The end of Spanish colonization in the Philippines marked the beginning of another era of colonial rule, this one instituted by colonizers from the United States. The American presence in the Philippines led to numerous changes and attempts at cultural assimilation. One of the more significant was the U.S. military’s swift integration within Filipina/o/x society. A little over a decade after the end of the Philippine-American war, thousands of Filipinos served in the U.S. military during World War I, often serving as cooks or bandmasters in the navy.
Filipinas/os/x continued to be heavily involved in the U.S. military, with many seeing it as an opportunity to give their families U.S. citizenship and move them to the United States. By the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, many of the Filipinas/os/x who had fought for the United States during WWI had successfully moved themselves and their families to Hawai’i, Guam, or California, where their children went on to play significant roles in World War II, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War. In sum, military service was one of the primary means by which Filipinas/os/x under American colonial rule secured a future for themselves and their family, and, along with the other ways in which Filipinas/os/x migrated to the United States, represented a significant push factor resulting in the current population of Filipina/o/x Americans.
Below are primary source examples of Filipina/o/x serving in the U.S. military during WWI, WWII, and after, with a specific focus on the Garcia and Albarico families. Both had multigenerational involvement in the U.S. military, with Simeon Garcia serving in WWI, his step-son Julian Garcia serving in WWI and in the years following, and Julian’s sons serving in the Korean war and thereafter. Julian’s son Conrad would go on to become a colonel, while Clarence would serve as an electrical engineer for the Air Force aboard an aircraft carrier. The Albarico’s also had an early presence in the U.S. military, with Almira Albarico’s father serving as a cook for the Navy during and after WWI before bringing his family to the United States during WWII.