Filipino Veterans Fairness Act

This bill was is to amend Title 38 of the United States Code to grant citizenship to Filipinos Americans who have completed an enlistment in the American Armed Forces , alternative versions of this bill was granted to other foreign nationals under the same situation. There has been of these bills trying to pass through but died until 1993 it was brought back up nearly every session of Congress. The most recent version of the bill was introduced in the House of Representatives in 2007 is in committee and has been scheduled for debate. If it does not pass by the end of 2008 it will also die as well even if there are no votes. 

Why? Because Filipinos have fought as members of the American armed forces for over a century. This was limited to U.S. nationals. Filipinos that had emigrated to the U.S. under a special occasion from the Base Agreement between the U.S. and the Republic of the Philippines, which allowed the U.S. to construct bases and station troops in the host country, and people of Filipino decent were able to enlist in the U.S. army. This was an uncommon situation, under normal circumstances foreign nationals couldn’t enlist in the U.S. armed forces unless they were resident aliens of the United States. Since Filipino enlistees are neither U.S. nationals nor resident aliens, they were not granted any citizenship upon completion of their first enlistment, and were limited to fewer benefits. Some more information about the bill often pointed out that thousands of Filipinos have enlisted and ninety-percent of them chose to re-enlist, even though they’re the only non-citizen veterans that were not given any citizenship toward completion of during their enlistment. Since this bill has never made it out of committee, it is still unknown today of what arguments may be used against it.

Ron Paul speak to WWll Filipino American Veterans
Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul is scheduled to speak tonight  at a rally in Las Vegas, Nevada for Philippine-American veterans who are calling for repeal of a 1946 law that blocks them from receiving compensation for their World War II service. As a companion to a House measure that seeks to repeal of the 1946 Rescission Act. The act says Philippine guerrillas who served under U.S. commanders shall not be considered active military for purposes of benefits.Rally organizers want the Department of Veterans Affairs to grant each of these World War II veterans who are U.S. citizens a one-time, $15,000 benefit as promised under the American Recovery and Re­investment Act of 2009. There were more than 200,000 Filipinos who fought in the Pacific theater under U.S. command. He said there are 41,000 who applied in 2009 for payment from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund, but the government has only allotted enough funds for 18,000.

-Bryan Phongsavanh


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Celebrations of Filipino Americans

There are a bunch of celebrations of Filipino Americans in the United States and around the world. Congress has established the Asian Pacific American Heritage Month in the month of May to commemorate Filipino American and Asian American culture in the United States. Also, with that being said, Filipino Americans are the largest group of Asian Americans in California and the state actually recognized this by commemorating them with Filipino American history month, which was established in October. The reason for the month of October is due to the fact that the first Filipino American immigrants landed in United States soil on October 18, 1587 in Morro Bay, California. Many other states have festivals or celebrations of Filipino American history or culture. In the state of Iowa we have a Filipino American Association which throws celebrations and festivals here in the state of Iowa. On their website it states, “It exists to promote and enhance cultural and heritage awareness of the Philippines among Iowans; to promote closer fellowship between Filipinos and Americans; to welcome Filipinos and Filipino-Americans to the community; to aid members in time of need; and to extend charitable and humanitarian assistance to the community and to the Philippines.”

– Jordan Broghammer

A Source of Immigration

The Filipino American population has boomed ever since the 1970’s. At a time where there were only around 300 thousand Filipino Americans, compared to a time now where there are almost 2.4 million. Part of this population boom is due to the Philippines

 becoming a territory of the United States in 1898. The Filipinos who immigrated to the United States served as laborers prominently in the agriculture field.

The integration of the Philippines into the world market by the United States proved to be a crippling effect for many family-owned farms in the Philippines. With little or no source of income, many Filipinos chose to move to the United States in search of a better opportunity. Most of the immigrants were uneducated and lacked many of the skills needed to succeed in the American business industry. However, this case gave way to the opportunity for Filipino Americans to work on plantations and farms. The earliest immigrants worked on pineapple and sugar plantations in Hawaii and later found opportunities for farm work in California.

This pattern of uneducated Filipino Americans only lasted for a short time and was present in only the earliest of immigrants. The Filipino Americans are now some of the highest academic achieving minorities in the United States.

This immigration pattern still shows effect today with the vast majority of Filipino Americans located in either Hawaii or California. Many Filipino Americans are still performing similar tasks as their parents and grandparents did decades before them.

-Nathaniel Moore

Invisible Minority

From the ten largest groups of Asian American immigrants to the United States of America, the Filipino Americans actually have the highest rate of assimilation into the country. On the same note, Filipino Americans have also been described as the most “Americanized” of the Asian American ethnicities. But, even though Filipino Americans are the second largest ethnicity amongst Asian Americans, many Filipino American community activist have described the ethnicity as “invisible” as conditions encountered by the ethnicity are virtually unknown to American public and even with in themselves. The same description of the invisible minority has also played a part in the political arena. In the mid 90’s it was estimated that there were 100 Filipino Americans elected and appointed to public office. This lack of political representation contributes to the perception that Filipino Americans are an “invisible minority”. Furthermore, the Filipino American’s ability to blend in is due to several factors such as Filipino immigrants being predominantly Christian, being fluent in English, as well as many being well educated and middle class. 

-Jordan Broghammer

Filipino American Actors

As much as it is a struggle for Filipino Americans, and Asian Americans as a whole, to fit into American society, many Filipino Americans have found their niche in the film industry. Many actors in the American film industry are from Filipino descent or emigrated from the Philippines to the United States at a young age. Part of their success has come from their looks. The darker skin has gained a recent attraction to the United States public.

Filipino American actor, Mel Maghuyop has had much success United States film industry. Maghuyop has been involved in American film since 2001 when he acted in various productions of “Miss Saigon”. Maghuyop says he continues to refine and define his role as an actor and tries to integrate his Filipino heritage into the various roles he plays. Michael Copon, another Filipino American actor, also embraces this ideology in many of his roles as an actor. The connection to his Filipino culture gives him room for more exploration of his identity and how he can apply it to his career. He can especially express his acting ability and tie back to ethnic heritage in his role in the movie “Scorpion King: Rise of a Warrior”.

A film series that has especially made great use of the acting abilities of Filipino Americans is “The Pirates of the Caribbean”. As a multicultural artist and actor, Michael Ilano Rosales was chosen to play the role of a pirate from the Philippines in the movie series. Rosales was chosen from over 4,000 aspirants and gave him the opportunity to truly express his Filipino heritage in an enlightened and positive way to the American public.

Some other notable Filipino American actors are Vanessa Hudgens, Rob Schneider, Lou Diamond Phillips and Liza Lapira. In an interview with Vanessa Hudgens she states that “I am so proud of my heritage. I love being a Filipina. There aren’t that many Filipino girls in the industry. So being able to stand up and be that girl makes me proud.” Vanessa Hudgens was not born in the Philippines, but is of Filipino decent. Her mother grew up in Manila, Philippines so Vanessa always tries to make her mother proud of being Filipino.

-Nathaniel Moore

Filipino Americans and Education

The Philipino American has been widely described as the “learning immigrant.” Throughout the history of the United States, ever since 1900 when Americans established significant contact with the Philippines, many natives have seen the great effects of the American education system and have desired it for themselves. Many of those that emigrate from the Philippines to the United States already have a desire for higher education, many with a college degree seeking advanced degrees. Of all the Asian minority races research has shown that substantially more (around 62%) of Philippino American parents encourage their children to pursue a college degree, in comparison to 42% for Chinese Americans, and lower still for others. This desire however clashes many times with the American Culture that these new students that grew up in the United States’ have embraced, and they at times reject their parents’ desire for them to pursue higher education. The parents however have continued to push this desire for their children to be educated by frequently offering to pay for the child’s education, incentives to those that go to college, and simply raising the children in a home where education is treasured. Those that take advantage of the educational opportunities given to them typically receive higher paying jobs, and in many cases by been used to transform the communities in which live. In California for example, educated Philippino Americans successfully petitioned for the addition of multicultural classes among local area schools.

-Sonny Wang