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Filipino American

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Filipino Americans

My name is Mely, a Filipino American, born and raised in the United States. Many people are not too familiar with Filipinos as they are other ethnic groups, such as the Chinese or the Japanese. Some people have confused me or my family as Chinese or even Hispanics because of our physical features being similar to either culture. I would like to give a background of my Filipino history.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there has been a 99% increase of Asian Americans in the U.S. compared to the census taken in 1980. Only 20% are Filipino Americans. We are a minority group in the United States. We do not have a large representation here so we are part of the subordinate group. However, my family has adapted to the culture here, known as assimilation.

Unbeknownst to many, Filipino American history started in 1587 when they were the first Asians to cross the Pacific Ocean; many, many years before the English settlement of Jamestown was established. Filipinos worked as sailors & navigators on board of the Spanish Galleons between the years of 1565-1815. But it was in 1763 that Filipinos made their first settlement in Louisiana, after escaping their Spanish masters.

During the War of 1812, Filipinos were among the American soldiers fighting against the British for the fight of New Orleans. That was considered the first wave of the Filipino immigration into the United States. In 1899, Spain sold the Philippines to the United States for $20 million, and the Americans became the new rulers.

In the 1900’s, Filipinos began to migrated to the West Coast of the U.S. working on farms & agricultural fields. Many came to work in the U.S for a better life. Most came for a temporarily fix, to work and go back home to their country as rich men. However, they worked for low wages and also competed with other ethnic groups trying to earn a living in the U.S.

This is where my family history begins. In the 1900’s, during the Great Depression, my great, great grandfather, his wife and his brothers migrated to the bayous of Louisiana. They were from Manila Village and they were looking to make a better living. They planned on taking in wealth and sharing it with family back in their home country.
But during the Great Depression, my great, great grandfather, named Felix Adizas, worked in the fields. The income was barely enough to care for his family. White Americans frowned upon him and other Filipinos, as they felt that Filipinos brought down the standard of living. The white Americans began to segregate the Filipinos and there were unable to work in restaurants or hotels. They were not able to marry white women. They were even called ‘dogs’ and highly discriminated upon.

The United State later passed the Tydings-McDuffie Act of 1934, which limited Filipino immigration to only 50 per year. The white Americans felt that the Filipinos were a social threat, and that they were disease carriers. This made it difficult for my other family members to come to the U.S. and this was a painful act towards the Filipinos.

My great, great grandfather was unable to build his riches as he had wished. He later passed away from sickness, because he could not afford medical care. Leaving family members behind, two of his sons had decided to leave Louisiana. His son, Manolo decided to move to Hawaii and was able to find work. His other son, my great grandpa Benny Adizas, and his wife decided to move on to California. He later changed his name to Benny Boyd to assume more of an American name.

Years later, my grandfather Alexander Adizas Boyd moved his family to Ohio. Although he was born in the United States, his wife who is Filipino and was born in the Philippines, both have adapted to the American culture, but they also maintain their Filipino culture through Filipino associations and clubs.

Here I am today, born in the United States and known as a Filipino American. Unfortunately I have not adopted the Filipino culture and my parents consider me ‘state-side’, which to them means American. I embrace my background both American and Filipino. I have not visited my family in the Philippines yet, but I do speak with them very often.

According to Census Bureau, it is speculating that by 2050, there will be a rise in Hispanics and Asians and a significant decrease in White Americans & non-Hispanics. The United States is a diverse country & will continue to change and adapt to the different cultures and ethnic backgrounds that are seemingly increasing.

Resources

Schaeter, Richard T. 2006. Racial and Ethnic Groups (10th ed); Prentice-Hall

Cynful Productions (1999). Filipino American History. Retrieved from www.csuchio.edu/ncpaso/filipino.htm

U.S. Census Bureau; We The American Asians 1999; using American FactFinder <http://factfinder.census.gov>;

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