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.

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".


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.



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.



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.



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.