NO MYSTERY

"Our History is No Mystery" 
 Copyright, 1996, written by Ronald S. Buenaventura, 
President, San Diego Chapter of the Filipino American National
Historical Society (FANHS-SD).  Any reproduction of this article/
presentation without the expressed written consent of its author 
is strictly prohibited.

Presented at the Naval Station Theater on 32nd Street Naval Station in
San Diego, California, U.S.A. during the Asian Pacific Islander Week
Celebration; 9:30-11:30 a.m., Friday, May 31, 1996.  *A Filipino
American National Historical Society San Diego Chapter Presentation.

To my fellow Kababayans, "Magandang umaga po sa inyong lahat". 

To my fellow Americans, friends, and family of the United States Navy,
"Good morning to you all!"  I'm here to talk to you about a certain kind
of history that many of you have probably never heard about before, and
that is Filipino American history. 
According to the U.S. census, there are approximately 9 million people
living in America who are of Asian descent. 23% of that are of Chinese
ancestry; 20% are Filipino; 12% are Asian Indian; and Japanese, Korean, 
and Vietnamese each share about 10%.
It is expected that by the year 2000, Filipinos will be the largest 
Asian/Pacific Islander group.  In the state of California, there are more 
Filipinos than there are of Chinese.  And in San Diego County, Filipino 
Americans are the largest Asian-Pacific Islander group.
Yet as Filipino Americans, we are invisible to mainstream society.  How 
often do you see Filipinos in books, in magazines, on television, or on 
the radio? We are hidden in the shadows of our Asian Pacific Islander
brothers and sisters, and it seems that the only thing people know about 
us is that our youth have the highest suicide rate in the county.
But is that all that is known about Filipino Americans? Is this what we
want our fellow Americans, our fellow Asian Americans, and our fellow 
shipmates to know?  Of course not.  If possible, we would like to be able 
to tell our friends and neighbors that there's more to being Filipino
than just lumpia and pancit.  We want to be able to tell our friends and
family that we have a unique Asian Pacific Islander heritage, ... a heritage 
that reflects our Filipinoness, a heritage that goes deep into the hearts of 
all Pinoys, whether we speak English or Tagalog, whether we were born in 
America or in our native land, the Philippines, or whether we eat 
kare-kare  ,   pinakbet  , or hamburger and French fries. We want to be 
able to tell our friends and fellow shipmates that   Our history is no 
Indeed, as Filipino Americans, we need to tell our story and when our 
story began.
Unknown to many people, Filipino American history began on October 18, 
1587.  Filipinos were the first Asians to cross the Pacific Ocean as
early as 1587, fifty years before the first English settlement of Jamestown was 
established.  From 1565 to 1815, during the Manila-Acapulco Galleon 
Trade, Filipinos were forced to work as sailors and navigators on board Spanish
Galleons.  They arrived in as Morro Bay, California. A landing party 
consisting of Filipino seamen, namely   Luzon Indios (  Luzon Indians  ), 
were sent to the California shore to claim the land for the Spanish king.
In 1763, Filipinos made their first permanent settlement in the bayous 
and marshes of Louisiana.  As sailors and navigators on board Spanish
galleons, Filipinos--also known as   Manilamen   or Spanish-speaking 
Filipinos--jumped ship to escape the brutality of their Spanishmasters.
They built houses on stilts along the gulf ports of New Orleans and were
the first in the United States to introduce the sun-drying process of

In 1781, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez Poblador, a Filipino, along with 44 
other individuals were sent by the Spanish government from Mexico to
establish what is now known as the city of Los Angeles.  During the War
of 1812, Filipinos from Manila Village (near New Orleans) were among the 
Batarians   who fought against the British with Jean Lafitte in the 
Battle of New Orleans.  This was just the beginning of the first wave of
Filipino immigration into the United States. The second wave began from 
1906 to 1934 with a heavy concentration going into California and Hawaii. 
But between these waves of immigration, it is through the   colonization of 
our native land  , the Philippines, that brought us here.  For over 300 
years, Spain had colonized the Philippines using Manila Bay as their great
seaport, trading silver and rich spices with other countries surrounding 
Southeast Asia and the rest of the world.
In exchange for gold, the Spaniards gave Filipinos Christianity. We were 
called Filipinos after King Philip II of Spain. This is why we have
Spanish surnames like Bautista, Calderon, Marquez, and Santos. 
Our Spanish connection came to an end after the Spanish-American War in
1898 when America wanted to control the Philippines.  Unknown to
Filipinos, through the Treaty of Paris (April 11, 1899), Spain sold the 
Philippines to the United States for $20 million, thus ending over 300 
years of Spanish colonization. Filipinos celebrated their independence
from Spain on June 12, 1898, and declared Emilio Aguinaldo as president. 
However, the people of the Philippines were not truly free. 
In fact, they never were.  America was its new ruler and had cheated the 
Filipinos in believing that they were free. Thus, the Filipino American 
War began shortly after U.S. colonization. Known in U.S. history books as
the   Philippine Insurrection, it was a bloody precursor to Vietnam.  The 
Filipino American War was America's first true overseas war. The War
lasted from 1898 to 1902, and in those 3 years as many as 70,000 
Americans died and close to 2 million Filipinos were killed.  American soldiers
were ordered to shoot and kill every one over age 10. Filipinos over ten were
considered   Criminals because they were born ten years before America 
took the Philippines.   There was even a special gun designed to kill 
Filipinos, the Colt .45 1902   Philippine Model  , where only 4,600 were made. 
This is the real American history that historians, academicians, and scholars 
forgot to tell us about.
Soon after the War, William Howard Taft, who later became President of 
the United States, became governor of the Philippines.  American school 
teachers, called   Thomasites  , came to Philippines to establish a public 
school system similar to American public schools. American educators
taught Filipinos that   Aguinaldo and friends   were the enemy.  They were 
taught American songs, and world history through American eyes.  This is 
why so many of us speak such good English.  The elite class of rich
Filipinos are also known as   pensionados   were allowed to come to America 
to learn in American universities.  In November 1903, 103 pensionados 
became the first Filipino students in American universities and campuses.
It was here in San Diego at State Normal School, now known as San Diego 
State University (SDSU), where the School Registrar's records show that 
there were a few Filipino students ages 16-25 who had attended an SDSU,. 
. proof that we have been here in San Diego since 1903.
In the early 1900's, other Filipinos came to Hawaii to work on sugar cane 
plantations and to seek a better life in America. Filipinos came to the
West Coast of the U.S., where they worked many long hours on farms and in 
the agricultural fields picking grapes, asparagus, lettuce and other 
fruits and vegetables in places like Hayward, Salinas, Stockton, El 
Centro, and even in Escondido. In Alaska they worked in the fish 
canneries.  If they were not working in the fields, then they were 
working as dishwashers, waiters, and bus boys at the Hotel del Coronado, some at 
the Casa de Manana   in La Jolla, or at the Rome Hotel on Market Street. 
These Filipino pioneers were known as the   manong generation   since most 
of them came from Ilocos Sur, Iloilo, and Cavite in the Philippines. 
Many of them Filipinos did not plan to reside permanently in the United 
States. All they wanted was to accumulate as much wealth as possible
within a short time and return to the islands as rich men. But due to the
low-paying jobs the migrants obtained, a trip to the Philippines was hard 
to save for and became more remote as the years went by   (excerpt from 
Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's   Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946   
Back in the 1920's and '30's, the ratio of men to women was 20 to 1.  In 
some places it was 40 to 1. Because they were Filipino, they were not 
allowed to marry white women.  In the state of California, the local 
authorities imposed anti-miscegenation laws on Filipinos.  Filipinos had
to drive out of state in order to marry white women. And during this
time, particularly during the Great Depression, white Americans claimed that 
Filipinos   brought down the standard of living because they worked for 
low wages. Filipinos had to compete against other ethnic groups to earn a 
Tensions grew between white Americans and Filipinos. White Americans
blamed Filipinos for taking their women and their jobs.  For this reason, 
many hotels, restaurants, and even swimming pools had signs that read 
ALLOWED!This eventually lead to the passing of the Tydings-McDuffie Act 
of 1934,which limited Filipino immigration to the U.S. to 50 per year. 
Its main purpose was to exclude Filipinos because they were perceived 
as a social problem, disease carriers, and an economic threat. American 
attitude toward Filipinos changed with the onset of World War II.
This began the 3rd wave of Filipino immigration (1945-1965).  Filipinos
from the Philippines joined the U.S. Navy to fight against the Japanese.
Filipinos were allowed to join the navy because they were so-called
Nationals  .  They were not U.S. citizens, nor were they illegal aliens. 
In the navy, many Filipinos were given the label of   Designated TN  , 
which many of you know stood for   Stewardsman  . As stewards, Filipinos 
in the U.S. Navy cooked, cleaned, shined, washed, and swabbed the decks 
of naval ships and naval bases across America and the entire world. But 
despite their status, Filipinos fought side by side with American soldiers 
for freedom against the Japanese.
The 4th wave of Filipino Immigration began after the passing of the
Immigration Act of 1965 and continues to the present day.  This allowed
the entry of as many as 20,000 immigrants annually. 
This wave of Filipinos was also called the   brain drain  , and consisted 
mainly of professionals: doctors, lawyers, nurses, engineers, as well as 
the military, Filipinos who continued to join the navy off Sangley Point 
in Cavite City, Philippines. 
From the first to the fourth wave of Filipino Immigration, it is evident 
that Filipinos have been in America for quite some time, yet one must 
persistently ask who are the Filipino Americans?  Who are they and what
have they done?  Perhaps it would be better to ask: What is it about
Filipino Americans that make them appear different, yet one and the same? 
The answer may lie with the younger generation, our youth, young 2nd- or 
3rd-generation Filipino Americans, for some of you, your sons and 
Many of them do not see themselves in the American mainstream or in the
community, and because of this invisibility they lack a certain voice 
that would remind them that they too are Filipino. Perhaps, this might 
be one of the reasons why they act more American than Filipino. What many
of them don't know is that there are people like...
And then you got that one guy formerly known as PRINCE. Where do you think he gets his rhythm from? You may say that some of the people that I have mentioned are part Black, White, or Asian, but deep down they are also part Pinoy, therefore, Filipino American. Each and every one of them reflect a certain Asianness, but more so a Filipinoness. They, like any other Filipino American, will continue to live their lives in these United States of America, proud of their heritage and proud to tell their own story. Those of us with the Filipino American National Historical Society with the acronym FANHS are proud of our Filipino American heritage and proud of our Filipino American identity. We are here to share this rich and unique Filipino American history, which can often be confused with Philippine history. We are Filipinos living in America, and our mission is to promote the understanding, education, enlightenment, appreciation, and enrichment through the identification, gathering, preservation and dissemination of the history and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States. Our history is no mystery. We have yet to research and document the overflow of Filipino-owned businesses-bakeries, restaurants, video stores, insurance companies, and realtors situated on Plaza Boulevard and 8th Street in National City. And of course, the Filipino American businesses located on Mira Mesa Boulevard in Mira Mesa, and on Palm Avenue and Picador Road in South San Diego. There is much to be done. There is much to look forward to. As we celebrate Asian Pacific Heritage Week, let our research and sharing go beyond today or tomorrow. Let it go everyday and every year. Because in this celebration, we can remember our native land and how it has culturally influenced us, but let us not forget that our home is here in America. Let us not forget that because of our navy connection , whether we are white, black, brown, Asian, or Latino, we have contributed to this country. Did anyone tell you that you are what makes the U. S. Navy the best it can be? Remember, it's not just a job, it's an adventure. And as the saying goes, Fair winds and following seas . Maraming salamat po sa iyo . Thank you very much. _________________________________________________________________ *Special thanks to Reynila Calderon-Magbuhat for providing the necessary resources for this presentation.
  1. -- Where Asian-Americans Reside . _U.S. News and World Report_. Basic data: estimate based on 1990 U.S. Census Bureau dat, April 29,1996, p. 18.
  2. --Rene Ciria-Cruz. Looking for Asian America . _Filipinas_. May 1995, p. 38.
  3. --Fred Cordova. The Importance of Being Filipino-American: Community Acculturation vs. Individual Assimilation . Conference: Making a Difference...in the Community . University of San Diego, Alcala Park, San Diego, California, Sept. 23, 1995
  4. --Angela Lau, Filipino Girls Think Suicide at No. 1 Rate . _San Diego Union-Tribune_. Feb. 11, 1995, A-1.
  5. --Eugene Lyon. Track of the Manila Galleons . _National Geographic_. Vol. 178, No.3, Sept. 1990, pgs. 4-37.
  6. --Eloisa Borah Gomez. Filipinos in Unamuno's California Expedition of 1587 . _Amerasia Journal_. UCLA Asian American Studies Center, Vol. 23:3, Winter 1995-1996, pgs. 175-183.
  7. --Marina E. Espina. Filipinos in Louisiana . A.F. Laborde & Sons:New Orleans, 1988, p.38-39, & 50.
  8. --Cordova, Fred. Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans . Dubuque,Iowa:Kendall/Hunt Publushing Co., 1983, p.9.
  9. --Ibid, Marina E. Espina, p. 50.
  10. --Filipino American National Historical Society Program. Filipino Americans: Discovering their past for the future . Seattle,Washington: Wehman Video Distribution, 1994.
  11. --Dario Villa. Class Lecture. Filipino Studies 100 class at Miramar College. San Diego, California, Feb. 29, 1996.Ibid, Feb. 29, 1996.
  12. --Stanley Karnow. In Our Image: America's Empire in the Philippines . New York: Ballantine Books, 1989, p. 106-195.
  13. --Ibid, p. 167-170.
  14. --Fred Cordova. Historical Benchmarks . Filipinas.Feb. 1993, p.59.
  15. --Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's Filipino Migrants in San Diego: 1900-1946 . University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979, p. 43.
  16. --Fred Cordova. Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans ., p. 26-27, 37-39,57.
  17. --Adelaida Castillo-Tsuchida's Filipino Migrants in San Diego:1900-1946 . University of San Diego, San Diego, CA, 1979, p. 57.
  18. --Alex Fabros. When Hilario Met Sally . Filipinas.Feb. 1995,pgs.0-52, 58.
  19. --Fred Cordova. Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans ., p. 11. Ibid, p. 114.
  20. --Dario DeGuzman Villa. Diversity Presentation. Sweetwater High School. National City, CA, Jan. 25, 1996
  21. --Fred Cordova. Filipinos: Forgotten Asian Americans ., p.119-120.
  22. --Statement of Understanding Concerning Duties Within the Steward Group Rating, Promotion and Assignment to Duty. NAVCRUITDET PHIL 1400/1(5-67). Signature of applicant: Rosauro Santos Buenaventura. Witnessed by R.D. Morgan, Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Recruiting Officer. 14 June 1968.
  23. --George Brown Tindall & David E. Shi. America: A Narrative History 3rd ed. vol. 2. New York: W.W. Norton & Co., 1992, p. 1352.
  24. --All information adopted from Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) Instruction Kit 1992; The Asian American Almanac; ed. by Irene Natividad; Filipinas magazine May 1993,14-17, Aug. 1994, Mar. 1995, July 1995, Feb. 1996, May 1996; & The Bridge Generation: Sons and Daughters of Filipino Pioneers by Dario DeGuzman Villa, San Diego, CA, 1996.

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