October is Filipino American History Month (FAHM), also known as Filipino American Heritage Month, because documents show that Filipino presence in the continental United States was first noted in October 1587.
This historical fact was the basis of S. Resolution 298 passed by the Senate on Oct. 1, 2009 and H. Resolution 780 passed by the US House of Representatives on Nov. 2, 2009. Both resolutions proclaim October as FAHM.
The Consulate General of the Philippines based in Chicago encourages Filipino-American communities in the Midwest to hold activities to mark the celebration of FAHM.
Among the groups leading the celebration are Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and the National Federation of Filipino American Associations (NaFFAA).
NaFFAA says, “The observance of FAHM is a time to honor the remarkable history, proud heritage, and innumerable contributions of the nearly four million Filipino Americans in the United States.
“As we start the celebration of this year’s Filipino American History Month, we reflect on the indelible impact Filipinos have had on the American experience. We are an integral piece of American history, tracing our roots to the 16th Century California shores.
“We are part and parcel of the American identity: honorable World War II veterans, brave and outspoken farm workers, passionate educators, and much more. Our presence dots the American landscape; stretching from Hawaii to California to Virginia, we traverse every corner of this beautiful nation. Collectively, we have helped weave together patches of the American quilt, imbuing it with markers of our Filipino heritage and American identity.”
NaFFAA took note that it was FANHS which has been leading the celebration of FAHM since 1991, and FANHS also lobbied Congress to recognize it on the national level.
NaFFAA added, “One legacy NaFFAA is particularly proud of is that of our Filipino American World War II veterans, whose selflessness and commitment to duty led them to join American forces in the fight against tyranny.
“Last year, Congress rightly voted to award these brave patriots the Congressional Gold Medal, the highest civilian honor the United States can bestow, for their service and sacrifice in World War II. It has been a long fight for recognition for these veterans, a fight NaFFAA is proud to have helped lead.”
Finally, the Congressional Gold Medals will be awarded on Oct. 25, 2017.
Here in Michigan, the celebration is being led by NaFFAA-Michigan and US Pinoys for Good Governance.
We note, though, that some of the activities lined up for the celebration have nothing to do with Filipino American history in Michigan.
We believe that for the benefit of the Fil-Am community, the activities should include the experiences, struggles and sacrifices of the Filipinos who first set foot in Michigan.
This would make the celebration particularly meaningful on the state level.