Case Celebrates Filipino American History Month with Remarks on House Floor
Floor Remarks on Filipino American History Month
October 30, 2019
Mr. Speaker, aloha and mabuhay!
I rise today to recognize October as Filipino American History Month, a time for all Americans to remember and celebrate the incredible past, present and future of our fellow citizens whose heritage lies in the great country of the Philippines.
I am especially humbled to do so as the proud Representative of Hawaii’s First Congressional District, where more Filipino Americans, close to 200,000, live than any other of our 440 districts throughout the country. With Hawaii’s Second Congressional District number two, at about 175,000, our Fil-Am community in Hawai‘i stands at 375,000, one quarter of all Hawai‘i residents and by far the largest percentage of any state or territory.
We observe Filipino American History Month in October because the first recorded arrival of Filipinos in the continental United States took place on October 18, 1587, when the “Luzones Indios” came ashore from the Manila-built galleon Nuestra Señora de Esperanza in Morro Bay, California. And in 1906, 113 years ago, the first fifteen sakada (contract laborers) arrived in Honolulu from the Philippines aboard the SS Doric, marking the first sustained immigration into our country and the humble beginnings of Fil-Ams in Hawai‘i.
Today our Fil-Am community numbers some four million throughout our country, now the second largest of our Asian American groups.
The story of Filipino Americans is the story of America. From very humble beginnings they have risen through hard work, sacrifice, commitment to advancing the next generations and mutual support to achieve so much already.
Hawai‘i Fil-Ams in particular have been trailblazers in politics and government, the military, business and entrepreneurship, journalism, popular culture, music and the arts and more.
Peter Aduja became the first Fil-Am elected to public office in the United States when he was elected to the Hawai‘i Territorial House of Representatives in 1954.
Benjamin Menor became the first Fil-Am higher court judge as associate justice of the Hawai‘i State Supreme Court.
Ben Cayetano was the first Filipino American governor of a U.S. state.
Major General Antonio Taguba was the second Filipino American promoted to general officer rank in the United States Army.
Eddie Flores Jr. bought the first L&L Drive-Inn on Liliha Street in Honolulu in 1976, turning it into a national franchise.
Carolina Dizon Wong was the first Filipino American woman to obtain an M.D. degree.
Ines Cayaban was the first Filipino American graduate of the School of Public Health, Nursing and Social Work at the University of Hawai‘i. She received the prestigious Jefferson Award in 1986 for her service to Hawai‘i.
Francisco Flores Trinidad Jr. of Honolulu, better known by his pen name “Corky” was an award-winning editorial cartoonist of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin who became the first Asian editorial cartoonist syndicated in the U.S.
A loyal veteran of the 1st Filipino Infantry Regiment that fought alongside our troops in the Philippines during World War II, Domingo Los Banos was Hawaii’s first Filipino American school principal.
And I was recently honored to join the promotion ceremony in Honolulu of Roy Macaraeg from Colonel to Brigadier General in the Hawai‘i Army National Guard, the first Fil-Am to become a general officer in the history of Hawaii’s citizen soldier ranks.
In Hawai‘i we also regularly honor the over 250,000 Filipinos who answered the call to protect and defend the United States and the Philippines in the Pacific theater. In 2016, President Obama signed into law the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act to bestow Congress’s highest honor upon those veterans.
We also celebrate our proud Fil-Ams who serve our country in Congress: my colleagues Bobby Scott of Virginia and T.J. Cox of California.
Each and all of these lives of achievement are but a small sampling of a broader community that has achieved so much and contributed so much to the rich fabric of our country. And the story of Filipino Americans is still in its early chapters.
Why are Filipino Americans among our most successful communities? General Macaraeg spoke to some of that at his promotion ceremony when he credited his own success to the hard work and sacrifice for him and his five siblings of his father, a laborer, and mother, a teacher, to the values they instilled, and to the constant nurturing and support of his broader community. That well describes Filipino Americans overall, that and embracing the responsibilities and opportunities of America while honoring and treasuring the rich heritage of their ancestral homeland.
All of this is why I recently joined my friend and colleague Congressman Cox of California in introducing H.Res.621, a resolution to express support for the permanent designation of October as Filipino American History Month. We urge our colleagues’ support to promote an ongoing appreciation of the contributions of Filipino Americans to our country and to the rich diversity of our nation.
To Fil-Ams everywhere, Maraming Salamat Po and Dios Ti Agngina, congratulations I truly look forward to partnering with you on your next proud chapters.