October Is Filipino American History Month

October Is Filipino American History Month

Food, writing, fighting spirit--and that's just the tip of the cultural wellspring.

October is recognized as Filipino American History Month, having been observed since 1991 by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and nationally recognized since Congress passed a resolution in 2009. The Filipino people have a long history in the United States: the first “Luzones Indios” landed in Morro Bay, CA on October 18, 1587, while the first permanent Filipino settlement was in St. Malo, LA in 1763. Filipinos continue to make a mark in the present day, being the second-largest Asian group in the United States at 3.4 million people as of 2010. They have contributed to all aspects of the American landscape, yet seem to have a lower profile in the popular imagination than other ethnic groups in the country. Here is just a sample of what Filipinos have done and continue to do.

A WWII propoganda poster commemorating the fall of Bataan and Corregidor.

Filipino Americans have a long military legacy.

People of Filipino descent have fought in many U.S. conflicts, from the American Civil War; the U.S. Army’s Philippine Scouts and the infamous Bataan Death March in World War II; to the present day conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq. Nine Filipino Americans have been awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor. Unfortunately, Filipino-American WWII veterans have been forced to fight and prove eligibility for proper compensation for their service to the present day, despite the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Currently, there is hope for progress in the Filipino World War II Veterans Parole Program.

The original cover of Noli me Tangere.

Filipinos have contributed to literature.

The Philippines has produced many writers, including FH Batacan, Mia Alvar, M. Evelina Galang, and José Rizal, among many others. Batacan’s novel Smaller and Smaller Circles has been “widely regarded as the first Filipino crime novel”, featuring two Jesuit priests seeking justice for the murders of young boys who were part of the scavenging community at the Payatas Dumpsite.

Angel de la Luna and the 5th Glorious Mystery is a young adult novel by M. Evelina Galang about a fourteen-year-old girl struggling to look out for her family while living through the second Philippine People Power Revolution of 2001, and later, trying to adjust to a new life in Chicago. Mia Alvar’s much-lauded short story collection In the Country features tales of characters living through the Filipino diaspora: people who leave the Philippines and return, who work or study overseas, who find themselves in countries all over the world.

And of course, no mention of Filipino literature can be made without speaking of José Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere and its sequel, El Filibusterismo. Considered the great novel of the Philippines, Noli Me Tangere (published in 1887) was Rizal’s indictment of the corruption of Spanish Catholic priests and the Spanish colonial government ruling the Philippines.

Longganisa sliders--Filipino sausage in ube buns with achara (green papaya pickle relish). Just one of things served at the Kultura Festival in Chicago on October 2.

Filipinos have developed amazing food.

Filipino cuisine is chock full of variety in textures, ingredients, and flavors, inspired by both native cooking and foreign influences through trade and colonization. Pancit, halo-halo, adobo, ensaymada, sinigang—there’s something for everyone. Although it doesn’t possess as high a profile in American pop culture as, say, Chinese, Thai, or Italian cuisine, it has recently started making waves in the food scene: from the Jolliebee fast food chain spreading to the Midwest, to the street food-meets-fine dining-meets-home cooking fusions being concocted in Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City. The ingredient ube (pronounced OO-bay) has even recently been “discovered” by Instagrammers—although any Filipino could tell you about the bright purple yam that’s popular in sweet treats ranging from ice cream, to pastries, to halayang ube— straight up ube jam.

There's far too much about Filipinos to cover in only one article! To learn move about Filipino American history and culture, please visit the Filipino National Historical Society website. To learn more about the history of the Philippines from pre-colonial times to the modern day, please visit http://www.philippine-history.org/ and http://pinas.dlsu.edu.ph/history/history.html. For information on the modern sights and activities available to visitors to the Philippines, please visit https://www.tourismphilippines.com.au/.

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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An Open Letter to the Person Who Still Uses the "R Word"

Your negative associations are slowly poisoning the true meaning of an incredibly beautiful, exclusive word.

What do you mean you didn't “mean it like that?" You said it.

People don't say things just for the hell of it. It has one definition. Merriam-Webster defines it as, "To be less advanced in mental, physical or social development than is usual for one's age."

So, when you were “retarded drunk" this past weekend, as you claim, were you diagnosed with a physical or mental disability?

When you called your friend “retarded," did you realize that you were actually falsely labeling them as handicapped?

Don't correct yourself with words like “stupid," “dumb," or “ignorant." when I call you out. Sharpen your vocabulary a little more and broaden your horizons, because I promise you that if people with disabilities could banish that word forever, they would.

Especially when people associate it with drunks, bad decisions, idiotic statements, their enemies and other meaningless issues. Oh trust me, they are way more than that.

I'm not quite sure if you have had your eyes opened as to what a disabled person is capable of, but let me go ahead and lay it out there for you. My best friend has Down Syndrome, and when I tell people that their initial reaction is, “Oh that is so nice of you! You are so selfless to hang out with her."

Well, thanks for the compliment, but she is a person. A living, breathing, normal girl who has feelings, friends, thousands of abilities, knowledge, and compassion out the wazoo.

She listens better than anyone I know, she gets more excited to see me than anyone I know, and she works harder at her hobbies, school, work, and sports than anyone I know. She attends a private school, is a member of the swim team, has won multiple events in the Special Olympics, is in the school choir, and could quite possibly be the most popular girl at her school!

So yes, I would love to take your compliment, but please realize that most people who are labeled as “disabled" are actually more “able" than normal people. I hang out with her because she is one of the people who has so effortlessly taught me simplicity, gratitude, strength, faith, passion, love, genuine happiness and so much more.

Speaking for the people who cannot defend themselves: choose a new word.

The trend has gone out of style, just like smoking cigarettes or not wearing your seat belt. It is poisonous, it is ignorant, and it is low class.

As I explained above, most people with disabilities are actually more capable than a normal human because of their advantageous ways of making peoples' days and unknowingly changing lives. Hang out with a handicapped person, even if it is just for a day. I can one hundred percent guarantee you will bite your tongue next time you go to use the term out of context.

Hopefully you at least think of my friend, who in my book is a hero, a champion and an overcomer. Don't use the “R Word". You are way too good for that. Stand up and correct someone today.

Cover Image Credit: Kaitlin Murray

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An Open Letter To PETA CEO Ingrid Newkirk

For an organization whose sole purpose is to ensure the ethical treatment of animals, I have many questions.


Dear Ms. Newkirk,

I, like you, am a firm believer in the right to compassion for all living beings around the world. Ever since converting to veganism from the omnivorous lifestyle I was raised to lead nearly six years ago, I have heavily relied on PETA.com and its affiliates for information, facts and statistics, recipe ideas, cruelty-free lifestyle selections, and activism opportunities on almost a daily basis so that I may further grow my knowledge and support for this permanent lifestyle change. When I search for new beauty or household products, clothing, shoes, and more, it is always comforting to see the "PETA-Approved Vegan" logo on the box, and I am confident in the purchases that I am making.

It was only recently that a new stream of data was brought to my attention that has altered my viewpoint of your organization and what it truly stands for, and I request that you provide the public your reasoning or justification for such acts, and any reparations that need to be made. Another lifelong vegan friend of mine recently pointed out to me a website called petakillsanimals.com where there is sizable physical legal evidence of immense animal cruelty, suffering, and murder at the hands of PETA over the last fifteen of years. Seeing as you have been the CEO of the organization for over 25 years, I figured it would be best to address you directly, seeking a response to this evidence of cruelty from the globally renowned organization that does all that it can to fight cruelty in every form.

According to the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, from 1998 to 2017, 85.2% of all dogs and cats transferred to your facility for shelter were euthanized within 24 hours of being brought to your facility. Despite your reasoning that you painlessly end the suffering of animals who would have otherwise been left to suffer anyway, the arguments and justifications that you are making mirror the arguments of the meat, dairy, poultry, and fish industries (whom you dedicate your life to combating) all too identically. Just as PETA fights to end society's blasé attitude toward animal cruelty and murder, your attempt at claiming that the way you euthanize the animals in your facility is "better", renders one of PETA's greatest catchphrases, essentially, worthless: "There is no such thing as humane murder".

Similarly, after wrongfully luring a family pet off its porch in 2014, PETA took the pet from its owner's property and euthanized it, bringing the dog's owners to file a lawsuit with your organization that was just settled in 2017, where PETA was forced to pay the family nearly $50,000 dollars in damages. Finally, terror is not ever a justifiable option to invoke change, so why are you personally and professionally so aligned with the Animal Liberation Front, a terrorist organization responsible for arson, extensive property damage, and assault? Why have you donated nearly $80,000 to groups that promote harming life in order to save a life?

Ridding the world of violence with more violence has never, does not, and will never work, so if I can request only one thing from you in this letter, even if you refuse to answer my other questions, it is this: please take the funds that are allocated towards extensive euthanasia drugs and services used by and in your facility, and put them toward building either another building to house more animals if physical space is a concern, for providing food and more extensive adoption services for these animals, or donate them to a true no-kill animal-rights organization like Best Friends Animal Society, Underdog Rescue, or any others provided on this list.

In this letter, my intention was neither to attack nor provoke you in an inflammatory manner, but rather to merely seek truth from an organization that I once so dearly respected and wish to one day respect again in the same manner. I thank you for your time, and for all of the lives that you have saved in between.


An Animal Lover & Ally

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