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Posted on Tue, Oct 19, 2010 : 10:19 a.m.

Congress designates October as Filipino American History Month

By Frances Kai-Hwa Wang

Congress has designated October as Filipino American History Month.

On Oct. 18, 1587, the first Filipinos ("Luzones Indios") set foot on what would one day be American soil at Morro Bay, Calif. They were explorers, Filipino sailors working on the Manila-built Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza under the command of Captain Pedro de Unamuno.

In 1763, the first permanent Filipino American settlement in the United States was established in St. Malo, La., by Filipino sailors who abandoned the Spanish galleons on which they served because of chronic mistreatment. They became known in Louisiana as “The Manilamen” and pioneered shrimp harvesting techniques.

Today, the Filipino American community is the second-largest Asian American ethnic group in the United States. Filipino Americans are recognized for their contributions in the American armed services, the medical professions, the arts, business, government, sports, technology, and more.

Check out Filipino Women in Detroit 1945-1955—Oral Histories from the Filipino American Oral History Project of Michigan by the University of Michigan's Joseph A. Galura and Emily P. Lawsin to learn more about the women who immigrated to Detroit from the Philippines following World War II.

Frances Kai-Hwa Wang is a second-generation Chinese American from California who now divides her time between Ann Arbor and the Big Island of Hawaii. She is editor of Asian American Village, lead multicultural contributor for, and a contributor for New America Media's Ethnoblog. She is a popular speaker on Asian Pacific American and multicultural issues. Check out her website at, her blog at, and she can be reached at