It’s Filipino American History Month!

I’ve never felt more connected to a large Filipino American community until now. Attending Kalayaan Fest in June allowed me to see all the local creators who shared similar attributes:

  • 1st generation Americans
  • Desire to put their own mark on the world
  • Need to connect with others through their craft
  • Raised with discussions on mental health being taboo
  • Longing to connect with their Filipino roots, whether through language, art, history, and/or stories
  • Grew up with feeling like an outsider or being “the only Asian” in the room

After a lifetime of feeling alone in this aspect, seeing other 1st generation FilAms experience a cultural awakening has dimmed my shame about not knowing about my motherland’s roots and made me brave to actively seek out more knowledge about Filipino American History.

And yes, there is an emphasis here on history vs. heritage. As I’ve recently learned, history talks about what happened in the past, while heritage is what is passed down from the past. History talks about what IS. Heritage talks about what remains.

It’s important to focus on the history here because Filipino American history IS American history.

We helped build this country. But our stories – our history – have been collectively erased by the general public, since it was not widely taught in schools.

Did you know?

Filipinos were the first documented Asians in America.

On October 18, 1587, Filipinos landed on what is now Morro Bay, California. This happened 33 years before the Pilgrims’ landing on Plymouth Rock.⁠

I feel like this is kind of a big deal to mention in an American history class! Again, Filipino American history IS American history.

That’s one historical nugget for you. I won’t make this a whole heavy meal of history tidbits, but I do invite you to read about the below key topics on your own, to get a foothold of basic FilAm history:

Wikipedia Articles:

Ready for long-form reading? Below is a short list of recommended books.

Books:

  • Empire of Care by Catherine Ceniza Choy
  • Filipino American Psychology by Kevin Nadal
  • The Latinos of Asia: How Filipino Americans Break the Rules of Race by Anthony Ocampo
  • In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

If books aren’t your thing (or, they are your thing, but it’s tough to find the time), I got you covered! You can follow the below Instagram accounts to get bites of Filipino American history. (Confessional: This is how I’m consuming my dose of FilAm history on the daily, since I’m a faster IG scroller than book reader. :P)

Is YouTube more your speed? Same! Check out some links below:

And don’t worry if you previously didn’t realize how much Filipinos impacted America’s history. Wherever you are in the FilAm history journey, I hope you’ll dive in and learn alongside with me.

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