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About Filipino American History Month

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.

Across the nation, FANHS Chapters, colleges and universities, museums, and community groups will be commemorating Filipino American History Month with various activities and events to bring awareness of the significant role Filipinos have played in American history.

WC participants at the West Coast Confederation of Pilipino Students conference at UC Davis, circa 1976

FWC participants at the West Coast Confederation of Pilipino Students conference at UC Davis, circa 1976 Photo courtesy of Florante Ibañez

Filipino American History Month – October 2021

Seattle, WA — The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is pleased to share the Filipino American History Month 2021 theme: 

50 Years Since the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention

The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention, a meeting that took place at Seattle University in 1971 and brought over 300 young Filipino American participants from the West Coast of the US. The convention is hailed as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement.

The first convention theme was “A Quest for Emergence” and was hosted primarily by the Filipino Youth Activities, Inc. (FYA) under the leadership of then-FYA Youth Director, Dorothy Laigo Cordova and convention chair, Anthony Ogilvie. This initial meeting would result in a series of conferences that would later become known as the Filipino (or Pilipino) People’s Far West Conventions (FWCs), which were held annually between 1971 and 1982, in places like Seattle, Los Angeles, Stockton, and Berkeley.

The Filipino Farwest Conventions were an organizing space for community and youth activists that helped bring issues like Filipino Farmworkers’ rights and anti-martial law to the forefront of the Filipino American Movement. The FWC also served as the impetus for annual student-led conferences now held across the country. Many scholar-activists consider the FWCs to be the impetus of Filipino American Studies.

Relatedly, 2021 also marks the 25th anniversary of PinoyTeach and the 20th anniversary of Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP) – both educational programs that teach Filipino American history and curriculum to Filipina/x/o American students from elementary school to graduate school. We recognize the Philippine Studies Department at City College of San Francisco – the only department of its kind in the nation – which was advocated for, established by, and sustained through the support of Filipino American students and community over 50 years ago. We also acknowledge the many youth organizers who formed hundreds of Filipino American student and youth-led organizations all over the country.

Thus, we choose this theme to honor the earlier pioneers in the Filipino American movement, as well as the subsequent groups of young people across the country who have advocated for social justice issues affecting Filipino Americans (and other historically marginalized groups) for the past 50 years. 

Possible activities related to “50 Years Since First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention”

  • Organize teach-in’s about the Far West Conventions. Invite FWC participants to speak and share their oral histories.
  • Teach about the histories of Filipino American college student organizations (SFSU PACE, UCLA Samahang, Columbia Liga Filipina, UIUC Philippine Student Association, UMich FASA), regional umbrella student groups (FIND, SCPASA, MAFA), or youth organizations (FYA, PEP, PinoyTeach)
  • Highlight the history and development of Filipino American Studies/ Filipino American curriculum in your region/state. 
  • Interview Filipino American community leaders of various generations to talk about their experiences with youth organizing
  • Learn about the pensionados, or government-sponsored students who attended U.S. universities in the early 1900s.
  • Curate a panel of Filipino American artists to describe their contributions to the arts (e.g., music, dance, theater, hip hop).
  • Conduct oral histories with Filipino American elders who can share perspectives about the 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s in your city or state.
  • Organize a children’s book reading for Journey for Justice: The Life of Larry Itliong by Dawn Bohulano Mabalon & Gayle Romasanta.
  • Host a panel or workshop on the anti-martial law movement and the KDP (many who attended the FWCs)
  • Begin dialogues on how to advocate for Filipino American Studies in your K-12 systems or colleges/universities, and more.

We believe this theme is particularly crucial in 2021, especially as we are still amidst a global pandemic that has disproportionately affected communities of color in general and Filipino American healthcare workers specifically. We are also still navigating a culture of state-sanctioned violence against Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC), which resembles the historical racism faced by BIPOC communities (including Filipino Americans) throughout the history of the US. We are also still combating anti-Asian violence that resembles the anti-Asian and anti-Filipino violence that occurred a century ago in places like Watsonville, CA and Yakima Valley, WA. We must educate others – as well as our own families and communities – about our history, so that historical violence does not repeat itself over and over again. 

Thus, we encourage all of our chapters and communities to reflect on the 50th anniversary of the Far West Conventions, as well as decades of Filipino American youth activism and Filipino American Studies, in order to inspire and foster our civic responsibility in the Filipino American community.

——

For more information about the FWCs, please visit:

The Phenomena and the Politics of the Filipino People’s Far West Convention: 1970’s – 1980’s

Paper by Florante Peter Ibañez

Written for UCLA Asian American Studies 200A graduate seminar (December 8, 2003)

https://studylib.net/doc/18541940/f-pilipino-people-s-far-west-conventions

The 1971 Inaugural, Young Filipino Peoples Far West Convention 

FANHS Greater Seattle Virtual Panel: Dr. Dorothy Cordova, Dr. Tony Baretto Ogilvie, Rodel Rodis, Mona Pasquil

https://vimeo.com/469375429

In August 1971 and for the very first time, this convention attracted approximately 300+ young and old Filipino American students, community leaders, and advocates. It was hailed as the birth of the Filipino American Movement in the United States. (October 17, 2021).

Far West Young Filipino Peoples Convention with Luna Jamero 

By Emil Guillermo

FANHS Museum Facebook Live Video Interview 

https://youtu.be/-ZJkgggHh00

Emil Guillermo talks with Luna Jamero about her experience in the 1970s with the Far West Young People’s Convention and Filipino American activism during that time. (September 2020) 

Building a Movement: Filipino American Union and Community Organizing in Seattle in the 1970s 

By Ligaya Rene Domingo

https://escholarship.org/content/qt3t92p4n4/qt3t92p4n4_noSplash_7fa0c7aecbb3f5f7dbeee54b3d2f32b1.pdf?t=mtfel1

Dissertation – University of California, Berkeley 

This dissertation focuses on one, untold story of the Asian American Movement: the role of activists in Seattle, Washington who were concerned with regional injustices affecting Filipino Americans. I argue that this local struggle in the Pacific Northwest not only demonstrates the diversity of action and strategy within the Asian American Movement but also deepens our understanding of the broader movement as both local and transnational – unique in its local strategies yet closely aligned with the goals of the era’s social movements. (Spring 2010)

“We Are Revolution: A Reflective History of the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP)” 

By Helen C. Toribio

Amerasia Journal, 24(2), 155-178. (1998)

https://www.marxists.org/history/erol/ncm-6/kdp.pdf

A Time to Rise: Collective Memoirs of the Union of Democratic Filipinos (KDP)

Edited by Rene Ciria Cruz, Cindy Domingo and Bruce Occena. Seattle: University of Washington Press (2017)

https://uwapress.uw.edu/book/9780295742021/a-time-to-rise/

A Time to Rise is an intimate look into the workings of the KDP, the only revolutionary organization that emerged in the Filipino American community during the politically turbulent 1970s and ’80s.