Celebrating Filipino American History Month

Dear Berkeley City College Community –

October marks Filipino American History Month, celebrating the history and contributions of Filipino Americans in American history. The month of October was chosen by the Filipino American National Historical Society to commemorate the first recorded landing of Filipino peoples in 1587 at Morro Bay, California, beginning a long and remarkable legacy in the state.

Filipino Americans were central to the labor movement of the United Farm Workers. In the 1920s and 30s, Filipino immigrants settled in the central coast of California and predominantly worked in the fields near Watsonville. Over the course of the 30s through the 50s, Filipino farm workers successfully organized strikes and formed unions to increase wages and the quality of working conditions. Their organization culminated when Filipino Agricultural Workers Organizing Committee under the leadership of Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz formed an alliance with the National Farmworkers Association led by Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, and others in a five-year strike against the Delano grape growers. The groups would eventually merge to form the United Farm Workers, reaching collective bargaining agreements with the grape growers and improving the lives of thousands of farm workers. I have shared my experience as a native of the Central Valley and the impact of the interconnectedness of the Filipino community and the Latino community in organizing for farmworkers’ rights. The reverberations of the movement are still felt to this day.

The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) has a massive representation across California, and multiple chapters right here in the Bay Area. The FANHS Museum is located in Stockton, California, only a few hours commute from the Bay Area, and contains a wealth of information about Filipino American business, entertainment, and labor history. My knowledge and connection to the FANHS Museum is rooted in relationships with colleagues and friends at San Francisco State University. Dr. Dawn Bohulano Mabalon was a fierce scholar and activist for Filipino American and Ethnic Studies. She died on August 10, 2018 and is remembered for her research and for leading cultural immersion experiences to the FANHS Museum for students and educators. Attached to this communication is an article by authors and co-founders of the Pin@y Educational Partnerships (PEP), which is rooted in Filipino cultures and knowledge as a foundation for creating critical educators. My personal and professional lens has been forever impacted by these amazing scholar practitioners and I am proud to share their work with our BCC community.

I am also sharing a collection of Filipino American History Month Zoom backgrounds created by BCC’s Veteran Resource Center Coordinator Jeejun Bertuso. Feel free to use them in your virtual meetings and classes this month.

Here at Berkeley City College, I am proud of our Filipino American representation on campus and the continued support we will offer as a recent recipient of the Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institution (AANAPISI) grant. I am excited about the opportunity to better serve our AAPI and APIDA (Asian Pacific Islander Desi American) communities with the additional resources provided by this grant. The funding will enable enhanced mental health services, academic and student support services for AAPI/APIDA students, which includes immigrant students, first-generation college students and English Language learners. As we move toward implementing these improvements, it is our promise we will do so in a way that is culturally grounded and speaks directly to the community we serve. We see you. We recognize you. We welcome you and will support you in achieving your goals.

In Community,

Dr. Angélica Garcia (she | her | ella)


Berkeley City College