Filipinx American History: A Celebration of Community, Activism, and Persistence

A Letter to the Future Filipina/o/x

I know that trying to figure out who you are can be hard. I know that discovering who you want to be can be difficult when you don’t see yourself in the faces of your peers, in the faces of people in your history books, or the people who get the most airtime online or on TV. I know that it can be frustrating to feel connected with your identity when you feel different from your parents, your grandparents, or other Filipinos you may know. I know you may be asking yourself, “What does it mean to be a Filipino in America? What does that look like? How do I *be* that?”

You hear so many messages about what it takes to “be” Filipino American. That you have to speak your ancestors’ language, you have to practice your customs and mano your elders, you have to dance tinikling and eat turon, just to be in touch with your identity. I want to remind you that what makes you Filipino American is that you are here, part of this shared history of migration from our homeland to the US. Like those who came before you, you are trying to make sense of what it means to be Filipino in this society, in this country.

Look back at this history. To expand on what it means to be Filipino in America, you must look at what Filipinos did here since they came to this country. They fought colonizers and enslavement, carved out their own neighborhoods, raised generational families, organized strikes, and built digital spaces. Throughout it all, Filipinx Americans looked from a wide view, looking at the world with a transnational lens to see what conditions back in the Philippines had to do with issues faced by our people here. To expand on being Filipino in America is to look at how we as a people were treated, understood, exploited, and brought here to work…. But it’s also how we hoped, loved, resisted, and built community in response to this.

Annelle Maranan Garcia
Ambassador and Scholar Activist of the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies

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