Posted on by Chad F.

Filipino Americans make up one of the largest immigrant groups in the United States, or 1.1% of the entire US population. Filipino Americans have a long history in the United States, dating back to the 16th century. Today, they comprise the second-largest Asian group in the United States behind the Chinese. Many Filipino Americans have gone on to prominent places in the United States, and their community has actively contributed to society.


Filipino Americans

Filipino American communities exist in all parts of the United States, with notable populations in California and Hawaii. Many states have “Little Manilas”, which house numerous Filipino shops and businesses, forming a nucleus for the Filipino community in the area. In states with smaller Filipino American populations, there may not be a “Little Manila”, but the sense of kinship and community that Filipino Americans feel with each other is an integral part of the Filipino American identity and experience.

Why October for Filipino American History Month?

October was chosen as Filipino American History Month to commemorate the first landing of Filipinos in the Americas as part of the crew of Captain Pedro de Unamuno’s frigate in the 16th century. While they landed in Mexico in November, there is a record of them landing briefly on the central coast of California sometime in October. That was before the Philippines was even formed as a country, and these Filipinos were referred to as “Luzonian Indians”.

Historical Ties Between the Philippines and the United States

Ties between both countries go back a long way. The Philippines was a colony of the United States from 1898 to 1946, a short half-century which made many significant impacts on the culture, education and society of the Philippines. Although the Philippines was colonized by the Spanish for more than 300 years, influence from the United States is particularly strong even in comparison. Today, American English is widely spoken in the Philippines because of colonial influence, and the relationship between the Philippines and the United States remains close.

The History of Filipino American History Month

Filipino American history and heritage in the United States is commemorated in October each year since it was established in 1988 by the Filipino American National Historical Society. While the levels of celebration vary from state to state, states such as California and Hawaii, which have a large Filipino American population, tend to see bigger celebrations of Filipino American History Month. In the state of California, Filipino American History Month was officially recognized statewide when it was placed on the state’s celebrations calendar.

Celebrations in 2015

2015 is a particularly significant year as it marks the 50th anniversary of the Immigration and Nationality Act, which made momentous changes to the way non-Europeans could immigrate to the United States. The Filipino American community was substantially impacted by this Act, which paved the way for many Filipino Americans and their families to migrate to the States. The celebrations for Filipino American History Month this year will focus on the significance of the Immigration and Nationality Act, and will be held at Campion Towers, Seattle University, on the 16th of October. Shall you be attending the event, or know of family members in need of  financial resources for this celebration, learn how you can transfer money online to the Philippines here. 

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