Filipino American History Month

What the Month Means and How FPU Plans to Honor it

October 1st marks the start of Filipino American History Month. It is a month dedicated to showcase the ongoing culture, heritage, and legacy Filipinos have here in the United States, connecting those living in the Philippines and those living in the U.S. The Filipino American National History Society (FANHS) describes the celebration by stating,“Filipino Americans are the second-largest Asian American group in the nation and the third-largest ethnic group in California, after Latinas/os and African Americans. The celebration of Filipino American History Month in October commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States, which occurred on October 18, 1587, when “Luzones Indios” came ashore from the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza and landed at what is now Morro Bay, California. In 2009, U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month in the United States. Various states, counties, and cities in the U.S. have established proclamations and resolutions declaring observance of Filipino American History Month. The late Dr. Fred Cordova, along with his wife, FANHS Founder Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova, first introduced October as Filipino American History Month in 1992 with a resolution from the FANHS National Board of Trustees,” (FANHS).

Filipino talent is scattered across Hollywood. There are Filipino-Americans who dominate the field of pop culture. Artists like Bruno Mars and Enrique Iglesias are children of Filipino mothers, and they are both some of the most well known artists in the world with a whopping 209 awards between them. Also, actresses like Shay Mitchell and Vannessa Hudgens have made names for themselves for their passionate acting and their popular characters. 

There are Filipino-American heroes among us. Perhaps the biggest name in today’s day and age is boxing legend, Manny Pacquiao. The man from Kibawe, dubbed as “PacMan” as a shortened way to say his first and last name, Pacquiao quickly went from a scrawny fighter to one of the best boxers to ever step in the ring. He has won world titles in eight different weight divisions and became the first boxer to win the lineal championship across five different weight classes. Not only did Manny put on a show in the ring, he has  made an effort to give back to his country. Time and time again, PacMan has donated clothing, food, shelter, and much more to his home country and various charities. Per himself, it is estimated he donated over $200M during his career as a boxer, and that number continues to increase.

Another heroine, in her own way, is Magdalena Leones. She is one of the silent heroes of the second World War. She is one who not only helped individuals from the Philippines, but also helped individuals from the United States. She is the only Asian woman to earn the prestigious Silver Star in WWII, an award given to someone for singular acts of honor or valor. CNN writes, “Since she refused to surrender after the Fall of Bataan, she was imprisoned for five months. During this time, she taught herself how to speak Niponggo, a skill she utilized to help save the lives of other Filipinos captured by the Japanese. After encountering Colonel Russel Volckman of the United States Armed Forces in the Philippines-North Luzon (USAFIP-NL), she agreed to serve as a special agent. Using her church connections and her Niponggo-speaking skills, she was able to carry “important intelligence data, vital radio parts, and medical supplies” through Japanese-held territory. Though she knew that capture could result in torture and execution, she powered through and continued to serve her country, earning her the monicker of “the lioness of Filipino guerilla agents,” CNN said.

There is little doubt about how impactful the Filipino world has been. Whether it be heroes of war, or in pop culture, the effect is still the same. It is a reminder of how beautiful and diverse our world is and why a month like this is celebrated. Below are a few ways FPU is joining in on celebrating Filipino American History Month! 

October 1st-31st: Come to Hiebert Library, as it highlights achievements and contributions of Filipino and Filipino-American authors, celebrates Filipino culture, and brings awareness to the significant role Filipinos have played in American history. 

October 29th BC Lounge (10 am – 11 am): CHIRP (Collaboration with IPSO) Dia de los Muertos/Undas Celebration – learn about how different cultures honor our departed loved ones.

Author: Julian Alcaraz | Features Editor

Graphic by: Liza Larabee

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