Filipino American History Month starts on Saturday. Founded by the Filipino American History Society in 1982, the month-long celebration honors the first documented presence of Filipinos' in the United States when the Luzones Indios arrived in what’s now considered Morro Bay, California, on Oct. 18, 1587. However, it wasn’t until November 2009 when the U.S. congress passed new laws officially recognizing October as Filipino American History Month.
Filipinos represent the largest group of Asians in the U.S., and their presence is growing. In a 2010 report, the U.S. Census Bureau said that Filipinos were the fastest growing racial group, accounting for 25 percent of the 14.7 million people who identified as Asian.
Here are some interesting facts about the history of Filipinos in the U.S.
1. Filipino-Americans have the largest Asian-American presence in 11 of the 50 states including Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Washington, Wyoming and South Dakota.
2. Filipinos were the first Asian group to land on U.S. soil. The Luzones Indios – three Filipino men – arrived in California in 1587.
3. In 1902, Congress passed the Cooper Act, which banned Filipinos from owning property, voting, operating their own businesses, holding public office, living in U.S. residential areas or putting them on a path to citizenship. The law, also known as The Philippine Organic Act, was later amended.
4. During World War II, over 250,000 Filipinos pledged allegiance to the American flag and fought as soldiers in the Army Forces and as guerilla fighters in the Philippines during the Imperial Japanese occupancy.
5. With such a large population in the U.S., it’s no surprise that Filipino-Americans have taken on celebrity status. The list includes Manny Pacquiao, Bruno Mars, Enrique Iglesias, Shay Mitchell, Rob Schneider, APL.DE.AP of the Black Eyed Peas, Cheryl Burke, Hailee Steinfeld and Steve McQueen.