top of page

Why is Filipino American History Month Celebrated on October?

1587 - During the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade era, The Spanish galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza, arrived at the shores of present-day Morro Bay, California. The landing party included Luzon Indios, indigenous Filipinos, who worked as sailors on board. The party was attacked by Native Americans two days later, and further exploration was discontinued. This marked the first Filipino landing in the Continental United States.

Filipino American History Month or FAHM, is celebrated annually in October, commemorating the arrival of the first Filipinos in modern-day Morro Bay, California.

Filipino American History Month
Morro bay

The Filipino community and the Filipino American National Historical Society established Filipino American History Month in 1992. In 2009, Congress recognized the month of October officially as Filipino American History Month in the U.S.

To celebrate Filipino American History Month, here's a list of significant events for the Filipino American community.

1763 - Filipino who worked and labored escaped Spanish ships to establish the settlement of Saint Malo, 25 miles southeast of what is now New Orleans. There, they hid from the Spanish and pioneered the method of drying shrimp in Louisiana. They were also called the "Manila Men".

Filipino American History Month
Saint Malo

1781 - Filipino Antonio Miranda Rodriguez was 50 years old when he arrived in Los Angeles. He was with his 11-years old daughter Juana Maria.

Antonio Rodriguez was part of the 12 original founders of Los Angeles in 1781.

The Spanish government sent people to establish what was first called “El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora la Reina de Los Ángeles” (The town of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels).

Antonio Rodriguez’s name was not listed as one of the eleven founders of the El Pueblo. However, The Los Angeles Almanac mentions his name as the twelfth founder of California.

When he and his daughter finally arrived in Alta California (Upper/New California), it was discovered Rodriguez was a skilled gunsmith. As such, he was reassigned to Santa Barbara Presidio in 1782.

Although Antonio Rodriguez was a widow living in Sonora, he lived the rest of his life in Santa Barbara, California.

Filipino American History Month

1788 June 17- At least one Manilla man was aboard the British ship Iphigenia Nubiana, under the command of Captain William Douglas, when it arrived at Cook Inlet in Alaska.

Filipino American History Month

1789 June 15 - Manilla men were also on the ships, Eleanora and Fair American, of Captain Simon Metcalfe, an American fur trader from New York, when these ships arrived at the Pacific Northwest coast of America.

Filipino American History Month

1789 - 1791- John Mando, a Manila Men was cabin steward on the Gustavus III, owned by Captain John Henry Cox, when it came to Sitka Harbor.

1789 - 1794 - Filipinos were also part of the Malaspina Expedition, according to historian Donald C. Cutter, who can name at least four of them; and cites one Filipino seaman who had previously made three trips to Acapulco on Manila galleons, who may have joined the crew in Lima, Peru. Malaspina also recruited replacement crew in Acapulco among "Filipino mariners who were in Acapulco as a result of the galleon trade with Manila"

1822 - Francisco Flores from Cebu arrived in Texas in 1822 aboard a freighter, on which he was a cabin boy. He settled in Port Isabel, Texas and owned a fishing business with two schooners. He married Augustina Gonzales when he was 40, and moved his family and business to Rockport, Texas. He died in Texas in 1917 at the ripe old age of 108.

1848 - Manila men were reported to have been the major population of the "Vanished Camp of Tulitos", one of the earliest gold camps in Mariposa county during the California Gold Rush, which started in 1848.

1850s - As early as the 1850s, Filipinos were crew members aboard ships in the Alaska whaling boom that followed the start of whaling off the coast of Alaska in 1848. Crew lists of the whaling ships that sailed the Alaskan Arctic from 1848 to 1910 at the New Bedford Whaling Museum positively identifies these seamen as Manilla men.

1898 - May 1, Admiral George Dewey sails to the Philippines and engages the Spanish fleet in the Mock Battle of Manila Bay, in which Spain stages a loss to American forces in order to safe face. The following day, the American flag is raised over the Philippines.

1898 - On June 15, the Anti-imperialist league formed to fight U.S. annexation of the Philippines, citing a variety of reasons ranging from the economic to the legal to the racial to the moral. It included among its members such notables as Andrew Carnegie, Mark Twain, William James, David Starr Jordan, and Samuel Gompers with George S. Boutwell, former secretary of the Treasury and Massachusetts, as its president. Following the signing of the Treaty of Paris, the league began to decline and eventually disappeared.

1899 - February 4, The Philippines American war begins when Willie Grayson, a private from Nebraska shoots at Filipinos on the San Juan Del Monte Bridge.

1899 - February 6, The US Senate votes for the annexation of the Philippines by military force.

1901 - August 23, Six hundred American teachers arrive in the Philippines aboard USS Thomas.

In the early days of the American colonial period, the Philippine Commission sent teachers from the United States to the Philippines with the purpose of establishing an educational system. Named after the ship that transported them, the United States Army Transport Thomas, the Thomasites expanded to become a powerful force in the colonial project.

1901 - October 23, During the US occupation, General Jacob Smith orders his troops to kill anyone over the age of 10. "I want all persons killed who are capable of bearing arms in actual hostilities against the United States.” When Waller asked Smith to set an age limit for the kill orders, Smith said, “Kill everyone over ten.” Smith would later send Waller a written order “that the interior of Samar must be made a howling wilderness.”

1903 - November 3, The first 100 Pensionados arrive in California. Approximately 209 American-government sponsored Filipino/a students called Pensionados travel to United States to attend universities. The majority returned to the Philippines to teach and assume government posts. Though thousands of self supporting Filipino/a immigrants follow these student to the United States, most do not complete their education due to low wages and discrimination.

1904 - April 30, Indigenous Filipino/a are exhibited at the St. Louis World's Fair.

The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair — also called the Louisiana Purchase Exhibition — was built to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the purchase of the Louisiana Territory by the US from France.

The Philippine Exhibit was the largest (47 acres, 100 buildings), most expensive ($2 million) and most popular at the entire fair.

A bird’s-eye view of the mammoth Philippine Exhibit.

There were about 1,100 Filipinos at the Philippine Exhibit. They were shown in various stages of cultures, from primitive to highly cultured.

The head-hunting, dog-eating Igorots were the greatest attraction at the Philippine Exhibit, not only because of their novelty, the scanty dressing of the males and their daily dancing to the tom-tom beats, but also because of their appetite for dog meat which is a normal part of their diet.

A bird’s-eye view of the mammoth Philippine Exhibit.

1906 - December 20, Fifteen Filipino laborers arrive on Oahu, making the beginning of massive Filipino/a immigration to the United States. They are recruited by the Hawaiian Sugar Planter's Association. The following year 210 arrive.

1906 - 1934, More than 100,000 Filipino/a mostly single men immigrate to Hawaii, Alaska and the mainland. Filipinos in Alsaka called themselves "Alaskeros", in Hawaii they called themselves "Sakadas". Though some have grade school and even college education, most come from poor areas in Visayas and Ilocos regions. With the low wage and terrible working conditions resulting from the great depression, Pinoys and Pinays struggle to build communities, raise families, send money home to the Philippines and maintain dignity in the face of rampant racism and discrimination. Stockton, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Seattle become large gathering point for Filipinos/as. The gender imbalance to 14 Pinoys and 1 Pinay through the 1920 'sand 1930's makes marriage and family difficult, if not impossible for many Filipinos.

1907 - The American colonial government establishes the first nursing school in the Philippines. This school sparks the establishment of other institution and lays the foundation for what would become a mass migration Filipina nurses to the United States and around the globe throughout the 20th and early 21st centuries. Most of these nurses would begin arriving in the United States after 1965, when a nursing shortage and reformed immigration laws facilitate their immigration.

1920 - January 19, Pablo Manlapit leads the first major Pan-Asian strike in Hawaii, on the Island of Oahu. 3,000 members of the Filipino Labor Union walked off their jobs. Manlapit led the strike and he believed that the Japanese and Filipinos workers should be united. The Japanese workers soon joined them. The strike last for two months.

1923 - The Filipino Students Bulletin use the term Pinay to refer to a woman of Filipino descent in the United States.

1923 - June 18, Pancho Villa wins the World Flyweight Boxing Title.

1924 - Pablo Manlapit leads another strike in Hawaii, which is supported mostly by Filipinos/as working on four islands. The strike, which last approximately six - eight months, leads to increasing violence against Filipinos/as. 16 Filipino strikers are shot and killed by police in Hanapepe on the island of Kauai. Manlapit is jailed and deported. Filipinos/as who participated in the strike were blacklisted by many employers. Which led to the immigration of many families on the mainland.

1925 - May 25, In Toyota vs US, The Supreme Court rules that Filipinos, Except those who have served in the US Navy for three years cannot become naturalized citizens.

1927 - November 8, An anti Filipino riot erupts in Wapato, Washington.

1929 - April 15, The Amistad Oriental Hospital, opens in Stockton. Established by Dr. A.F. Amistad, a Filipino physician. It is the first Filipino hospital in the US.

1929 - October 24, An anti Filipino riot erupts in Exeter, California.

1930 - January 22, Anti Filipino rioting in Watsonville results in the shooting and death of Fermin Tobera.

1930 - January 26, A Los Angeles Superior Court judge rule that Filipino/White marriage performed since 1921 are invalid.

1932 - Salvador Roldan Case, Anti miscegenation laws in many states, including California, prohibited marriage between whites and "Mongolians", Negros" and "Indians". Pointing out that the law specified "Mongolians" and that Filipinos were "Malay", Salvador Roldan sues the state of California for the right to marry his English wife, Roldan wins. Lawmakers quickly add "Malay" to the law.

Photo courtesy of Bryan Roldan.

1930 - December 8, A Filipino rooming house in the Imperial Valley, California is bombed by a white man. Three Filipinos were injured and one killed.

1933 - June 19, The Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers' union is founded in Seattle, Washington.

1933 - August 27, The Filipino Labor Union organizes the Salinas Lettuce Strike.

1936 - December 1, Virgil Duyungan founder and president of Seattle's Cannery Workers and Farm Labor Unions, and Aurelio Simon, union secretary are murdered by a labors contractors' agent in Washington.

1938, October 2, Ceferino Garcia wins the World Middle Weight boxing title.

1939 - April, Seven Thousand Filipino asparagus workers, organized as Filipino Agricultural Laborers Association (FALA), strike successfully during the height of asparagus season in Stockton California.

1941, December 20, During the Japanese invasion of the Philippines in Northern Luzon, Congress passes Public Law 360, which allows Filipinos to serve in the United States Army.

1941 - 1945, During World War II, hundreds of Filipinos in America joins special segregated units in the United States Army to fight the Japanese in the Philippines. The First and Second Infantry Regiment. They are later naturalized. Meanwhile thousands of Filipinos in the Philippines join the United States Armed Forces in the Far East. (USAFFE) Today they are still fighting for recognition and benefits.

1942, April 4-13, Japanese march the Filipino and American Soldiers inland in the Bataan Death March. Thousands die.

1945 - December 28, The War Bride Acts allow veterans to bring wives and children to the US. Filipino Americans who were members of the First and Second Infantry Regiments take advantage of the act and bring over the families they raised during the war.

1946 - A postwar labor shortage caused by war casualties and lucrative defense work leads to Hawaii's request for exemption from the 100 per year immigration limit for Filipinos/as. Around 6000 men, 446 women and 915 children came as "sakadas" in 1946 before granting of Philippine Independence on July 4, 1946. This batch called Sakada 46 was more educated than earlier recruits and they immigrated as family units.

1946 - January 18, The 79th Congress passes the Recision Act, which denies benefits to Filipino veterans of USAFFE. In March, President Truman would sign the act, transferring 200 million for the pay of USAFFE veterans, but would bar these veterans from most benefits under the GI BIll Rights.

1946 - March 10, Carlos Bulosan semi-autobiographical novel, Americas in the Heart is publised.

1946 - July 2, The Luce-Cellar Act(also called the Filipino Naturalization Act), enables Filipino/a immigrants to become naturalized citizens. The Filipino quota is adjusted to 100 immigrants annually. As veterans brought back war brides from the Philippines, community experience tremendous growth.

1947 - March 14, The US Military Bases Agreement is signed, allowing 22 US military bases in the Philippines. It would also allow the US Navy to recruit Philippines citizens, who would become naturalized citizens after a number of years or service in the Navy. Filipino/a Navy families would settle in such cities as San Diego, Alameda, Vallejo, Seattle, Charleston, Virginia Beach and in Hawaii.

1948 - August 7, Victoria Manalo Draves, a Filipina American diver from San Francisco, wins two gold medals in the 1948 Olympics in London, the first woman to do so.

1950s - 1990s - Urban '"renewal" destroys Little Manila and Manilatowns. Urban renewal and freeway projects lead to evictions, demolitions and displacements in Filipino/a American communities in Stockton's Little Manila, San Francisco's Manilatown and in the Little Manila and Temple districts of Los Angeles.

1952 - The McCarran-Walter Act abolishes the racial provisions of the 1790 Naturalization Act and allow immigrants of all racial groups to be naturalized. However, the act, which was written at the height of anti-communist sentiments, red-baited leftist, labor union activists and progressives and facilitated the harassment and deportation of radical Filipino labor leaders.

1956 - September 11, Carlos Bulosan dies in Seattle, Washington.

1965 - With the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, racial and national origins preference are abolished and immigration laws are radically changed, with the Philippines allowed a 20,000 annual quota. In the first decades after the act is passed, women would constitute more than two-thirds of the documented immigrants from all countries. Immigration preference allow visas for educated professionals (such as doctors, nurses and engineers) and artist, but family reunification and chain-migration bring even more thousands of Filipinos/as of all class and regional backgrounds to the United States. By the 1980s the Philippines and Mexico will have sent more immigrants to the US than any other country.

1965 - September 6, The Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee (AWOC), led by Larry Itliong, calls a strike against 33 grape growers near Delano, California.

1965 - September 8, The 2,000 mostly Filipino members of the AWOC begin the famous Delano Grape Strike.

1968 - September 6, Filipino/a students in PACE - Pilipino American Collegiate Endeavor, members of the Third World Liberation Front (TWLF), play a large role in the TWLF Strike at San Francisco State College. The demands of the students include an open admission policy and the establishment of the College of Ethnic Studies. In 1969 Filipino/a students go on strike at UC Berkeley to demand ethnic studies. The College of Ethnic Studies and the Department of Asian Studies are established in the fall of 1969.

1968 - November 27, 150 elderly Filipino and Chinese tenants from the Manilatown district of San Francisco began a nine-year-long, anti-eviction campaign against Financial District encroachment. Widespread student and community grass-roots support imprinted this event as a milestone in Asian American and housing advocacy history.

The campaign culminated in the deployment of over 400 riot police, mounted patrols, anti-sniper units and !re ladder trucks in a 3:00 AM eviction raid on August 4, 1977. A 3,000-person human barricade was brutally cleared away by authorities before tenants were physically removed from the premises.

1970 - January 30, The First Quarter Storm is launched, marked by anti- Marcos protest in the Philippines from January to March. The anti-US/anti-Marcos movement begins.

1972 - September 21, Dictator Ferdinand Marcos declares martial law in the Philippines, sparking a massive protest movement among Filipinos in the United States and in the Philippines. Thousands flee the Philippines seeking political freedom. The United States maintains staunch support for the Marcos dictatorship.

1972 - September 23, The National Committee for Restoration of Civil Liberties (NCRCLP) id founded in San Francisco.

1972 - The Search to Involve Pilipino Americans (SIPA) is founded in Los Angeles.

1972 - The Samahang Pilipino is founded in UCLA

1973 - Filipinos for Affirmative Actions is founded in Oakland, California.

1973 - March 18, Marcos blacklist of US residents is revealed in Los Angeles.

1974 - December 28-29, The first AMLM (Anti Martial Law Movement) Unity Conference is held in Chicago, Illinois.

1975 - Liwanag, a collection of Filipino American art, photography, fiction and poetry is published in San Francisco. The book represents teh radical and passionate work produced by young Filipino American artists in California in the 1970s. Many formed the Kearny STREET workshop and made music in bands like Dakila and drum groups like Ating Tao. Pioneering Filipino Ameircan writers such as Jessica Hagedorn, Al Robles, Jeff Tagami, Jamie Jacinto, Virginia Cerenio, Oscar Penaranda and Shirley Ancheta, among many many others, emerge from this region and period.

1975 - November 2, The Anti- Martial Law Coalition is formed in New York City.

1981, June 1, Gene Viernes and Silme Domingo, labor activist and KDP members are murdered by Marcos agents in the union hall in Seattle.

1982 - November 26, The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is established in Seattle. Washington, Fred and Dorothy Cordova's landmark book, Filipinas, Forgotten Asian American is published in 1983. The society commemorates the arival of Luzones Indios in California in October 1587 by celebrating Filipino American History Month in October every year.

1986 - The immigration Reform and Control Act (IRCA) grants amnesty to undocumneted immigrants, including thousands of Filipinos/as.

1990s - A San Diego study funds that Filipino girls have the highest rate of suicide and unwanted pregnancy among Asian ethnic group.

1990 - The Immigration Act of 1990 allows family reunification for those given amnesty in 1986. The act also allows more than 150,000 Filipino veterans of World War II to immigrate to the United States. Approximately 20,000 citizens.

1991 - September 6, The philippine Senate rejects a proposed treaty for US Bases.

1992 - The first Festival of Philippine Arts and Culture is held in Los Angeles.

1994 - The Filipino American Reading Room (PARRAL), now the Filipino American Library,mis established in Los Angeles.

1996 - California voters pass Proposition 209, which abolishes race, ethnicity and gender preferences in admissions, hiring and contracting for public institutions.

1997 - Filipino veterans create Equity Village in MacArthur Park in Los Angeles to publicize their campaign for benefits. Several veterans go on hunger strike.

1998 - May 5, The Filipino Christian Church is designated a Historic Cultural Monument by the City of Los Angeles.

1998 - Bindlestiff Studio becomes an important San Francisco Bay Area center for Filipino/a American arts and performance.

1999 - January 11, The Library of Congress changes subject heading "Philippine Insurrection" tp "Philippine American War."

2001 - Rod Pulido's "Flipside" is the first Filipino American feature film to debut at the Sundance Festival.

2002 - October, The Stockton City Council designates the Little Manila Historic Site as the nations first Filipino American city-designated historic site.

2002 - Filipino American workers in the 3 Bay Area airports, San Jose, Oakland and San Francisco are illegally terminated. In response, the Filipino community gathered and organized to fight for their rights and welfare. Out of that struggle came PAWIS Pilipino Association of Workers and ImmigrantS which to this day still organize arounf workers right and immigrant rights in San Jose and Oakland.

2003 - The city of Los Angeles designates Historic Filipinotown.

2004 - The Filipino Community Center and the Bayanihan Center open in San Francisco.

2005 - The new International Hotel is dedicated and the Manila Town Center on its ground floor is dedicated and opened.

Source: A General Timeline of Filipino/a American History,

by Dawn Mabalon & Allyson Tintiangco-Cubales


bottom of page