Celebrate Filipino American History Month!

October is Filipino American History Month!

October was chosen to celebrate month to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in what is now Morro Bay, California on October 18, 1587.

Felix C. Baldberry

Did you know that:

  • The earliest documented Filipino presence in the continental United States was on October 18, 1587, when the first “Luzones Indios” set foot in Morro Bay, CA, on board the manila-built galleon ship Nuestra Senora de Esperanza.
  • The first permanent Filipino settlement in the continental United States was in 1763 in St. Malo, Louisiana.
  • Filipino-American Civil War soldier Felix Cornelius Balderry, Company A, 11th Michigan Volunteers. Baldberry enlisted in the Union Army in 1863 at the age of 21 in Kalamazzo, Michigan. He fought in the battles of Chickamauga, Kenesaw Mountain, and the Siege of Atlanta, and returned to Michigan after the war.
  • The Filipino American community is the second largest Asian American group in the United States, with a population of more than 3 million people. More than a million people of Filipino heritage live in California, by far the largest number in the United States. One in three Filipino Americans live in California!
  • Pedro Flores, a Filipino American, invented the yo-yo while working as a busboy when he was attending Hastings Law School.  He created the Yo-Yo Manufacturing Company in Santa Barbara, California, before selling the company and trademark to Donald F. Duncan, Sr.  He continued working with Duncan for many years later.

    Thelma Garcia Buchholdt

  • Thelma Garcia Buchholdt became the first female Filipino American elected to a legislature in the United States when she was elected to represent Anchorage in the Alaska legislature in 1974.
  • Filipino American servicemen and servicewomen have a longstanding history in the Armed Forces from the Civil War to the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, including 25,000 Filipinos who fought under the United States flag during WWII.
  • Andrew Jackson wrote about the “Manila Men” who fought with him in defense of New Orleans under the command of Jean Lafitte in the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.
  • Nine Filipino American have received the Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award for valor in action that can be bestowed upon an individual serving in the United States Armed Forces.
  • Fe del Mundo was the first Filipino American, the first Asian and first female student to attend Harvard Medical School in 1936.  She was admitted only because the school mistook her gender and assumed she was male. They then decided not to turn her away due to her outstanding credentials. She later established the first pediatric hospital in the Philippines.
  • Filipino Americans Philip Vera Cruz and Larry Itliong were leaders in the Asian American civil rights movement, the farm workers movement, and including the pivotal 1965 Grape Strike and Boycott.

Filipino Americans have contributed greatly to the arts, music, dance, literature, business, journalism, education, science, healthcare. technology, government, politics, fashion, and other fields in the United States. The Filipino American Community has a proud and distinguished history of making our state and nation stronger and better.  I’m delighted to celebrate Filipino American History Month with my Filipino friends and neighbors!