By Maria Batayola
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) marks its 35th anniversary at Immaculate Conception Church’s Jean Moran Hall this October 7, 2017.
In 1971, FANHS was founded by volunteers Executive Director Dr. Dorothy Cordova with Dr. Fred Cordova as the President of the Board of Trustees and Archivist at the heart of Central District. The world owes a debt of gratitude to these two extremely generous and intellectual activists for their lifetime work of love for youth and community.
Notable FANHS accomplishments include:
- 1971—Founding of Filipino American National Historical Society with the First Filipino Far West Convention that brought to light the need for Filipino American identity and community.
- 1989—Dr. Fred Cordova advocated for the celebration of Filipino American History Month (FAM) to commemorate the first written documentation of Filipinos in an area close to Morro Bay California from the Spanish galleon on October 18, 1587. FAM is now celebrated nationally.
- 15 national biennial conferences held throughout the nation.
- 35 chapters throughout continental United States, Alaska, and Hawai‘i.
- Provided primary source for numerous scholars, many of whom are now published authors.
- FANHS Archives, now the largest collection of Filipino American oral histories, photographs, and now video histories.
- 2016 National Museum in Stockton.
Please read below the history of FANHS in Dr. Fred Cordova’s own words below as excerpted from the book Pamana III. Since then, FANHS Biennial Conferences were held in 2012 Albuquerque “Resilience: A Filipino Legacy in a Golabl Society, 2014 San Diego “Kapwa: Moving Forward Unity,” and 2016 New York City “A Pinoy State of Mind.” Also, FANHS chapters in Greater Chicago, Alameda, Lower Puget Sound, Houston, Delano, Hawai‘i, and Arizona were added.
Historians: The FANHS Filipino American National Historical Society
By Dr. Fred Cordova
Foreword: The former Immaculate Conception Church High School at 820 18th Avenue in Seattle Washington spawned a regional treasure FYA (Filipino Youth Activities), national treasure FANHS (Filipino American National Historical Society) and national change agent DPAA (Demonstration Project for Asian Americans) due to two outstanding stalwarts, Dr. Fred Cordova and Dr. Dorothy Cordova. Affectionately and respectfully called Uncle Fred and Auntie Dorothy, while raising their brood, they co-founded FYA with other parents, helped fan the flames of the Filipino American identity movement with Seattle’s First Far West Convention in 1971, spurned legal and programmatic changes with DPAA’s research results and spearheaded a national reclamation and promotion of Filipino American history through FANHS. Both shy away from the press, but they present Filipino American stories with gusto.
The Filipino American National Historical Society is a community-based entity whose beginnings and spirit emanate from Seattle because many Seattleites have helped make it a significant institution, not only in the United States but also in the Philippines. The mission of FANHS is “to gather, preserve and share the history and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States.”
Filipino American history began October 18, 1587, when Filipinos had first set foot in the Continental United States in Morro Bay at what is now in San Luis Obispo County in California.
In 1982 Dorothy Laigo Cordova founded FANHS in Seattle. In 1985 FANHS was chartered by the State of Washington. Its founding charter members were community folks, mostly from Seattle, including Rufino Cacabelos, Alfred Suarez Cabuang, Dr. Jesus A. Dizon, Efren Edwards, Peter and Teresa Jamero, Karen Johnstone, Prof. Tetsuden Kashima, Carolina Ordona Koslosky, Frederick Mendoza, Steve K. Oh, Dr. Andres B. Tangalin and Jeannette Castillano Tiffany. Other Seattleites were: Dr. Albert Acena, San Mateo, Calif.; Lorea T.Acuszaar, Aurora, Colo.; Cynthia Mejia- Guidici, Washington, D.C. and Br. William Yam, S.J., Northern Illinois University, DeKalb. Others in the charter came from Alaska, California, Hawai‘i, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, Oregon and Virginia.
Today the 27-member trustee board has many with doctorates, plus authors, educators, professionals and just plain folks—the community historians and storytellers among youth and elders, both American and Philippine-born.
FANHS chapters include Oregon, Sacramento Delta, San Francisco, Hampton Roads, Seattle, Metropolitan New York, East Bay, Santa Clara Valley, Vallejo, California Central Coast, Midwest, Stockton, Fresno, New England, Los Angeles, Monterey Bay, Alaska, San Diego, Central Valley, Rio Grande, Wisconsin, Michigan, St. Louis, Pennsylvania, Sonoma County, Yakama Valley, New Jersey and Carolinas.
Besides national and regional historical photo exhibits, FANHS members or chapters have written books. A FANHS video won a 1994 bronze award at the 27th Annual WorldFest—Houston International Film and Video Festival and a 1995 CINE Golden Eagle Award “as evidence of its suitability to represent American production in international festivals “by the Council on International Nontheatrical Events in Washington, D.C.
National Pinoy Archives
The historical society’s National Office in Seattle has numerous files of research
and documentation about Filipino American aspects nationally and internationally. FANHS’ major repository of Filipino American History is its National Pinoy Archives. This is a simple research
facility, initiated in 1987. The NPA appraises, collects, preserves and makes accessible to scholars, authors, filmmakers, students and others in the general public who want to study, textual, graphic and electronic historical records. Some date as early as pre-world War I—which document Filipino American experience relative to individuals, groups, organizations, institutions and facilities in the United States, its territories and other possessions. Typical documentation of some 20,000 individuals is unique, original primary resource material.
FANHS is planning the Filipino American National Museum in Stockton, Calif., the mother lode of Filipino American History. Collection is being done for the Filipino American National Library.
FANHS chapters host national conferences every other year. The Conference themes effect the discussions of the times, celebration of special events and historical discoveries and publications.
- 1987 – 1st National Conference, November 13-14, Seattle University, Seattle, Washington. “Who/What Is a Filipino American?”
- 1988 – 2nd National Conference, commemorating the 225th Anniversary of the Permanent Settlement of Filipinos in the Continental United States, November 18-19, Clarion Hotel, New Orleans, Louisiana: “Filipinos: An Enigma in American History”
- 1990 – 3rd National Conference, July 12-14, Radisson Hotel, Sacramento, California: “Filipino American History: The Legacy Lives.”
- 1992 – 4th National Conference, July 2-5, Westin Hotel, Chicago, Illinois: “Kindred Spirit – Waves Apart.”
- 1994 – 5th National Conference, August 4-6, Clarion Hotel, San Francisco Airport, San Francisco, California: “Honoring the Bridge Generation: Sons and Daughters of Filipino Pioneers.”
- 1996 – 6th National Conference, June 27-29, Park Central Hotel, New York, New York: “The Now Generation – Post 1965 Filipino Americans.”
- 1998 – 7th National Conference, remembering the Philippine Centennial of the 100th Anniversary of the declaration of independence from Spain, July 30-August 1, Double Tree Hotel, Jantzen Beach, Portland, Oregon: “Legacy of a Revolution: One Hundred Years of Filipinos in the United States.”
- 1998 – Conference on “Filipinos in America: A Centennial Experience,” August 5-7, Manila Hotel, Manila, Philippines, by the Philippine Commission on Filipinos Overseas in cooperation with FANHS, the Philippine Civil Service Commission, Commission on Higher Education, Department of Tourism, National Centennial Commission and National Commission for Culture and the Arts in celebrating the Philippine independence centennial “to provide opportunities for the exchange of ideas between Filipino Americans and Filipinos in the Philippines about life in America.”
- 2000 – 8th National Conference, June 27-July 1, Virginia Wesleyan College, Norfolk/Virginia Beach, Virginia: “Forever Pinoy/Pinay: Legacies of the American Experience.”
- 2002 – 9th National Conference, July 24-28, Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California: “Visions and Voyages: Images of Filipinos in America.”
- 2004 – 10th National Conference, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the St. Louis World’s Fair, July 22-24, University of Missouri, St. Louis: “American Experience: A Century Hence from the St. Louis World’s Fair.”
- 2006 – 11th National Conference, commemorating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Sakadas in Hawai‘i and the beginning of the 2nd Immigration Wave of Filipinos to the U.S., July 25-30, Ilikai Waikiki Hotel, Honolulu: “Sakadas and Beyond: Connecting Our Past to Inspire the Future.”
- 2008 – 12th National Conference, July 3-5, Anchorage Hilton, Anchorage, Alaska: “Lure of the Salmon Song.”
- 2010 – 13th National Conference, July 21-24, Seattle University, Seattle: “Quest for Emergence: A Retropective.”
Establishing National Filipino American History Month
In 1991 FANHS established October as Filipino American History Month. It became a state law when the California Assembly enacted “October 2009, and every October thereafter, as Filipino American History Month.” The 111th U.S. Congress also proclaimed in 2009 Filipino American History Month, which still needs to become a nationally annual commemoration similar to months for Black History, Asian Pacific American Heritage and Latino Heritage. The Washington State and Alaska State Legislatures, at least, have recognized October 2010 as Filipino American History Month.