Filipino American History Month


JOSE CARDENAS: IN 2009, CONGRESS PASSED A RESOLUTION RECOGNIZING THE MONTH OF OCTOBER AS FILIPINO AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH. RECENTLY, THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN ARIZONA CELEBRATED WITH DIFFERENT ACTIVITIES IN THE VALLEY. JOINING ME TO TALK ABOUT THIS IS EVELYN CASUGA, PRESIDENT OF THE FILIPINO AMERICAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY IN ARIZONA, AND LEONARDO AROMIN, PUBLISHER OF FILIPINO AMERICAN JOURNAL AND PAST PRESIDENT OF THE COUNCIL OF FILIPINO ORGANIZATIONS IN PHOENIX. THANK YOU BOTH FOR JOINING US THIS EVENING. NATIONAL HISTORICAL FOCUS, FILIPINOS HAVE BEEN PART OF THE UNITED STATES BEFORE THIS PART OF THE COUNTRY WAS EVEN THE UNITED STATES, BEFORE ANY OF IT WAS THE UNITED STATES.

IEVELYN CASUGA: THAT IS CORRECT.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO TELL ME ABOUT THAT.

EVELYN CASUGA: IN 1587 IS THE FIRST DOCUMENTED EVIDENCE THAT FILIPINOS LANDED ON THE CONTINENTAL WHAT IS NOW THE UNITED STATES.

JOSE CARDENAS: THAT'S BEFORE PLYMOUTH ROCK.

EVELYN CASUGA: CORRECT, THAT ISS BEFORE THE ENGLISH SHOWED UP. YES. THEY WERE ON THE SPANISH GALLEON GOING FROM MANILA TO OLCUPTO AND THEY JUMPED SHIP AND SO THERE WAS AN OFFICIAL LANDING THERE OF FILIPINOS. AND THERE IS ALSO IN THE 1760'S, IN THE LOUISIANA AREA, THERE WAS A FILIPINO SETTLEMENT THERE, AS WELL. ONCE AGAIN, PART OF THE SPANISH GALLEON TRADE.

JOSE CARDENAS: THIS HISTORY HAS BEEN CELEBRATED IN DIFFERENT WAYS, BUT WHAT KINDS OF ACTIVITIES HAVE YOU ALL BEEN DOING THIS PARTICULAR YEAR?

LEONARDO AROMIN: THIS YEAR TO THE LEADERSHIP OF THE COUNCIL OF FILIPINO ORGANIZATIONS AND THE NEWLY ORGANIZED CHARTER CHAPTER OF THE FILIPINO AMERICAN NATIONAL HISTORICAL SOCIETY IN ARIZONA. FIRST, WE HAVE THE OCTOBER 6 COMMUNITY PICNIC, WE CALL IT, BUT IT IS ACTUALLY WHERE WE RECOGNIZE THE YOUNG ACHIEVERS, WE CALL IT, IN DIFFERENT ASPECTS OF LIFE DIFFERENT SUPPORTS AND OTHER THINGS, WHERE WE PRESENTED ABOUT SEVEN -- WHERE WE PRESENTED ABOUT SEVEN, RECOGNIZED SEVEN YOUTH IN THE VARIOUS ACHIEVEMENTS. AND OF COURSE, WE ALSO HAVE THE COMING IN HERE OF JOHNNY ITLIONG. HE IS THE SON OF LARRY ITLIONG IF YOU REMEMBER, HIS FATHER IS THE PRIME OVER OF WHAT THEY CALL THE GRAPE STRIKE.

JOSE CARDENAS: HE'S INVOLVED WITH THE UNITED FARM WORKERS.

LEONARDO AROMIN: YES.

JOSE CARDENAS: COFOUNDER WITH CESAR CHAVEZ FROM MY UNDERSTANDING.

LEONARDO AROMIN: I THINK HISTORY WILL TELL US THAT IT WAS LARRY ITLIONG WHO FIRST HAD THE IDEA. AND CESAR CHAVEZ CAME IN SO TO SPEAK. AND OF COURSE LAST SATURDAY, OCTOBER 27, PERHAPS EVELYN COULD TALK ABOUT IT.

EVELYN CASUGA: SURE. WE HAD OUR INAUGURAL FILIPINO AMERICAN NATIONAL HISTORY SOCIETY FOR ARIZONA HAD OUR INAUGURAL EVENT CELEBRATING THE PIONEERS, FILIPINO AMERICAN PIONEERS IN ARIZONA INCLUDING SOME OF WHAT WE CALL THE MANONGS, THE ELDERLY, WHO ARE NOW ELDERLY OR NOW PASSED, THE FARM WORKERS WHO ORIGINALLY ARRIVED IN ARIZONA AND THE WHOLE WESTERN UNITED STATES. WE CELEBRATE-

JOSE CARDENAS: INCLUDING YOUR FATHER.

EVELYN CASUGA: MY FATHER ARRIVED IN 1925, SO I AM A PRODUCT OF THE FILIPINO MIGRATION TO THE UNITED STATES.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND THE TERM YOU USED IS ONE OF RESPECT.

EVELYN CASUGA: ABSOLUTELY. MANONG IS A TERM OF RESPECT TO, IT’S LIKE AN ELDER BROTHER. AND SO WE USE THAT TERM EVEN TODAY, SOMEBODY WHO IS OLDER THAN YOU. A MALE IS A MANONG, AND A FEMALE IS MANANG. AND SO THAT IS JUST PART OF THE CULTURAL HERITAGE OF THE PHILIPPINES IS KIND OF THAT SIGN OF RESPECT TO OUR ELDERLY. WE CELEBRATED ON SATURDAY NIGHT, THE PIONEERS, AS I MENTIONED, THE FARM WORKER FAMILIES. AND THERE ARE MORE. WE JUST HAVEN'T FOUND ALL OF THEM YET, SO THIS IS PART OF GETTING THE WORD OUT. WE CELEBRATED A NUMBER OF PHYSICIAN WHO ARRIVED IN THE PHILIPPINES BACK IN THE 1960’S.

LEONARDO AROMIN: ‘57.

EVELYN CASUGA: 1957, THANK YOU LEONARDO.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND IS THAT DR. JAMES CAMPBELL – ONE OF THE PERSON’S WHO WAS RECOGNIZED.

EVELYN CASUGA: HE WAS RECOGNIZED FOR OTHER REASONS. HE’S BOTH A RETIRED COMMANDER IN THE AIR FORCE, AS WELL AS A PSYCHOLOGIST, RETIRED, BUT HE'S ALSO A FORMER PRESIDENT OF THE KNIGHTS OF RIZAL. SO HE PLAYS A ROLE. HE'S LIKE OUR GOD FATHER HERE IN ARIZONA IN PARTICULAR.

JOSE CARDENAS: I THINK WE HAVE A PICTURE OF HIM ACTUALLY ON THE SCREEN. LET ME ASK THIS, LEONARDO, HOW BIG IS THE FILIPINO COMMUNITY IN ARIZONA?

LEONARDO AROMIN: WE'RE NOW 70,333. ONE OF THE LARGEST- I THINK IT'S THE LARGEST ASIAN GROUP NOW IN ARIZONA.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND IT'S A VERY DIVERSE GROUP. YOU AND I WERE TALKING A LITTLE BIT BEFORE WE CAME ON THE SET. DISTINCT DIALECTS AND PART OF THAT'S BECAUSE THE PHILIPPINES ITSELF IS A COLLECTION OF ISLANDS AND DIFFERENT ETHNIC ISLANDS.

LEONARDO AROMIN: THAT'S EXACTLY IT. A MATTER OF FACT HERE WE HAVE 17 COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS WHERE THEY REPRESENT DIFFERENT REGIONS IN THE PHILIPPINES. WHERE WE HAVE THE VISAYA GROUP, WHICH MEANS THEY ARE COMING FROM THE CENTRAL PHILIPPINES. WE HAVE THOSE COMING THE NATIVES OF THE MODERN PROVINCE; WE CALL IT THE BE-BACK GROUP AND WE HAVE, OF COURSE, THE COUNCIL OF FILIPINO ORGANIZATIONS THAT CULMINATES EVERYTHING. AND REALLY, THERE ARE 17 OR MORE FILIPINO COMMUNITY ORGANIZATIONS, NOT ONLY HERE IN THE PHOENIX AREA, BUT LIKEWISE, ALL OVER ARIZONA.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND THEY REPRESENT DIFFERENT DISTINCT REGIONS OF THE PHILIPPINES.

LEONARDO AROMIN: MM-HMM.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO EVELYN, ON THIS HISTORICAL PROJECT, HOW DO YOU DECIDE TO FOCUS ON IT -- AND YOU ARE JUST GETTING UNDERWAY.

EVELYN CASUGA: WE ARE JUST GETTING UNDERWAY. SO WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT FILIPINO AMERICANS THOSE WHO ARE HERE, WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT WE COLLECT, WE DOCUMENT, WE HIGHLIGHT, AND WE CELEBRATE THE CONTRIBUTIONS OF FILIPINO AMERICANS IN THE UNITED STATES. AND GOING BACK TO WHETHER IT'S 1587 OR THE MANONGS WHO ARRIVED IN THE 1920'S TO THE UNITED STATES. BECAUSE WE HAVE SO MANY -- AN INFLUX OF NEW FILIPINOS AND FILIPINO AMERICANS WHO ARE COMING TO THE UNITED STATES, THAT WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT STORY IS PART OF THEIR HISTORY AND THEIR FOUNDATION AS THEY MOVE FORWARD THROUGH LIFE, AND WE WANT TO MAKE SURE OUR YOUNGER PEOPLE IN PARTICULAR CAN TAKE PRIDE IN THAT LONG-TERM HISTORY AND BE PART OF THE AMERICAN HISTORY HERE IN ARIZONA AND THE UNITED STATES.

JOSE CARDENAS: AND WE'RE NOW SPEAKING OF A VERY SIGNIFICANT PART OF FILIPINO AMERICAN HISTORY AS A PARTICIPATION OF FILIPINOS DURING WORLD WAR II.

LEONARDO AROMIN: YES. WE DO HAVE A LOT -- THE RECORDS WILL TELL US THERE WERE ABOUT 250,000 FILIPINOS WHO SERVED EITHER IN WORLD WAR II, VIETNAM WAR, KOREAN WAR, AND OTHER THINGS. BUT IN FACT, ONE OF THOSE WHO WE RECOGNIZED LAST SATURDAY. HE'S NOW 94 YEARS OLD, BUT HE'S STILL HERE, AND HE SERVED IN WHAT WE CALLED THE PHILIPPINES SCOUTS DURING WORLD WAR II. AND WE COULD NOT HELP BUT SALUTE HIM OF COURSE HE WAS NOT PRESENT BECAUSE HE'S IN ASSISTED LIVING, BUT HE SERVED IN THE SECOND WORLD WAR. REALLY, WE HAVE THIS ARDENT DEFENSE AND INVOLVEMENT OF FILIPINOS.

JOSE CARDENAS: IT'S A GREAT HISTORY. IT SOUNDS LIKE YOU'VE GOT A LOT OF MATERIAL TO WORK WITH.

EVELYN CASUGA: YES, WE DO. WE DO.

JOSE CARDENAS: SO THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR JOINING US ON "HORIZONTE" AND SHARING IT WITH US.

EVELYN CASUGA: YES THANK YOU. THANK YOU FOR HAVING US.

LEONARDO AROMIN: THANK YOU VERY MUCH.

In 2009, Congress passed a resolution recognizing the month of October as Filipino American History Month. Recently, the Filipino Community in Arizona celebrated with different activities around the valley. We are joined by Evelyn Casuga, president of the Filipino American National Historical Society in Arizona, and Leo Aromin, publisher of the Filipino American Journal and past president of the Council of Filipino Organizations in Phoenix.

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In this segment:

Evelyn Casuga, president of The Filipino American National Historical Society in Arizona, and Leo Aromin, publisher of the Filipino American Journal and past president of the Council of Filipino Organizations in Phoenix

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