Migration has been a fact of life since the beginning of time due to economic, religious, and social factors. This paper examines and the lives and experiences of the First-Wave Filipino immigrants and the Post-1965 Filipino immigrants. It compares and contrasts the immigrants’ way of life at the time and seeks to uncover their struggles and triumphs in a foreign land. The Filipino American The Filipino Americans are immigrants from the Philippines. Filipinos are considered as Asian Americans and they have the largest population in the group.
Currently, there is an estimated 4 million Filipino American comprised by naturalized citizens or American-born citizens. The largest concentration of Filipino Americans can be found in California, Guam, Hawaii, and New York, New Jersey, Washington and Texas as well as other neighboring states (US Census Bureau, 2007). Cultural Background The Filipino culture is a fusion of Spanish and American culture. There are also influences by the Chinese and the Malays (Bautista, 2002).
The Philippines was colonized by Spain for three hundred years and by the United States for fifty years. Western culture is evident in the people’s way of life. Most Filipinos are given Spanish names and most of them practice Catholicism (Bautista, 2002). The First-Wave of Filipino Immigrants in the United States The first waves of Filipino migration were the Manilamen or Filipino seamen found in Louisiana in 1763. They sailed from the Philippines to Acapulco, Mexico and then to Barataria Bay (Crisostomo, 1996, p. 5 ).
They lived in a fishing village and started the dried shrimp business in the United States. (p. 5 ). The Spanish government made arrangements for the Filipino, Antonio Miranda Rodriguez and his family established themselves in Pueblo de Nuestra de Senora Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula. The Second Wave of Filipino Immigrants in the United States (1906-1935) The second wave of Filipino migration consisted of students, scholars and laborers. About 125,000 Filipino laborers worked in sugar plantations in Hawaii.
Over the years, the Filipino American population has grown in numbers and strength. Some of the Filipino laborers from Hawaii went to work in California farms and sardine factories in Alaska (Bautista, 2000) The Third Wave of Filipino Immigrants in the United States (1939-1965) The third wave of Filipino immigrants continued after World War II until 1965. They comprise mostly of military soldiers and their family who fought with the Americans during the war (Crisostomo, 1996, p. 35) The Fourth Wave of Filipino Immigrants in the United States (1965-Present)
The fourth wave of Filipino immigrants mostly include professionals such as doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers and business men (p. 42). They continue to increase in number because of the better employment opportunities in the US. Racial Discrimination Then and Now The Filipinos experienced discrimination in the early 20th century. The Filipino men were forbidden to wed white women as enacted by the anti-miscegenation laws. However, historical accounts present that many Filipino men married or lived with White women particularly in the Western and Southern areas in the 1920s and 1930s.
They were often ostracized by society and they lived in settlements and were not allowed to move to other states. The 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair and the Philippine-American War brought “negative stereotypes including the racist idea of ‘The Little Brown Brother’ as described by Rudyard Kipling’s The White Man’s Burden” (Bautista, 2002). It was just in the 1960s where the issue of racial discrimination was put to the core. Like other minorities in the US, the Filipinos are protected under the anti-discrimination law. Sadly, racial discrimination still exists today.
Hate crimes against Filipinos pervade like in the case of Joseph Ileto who was murdered in 1999 by Budford Furrow, a white supremacist; and most recently in the early part of 2007, where a young Filipino-American girl was mobbed by black teenagers in New York. Up until now, there are cases of unfair treatment of Filipinos with regards to acquiring visas and those who are deported back to the Philippines. After the September 11 terrorist attack, the US immigration made tougher rules on foreigners visiting the US which included the Filipinos.
The fight for the rights and benefits of the World War II Filipino veterans, who fought along with the American soldiers, is still going on. These veterans were promised to get compensation and benefits after serving in the US military. The enactment of the Rescission Act in 1946 by the US Congress, removed all the benefits that was rightfully due for these Filipino war veterans. Where is the justice here? These people dedicated their lives in serving the US military and they get nothing in return? They tried to lobby for their benefits and their rights as American citizens.
In the early1990s, a number of bills were presented in Congress to grant the benefits to the Filipino war veterans and up to now there is still no resolution. Many of these Filipino war veterans have died waiting for the benefits that they were hoping for. In citing the differences of the times lived by the Filipinos in America. In conclusion, racial discrimination has not left the country. It continues to evolve in different aspects. The only good thing is the passage of the anti-discrimination law which seeks to prosecute those who are racists.
Democracy is alive in the US to a certain extent; and minorities like the Filipinos enjoy the freedom to vote, participate and air their grievances. In terms of equality, I believe that equal rights and equal opportunity is still a work and progress.
References Bautista, Veltisezar. (2002). The Filipino Americans Yesterday and Today. http://www. filipinoamericans. net. Retrieved on August 30, 2007. Crisostomo, Isabelo, T. (1996). Filipino Achievers in the USA and Canada: Profiles in Excellence. Michigan: Bookhaus Publishers.
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