Filipinos in what is now the United States were first documented in the 16th century, with small settlements beginning in the 18th century. Mass migration did not begin until the early 20th century, and for a period the History of the Philippines merged with that of the United States. After the independence of the Philippines from the United States, Filipino Americans continued to grow in population and had events that are associated to them.
Researchers have looked upon the patterns of immigration of Filipinos to the United States and have recognized four significant waves. The first was connected to the period when the Philippines was part of New Spain and later the Spanish East Indies; Filipinos, via the Manila galleons, would migrate to North American, some finding their way to the United States, others remaining in Mexico. This would end around 1906 with the end of the Spanish East Indies due to the Spanish and Philippine American Wars.
The second wave of immigration was during the American colonial period when Filipinos were U.S. Nationals, and were unrestricted from immigrating to the US by laws that restricted other Asians. This wave of immigration has been referred to as the manong generation. Filipinos of this wave came for different reasons, but the majority were laborers, predominantly Ilocano and Visayan. This wave of immigration was distinct from other Asian Americans, due to American influences, and education, in the Philippines; thefore they did not see themselves as aliens when they immigrated to the United States. During the Great Depression, Filipino Americans were also affected, losing jobs, and being the target of race based violence. This wave of immigration ended due to the Philippine Independence Act in 1934, which restricted immigration to 50 persons a year.
Later, due to basing agreements with the Philippines, Filipinos were allowed to enlist in the U.S. Navy, this continued a practice of allowing Filipinos to serve in the Navy that began in 1901. Before the end of World War I Filipino sailors were allowed to serve in a number of ratings, however due to a rules change during the interwar period Filipino sailors were restricted to officers' stewards and mess attendants. This ended in 1946, following the independence of the Philippines from the United States, but resumed in 1947 due to language inserted into the Military Base Agreement between the United States and the Republic of the Philippines. In 1973, Admiral Zumwalt removed the restrictions on Filipino sailors, allowing them to enter any rate they qualified for; in 1976 there were about 17,000 Filipinos serving in the United States Navy; they created a distinct Navy-related Filipino American immigrant community.
The third wave of immigration followed the events of World War II. Filipinos who had served in World War II had been given the option of becoming U.S. Citizens, and many took the opportunity, upwards of 10,000 according to Barkan. Filipina War brides were allowed to immigrate to the United States due to War Brides Act and Fiancée Act, with approximately 16,000 Filipinas entering the United States in the years following World War II. This immigration was not limited only to Filipinas and children; between 1946 and 1950, there was recorded one Filipino Groom granted immigration under the War Brides Act. A source of immigration was opened up with the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 that gave the Philippines a quota of 100 persons a year; yet records show that 32,201 Filipinos immigrated between 1953 to 1965. This wave ended in 1965.
The fourth and present wave of immigration began in 1965 with passing of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 into law. It ended national quotas into law, and provided an unlimited number of visas for family reunification. By the 1970s and 1980s Filipina wives of service members reach annual rates of five to eight thousand. Navy based immigration stopped with the expiration of the military bases agreement in 1992; yet it continues in a more limited fashion. Many Filipinas of this new wave of migration have migrated here as professionals due to a shortage in qualified nurses.
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- 1573 to 1811, Roughly between 1556 and 1813, Spain engaged in the Galleon Trade between Manila and Acapulco. The galleons were built in the shipyards of Cavite, outside Manila, by Filipino craftsmen. The trade was funded by Chinese traders, manned by Filipino sailors and "supervised" by Mexico City officials. In this time frame, Spain recruited Mexicans to serve as soldiers in Manila. Likewise, they drafted Filipinos to serve as soldiers in Mexico. Once drafted, the trip across the ocean sometimes came with a "one way" ticket.
- 1587, First Filipinos ("Luzonians") to set foot in North America arrive in Morro Bay, (San Luis Obispo) California on board the Manila-built galleon ship Nuestra Senora de Esperanza under the command of Spanish Captain Pedro de Unamuno.
- 1720, Gaspar Molina, a Filipino from Pampanga province, oversees the construction of El Triunfo de la Cruz, the first ship built in California.
- 1763, First permanent Filipino settlements established in North America near Barataria Bay in southern Louisiana.
- 1781, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez chosen a member of the first group of settlers to establish the City of Los Angeles, California. He and his daughter fell sick with smallpox while en route, and remained in Baja California for an extended time to recuperate. When they finally arrived in Alta California, it was discovered that Miranda Rodriguez was a skilled gunsmith. He was reassigned in 1782 to the Presidio of Santa Barbara as an armorer.
- 1796, The first American trading ship to reach Manila, the Astrea, was commanded by Captain Henry Prince.
- 1814, During the War of 1812, Filipinos from Manila Village (near New Orleans) were among the "Baratarians" who fought against the British under the command of Jean Lafitte in the Battle of New Orleans.
- 1870, Filipinos mestizos studying in New Orleans form the first Filipino Association in the United States, the "Sociedad de Beneficencia de los Hispanos Filipinos."
around the time of his visit to the United States
- 1901, United States Navy begins recruiting Filipinos.
- 1902, Philippine Bill of 1902 passed by the U.S. Congress; makes it illegal for Filipinos to own property, vote, operate a business, live in an American residential neighborhood, hold public office and become a naturalized American citizen; it provided for a Bill of Rights, and established a bicameral legislature
- 1903, First Pensionados, Filipinos invited to attend college in the United States on American government scholarships, arrive.
- 1906, First Filipino laborers migrate to the United States to work on the Hawaiian sugarcane and pineapple plantations, California and Washington asparagus farms, Washington lumber, Alaska salmon canneries. About 200 Filipino "pensionados" are brought to the U.S. to get an American education.
- 1910, First Filipino, Vicente Lim, attends West Point.
- 1912, Filipino Association of Philadelphia (Now known as Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc./FAAPI) is founded by Agripino Jaucian; it is perhaps the oldest Filipino organization in continuous existence in the United States. The name change came about to include the growing number of American wives.
- 1913, On June 15 The Battle of Bud Bagsak ends the Moro Rebellion
- 1917, Philippine National Guard mustered into federal service
- 1920s, Filipino labor leaders organize unions and strategic strikes to improve working and living conditions.
- 1924, Filipino Workers’ Union (FLU) shuts down 16 of 25 sugar plantations.
- 1927, Anti-Filipino riots occur in the Yakima Valley, Washington.
- 1928, Filipino Businessman Pedro Flores opens Flores yo-yos, which is credited with starting the yo-yo craze in the United States. He came up with and copyrighted the word yo-yo. He also applied for and received a trademark for the Flores Yo-yo, which was registered on July 22, 1930. His company went on to be become the foundation of which would latter become the Duncan yo-yo company. Anti-Filipino riots occur in the Wenatchee Valley.
- 1929, Anti-Filipino riot occurs in Exeter, California.
- 1930, Anti-Filipino riots break out in Watsonville and other California rural communities, in part because of Filipino men having intimate relations with White women which was in violation of the California anti-miscegenation laws enacted during that time.
- 1933, After the Supreme Court of California found in Roldan v. Los Angeles County that existing laws against marriage between white persons and "Mongoloids" did not bar a Filipino man from marrying a white woman, California's anti-miscegenation law, Civil Code, section 60, was amended to prohibit marriages between white persons and members of the "Malay race" (e.g. Filipinos).
- 1934, The Tydings–McDuffie Act, known as the Philippine Independence Act limited Filipino immigration to the U.S. to 50 persons a year (not to apply to persons coming or seeking to come to the Territory of Hawaii).
- 1936, Philippines becomes self-governing. Commonwealth of the Philippines inaugurated.
Company labor camp for Filipino farm laborers on Ryer Island
- May 1942, After the fall of Bataan and Coregidor to the Japanese, the US Congress passes a law which grants US citizenship to Filipinos and other aliens who served under the U.S. Armed Forces.
- 1942–1944, After the official surrender of USAFFE under the command of LTG Wainwright, ongoing local guerrilla resistance groups operated throughout the islands against the Japanese occupation until the islands liberation by American lead Allied forces.
- October 1944, American General Douglas MacArthur with the Philippine Commonwealth President Sergio Osmeña together with the Armed Forces of the Philippines General Basilio J. Valdes and General Carlos P. Romulo including the U.S. Liberation forces land the beaches at Palo, Leyte.
- 1944–1945, Beginning the Allied Liberation of the Philippines was the country by joint Filipino and American soldiers fought the Japanese Imperial forces until the end of World War II.
- February 1946, President Truman signs the Rescission Act of 1946, taking away the veterans benefits pledged to Filipino service members during world War II. Only four thousand service members were able to gain citizenship during this period.
- 1946, The United States recognizes Philippine Independence through Treaty of Manila. Republic of the Philippines reclaims legacies from the Generation of 1898 including Philippine Flag and National Anthem. During the 1946 parade Emilio Aguinaldo marches with Filipino veterans of the War of Independence, carrying the flag he designed and originally unfurled after he declared Philippine Independence on June 12, 1898; America Is in the Heart by Carlos Bulosan published. Filipino Naturalization Act allows naturalization of Filipino Americans, granted citizenship to those who arrived prior to March 1943.
- 1948, California Supreme Court rules California's anti-miscegenation law unconstitutional in the case of Perez v. Sharp, ending racially based prohibitions of marriage in the state (although it wasn't until Loving v. Virginia in 1967 that interracial marriages were legalized nationwide). Celestino Alfafara wins California Supreme Court decision allowing aliens the right to own real property.
- 1955, Peter Aduja becomes first Filipino American elected to office, becoming a member of the Hawai'i State House of Representatives.
- 1956, Bobby Balcena becomes first Filipino American to play Major League baseball, playing for the Cincinnati Reds.
- 1965, Congress passes Immigration and Nationality Act which facilitated ease of entry for skilled Filipino laborers, raises quota of Eastern Hemisphere countries, including the Philippines, to 20,000 a year.
- 1965, Delano grape strike begins when members of Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee led by Philip Vera Cruz, Larry Dulay Itliong, Benjamin Gines, Andy Imutan and Pete Velasco with mostly Filipino farm workers.
- 1967, The Philippine American Collegiate Endeavor (PACE) founded by Filipino American students at San Francisco State College.
- 1969, Filipino Students Association (FSA) founded by Filipino American students at University of California, Berkeley during the Third World Movement; later renamed the Pilipino American Alliance(PAA).
- 1973, Larry Asera becomes the first Filipino American elected in the continental United States.
- 1974, Benjamin Menor appointed first Filipino American in a state's highest judiciary office as Justice of the Hawaiʻi State Supreme Court.
- 1975, Governor John A. Burns (D-HI) convinces Benjamin J. Cayetano to run and win a seat in the Hawaiʻi State Legislature, despite Cayetano's doubts about winning office in a white and Japanese American dominated district; Kauai's Eduardo Enabore Malapit elected first Filipino American mayor.
The building where Domingo and Viernes were assassinated.
- 1981, Filipino American labor activists Silme Domingo and Gene Viernes are both assassinated June 1, 1981 inside a Seattle downtown union hall.
- 1981, International Hotel in Manilatown, San Francisco is demolished.
- 1987, Benjamin J. Cayetano becomes the first Filipino American and second Asian American elected Lt. Governor of a state of the Union.
- 1990, David Mercado Valderrama becomes first Filipino American elected to a state legislature on the mainland United States serving Prince George's County in Maryland. Immigration reform Act of 1990 is passed by the U.S. Congress granting U.S. citizenship to Filipino World War II veterans resulting in 20,000 Filipino veterans take oath of citizenship.
- 1991, Seattle's Gene Canque Liddell becomes first Filipino American woman to be elected mayor serving the suburb of Lacey City.
- 1992, Velma Veloria becomes first Filipino American and first Asian American elected to the Washington State Legislature.
- 1993, Mario R. Ramil appointed Associate Justice to the Hawai'i Supreme Court, the second Filipino American to reach the court.
- 1994, Benjamin J. Cayetano becomes the first Filipino American and second Asian American elected Governor of a state of the Union.
- 1995, The nation's largest Filipino mural, Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana (Filipino Americans: A Glorious History, A Golden Legacy) in Los Angeles is unveiled and dedicated with over 600 people attending.
- 1999, US Postal worker Joseph Ileto murdered in a hate crime by Aryan Nations member Buford Furrow.
- 1999, First permanent museum display honoring a Filipino American, the Carlos Bulosan Memorial Exhibit opens in Seattle's Eastern Hotel in the International District, honoring Filipino American literary great Carlos Bulosan.
- 2000, Robert Bunda elected Hawai'i Senate President and Simeon R. Acoba, Jr. appointed Hawai'i State Supreme Court Justice.
- 2000, 'Price of Freedom' (100' x 30') US Veterans War Memorial mural near Vandenberg Air Force Base in Lompoc, California includes the Philippine American War
- 2001, Bataan Death March Memorial, a federally funded project, was dedicated in Las Cruces, New Mexico.
- 2003, Philippine Republic Act No. 9225, also known as the Citizenship Retention and Re-Acquisition Act of 2003 enacted, allowing natural-born Filipinos naturalized in the United States and their unmarried minor children to reclaim Filipino nationality and hold dual citizenship.
- 2006, Congress passes legislation that commemorates the 100 Years of Filipino Migration to the United States.; Hawaii celebrates the centennial of Filipinos in Hawaii.
- 2006, First monument dedicated to Filipino soldiers who fought for the United States in World War II unveiled in Historic Filipinotown, Los Angeles, California.
- 2007, First American public park built with Filipino themed design features unveiled in LA's Historic Filipinotown.
- 2009, Steve Austria becomes "the first, first-generation Filipino to be elected to the United States Congress."
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"... Perhaps the great American Republic, whose interests lie in the Pacific and who has no hand in the spoliation of Africa, may dream some day of foreign possession. This is not impossible, for the example is contagious, covetousness and ambition are among the strongest vices, and Harrison manifested something of this sort in the Samoan question. ..."
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