Someone asked me the other day if I celebrate Filipino American History Month. I thought it was a strange question at first. My initial reaction was to say “yes,” obviously. But upon further review, I think my answer would actually be “sort of.” I mean, I honor my ancestors who came to this country every day that I am alive by doing the things that I love. I learn more and more about American history and the part Filipina/x/os have played throughout this country’s story. I appreciate all the hard work that went into getting this month recognized as a month to highlight Filipino American History. But why is it just one month?
Born and raised in the Midwest, my history books and classes must have just skipped the part of American history that included Larry Itliong and the role he played in the Farmworkers’ Movement. I don’t recall be told about the first Filipinos in the United States who came on Spanish ships. I didn’t even know until today that the yo-yo was invented by a Filipino named Pedro Flores. It makes me think. Who’s history are we learning? Where are the Pinays in this story? What’s herstory? How do I celebrate these stories that I was never taught? By learning it myself. With the help of some smart Fil-Am friends.
So here’s a place for you to start: Filipino American History Month
Before the end of this month, I will create an experiential syllabus for anyone who wants to take some time to learn about the American story that includes Filipina/x/os. And you don’t have to limit your learning to the 31 days in October.
Happy Filipino American OURstory Month!