By Attorney Devin M. Connolly
October is officially designated Filipino-American history month. It is a month for all of us to specifically recognize Filipinos’ role in American history as well as the ongoing contributions of Filipino-Americans to the United States.
The White House and President Obama issued a press release on October 1, 2016 praising the countess contributions the Filipino-American community has made to this country. President Obama said he was pleased to celebrate Filipino-American History Month, in part because it recognizes the “many ways that Filipino-Americans have enriched our society across our country.”
As stated in The White House’s press release, Filipinos began arriving in the U.S. way back in the 16th century. They initially arrived in Morro Bay, California, and it is believed that Filipinos were the first groups of immigrants from Asia to arrive in the U.S. But Filipinos did not limit themselves to simply California. Rather, they eventually began to settle throughout the U.S. The result is that there is now evidence of the Philippines’ rich tradition and culture in every state in the U.S. President Obama also discussed the many ways in which Filipinos have contributed to this country. He specifically mentions that Filipino arrivals and native-born U.S. citizens of Filipino ancestry have become artists, educators, teachers, etc.
Special attention should also be given to the fact that Filipinos have long served in the United States’ armed forced. Filipino citizens notably served during World War II in an effort to help protect the U.S. and our way of life. Some of these brave individuals are unfortunately still waiting for their family members to join them in the U.S. Hopefully President Obama’s administration’s enactment of the “Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program’ will help these veterans be reunited with their family members very soon. This program allows certain Filipino-American veterans to request that their family members join them in the United States while they await the issuance of their permanent resident status.
When we think of October celebrations, most people likely immediately think of Halloween. However, in addition to trick-or-treating this year, we should all be sure to recognize and celebrate Filipino-American history month. For centuries Filipino-Americans have played a role in shaping the U.S., and their culture and traditions can now be felt from coast-to-coast.