During October in the United States, Filipino American History Month is celebrated. The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) proposed the first annual Filipino American History Month to be celebrated in October 1982 with a resolution from the FANHS NAtional Board of Trustees. In 2009, the U.S. Congress recognized October as Filipino American History Month in the United States.
The celebration of Filipino American History Month 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 Esperanzo and landed at what is believed to be Morro Bay, CA
Filipino Americans have deep roots in our region. After the Spanish American War and as a result of the Chinese Exclusion
Act of 1882 and the Asian Exclusion Act of 1924, Filipinos supplied a greater share of labor to the local agricultrual industry. Like the Chinese, Japanese, Koreans, and Mexicans before them, Filipinos were largely migrant workers and suffered racial discrimination. One such episode occurred over a four-day period in 1930 in Watsonville, when Filipino American farmworkers were violently assaulted by residents opposed to immigration. This episode, call the Watsonville Riots, highlighted the racial and socioeconomic tensions in California’s agricultrual communities exacerbated by the Great Depression.
The 2020 Filipino American History Month theme is the History of Filipino American Activism. The FANHS chose 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.”
Celebrate Filipino American History Month by learning about the many Filipino American activists that have fought and continue to fight for social justice, such as labor activist Larry Itliong, by reading Governor Newsom’s Proclamation Declaring October 25, 2019, Larry Itliong Day. Or learn about one of the many examples of Filipino American unionism on the West Coast, such as the Filipino Labor Union and its role in the Salinas Lettuce Strike of 1934.