The Filipino Americans: Yesterday and Today
(Copyright 2001 by Veltisezar Bautista)
Part 2 of 2
(Excerpted from the chapter The Filipino Americans: Yesterday and Today in the book The Filipino Americans (1763-Present): Their History, Culture, and Traditions (Second Edition) by Veltisezar Bautista. Second Edition, Copyright 2001.)
XI. CUSTOMS AND TRADITIONS
Filipino Americans still observe their customs and traditions.
In some communities, fiestas of their own are held. Some civic-spirited individuals also hold barrio fiestas to show Filipino folk dances, paintings by Filipino American artists, and performances by singers. Some associations teach folk dances to the young generation so that they'll know about the native folk dances to preserve the Filipino culture and traditions. They hold their own festivals, such as Flores de Mayo, a religious festivity. They celebrate Philippine Independence on June 12 of every year. They also observe the death anniversary of Dr. Jose Rizal, their national hero, on December 30 of each year. In the past, they held programs and they even had their own queens during the Rizal Day celebration. Now, in observation of the event, some social groups hold dramas depicting the life and times of the national hero.
"Where Shall I Sleep?" Once, when a mother told her U.S.-born 16-year-old daughter to vacate her room so that another person could sleep there, she asked, "Where shall I sleep? This is my room." That's not an unusual question by a person who's not familiar with Filipino customs and traditions. "Well, you may sleep with your sister in the basement. This is our ugaling Pilipino (Filipino trait), as part of hospitality," the mother answered.
One of the Filipino traits as part of hospitality is giving by the family of its bedrooms (even the master bedroom) and extra beds, including the living room to visitors to sleep in. Not only that. The table is laden with enough food for the visitors.
I knew of a 12-member Filipino American family who toured the whole United States in a month's time - staying in friends' and relatives' houses, instead of hotels. They were our relatives. We let them occupy all the rooms and the living room. Members of my family all slept in the basement. We really enjoyed the occasion.
From the West Coast to the East Coast, or vice versa, touring families or groups of friends may say, "We're coming!" Of course, "We'll be waiting for you!" will be the answer. The satisfaction when they meet after a long absence is mutual. Hosts and visitors enjoy the visiting occasion, particularly for those people with big dwellings with nice decor and furnishings-it's the time to show off their social status in their own community. Then the visitors are given tours and are dined around the city and other areas. They ride in nice cars, including Mercedes and BMWs, for people who have them. Of course, the visitors' turn as hosts will come. What a way to enjoy Filipino life in America!
Regionalism. The concept of regionalism exists among Filipino Americans. It may be defined as regional groupings of different ethnic groups in different regions or islands of the Philippines. Particular groups, such as the Tagalogs in Manila and neighboring provinces, Kapampangans or Pampanguenos in Pampanga, Ilocanos in the Ilocos Region, Ilongos in Iloilo, and others, have their own characteristics, beliefs, and ways of life. That's why in the United States, associations are formed based on which provinces in the old country they came from. For instance, there are associations such as Nuevo Ecijanos of Michigan, the Ilocano Association of Michigan, the Pampanguenos Club, etc.
(See Chapter 13: Philippine Culture, Customs, and Traditions in the book The Filipino Americans (1763-Present) Their History, Culture, and Traditions by Veltisezar Bautista).
The Filipinos, in coming to America, brought not only their customs and traditions, but also their culture. Among Asian nations, the Philippines may be considered as the most-influenced country by Western culture.
Pre-Spanish Era. The Philippines, has for many years, preserved a few of the classic examples of the extensive oral literature of the Pre-Spanish era. The literature featured epical stories and chants. There was also the corrido, modelled after the Spanish ballad of chivalry, written in different dialects. An example of those epical stories and chants was the pasyon (passion), the story of the Redemption chanted during the Holy Week.
The writing of corrido was led by Francisco Balagtas (1788-1862), recognized as the first modern Filipino poet. Writing in Tagalog, his best known work was Florante at Laura.
Spanish Era. During the Spanish regime, Dr. Jose Rizal (1861-1896), the Philippines' greatest hero, wrote the novels Noli Me Tangere and El Filibusterismo. They became classic novels and were his major contributions to the Philippine Revolution.
Early Filipino Writers. Filipino writers emerged even in the early years of Filipino immigration to America. There are narratives depicting the immigrant's life in the classic books, I Have Lived with the American People by Manuel Buaken, and America Is in the Heart: A Personal History, by Carlos Bulosan.
Contemporary Writers. Among the well-known Filipinos in contemporary Philippine literature in English are fiction writer N.V.M. Gonzalez; poet Jose Garcia Villa; fiction writer Bienvenido N. Santos, known for his novel, The Man Who Thought He Looked Like Robert Taylor; and poet Manuel Viray.
Among the other well-known novelists and short story writers are Ninotchka Rosca, whose second novel, Twice Blessed, won the prestigious National Book Award in 1993; Cecilia Manguerra Brainard, another award-winning novelist and short story writer; and Jessica Tarhata Hagedorn, novelist and artist. Brainard, the recipient of several writing awards, is the author of When the Rainbow Goddess Wept, (her first novel in the U.S.), published by E.P. Dutton in the United States. On the other hand, Hagedorn is the recipient of literary awards that include a National Book Award nomination for her novel Dogeaters in 1990. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans.)
Among other Filipino American writers with samples of their work are as follows: Michelle Cruz Skinner (Balikbayan: A Filipino Homecoming), Marianne Villanueva (Ginseng and Other Tales from Manila), Alberto S. Florentino (Sabrina), Paulino Lim, Jr. (Michelle and the Jesuit), Luis Cabalquinto (Phalaenopsis), Nadine R. Sarreal (Tuition), Nutzka C. Villamar (Falling People), Manuel R. Olimpo (Images), Julia L. Palarca (In America, Restaurants Are Crowded), Virginia R. Cerenio (Dreams of Manong Frankie), Samuel Tagatac (Small Talk at Union Square), Ligaya Victorio Fruto (The Fan) and Jean Vengua Gier (Dancers).
In the 1920s and 1930s, there were Filipino publications from which immigrants got their news and read stories about their countrymen. Such was the Philippine Mail, published in California. Even college students had their own publications.
Today, there are a number of national and local publications, newspapers. and magazines. In some cities, particularly in Los Angeles, California, there are radio and television programs geared toward the Filipino American audience.
The most popular newspapers are the Philippine News, a weekly newspaper with headquarters in California, and the Filipino Reporter, a New York City-based weekly newspaper.
The most widely circulated magazines are the Filipinas, based in San Francisco, California, and The Special Edition Press: The Filipino American Quarterly, with offices in New York City.
(A list of these publications are in the book The Filipino Americans (1763-Present): Their History, Culture, and Traditions by Veltisezar Bautista.
XIV. PRINT AND BROADCAST MEDIA
Several Filipino Americans have made their names in the competitive field of journalism.
Print Media. Two Filipino Americans, Alex Tizon and Byron Acohido, both reporters of The Seattle Times, were presented the much-coveted Pulitzer Prizes at the luncheon awards ceremonies held at Columbia University in New York City on May 29, 1997. Tizon, together with three other recipients, won his prize for investigative reporting and Acohido, for his beat reporting.
Tita Dioso Gillespie, who has the equivalent of a master's degree in French language and civilization, is a general editor of Newsweek magazine; Cielo Buenaventura, former features editor in Manila for We Forum, an affiliate publication of Malaya, is now the New York Times' "Metropolitan" section editor; Howard Chua, formerly a reporter and researcher of Time magazine, is now the magazine's senior editor; and Hermenegildo "Hermie" A. Azarcon, formerly on the staff of The Evening News and The Manila Times in Manila, is a copy editor of The Detroit News, in Detroit, Michigan.
Libertito "Bert" Pelayo, formerly with the Manila Times in Manila, Philippines, is the publisher and editor-in-chief of The Filipino Reporter, a New-York based weekly Filipino-American newspaper; Mona Lisa Yuchengco is the publisher of Filipinas magazine; Fernando M. Mendez, who has won more than 30 awards in the fields of art and advertising, is the publisher of the Special Edition Press: The Filipino American Quarterly; Gene G. Marcial, formerly with the Manila Chronicle, and author of the book Secrets of the Street: The Dark Side of Making Money, is a columnist, writing The Wall Street in the national publication Business Week; Alberto M. Alfaro, also formerly with the Manila Chronicle, is the editor-in-chief of the Virginia-based Manila-US Mail serving Washington, D.C. and neighboring states; and Veltisezar B. Bautista, formerly with the Manila Chronicle, is now a successful author and publisher in the United States. (See their brief profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Noted Filipino Americans of this book.)
Broadcast Media. The British-accented Filipino American Veronica Pedrosa, currently based in CNNI's headquarters in Atlanta, Georgia, is the anchor of CNNI World News and CNNI World News Asia; Denise Dador, born in Warrensburg, Missouri, and raised in San Francisco, California, is a health reporter and news anchor on television station Channel 7 in Southfield, Michigan; and Emme Tomimbang, who worked for 12 years with KITV Channel 4, and NBC affiliate KHON's Island Style, is now the host and producer of the monthly television show Island Moments that profiles Hawaiian personalities, and offers a glimpse of the local culture and the aloha spirit. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans of the book, The Filipino Americans.)
During the Spanish regime, several Filipinos became well known artists.
Famous Painters. Among the painters were Juan Luna (1857-1899) and Felix Resurrecion Hidalgo (1855-1913). They won recognition as expatriates in Spain with their paintings in romantic and impressionist style.
Those who made their names in paintings during the American regime were Fernando Amorsolo for his landscape paintings and Fabian de la Rosa for his portraitures. These two artists became directors of the School of Fine Arts of the University of the Philippines. Carlos Francisco and Vicente Manansala have been recognized as most outstanding muralists. In musical compositions, the names of Antonio J. Molina, Antonino Buenaventura, and Eliseo Pajaro are to be mentioned.
U.S.-Based Artists. In painting, among the well-known international Filipino American artists in the United States are New York City-based Pacita Abad, an international artist; Genara Banzon, a nature artist; Manuel Rodriguez, Sr., a New-York-based artist who is the father of Philippine graphic arts; Venancio Igarta, the oldest and most celebrated Filipino American master colorist of the visual art scene; and Jose Romero, a Michigan-based international acrylic-impressionistic artist. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans.)
XVI. FOLK DANCE
Filipino folk dances on stage were popularized by the Bayanihan Folk Arts Center of the Philippine Women's University, which has toured the world.
In the United States, dance troupes have been organized, too. They perform in different parts of the country and the world to showcase the culture of the Filipinos.
Folklorico Filipino Dance Company of New York, a nonprofit company, is one of the most well-known dance companies in the United States that specialize in Philippine folk dance. Since 1973, Folklorico Filipino with over 50 members, has been showcasing the "Best of the Philippines" in New York parades, cultural festivals, and socio-civic presentations.
Incorporated as a non-profit corporation, Folklorico Filipino has been receiving a yearly grant from the New York State Council on the Arts. It was in 1973 when Folklorico did its debut performance before members of the United Nations General Assembly.
XVII. MOVIES AND TV SHOWS
There are Filipino Americans, or Americans of Filipino descent, who have been making news in movies and on television shows. They are Tia Carrere, who tangoed with Arnold Schwarzenegger in True Lies; Lou Diamond Phillips, who became a rising star in La Bamba; Radmar Agana Jao, who has been cast as a cook on the popular TV show, The North Shore; Sumi Sevilla Haru, who was cast by producer Ralph Nelson in 1964 in Soldiers in the Rain; Nia Peoples, also a singer, who became a television actress in the 1980s and hosted the musical show Party Machine; Rob Schneider of the popular NBC's popular show Men Behaving Crazy and who has been featured in such films as "Home Alone 2," "Demolition Man," and "The Beverly Hillbillies"; and Tamlyn Tomita, who rose to fame in Karate Kid II.
(See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans of The Filipino Americans (1763-Present): Their History, Culture, & Traditions by Veltisezar Bautista.
In the music industry, the following names may be mentioned: Lea Salonga, a movie actress, Broadway star and singer, who won the prestigious Tony Award; Jocelyn Enriquez, the first Filipino American and Asian American who penetrated the mainstream music industry with her pop-dance hits; Josephine "Banig" Roberto, another singer who is threatening to conquer the mainstream music industry; Neal McCoy, an up and coming country music star; Prince, (The Artist), who is reportedly part Filipino; Tia Carrere, a movie actress and singer; and Nia Peeples, a television actress and singer; Jaya, a former San Jose, California, resident and daughter of Philippine comedienne Elizabeth Ramsey who had the first Filipino single to hit the charts in the U.S. with her song If You Leave Me Now; and Glen Madeiros, a Filipino American from Hawaii, who, like Jaya, had only one hit song. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans of this book.)
XIX. BUSINESS AND FINANCE In the field of business and finance, the most well-known Filipino Americans are Loida Nicolas Lewis, chair and CEO of a $1.8-B business empire, TLC Beatrice International; Josie Cruz Natori, international fashion magnate and head of the $40M-a-year business, of the New York-based The House of Natori; and Lilia Calderon Clemente, chair and chief executive officer of Clemente Capital, Inc. and dubbed by Asiaweek Magazine as the Wonder Woman of Wall Street. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans of this book.)
XX. POLITICS AND GOVERNMENT
Since 1955, many Filipino Americans have been elected or appointed to public offices in the United States.
Peter Aduja became the first Filipino American elected to public office in the United States. He won in his bid for a seat in the Hawaii House of Representatives. After statehood was achieved, he was elected three times, first in 1966, to the Hawaii House of Representatives.
In 1958, Bernaldo D. Bicoy was elected to the Hawaii House of Representatives, where he represented West Oahu.
Bicoy was followed in the Hawaii House of Representatives by Pedro dela Cruz, representing the island of Lanai. He served the House for many years.
From 1962 to 1967, Alfredo Lareta was the director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations. Lareta was appointed by Hawaii Governor John A. Burns. He became the first Filipino American to hold a state cabinet position in the United States.
In April, 1974, Benjamin Menor, became the first Filipino to be appointed to the Hawaii Supreme Court. Menor served with the First Filipino Infantry Regiment during World War II.
Thelma Buchholdt was elected to the Alaska State House of Representatives in the 1974 elections.
In 1975, Joshua C. Agsalud was appointed by Hawaii Governor George Ariyoshi in 1975 as director of the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations.
Also in 1975, Eduardo E. Malapit of Kauai, Hawaii, became the first elected mayor in the United States. Prior to his being elected mayor, Malapit served as member of the Kauai County Council for several years.
In California, in the 1970s, Maria Lacadia Obrea served as a Los Angeles municipal judge.
Glenn Olea became a councilman in the Monterey Bay community of Seaside, California.
In 1983, Ronald E. Quidachay, half-Filipino, half-Irish, was appointed as law and motion judge in Municipal Court, Civil Division, in San Francisco, California. Later, he was elected and reelected to the same position.
In 1985, Irene Natividad, a political activist who champions women's rights, was elected as president of the influential National Women's Political Caucus (NWPC). Thus, this former waitress became the first Asian American to be elected to the position. She was reelected in 1987.
In Washington State, Gene Canque Liddell became the first Filipina American to become mayor of a U.S. city on April 11, 1991. She was elected mayor by members of the city council of Lacey City, a suburb of Seattle, Washington. Earlier, she was elected as a council member in 1988. Liddell served as deputy mayor in 1990.
Eduardo "Eddie" G. Manuel was appointed as a council member in Hercules City, California, in November 1991. He was elected as a council member to the seat he had held the past year. Later, he served from November 23, 1993 to December 4, 1994, as mayor after he was elected to the position by his fellow council members.
Running against 10 Goliaths, a David, David Mercado Valderrama became the first Filipino elected to a state legislature on the United States mainland in Maryland's November 1990 General Assembly elections. In November 1994, he was reelected to the same position, representing Prince George's County.
In Washington State, Velma Veloria was elected to the Washington State House of Representatives in the 1992 elections. Thus, she became the first Filipino to be elected as a state representative in Washington State and the second Filipina to be a member of a state legislature in the United States. (The other was Thelma Buckholdt who was elected to the Alaska State Legislature.) Veloria ran unopposed and won in the November 1994 and November 1996 elections.
Benjamin "Ben" Cayetano, holds the distinction of being the first and only person of Filipino descent to become a governor of a state. He was elected governor of Hawaii in the November 1994 elections.
Judge Mel Red Recana was elected as the presiding judge of the Los Angeles (California) Municipal Court for 1996. Prior to his election, Judge Recana had been an assistant presiding judge since 1994. It was in 1994 when he was appointed as a municipal judge of Los Angeles, California.
Robert Bunda is currently a state senator in Hawaii. He was elected to the State Senate in the 1994 elections. He did not resign from the Senate to run in the second congressional district race in the November 1996 elections. He lost in the last elections but he still is in office to finish his term won in the 1994 elections.
In the November 1996 elections, Romy Cachola, a member of the Hawaii State House of Representatives, ran unopposed and was reelected for the seventh time to the State House.
Nestor R. Garcia serves as a member of the majority leadership team in the Hawaii State House, as majority whip for the Democrats. Garcia was first elected to the State House in 1994 and won again for the same seat in the November 1996 elections.
In the November 1996 elections, Ron Menor was reelected to the Hawaii State House of Representatives. Menor first served in the House in 1982. He was elected to the State Senate in 1986. He was elected to the House in 1992.
Also in the Hawaii State Legislature, Reynaldo Graulty won a seat in the State Senate in 1992. He first entered public service in 1982 when he was elected to the State House of Representatives.
Henry Manayan, a council member, became the mayor of Milpitas, California, after he clinched the top position of that Silicon Valley's city government during the November 1996 elections. Manayan was elected to the Milpitas City Council during the November 1994 elections.
Maria Luisa Mabilangan Haley, a member of the board of the Export Import Bank, is the highest Filipino American official in the Clinton administration. She is considered by Filipino Americans as the "key" to the White House.
In March 1997, Pete Fajardo became the first Filipino American to be elected mayor of a progressive city in the United States through a direct vote of the people when he won the mayoralty race in Carson, California. He was a member of the city council of Carson prior to his election as mayor of the city.
(For their profiles, see part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans in this book. Also, see the profiles of many Filipino Americans in the new second edition of The Filipino Americans.)
In the field of sports, the great Filipino athletes that made their name in the United States were Pancho Villa, a flyweight champion of the world; Ceferino Garcia, the bolo punch boxer who tried two times to wrest the welterweight title of the world, losing to a controversial fight with Barney Ross in 1937 and Henry Armstrong in 1936; Roman Gabriel, the well-known quarterback of the Los Angeles Rams; Tai Babilonia, the other half of the famed Babilonia-Radner skating team; Elizabeth Punsalan, a fifth-time and current U.S. ice dance champion and a 1994 and 1998 Olympic competitor with her partner and husband, Jerod Swallow; Vicky Manalo Drakes, who won two gold medals in swimming in the 1948 Olympics in London; Salvador (Dado) Marino, who lost a bantamweight championship of the world fight to Manuel Ortiz in 1949, but wrestled the flyweight world crown from Terry Allen in 1950; Speedy Dado, the Pacific Coast bantamweight champion who attempted to be world flyweight and bantamweight champion of the world; Bernard (Big Duke) Docusen from New Orleans, Louisiana, who challenged but lost to Sugar Ray Robinson for the welterweight championship of the world in Chicago in 1948; and Jim Washington, a six-foot-seven forward, who was drafted in 1965 by the St. Louis Hawks of the National Basketball Association.
(Profiles of some of these outstanding athletes may be read in Part IV of this book.)
Several Filipino Americans have made names for themselves in the field of medicine and dentistry. Among them are Jose L. Evangelista, M.D., appointed by President Bill Clinton as a member of the National Committee on Foreign Medical Education and Accreditation; Stella Evangelista, M.D., Michigan Hall of Famer and former member of the Michigan State Board of Medicine; Ernesto M. Espaldon, M.D., plastic surgeon and six-term Guam senator; and Rolando A. De Castro, D.D.M., famous dental professor-artist, dubbed as the "Frank H. Netter" of the dental profession.
XXIII. FILIPINO AMERICAN GENERALS IN THE U.S. ARMY
There are only three Asian American generals in the Armed Forces of the United States, and two of them are Filipino American generals in the U.S. Army. They are Major General Edward Soriano, currently assigned as the director of operations, readiness, and mobilization in the Office of the Deputy Chief of Staff for Operations and Plans of the U.S. Army in the Pentagon; and Brigadier General Antonio Taguba, assigned as a special assistant to the commanding general at Fort McPherson in Atlanta, Georgia. (See their profiles in Part IV: Profiles of Notable Filipino Americans.)
XXIV. FILIPINO FOODS
Filipino foods, such as pansit (rice noodle) and egg roll (lumpia), are the favorites of non-Filipinos at parties and in Filipino restaurants. These non-Filipinos usually are wives, husbands, or friends of Filipinos. Of course, friends of Filipinos, especially at work, have been exposed to Filipino food. In fact, some of these Americans get recipes and try to cook Filipino foods. For genuine Filipno recipes, see the book Filipino Cuisine: Recipes from the Islands by Gerry G. Gelle.
(Excerpted from the chapter, The Filipino Americans: Yesterday and Today, in the book The Filipino Americans (1763-Present) Their History, Culture, & Traditions by Veltisezar Bautista. To see the complete chapter and other interesting chapters, see the book in your local library. If it's not available there, you may request the library to purchase a copy of the book. Inquiries about the book may be sent to: Bookhaus Publishers, P. O. Box 836, Warren, MI 48090-0836
Times indeed change a lot for these people!