The King County Council issued a proclamation declaring October to be Filipino American History Month on October 5. They join a small number of municipal, county, and state governments that recognize the celebration of contributions to America by Filipino Americans.
The first recognition of the Filipino American History Month (FAHM) by a government entity was by California state in 2009. Congress has followed suit from 2009 to 2011 to recognize the month, but has yet to make the occasion permanent.
“Most people do not realize that Filipinos have been in the U.S. longer over 400 years or the contributions that Filipino Americans have made through their labor, public service, and heroic wartime sacrifices while serving their country,” said Larry Gossett, King County Councilmember, in a statement. Gossett sponsored the proclamation for the King County Council.
Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) initiated the push for Filipino American History Month in 1988. The organization choose October to celebrate Filipino American heritage to recognize the arrival of the first Filipinos in America on October 18, 1587 in Morro Bay, Calif.
Nationally, members of FANHS and the Filipino community celebrated at the White House on October 2, the first time such a celebration was held in at the White House. President Barack Obama issued a presidential message celebrating Filipino American History Month, which was read at the ceremony.
“Generations of Filipino Americans have leant their unique voices to the vibrant diversity of origins, cultures, and communities that make America what it is,” said Obama in his message. “Their legacy speaks to the extraordinary spirit of common purpose … that has always been central to our nation.”
In Washington, Filipinos have heavily contributed to the agriculture, fishing, and maritime industries. Filipinos were vital in desegregating unions in the fishing industry at companies such as Alaska Cannery Workers Union, International Longshore, and Warehouse Union.
The Seattle branch of FANHS has held or participated a number events in the Seattle area. On October 3, FANHS joined the Filipino American Vietnam Veterans Oral History Project & Puget Sound Marine Corps League to recognize Filipino veterans that fought in the Vietnam War. Later that evening, FANHS joined a fundraiser for the Filipino Youth Activities Drill Team, which was established in part by FANHS founder Fred Cordova.
The following week, FANHS hosted a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965. The act led to a massive immigration of Filipinos to the United States and drastically changed the Asian-American population in the country.
Various chapters of FANHS are using social media spread information about the FANM and achievements in Filipino American history.
President Barack Obama’s proclamation: