October is Filipino American History Month

Written by on October 7, 2023

Elijah Resano / Staff Writer

The month of October is celebrated as Filipino American History Month nationwide in the United States, celebrating the achievements, culture and contributions of Filipinos and Filipino Americans to American history.

In a census in 2019, 4.2 million Filipinos, or Americans with Filipino descent, were reported to be living in the U.S. They are third after Indian Americans as the largest Asian ancestry group in the United States.

The History

Filipino history overlaps with certain chapters of the United States’ particularly regarding American colonization, the creation of the Philippine Commonwealth and the country’s involvement in World War II.

Kansas Soldiers fighting Filipinos

Photo courtesy of University of California Libraries / Kansas Volunteers fire a volley in the Philippine-American War of 1899.

A movement began to declare October to be Filipino American History Month in 1992 by the Filipino American National Historical Society. FANHS explains that the month commemorates the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the continental United States. On October 18, 1587, the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Esperanza carried “Luzones Indios” (Filipinos) and landed on present-day Morro Bay, California—33 years before the pilgrims arrived in New England.

In 2006, California was the first state to legally recognize FAHM, followed by Alaska in 2008. In 2009, however, U.S. Congress adopted a resolution that would recognize FAHM nationally. President Barack Obama became the first U.S. president to celebrate FAHM in the White House.

Since then, hundreds of Filipino and Filipino American organizations in the country have celebrated FAHM annually during October.

Insights on Filipino American History Month 

President Joe Biden honored Filipino Americans in a statement that he shared through Facebook and X last Monday.

“Jill and I are thrilled to celebrate Filipino American History Month, honoring the rich heritage and traditions of millions of Filipino Americans.” Biden said. “To our Filipino American community: Thank you for all you do to ensure our nation continues to be the land of opportunity.”

Here in Salina, a minute community of Filipinos form a small web of friends and colleagues who share a bond through their shared nationality. One such member is Salina Central Senior Nehemiah Gomendoza.

“I am incredibly proud to be a Filipino-American and celebrate Filipino American History month,”

His parents emigrated from Manila, Philippines in 1995. Gomendoza himself was born right here in Salina.

“I look up to Efren Reyes, the G.O.A.T. of pool and boxer Manny Pacquiao—there is a lot of proud Filipino representation in the best of the best.” Gomendoza said. “Not to mention the amazing parties and fiestas with lively karaoke celebrations that come with celebrations. Filipino American History Month is a time of great pride for me.”

The international student population of Kansas Wesleyan University numbers 39, with two coming from the Philippines.



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