In light of this year’s COVID-19 pandemic and movements addressing racial injustice in the United States, The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in Seattle, Washington has announced the theme of this year’s Fil-Am History Month to be “The History of Filipino American Activism.”
This October will be a reflection on how the Fil-Am community has been involved in social justice movements over the years.
“We choose this theme to highlight the myriad ways Filipino Americans have participated in social justice movements, including but not limited to, the United Farmworkers Movement, the fight for Ethnic Studies, Hawaii Sugar Plantation strikes, Washington Yakima strikes, and Anti-Martial Law Movements across multiple decades,” the FANHS wrote in a press release on Thursday, August 6.
A photo posted to its social media accounts featured the late San Francisco State University professor and “Little Manila is in the Heart” author Dawn Bohulano Mabalon, Fil-Ams who fought eviction threats for tenants of San Francisco’s I-Hotel in the late 1960s, and Fil-Am activist Kalay’an Mendoza who has been vocal about Fil-Am allyship for Black lives.
Also being celebrated this year are the country’s Fil-Am health workers who have been on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to census data, Filipinos in the U.S. make up roughly 1% of the total U.S. population, but over 7% of the nation’s healthcare workforce.
When the pandemic reached the U.S., the impact of Fil-Am healthcare workers was felt as headlines commemorated those who passed away due to the virus.
“We recognize the advocacy of our Filipino American healthcare workers who are actively protecting and fighting for our lives every day amidst this global pandemic,” wrote the FANHS.
This year also marks many milestones and anniversaries of historical Fil-Am events like the 50th Anniversary of the Filipino American Far West Convention that took place in Seattle which the FANHS said has been “credited in part as the start of the Filipino American movement.”
Also commemorated is the 75th anniversary of the Philippines’ Battle of Luzon that was fought during World War II, and the 90th anniversary of the Watsonville Riots that took place in Central California in 1930.
Referring to the upcoming 2020 U.S. presidential election, the FANHS said, “We believe this theme is particularly crucial in 2020, as it is a key election year and we are living amidst a pandemic and mass movement towards racial injustice.”
According to the FANHS, Filipino American History Month is a chance for Fil-Am communities to commemorate the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the U.S. when Filipinos arrived in present-day Morro Bay, California aboard the Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza on October 18, 1587.
FANHS founder Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova, along with her late husband Dr. Fred Cordova, first presented a resolution introducing October as Filipino American History Month in 1992.
U.S. Congress officially recognized October as Filipino American History Month in 2009. (Rae Ann Varona/AJPress)