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A Proud Filipino American

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America is considered a melting pot of different ethnic groups. By today's standard, "American culture" is the result of a variety of races integrating their own cultural beliefs into American society. Throughout the years, the United States has seen a massive increase of people migrating from Asian countries; "they make up 3.6 percent of the U.S. population, a 199 percent increase from 1980 when they constituted only 1.5 percent of the population" (Ng). Like other immigrants, Asians come here in order to seek a better life and experience civil liberties. According to statistics, "Filipino Americans today make up the second largest Asian Pacific American (APA) group in the country" (Aquino). Filipinos alongside other Asians have experienced and overcome racism with great pride, honor and respect. They have made great strides in reminding us of the history that was forgotten as well as improving the common misconceptions about the Philippines and its people.

The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) was established in the early 1980s in order to "promote understanding, education, enlightenment, appreciation and enrichment through the identification, gathering, preservation and dissemination of the history and culture of Filipino Americans in the United States"

(Cordova). FANHS has been an instrumental tool in bridging the gap between the

younger and older generation as well as making a significant influence on American culture by designating October as the month for us to come together and reflect on the past, present and future. Even though it seems like we have made a positive impact in this country, it hasn't always been easy.

Relations between the United States and the Philippines has been pleasant yet tumultuous at times. Even before America set foot into the country, Filipinos had endured years of abuse at the hands of Spain. The Philippines was promised that if they became allies with America to defeat Spain during the Spanish-American War of 1898, they would finally be able to govern themselves. The signing of a peace treaty between the two fighting countries meant that the war was over. In order for the treaty to be valid, America had to pay Spain $20 million, which resulted in full control over the Philippines now. The Filipinos retaliated as a result of this because the opportunity of ruling their own country was out of the question. "Such an act, they said, showed that the Filipinos did not want to be under American rule" (Bautista). This eventually led to the Philippine-American War of 1898, which was considered by some historians as the first Vietnam because of the atrocities; "The estimated American casualties were 4,000 and the estimated losses for the Filipinos were between 200,000 to 600,000 depending on what data source one looks at" (Nebrida). President McKinley declared that the war was over on July 4, 1902 because of the casualties that were being reported overseas. The end of this historical event was a chance for both countries to heal old wounds and start over again.

After the war ended in 1902, United States was on a mission to repair the damages that the Philippines had endured; they wanted to win back the trust of its people. President McKinley created laws that gave the Philippines some of the same provisions as America regarding government structure. According to Sonia M. Zaide, an expert Filipino historian, the Philippines was on its way to rebuilding itself:

Under the new regime agriculture developed rapidly, commerce and trade soared to unprecedented levels, transportation and communication were modernized, banking and currency improved, the manufacturing industries were transformed. As compared with the Spanish era, economic progress of the Philippines during the American era forged ahead with great strides. (291)

The economy as well as education was improving dramatically. Teachers, also known as Thomasites, were sent over to the Philippines to teach school-aged children about American government policy. Educated young men, also known as pensionados, were sent to United State universities in 1903 in order to come back home and hopefully become future political leaders. (Zaide 303-304) This started the wave of Filipinos wanting to migrate to the states is search of unlimited opportunities.

There have been sporadic movement of Filipinos stepping foot onto American soil. During 1907 up until about 1930, they were forced to become hired help assigned to the sugar plantations in Hawaii, underpaid and living in poor conditions. There were brief periods in which Filipinos were not allowed to step foot into America, but after acquiring independence from the United States in 1946, there was an increase of migration to the states. Ever since then, the Filipino race has been steadily growing here.

Minority groups that have chosen to make America their home have triumphed over many bumps in the road for freedom.

My ancestors have experienced negative moments in the past with white Europeans. Just like African Americans and Irish, they suffered derogative name-calling and racial slurs on a daily basis. They had to constantly deal with humiliating signs prohibiting them from entering business establishments. (Aquino) Instead of leaving and going back home, they chose to stay and try to weather the stormy conditions. Somehow managing to stay strong during hardships and obstacles shows how persistent Filipinos are to fight for what was promised to us. There have been some notable contributors who have made a name for themselves in the science and food industry.

There are some inventions today that we depend on and currently use that were created by Filipinos. Agapito Flores, a Filipino electrician, invented the fluorescent lamp; although there has been some debate on whether he indeed was the first person responsible for this invention. Publications have claimed that "no scientific report, no valid statement, no rigorous documents can be used to credit Flores for the discovery



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