The Michigan chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) hosted its annual celebration of Filipino American History Month on October 8, 2017 at the Philippine American Cultural Center of Michigan (PACCM) in Southfield.
This year’s theme, “Michigan Filipinxs: Our Spaces in History”, provided historical documentation of how Filipinos in the early 1900s in Michigan created cultural spaces and locations in our communities and faced challenges of maintaining these communities.
The event was well attended by groups whose members are mostly students of high school, students of Michigan State University, Wayne State University, community leaders, PACCM board members and parents of Paaralan Pilipino students.
James Wilson of the Filipino Youth Initiative (FYI) and Nanette Maranan Greene, director of the Filipino School, assisted by FANHS leaders Tess Chou, Aurora Harris, Joe Galura and Fe Rowland, worked hard to ensure the successful staging of the event that drew attendees from various places through the eventbrite website.
The forum was moderated by Stephanie Mahnke of California who has been in Michigan in the past two years pursuing her PhD at Michigan State University (MSU). Stephanie is with MSU’s Department of Writing, Rhetoric and American Cultures in the College of Arts and Letters. She has been collaborating with PACCM in its educational programs for Paaralan Pilipino.
The following is an excerpt from Mahnke’s “Immigrant Imprints” posted in her website: “The site explores Filipino American settlements and their struggles for visibility within urban landscape. Cultural heritage sites provide a form of storytelling to sustain cultural ties across generations and spaces. Considered a region of Asian American unsettlements, the Midwest has historically been known for its displacement of the Asian American community.
“In contrast, Hawaii and California, homes of the largest Filipino American population in the U.S., have celebrated spaces in which Asian Americans contributed to the American city. Filipinos in the Midwest have experienced more difficulty than their western counterparts. Michigan’s story of Asian Pacific Islander Americans (APA) visibility is not an uncommon one. It is a story of interrupted spaces and fragmented communities in the face of urban development. With over 100 years of APA settlement in Michigan, the communities’ displacement due to zoning laws, prejudice and urban planning has contributed to such movements as the upheaval and transfer of an entire Chinatown, relocation to the suburbs or other states, and migration to low-income , crime-infested downtown areas such as Detroit’s Cass Corridor.“