Forgotten Filipinos: How America Erased My History

Forgotten Filipinos: How America Erased My History

Born American and cultured by the Philippines, many second and onward generation Filipinos, or Filipino-Americans, are the in-betweens when it comes to identifying with history books.


White. White. White. White kings, white queens, white scandals, and white colonies. There is a sprinkle of Black slavery, Hispanic territories, and Native American displacement. There is a short paragraph on Chinese railroad workers, a narrative making Japan out as the WW2 bad guy, and a two-liner on the refugees of Vietnam. And there is, for the benefit of my people, one line about the Philippine-American War.

I loved history because of its storytelling narrative, but as I learn in my college education, I have been robbed of a history that is very much American and a lot more relatable and personal to my narrative than what I learned in U.S. history. It took me 19 years to find this voice as, not just a Filipino, but a Filipino-American.

They were called manongs. In the standard contexts, the Filipino word signifies respect for an older family relative. In the context of the Filipino-American experience, it refers to the Filipino immigrants in northern and central California that started it all.

Snapshot of what a "manong's" room may have looked like in his tiny apartmentLittle Manila Community Cente

A little of a history lesson: during the 1920s and 30s, a wave of immigrants from the Philippines continent moved to the United States. Filipinos immigrated and concentrated in Stockton, California. Stockton was chosen for its proximity to the farms that the immigrants worked in and the dense Filipino population that had already made a home for themselves in Little Manila. In his 1943 semi-autobiographical novel America is in the Heart, Carlos Bulosan arrives at Stockton on a bus and writes "...familiar signs glowed in the coming night... I saw many Filipinos in magnificent suits...there must have been hundreds in the street somewhere..I walked eagerly among them, looking into every face and hoping to see a familiar one." His novel elaborates on the illusion of the American dream, the harsh realities of poverty and discrimination these manongs were forced to face, and the suffering of Filipinos against policemen, employers, white men, white women, and America itself.

1920 Taxi Dance Halls- Digital ArtJusteen Hipolito , photo by Ashley Lanuza

I recall the hot tears that sprang in my eyes reading about the hardships Bulosan faced.

I remember vividly the anger rushing through my veins as I sat in my Asian American studies class, learning about laws against early Asian immigrants. Most of all, I recall the solemn sadness and heartbreak I felt, standing on the sidewalks of Stockton, grasping at what it must have felt like to be bloodied and beaten on the floor for dancing with white women in a rented out "taxi dance hall." As I stare at a white, dilapidated building, I am struck with a heavy hand at the image of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz in those rooms, mapping out the United Farmworker Association's grape strike and their painstaking deliberation that is forgotten from the Cesar Chavez biography. I just can't help but think how much we have been erased, and in a possible case, erased ourselves, from the American narrative.

Sidewalk in Little Manila, Stockton, CAAshley Lanuza

Even if I tried when I was younger, this history was not accessible to me because my recently-migrated family does not know about it, either. Our first roots in America started in the 90s, decades after the manongs. There was no sense of knowing that I had roots as a Filipino-American and can claim a connection to American history.

Is this what being white feels like, learning about the colonies and democratic government in a formal classroom? Seeing your skin and your history reflected on textbooks and portraits around the country? I cannot fully relate to U.S. history or history in the Philippines, because I am neither American nor Filipino. I am both, a Filipino-American, and my history has been robbed from me. My identification with my culture and environment have been taken from me. My understanding of those who have come before me have been erased, and so I, too, have been erased. Because, how can I truly know my capacity for strength, perseverance, and power in the context of this American society if I didn't even know it existed?

Poster framed at FANHS Museum in Stockton, CAFANHS Museum, photo by Ashley Lanuza

The Filipino American experience is still under full investigation and the academia surrounding it turns up new information every day (Did you know the first female doctor graduate from Harvard was a Filipina woman?). Filipino organizations try to keep our history alive through classes and workshops in the community and attempt to shed light on our forgotten histories. This passion, for many, comes from finding justice for the manongs nearly forgotten about.

Exposition fair to display "savagery" of FilipinosFANHS Museum, photo by Ashley Lanuza

The community is putting pencil to paper, putting history to heart, in order to bolden our already-existing narrative in the "land of opportunity."

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8 Things You Should Never Say To An Education Major

"Is your homework just a bunch of coloring?"

Yes, I'm an Education major, and yes, I love it. Your opinion of the field won't change my mind about my future. If you ever happen to come across an Education major, make sure you steer clear of saying these things, or they might hold you in from recess.

1. "Is your homework just a bunch of coloring?"

Um, no, it's not. We write countless lesson plans and units, match standards and objectives, organize activities, differentiate for our students, study educational theories and principles, and write an insane amount of papers on top of all of that. Sometimes we do get to color though and I won't complain about that.

2. "Your major is so easy."

See above. Also, does anyone else pay tuition to have a full-time job during their last semester of college?

3. "It's not fair that you get summers off."

Are you jealous? Honestly though, we won't really get summers off. We'll probably have to find a second job during the summer, we'll need to keep planning, prepping our classroom, and organizing to get ready for the new school year.

4. “That's a good starter job."

Are you serious..? I'm not in this temporarily. This is my career choice and I intend to stick with it and make a difference.

5. “That must be a lot of fun."

Yes, it definitely is fun, but it's also a lot of hard work. We don't play games all day.

6. “Those who can't, teach."

Just ugh. Where would you be without your teachers who taught you everything you know?

7. “So, you're basically a babysitter."

I don't just monitor students, I teach them.

8. “You won't make a lot of money."

Ah yes, I'm well aware, thanks for reminding me. Teachers don't teach because of the salary, they teach because they enjoy working with students and making a positive impact in their lives.

Cover Image Credit: BinsAndLabels

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10 Study Habits You Should Never Break

Tips and tricks to surviving finals and midterms.


It's starting to become that time of year again - wrapping up the semester and preparing for the dreaded week of finals and mid-terms. I couldn't be more excited to be done with high school. But finals stink. I luckily don't have many classes that are going to require taking a test, mine are mostly projects.

All throughout high school, I had really struggled with testing and study habits. I didn't know how to study and therefore continued to do poorly because of my study habits or lack of. It was not until my junior year in high school, I had found my way of studying and it has worked for me for every test since. I color coat everything and write things down a million times. It is time-consuming but it is worth it in the end. You just have to find what works with you and stick with it. Here are some tips and tricks to hopefully help you with your study habits. I wish I had someone to tell me these things when I was struggling at the start of high school.

1. Time management

Don't be silly and study the night before the test and expect to do well. Some people can actually do this but I am a person who has to work their tail off for what kind of grades I receive so studying the night before a test would result in me not doing well. But it is different for everyone. What I typically do is if I know the test date ahead of time, I write it down in my planner and then as we learn something I add it to a notecard so as we go on with a unit I remember what we have learned in the start of the unit. I typically study a week prior to the test.

2. Find a study space

I like when my environment is completely quiet, I find it hard for me to focus when I am surrounded by noise. I usually study in my room or somewhere where no one is at

3. Choose a style of studying you like

I am a freak when it comes to studying. I am a very visual person. I will read the chapters in the book, highlight the important stuff, take notes and color coat them, highlight them. Draw diagrams or pictures if needed. And sometimes write small important things a couple of times. Yes, it's time-consuming but it has gotten me to not fail my test. With more unvisual classes like math, I write a notecard of all the formulas and buttons I will need for that unit. I do all of this as we go through each unit. I also use Quizlet to help me remember vocabulary words.

4. Actually do the study guides or Quizlets, they help

I complete the study guides a couple of times. Sounds crazy but it helps me memorize stuff so much better. There are tons of resources out on the internet, use them. Quizlet, Books online etc can all be valuable resources, just got to know what is available. Sometimes my friends will make a Quizlet and we will have the same class and I will use her Quizlet. Why make what's already made for you?

5. Write things out

I love technology and all but I think some of us have gotten away from writing things actually down on a notebook. Believe it or not, it has been proven that physically writing things out helps you memorize things better. I use a notebook for class and color coat my own notes. I also use flashcards for vocab words and color coat them as well. As you can tell I love color coating.

6. Have a study buddy

Personally I study better alone but when I do study with groups we bounce ideas off each other to get a better understanding of the material. It again depends on how you like to study.

7. Eliminate distractions

I used to have a problem with getting distracted from being on my phone and then I'd realize I just wasted 30 minutes scrolling through Instagram when I could have been studying. So turn your phone off or put it where you can't see it because it really does shorten your time of studying without being on it.

8. Use memory games (pneumonic devices) 

This helps me so much! When I am working on a test I always remember pneumonic devices before anything else.

9. Take your time

Don't rush through the material, you'll get it eventually. If you don't know it, highlight it and come back. Also if you have already mastered and memorized a topic, don't keep studying that study the things you don't know and haven't mastered.

10.  Find what works best for you!

You have to find out what works for you and what doesn't. Your study habits are completely unique to you. If something works for you, continue to do that.

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