenue. California had the most number of these businesses followed by Hawaiʻi, New York, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida, and Texas.[35]

At the point of retirement, Filipino Americans tend to head back to the Philippines, because of the significance of the dollar in the Philippine economy. Current Philippine president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has encouraged the Filipino American community business entrepreneurs to invest back home to promote more job-creation in the Philippines.


Filipino Americans have some of the highest educational attainment rates in the United States with 47.9% of all Filipino Americans over the age of 25 having a Bachelor's degree, which correlates with rates observed in other Asian American subgroups.[33]fig.11 The recent wave of Filipino professionals filling the education, healthcare, and information technology shortages in the United States also accounts for the high educational attainment rates.

Educational Attainment: 2004 (Percent of Population 25 and Older)[33]fig.11
Ethnicity High School Graduation Rate Bachelor's Degree or More
Asian Indians 90.2% 67.9%
Filipinos 90.8% 47.9%
Chinese 80.8% 50.2%
Japanese 93.4% 43.7%
Koreans 90.2% 50.8%
Total US Population 83.9% 27.0%

In California, Filipino Americans are more likely to graduate from college than their Asian American counterparts. Due to the strong American influence in the Philippine education system, first generation Filipino immigrants are also an advantage in gaining professional licensure in the United States. According to a study conducted by the American Medical Association, Philippine-trained physicians comprise the second largest group of foreign-trained physicians in the United States (20,861 or 8.7% of all practicing international medical graduates in the U.S.).[36] In addition, Filipino American dentists, who have received training in the Philippines, also comprise the second largest group of foreign-trained dentists in the United States. In an article from the Journal of American Dental Association, 11% of all foreign-trained dentists licensed in the U.S. are from the Philippines; India is ranked first with 25.8% of all foreign dentists.[37] The familiar trend of Filipino Americans and Filipino immigrants entering health care jobs is well observed in other allied health professional such as nursing, physical therapy, radiologic technology and medical technology.

Similarities in quality and structure of the nursing curriculum in the Philippines and the United States had led to the migration of thousands of nurses from the Philippines to fill the shortfall of RNs in the United States. Since the 1970s and through the 1980s, the Philippines have been a source of medical professionals for U.S. medical facilities. The Vietnam War and AIDS epidemic of the 70s and 80s, signaled the need of the American health care system for more foreign trained professionals. In articles published in health/medical policy journals, Filipino nurses comprise the largest block of foreign trained nurses working and entering the United States, from 75% of all foreign nurses in the 1980s to 43% in 2000. Still, Philippine-trained nurses make up 52% of all foreigners taking the U.S. nursing licensure exam, well above the Canadian-trained nurses at 12%.

The significant drop in the percentage of Filipino nurses from the 1980s to 2000 is due to the increase in the number of countries recruiting Filipino nurses (European Union, the Middle East, Japan), as well as the increase in number of countries sending nurses to the United States.[38] According to the United States Census Bureau, 60,000 Filipino nationals migrated to the United States every year in the 1990s to take advantage of such professional opportunities. Other Filipino nationals come to the United States for a college or university education, return to the Philippines and end up migrating to the United States to settle.

American schools have also considered the highly-calibrated Filipino teachers and instructors. More US states have been looking to the Philippines to recruit and fill in the need of their respective schools, particularly North Carolina, Kansas, and Virginia.[39]


Filipino Americans have traditionally been socially conservative until the 1990s. Today Filipino Americans are somewhat divided among the Democratic Party and the Republican Party with gender and age being significant factors. Most Filipino American males have consistently voted Democrat, while their female counterparts have consistently voted Republican. Another major dividing factor would be the significant differences of political convictions of the First generation vs Second generation of Filipino Americans. According to the new statistics, children of Filipino immigrants who were either born or grew up in the country tend to support the Democratic Party, and many also have a liberal persuasion on political issues.[40]

In the 2004 U.S. Presidential Election Republican president George W. Bush won the Filipino American vote over John Kerry by nearly a two-to-one ratio.[41] However, during the 2008 U.S. Presidential Election, Filipino Americans voted majority Democratic, with 58% of the community voting for President Barack Obama and 42% voting for Senator John McCain.[40]

At the national level Filipino Americans have increased their visibility over the past few decades. Ben Cayetano, former governor of Hawaii, became the first governor of Filipino descent in the United States. The number of Congress-members of Filipino descent doubled to numbers not reached since 1937, two when the Philippine Islands were represented by non-voting Resident Commissioners, due to the 2000 Senatorial Election. As of 2009 there are three Congress-members who claim to have at least one-eighth Filipino ethnicity. They are, in order of election to the legislative body:

Community challenges


Filipinos remain one of the largest immigrant group to date with 80,000 people migrating per annum. About 75% consist of family sponsorship or immediate relatives of American citizens while the remainder is employment-oriented. A majority of this number prefer to live in California, followed by Hawaii, Illinois, New York, New Jersey, Texas, Washington, Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Colorado, Nevada, Alaska, Maryland and Virginia.

Filipinos experience the same long-waiting periods of visa issuance experienced by immigrants of all other nationalities. The United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) has a preference system for issuing visas to noncitizen family members of U.S. citizens, with preference based generally on the closeness of familial relation, and some noncitizen relatives of U.S. citizens can spend long periods on immigration waiting lists.[42][43] Petitions for immigrant visas, particularly for siblings of previously naturalized Filipinos that date all the way back to 1984, were granted in 2006.[44][45] Many visa petitions by Filipino Americans for their relatives are on hold or backlogged and as many 1.4 million petitions are affected causing delay to the reunification of Filipino families.

Dual citizenship

As a result of the passage by the Philippine Congress of the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 (Republic Act No. 9225), Filipino Americans became eligible for dual citizenship in both the United States and the Philippines. Overseas suffrage was first employed in the May 2004 elections in which Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was reelected to a second term.

In 2004, about 6,000 people became dual citizens of the Philippines and the United States. This act encourages many Filipino Americans to invest in the Philippines, buy land (only Filipino citizens and, with some limitations, former Philippine citizens are allowed to purchase land in the Philippines[46][47]), vote in Philippine elections, retire in the Philippines, and participate in representing the Philippine flag.

Many dual citizens have been recruited to participate in international sports events such as the Olympic Games in Athens 2004, the 23rd Southeast Asian Games in Manila, the 15th Asian Games in 2006 and the Olympic Games in Beijing 2008.

In addition, the Philippine government actively encourages Filipino Americans to visit or return permanently to the Philippines via the "Balikbayan" program and to invest in the country. Philippine consulates facilitate this process in various areas of the United States. These are located in Chicago; Honolulu; Los Angeles; New York; Saipan; and San Francisco while honorary consulates are also available in Atlanta, Fort Lauderdale, Houston, Majuro, Miami and New Orleans.

"The Invisible Minority"

The degree of assimilation has gained the Filipino American, along with other Asian groups, the label of "Invisible Minority."[48][49] Recent Filipino immigrants assimilate into American culture, as most are fluent in English. The label also extends to the lack of political power and representation.[citation needed] In the mid-1990s, only 100 Filipino Americans held elected office, with all but one serving at the municipal or state level.[citation needed] This is also partly due to the lack, or invisibility of representation, of Filipino American role models in the wider community and media, despite being the second-largest Asian American group in the United States.[citation needed]. Also if there are Filipino Americans in the Media they might be reassigned to play other Asian roles in movies.


Historic Discrimination

In the early 20th century, Filipino Americans were in many states barred by anti-miscegenation laws from marrying many non Filipino White Americans (including Hispanic Americans). Racial strife was prevalent, culminating in the Watsonville riot of 1930, where Fermin Tobera was murdered in one of the first recorded hate crimes against Filipino Americans. Despite this, many Filipino men secretly married or cohabitated with non Filipino White American women in California and the South during the 1920s and 1930s.[50][51] Many were racially segregated into small settlements and were forbidden to travel. The situation became worse after events such as the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and the Philippine-American War perpetuated many negative stereotypes including the racist idea of the "Little Brown Brother" encapsulated in Rudyard Kipling's The White Man's Burden. President McKinley was reputed to have said that America should "educate the Filipinos, and uplift and civilize and Christianize them"; the veracity of this famous quote is in dispute, but it fairly reflected the attitudes of McKinley and others in the American government (and perhaps also reflected American ignorance of the predominance of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines under hundreds of years of Spanish colonialism.)[52]

During the turbulent 1960s when American blacks were championing their civil rights on the streets and in the courts, Filipino Americans began benefiting from anti-discrimination laws and an increased sense of national tolerance to racial diversity. Many states either let their anti-miscegenation laws expire or discarded them. Still, for the Filipino Americans living in the states in the latter half of the 20th century, racial discrimination was a daily existence. Often mistaken for Vietnamese during the 1970s, racial epithets invoking Vietnamese were popularly used against Fil-Ams. With the infamous deposing of President Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, the Philippines and Filipino Americans in general came to the forefront of the American consciousness through the popular media. Nearly all of the media images of Filipinos from 1972 through 1986 showed very light-skinned people, from Marcos to his wife, Imelda, to Marcos' successor, President Aquino. Darker complexioned Fil-Ams were frequently told by American Caucasians that they could not be Filipino, as they were too dark skinned.[citation needed]

American-born Fil-Ams who spoke fluent English were still viewed as "foreigners" by many Americans. Well-spoken, accent-less Filipino Americans born in the USA were frequently asked about their emigration to the United States (i.e., "So when did you arrive in the states?"), and whether or not they were yet citizens.[citation needed] Conversely, when visiting the Philippines, Fil-Ams not fluent in the native tongues were chided for speaking English and acting "too western."[citation needed]

Second and third-generation Filipino Americans not fluent in their forebears' native tongues also suffer discrimination from more recently arrived first-generation Filipino Americans. The more recent first-generation Fil-Ams, ignorant of the near stultifying racial discrimination faced by earlier waves of Filipino immigrants to the Americas, and equally unaware of the tremendous American cultural imperative through the 1970s to assimilate, i.e., become culturally American, frequently scorn or at best ignore non-Philippine language speaking Fil-Ams.[citation needed] This effectively exacerbates cohesion efforts among different generations of Filipino Americans.

World War II veteran benefits

During World War II, over 200,000 Filipinos served with the United States Military. They served in multiple groups, including but not limited, to the Philippine Scouts, Philippine Commonwealth Army under US Command, and guerrillas during the Japanese Occupation. The U.S. government promised all of the benefits afforded to those serving in the Military of the United States. However, in 1946, the United States Congress passed the Rescission Act of 1946 which stripped Filipino veterans who served during WWII of the benefits as promised. Of the sixty-six countries allied with the United States during the war, the Philippines is the only country that did not receive military benefits from the United States.

Since the passage of the Rescission Act, many Filipino veterans have traveled to the United States to lobby Congress for the benefits promised to them for their service and sacrifice. Over 30,000 of such veterans live in the United States today, with most being American citizens, receiving benefits relating to their service.[53] Sociologists introduced the phrase "Second Class Veterans" to describe the plight of these Filipino Americans.

Since 1993, numerous bills were introduced in Congress to return the benefits taken away from these veterans. However previous bills died in committee. The current "full equity" bills are S. 57 in the Senate, and H.R. 760 in the House of Representatives. These two bills also did not pass at the end of the 110th US Congress, and have been reintroduced in the 111th US Congress. Similar language to those bills was inserted by the Senate into the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009[54] which was signed into law, providing a one time payment of at least 9,000 USD to eligible non-US Citizens, and 15,000 USD to eligible US Citizens.[55][56] However these payments are only provided to those recognized as being soldiers or recognized guerrilla members by the United States or their surviving spouse. Those listed as eligible by the US Government is smaller than the list of World War II veterans recognized by the Philippines.[57]

Modern Discrimination

In the 21st century, state-sanctioned racial discrimination against Filipino Americans no longer officially exists. A reflection of America's growing acceptance of racial diversity and the political correctness mindset, overt racial discrimination against people of color, including most Filipino Americans, has dissipated to a large extent. Still, among the decidedly non-politically correct crowd, racial strife still exists. Recent race-based hate crimes against Filipino Americans have occurred, the most notably the 1999 murder of Joseph Ileto by white supremacist Aryan Nations member Buford Furrow and the March 16, 2007 assault of young honors student Marie Stefanie Martinez by a group of black teenagers at a New York city bus.[58][59][60] On September 13, 2007 Northwestern University student and former Air Force SSgt. Frannie Richards (born and raised in Chicago, Illinois) was allegedly harassed by a sales clerk of H&M store at Downtown Chicago's Magnificent Mile and was called "Mail Order Bride" and uttered "Ching, Ching, Chang" at the female Air Force veteran.[61][62][63][64] There have also been cases of unreasonable deportation and visa rejection against Filipino Americans, and greater scrutiny when re-entering the United States from Mexico and Canada, even for native-born US citizens.[65]  It is also not uncommon for Filipino Americans to be taken for Mexicans or Central Americans, especially if their surnames are known, which would be a problem in areas of the country where there is strong anti-illegal alien sentiment.[citation needed]

Post 9/11 Issues

After the attacks on 11 September 2001, the United States government led a crackdown on foreign visitors and workers, which included Filipinos who entered the United States illegally, on temporary tourist, education, and work visas but often choose to stay after their visas expire. The United States Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Service was dissolved and replaced with the United States Citizenship and Immigration Services in hopes of more aggressive prevention of visa fraud.

Also, due to the links of terrorism and the Philippine Islamist group Abu Sayyaf, Filipino Americans have been under suspicion as collaborators to extremists.[65]


A reflection of their cultural heritage's deep-rooted fondness of hospitality, Filipino Americans are fond to celebrate events, both personal and community-wide. It is not unusual for a family (and extended families) to host perhaps a dozen occasions a year (e.g., baptisms, birthdays, funerals, holidays, showers, weddings). Filipino American cultural traditions often revolve around meals shared in groups, marked by the ubiquitous handcarved, oversized, wooden spoon and fork wall decorations in Fil-Am households. No celebration in Filipino American customs is without a hearty meal (almost to the point of a groaning table), and so celebrations are highlighted by large buffets of traditional Filipino foods including but not limited to adobo (savory soy sauce and vinegar stewed beef, pork or chicken), lumpia (egg rolls), pancit (noodles), lechon (pronounced leh-chon, whole roasted pig featuring a crisped skin and tender, succulent meat), and grilled fish, often bangus (pronounced bawng-oos, a fresh water fish known commonly as "milkfish" characterized by sweet flesh with a large quantity of thin bones).

Filipino American cultural fondness for festivities has led to the establishment of community-wide festivals celebrating the Filipino culture. These usually take the form of fiestas, street fairs, and parades. Most festivals occur in May during Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, which includes Flores de Mayo, a Roman Catholic harvest feast in honor of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Congress has established the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in May to commemorate Filipino American and Asian American culture in the United States. Upon becoming the largest Asian American group in California, Filipino American History Month was established in October. This is to acknowledge the first landing of Filipinos on October 18, 1587 in Morro Bay, California and is widely celebrated by Fil-Ams in the United States.[66][67]

Several events commemorating the Philippine Declaration of Independence occur mostly in June since it is one of the most important events for the community. Examples of these are the Philippine Independence Day Parade in New York City, the largest Filipino celebration in the country, as well as Philippine Fiesta in Meadowlands Exposition Center, Secaucus, New Jersey, the largest indoor gathering of Filipino Americans on the East Coast.

Major Celebrations in the United States
Date Name Region
January Winter Sinulog Philadelphia, PA
April Easter Salubong Nationwide, USA
April PhilFest Tampa, FL
May Asian Pacific American Heritage Month Nationwide, USA
May Filipino Festival New Orleans, LA
May Filipino Fiesta and Parade Honolulu, HI
May Flores de Mayo Nationwide, USA
June Philippine Independence Day Parade New York, NY
June Philippine Festival Washington, D.C.
June Philippine Day Parade Passaic, NJ
June Pista Sa Nayon Vallejo, CA
June 20 Filipino Pride Day Jacksonville, FL
June New York Filipino Film Festival at The ImaginAsian Theatre New York, NY
June Empire State Building commemorates Philippine Independence[68] New York, NY
June Philippine-American Friendship Day Parade Jersey City, NJ
June 12 Fiesta Filipina San Francisco, CA
June 12 Philippine Independence Day Nationwide, USA
June Pagdiriwang Seattle, WA
July Fil-Am Friendship Day Virginia Beach, VA
July Pista sa Nayon Seattle, WA
July Philippine Weekend[69] Delano, CA
August 15 to 16 Philippine American Exposition Los Angeles, CA
August 15 to 16 Annual Philippine Fiesta[70] Secaucus, NJ
August Summer Sinulog Philadelphia, PA
August Pistahan Fesitval and Parade San Francisco, CA
September 27 Festival of San Lorenzo Ruiz New Orleans, LA
September Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture (FPAC) Los Angeles, CA
September AdoboFest[71] Chicago, IL
October Filipino American History Month Nationwide, USA
October Filipino American Arts and Culture Festival (FilAmFest)[72] San Diego, CA
November Chicago Filipino American Film Festival (CFAFF)[73] Chicago, IL
December 16 to 24 Simbang Gabi Christmas Dawn Masses Nationwide, USA
December 25 Pasko Christmas Feast Nationwide, USA
December 30 Jose Rizal Day Nationwide, USA



Researchers have looked upon the patterns of immigration of Filipinos to the United States and have recognized four significant waves. The first was connected to the period when the Philippines was part of New Spain and later the Spanish East Indies; Filipinos, via the Manila galleons, would migrate to North American, some finding their way to the United States, others remaining in Mexico. This would end around 1906 with the end of the Spanish East Indies due to the Spanish and Philippine American Wars.[74]

The second wave of immigration was during the American colonial period when Filipinos were U.S. Nationals, and were unrestricted from immigrating to the US by laws that restricted other Asians. Filipinos of this wave came for different reasons, but the majority were laborers, predominantly Ilocano and Visayan. This wave of immigration ended due to the Philippine Independence Act in 1934, which restricted immigration to 50 persons a year.[74]

The third wave of immigration followed the events of World War II. Filipinos who had served in World War II had been given the option of becoming U.S. Citizens, and many took the opportunity.[75] Filipina War brides were allowed to immigrate to the United States due to War Brides Act. Later, due to basing agreements with the Philippines, Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the U.S. Navy, this continued a practice of allowing Filipinos to serve in the Navy that began in 1901[76]. A source of immigration was opened up with the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 that gave the Philippines a quota of 100 persons a year. This wave ended in 1965.[74]

The fourth and present wave of immigration began in 1965 with passing of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 into law. It ended national quotas into law, and provided an unlimited number of visas for family reunification.[74] Navy based immigration continues, albeit in a more limited number, and many Filipinos have migrated here as professionals due to a shortage in qualified nurses.


  • 1573 to 1811, Roughly between 1556 and 1813, Spain engaged in the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco. The galleons were built in the shipyards of Cavite, outside Manila, by Filipino craftsmen. The trade was funded by Chinese traders, manned by Filipino sailors and “supervised” by Mexico City officials. In this time frame, Spain recruited Mexicans to serve as soldiers in Manila. Likewise, they drafted Filipinos to serve as soldiers in Mexico. Once drafted, the trip across the ocean sometimes came with a “one way” ticket.
  • 1587, First Filipinos (“Luzonians”) to set foot in North America arrive in Morro Bay, (San Luis Obispo) California on board the Manila-built galleon ship Nuestra Senora de Esperanza under the command of Spanish Captain Pedro de Unamuno.[77]
  • 1720, Gaspar Molina, a Filipino from Pampanga province, oversees the construction of El Triunfo de la Cruz, the first ship built in California.
  • 1763, First permanent Filipino settlements established in North America near Barataria Bay in southern Louisiana.
  • 1781, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez chosen a member of the first group of settlers to establish the City of Los Angeles, California. He and his daughter fell sick with smallpox while en route, and remained in Baja California for an extended time to recuperate. When they finally arrived in Alta California, it was discovered that Miranda Rodriguez was a skilled gunsmith. He was reassigned in 1782 to the Presidio of Santa Barbara as an armorer.[78]
  • 1796, The first American trading ship to reach Manila, the Astrea, was commanded by Captain Henry Prince.
  • 1812, During the War of 1812, Filipinos from Manila Village (near New Orleans) were among the "Batarians" who fought against the British under the command of Jean Lafitte in the Battle of New Orleans.[79]
  • 1870, Filipinos mestizos studying in New Orleans form the first Filipino Association in the United States, the “Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispanos Filipinos.”
José Rizal around the time of his visit to the United States
  • 1888, Dr. José Rizal visits the United States and predicts that the Philippines will one day be [a United States] colony in his essay, The Philippines: A Century Hence.[80]
  • 1898, The Philippines declares its independence (June 12, Kawit, Cavite) only to be ceded to the United States by Spain for $20 million. United States annexes the Philippines.
  • 1899, Philippine-American War begins.
  • 1902, Cooper Act passed by the U.S. Congress makes it illegal for Filipinos to own property, vote, operate a business, live in an American residential neighborhood, hold public office and become a naturalized American citizen.
  • 1903, First Pensionados, Filipinos invited to attend college in the United States on American government scholarships, arrive.
  • 1906, First Filipino laborers migrate to the United States to work on the Hawaiian sugarcane and pineapple plantations, California and Washington asparagus farms, Washington lumber, Alaska salmon canneries. About 200 Filipino “pensionados” are brought to the U.S. to get an American education.
  • 1916, The US “recruited” Filipinos for service during World War I. Very few survived and returned to the Philippines.[citation needed].
  • 1920s, Filipino labor leaders organize unions and strategic strikes to improve working and living conditions.
  • 1924, Filipino Workers’ Union (FLU) shuts down 16 of 25 sugar plantations.
  • 1926, California's anti-miscegenation law, Civil Code, section 60, amended to prohibit marriages between white persons and members of the "Malay and Mongoloid " (i.e. Filipinos). (Stats. 1933, p. 561.).
  • 1928, Filipino Businessman Pedro Flores opens Flores yo-yos, which is credited with starting the yo-yo craze in the United States. He came up with and copyrighted the word yo-yo.[81] He also applied for and received a trademark for the Flores Yo-yo, which was registered on July 22, 1930.[81] His company went on to be become the foundation of which would latter become the Duncan yo-yo company.[81]
  • 1929, Anti-Filipino riots break out in Watsonville (mob-organized attacks continued in 1930) and other California rural communities, in part because of Filipino men having intimate relations with White women which was in violation of the California anti-miscegenation laws enacted during that time.[82]
  • 1934, The Tydings-McDuffie Act, known as the Philippine Independence Act limited Filipino immigration to the U.S. to 50 persons a year (not to apply to persons coming or seeking to come to the Territory of Hawaii).[83]
  • 1936, Philippines becomes self-governing. Commonwealth of the Philippines inaugurated.
  • 1939, Washington Supreme Court rules unconstitutional the Anti-Alien Land Law of 1937 which banned Filipino Americans from owning land.[84]
  • April 1942, First and Second Filipino Regiments formed in the U.S. composed of Filipino agricultural workers.[75]
  • May 1942, After the fall of Bataan and Coregidor to the Japanese, the US Congress passes a law which grants US citizenship to Filipinos and other aliens who served under the U.S. Armed Forces.[citation needed]
  • October 1944, American General Douglas MacArthur with the Philippine Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Basilio J. Valdes and General Carlos P. Romulo including the U.S. Liberation forces land the beaches at Palo, Leyte.
  • 1944-1945, Beginning the Allied recaptured for the Liberation of the Philippines was the country by joint Filipino and American soldiers fought the Japanese Imperial forces until the end of World War II.
  • 1946, Philippines becomes independent. Republic of the Philippines inaugurated; America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan published.[85]
  • 1948, California Supreme Court rules California's anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional in the case of Perez v. Sharp,[86] ending racially based prohibitions of marriage in the state (although it wasn't until Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that interracial marriages were legalized nationwide). Celestino Alfafara wins California Supreme Court decision allowing aliens the right to own real property.[citation needed]
  • 1955, Peter Aduja becomes first Filipino American elected to office, becoming a member of the Hawai'i State House of Representatives.
  • 1956, Bobby Balcena becomes first Filipino American to play Major League baseball, playing for the Cincinnati Reds.
  • 1965, Congress passes Immigration and Nationality Act which facilitated ease of entry for skilled Filipino laborers.
  • 1965, Delano grape strike begins when members of Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee, mostly Filipino farm workers in Delano, California walked off the farms of area table grape growers demanding wages on level with the federal minimum wage. Labor leader Philip Vera Cruz subsequently served as second vice president and on the managing board of the United Farm Workers. 1965- Filipino farm workers under the leadership of Larry Itliong go on strike in Delano and win Cesar Chavez joins Itliong to from the United Farm Workers Union. Filipino American Political Association (FAPA) is formed with chapters in 30 California cities. Immigration Act of 1965 raises quota of Eastern Hemisphere countries, including the Philippines, to 20,000 a year.
  • 1967, The Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) founded by Filipino American students at San Francisco State College.[87]
  • 1969, Filipino Students Association (FSA) founded by Filipino American students at University of California, Berkeley during the Third World Movement; later renamed the Pilipino American Alliance(PAA).[88]
  • 1974, Benjamin Menor appointed first Filipino American in a state's highest judiciary office as Justice of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court.
  • 1975, Governor John A. Burns (D-HI) convinces Benjamin J. Cayetano to run and win a seat in the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, despite Cayetano's doubts about winning office in a white and Japanese American dominated district; Kauai's Eduardo E. Malapit elected first Filipino American mayor.
The building where Domingo and Viernes were assassinated.
  • 1981, Filipino American labor activists Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes are both assassinated June 1, 1981 inside a Seattle downtown union hall.[89]

The late Philippine Dictator Ferdinand Marcos hired gunmen to murder both ILWU Local 37 officers to silence the growing movement in the United States opposing the dictatorship in the Philippines.[citation needed]

  • 1987, Benjamin J. Cayetano becomes the first Filipino American and second Asian American elected Lt. Governor of a state of the Union.
  • 1990, David Mercado Valderrama becomes first Filipino American elected to a state legislature on the mainland United States serving Prince George's County in Maryland. Immigration reform Act of 1990 is passed by the U.S. Congress granting U.S. citizenship to Filipino WWII veterans resulting in 20,000 Filipino veterans take oath of citizenship.
  • 1991, Seattle's Gene Canque Liddell becomes first Filipino American woman to be elected mayor serving the suburb of Lacey City.
  • 1992, Velma Veloria becomes first Filipino American and first Asian American elected to the Washington State Legislature.
  • 1993, Mario R. Ramil appointed Associate Justice to the Hawai'i Supreme Court, the second Filipino American to reach the court.
  • 1994, Benjamin J. Cayetano becomes the first Filipino American and second Asian American elected Governor of a state of the Union.
  • 1999, US Postal worker Joseph Ileto murdered in a hate crime by Aryan Nations member Buford Furrow.
  • 2000, Robert Bunda elected Hawai'i Senate President and Simeon R. Acoba, Jr. appointed Hawai'i State Supreme Court Justice.
  • 2001, Bataan Death March Memorial, a federally funded project, was dedicated in Las Cruces, New Mexico.[90][91]
  • 2003, Philippine Republic Act No. 9225, also known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 enacted, allowing natural-born Filipinos naturalized in the United States and their unmarried minor children to reclaim Filipino nationality and hold dual citizenship.[92][93]
  • 2006, Congress passes legislation that commemorates the 100 Years of Filipino Migration to the United States.[94]
  • 2006, First monument dedicated to Filipino soldiers who fought for the United States in World War II unveiled in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles, California.[95]

Notable people

Further reading

  • Carl L. Bankston III, "Filipino Americans," in Pyong Gap Min (ed.), Asian Americans: Contemporary Trends and Issues ISBN 1-4129-0556-7
  • Bautista, Veltisezar. The Filipino Americans from 1763 to the Present: Their History, Culture, and Traditions, ISBN 0-931613-17-5
  • Crisostomom Isabelo T. Filipino Achievers in the U.S.A. & Canada: Profiles in Excellence, ISBN 0-931613-11-6
  • Isaac, Allan Punzalan. American Tropics: Articulating Filipino America, (University of Minnesota Press; 205 pages; 2007) Analyzes images of the Philippines in Hollywood cinema, Boy Scout adventure novels, Progressive Era literature, and other realms
  • A. Tiongson, E. Gutierrez, R. Gutierrez, eds. Positively No Filipinos Allowed, ISBN 1-59213-122-0
  • Filipino American Lives by Yen Le Espiritu, ISBN 1-56639-317-5
  • Filipinos in Chicago (Images of America) by Estrella Ravelo Alamar, Willi Red Buhay ISBN 0-7385-1880-8
  • "The Filipinos in America: Macro/Micro Dimensions of Immigration and Integration" by Antonio J. A. Pido ISBN 0913256838


  • "Filipino Population in U.S. rivals Chinese-Americans", Honolulu Advertiser, 18 November 1996, Gannett News Service

See also


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External links


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