Filipino American History Month: A Celebration of Culture and Heritage

The+month+of+October+is+Filipino+American+History+Month.+It+has+been+designated+this+time+of+the+year+to+honor+the+first+Filipino+American+Immigrants%2C+and+was+created+to+celebrate+their+stories+and+culture.

Art by Nikki Iyer

The month of October is Filipino American History Month. It has been designated this time of the year to honor the first Filipino American Immigrants, and was created to celebrate their stories and culture.

Alyssa Morrone, Entertainment Editor

After long travels filled with hardships and pain, the first Filipino families dock in the “land of opportunities” on October 1587, creating the foundation for generations to come of Filipino Americans.

In the current day, the Filipino community is growing as the second-largest Asian ethnicity in America. To commemorate the lives and stories of this group, October is Filipino American History Month and is celebrated through the education and appreciation of Filipino culture and history.

Because of the large Filipino population, multiple groups and organizations hold events and donations to support the communities. The largest organization is the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA), which dedicate themselves to “amplifying their voices, advocating on behalf of their interests, and providing resources to facilitate their empowerment.”

Organizations like NaFFAA push for greater media representation of Filipino people, which we have seen in recent years, exemplified by actors who have graced the red carpet like Vanessa Hudgens, Dave Bautista, and Paolo Montalban, and singers topping billboard charts such as Olivia Rodrigo and Bruno Mars.

Within SJHHS, many Filipino students continue to keep traditions of their culture alive in their day-to-day activities and lives.

“I was born in the Philippines and I lived there when I was seven. Then we moved to New York and finally landed here,” said sophomore Mariah Keisha Ysabel Sanchez. “Both my parents are Filipino and it was my first language, and every day we eat Filipino food, so I easily stay connected with my heritage in everyday life.”

Sanchez is on the council for the Dear Asian Youth Club, which spreads awareness of Asian-related topics and donates to causes that help the Asian community.

I feel like a big part of helping our community is just appreciating it by visiting places that surround Filipino culture and shopping at Filipino-owned stores”

— Sanchez

Bringing awareness to issues in the Filipino and Asian communities is especially relevant currently with the recent spike in Asian-American hate crimes over the past two years due to the COVID pandemic. 

In April, a Filipino woman was harassed in the New York Times Square by a man who yelled, “you don’t belong here,” at her while she was trying to get home. Many Asian-Americans have experienced similar confrontations.

In light of these acts against the Asian-American community, activists, and members of these minority groups have spoken up in attempts to combat further division and push for broader education on these matters.

It is because of those who have been vocal on the matter that we have events such as Filipino Heritage Month, in an effort to celebrate the diverse range of people in our nation.

“I feel like a big part of helping our community is just appreciating it by visiting places that surround Filipino culture and shopping at Filipino-owned stores,” says Sanchez.

You can do this by visiting locally-owned Filipino shops and visiting displays such as the Filipino American History Month Cultural Celebration at the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles.  

This month is a time to celebrate the long history of Filipino Americans and to support the community in the current day. We are surrounded by so many stories and people with roots all over the world, and it is important to learn about each.

“We value when our heritage is represented. It is important to be seen and heard,” says Sanchez.