Did you know that October is Filipino American History Month? Let me tell you why I celebrate it and why this month is Filipino American History Month. Also, I’ll tell you how YOU can celebrate, too!
There is going to be a time when my parents, who migrated in the ’70s from the Philippines to California with two baby girls, will be gone from this planet, and one day, so will I. I don’t like to think about it, but time goes by fast. This is why we should all live life in the moment. Because one day, all of the moments will be beautiful memories.
As a Filipino-American who grew up in Metro Detroit, I just wanted to fit in with everyone. From my early memories at a Catholic school, I recall being the only Filipino in my class, which was a long time ago. So, back then, I always just thought of myself as just a person. I also didn’t think too much about my background, I was only a 5-year-old! At this age, as an innocent child, life was so carefree when all you had to worry about was, “Who do I get to play with and what fun things are we going to do next?”
Nowadays, especially after the pandemic and all recent current events, we need to be more conscientious about all people in this world. I love that my parents came here to the United States. I always think about, what if they hadn’t? Life would be so different, especially for them. We can always ask “what if” questions and always think about the outcome, but let’s try making the right choices and doing the best we can.
Isn’t Filipino Independence Day in June?
Why is October Filipino American History Month, when June 12th is Filipino Independence Day? I asked my parents, but surprisingly, they didn’t know. I asked my Filipino community, and there is so much I did not know!
In 1587, the very first arrival of Filipinos was on October 18th on what is now Morro Bay, California. Back in the day we were called Luzones Indios, who were sailors for the Spanish Navy during the Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. It’s so amazing, and it was a long process, but in 1992 American society and civil organizations established this month as Filipino American History Month, and in 2009 Congress recognized it in the U.S.!
My Top Three Reasons Why I Celebrate
For My Children
As a Filipino-American mother of two boys who are half Filipino, and half Ukrainian, it is very important for me to make sure they both know where their grandparents came from–both Ukraine and the Philippines. Our boys are still young and maybe not as engaged in the culture as I would like them to be, but one day they will have projects in school, and peers from the same ethnicity that will bring them closer to their culture. Maybe one or both of them will grow up to be a leader in the Filipino community.
For My Culture
Even though I am 100% Filipino, I do not speak Tagalog (Filipino language). This frustrates me as an adult, because I see and hear children in the U.S. who understand and can speak fluently. I have older generations talk to me in Tagalog and sometimes it breaks my heart when I tell them I can’t understand or speak our own dialect. So, I personally don’t want to lose my culture because of my upbringing and my surroundings.
This is a time for self-awareness! There is so much to learn about Filipino history, and it is so interesting when you focus on one thing and dive deep down into who or what you are studying. This is a very important reason why one should celebrate their culture and roots.
Four Ways You Can Celebrate
Here are four ways you can celebrate Filipino American History Month!
Head over to ISLA and try some authentic Filipino cuisine.
ISLA is located in Sterling Heights, where there is a small Filipino community and where yours truly grew up! Filipino spaghetti is popular on the menu, which is a little sweet, salty, and full of surprises! Try something out of your comfort zone!
Visit the Philippine American Community Center of Michigan in Southfield.
The Filipino community leaders and members offer events, school for all ages, and many cultural awareness programs. All are welcome! There are also various groups throughout the Metro Detroit area such as FILAMCCO and USP4GG.
Go to your local library and check out books.
Check out books about the Philippines and other Filipino leaders who changed the world, such as Imelda Marcos, a politician who was obsessed with shoes! Or Manny Pacquiao, a pro boxer and politician!
Lastly, befriend a Filipino person (if you haven’t already)!
The Filipino community is very hospitable and overly friendly! Don’t be shy . . . ask them out for a coffee or boba tea! I hear a lot of Filipinos like Boba!
There are many reasons why and so many different ways on how to celebrate your own culture and heritage, but be passionate about it because YOU want to be. Love where you came from and who your ancestors were. You will be surprised and may find out something very interesting!