Slowly, but surely, Asian Americans are making their presence even more known in Hollywood, public office, the restaurant industry and other sectors of American life in this age of diversity and equal representation.
But Asians in the United States is not a recent phenomenon. The Filipino-American community, in particular, has a long and rich history in the United States from fighting under the American flag in World War II and becoming a driving force in the U.S. Armed Forces to playing an instrumental role in agriculture and the fight for workers rights in California.
In 2009, Congress designated October as Filipino American History Month as a way to nationally recognize “the critically economic, cultural, social, and other notable contributions Filipino-Americans had made in countless ways toward the development of United States history,” according to the bill, H.R. 155.
October was the selected month in commemoration of the first arrival of Filipinos to what’s now known as Morro Bay, California on Oct. 18, 1587, and to honor labor activist Larry Itliong who was born on Oct. 25, 1913.
Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) are celebrating Filipino American History Month by honoring and recognizing the many contributions of Filipino-Americans.
“During Filipino American History Month, we celebrate the incredible contributions and sacrifices Filipino-Americans have made to our great nation over many years. From serving in the U.S. Armed Forces during World War II, to strengthening our economy by helping to shape emerging technology and health care industries, the Filipino-American community has overcome prejudice and discrimination to thrive and become a vital part of the American story,” U.S. Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), a Thai-American Iraq War veteran said in a statement.
The Los Angeles County is home to the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines. In 2002, current mayor and then-councilor Eric Garcetti designated part of the Westlake and Echo Park region of LA proper as Historic Filipinotown in honor of the Filipinos who settled in Los Angeles and helped make the City of Angels the multicultural hub it is.
“The everyday contributions of Filipino-Americans in Los Angeles — from business, to entertainment, to public service — continues to make our city one of the most vibrant in the nation,” said U.S. Rep Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), whose district comprises Historic Filipinotown. “I am honored to join my colleagues in recognizing the Filipino-American community’s achievements and serve as their champion in Congress.”
The Filipino and Filipino-American war effort in World War II went largely ignored for decades until the Obama administration began providing specialized benefits to Filipino veterans.
Last year, Congress awarded the Congressional Gold Medal to the remaining Filipino World War II veterans and to the families of soldiers who passed, a major show of recognition that Filipino veteran advocates have been fighting for for decades, but CAPAC believes that Congress must continue to provide “basic veterans’ rights” to this community of service members.
“Some of the most significant contributions came from the more than 200,000 Filipinos who fought alongside American service members during World War II,” said Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii). “Far too many of them have still not received the basic veterans’ rights they earned. As we celebrate Filipino American History Month, we must continue our efforts to honor those brave Filipino veterans and their families by finally giving them the benefits and recognition they deserve.” (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)