STORY BY HAL SAGA, STAFF WRITER
PHOTO BY PIXIE IWATA, CO-EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
October marks the celebration of Filipino-American history and the community’s campaign towards more curriculums surrounding Filipinos in the United States.
The Filipino American National Historical Society, announced the first celebration of Filipino-American History Month in Oct. 1992. While first recognized in America by the California and Hawaiʻi state governments in 2006 and 2008 respectively, it was officially passed nationally by Congress in 2009.
The observation of Filipino-American History Month in 2022 focuses on the theme, “Celebrating Our History and Legacies,” according to the FANHS. It will be the 50th year since the beginning of Filipino-American studies, the 40th year that the FANHS has been in session, and the 30th year of the public recognizing Filipino-American History Month.
The FANHS has pushed for an in-depth Filipino-American education in all schools across the U.S. this year, asking to reflect on the country’s histories in K-12 and higher education classes.
Schools such as University of San Francisco and UC Davis have fleshed out courses on Filipino histories; the former has a Philippine Studies program, and the latter established the Bulosan Center for Filipinx Studies in 2019.
Classes statewide have been required to teach about Filipino immigrants, specifically of the farm laborers in The Delano Grape Strike of 1965 due to California Assembly Bill 123. “Filipino students are able to learn about the histories of Filipino farmworkers in school, and larger statewide bills could prove to build strides to increase retention and school engagement among the Filipino and larger community,” said Katherine Nasol and Angel Truong of the Bulosan Center in a policy report.
Although the prominence of studies involving Filipino history is primarily in Northern California, classes in Southern California are planning to follow after their footsteps.
Professor Daniel Lind of the Ethnic Studies Department at Cypress College said that Governor Gavin Newsom signed California Assembly Bill 1460 into law in 2021, which made ethnic studies a lower division requirement for California State University schools. “It’s forcing community colleges now to have to offer these [classes].”
“The lower division classes are Introduction to Asian Pacific American Studies and then Asian Pacific American History,” Lind said in reference to what classes they have that relate to Filipino-based education. “Unfortunately, we can’t teach upper division classes. What we have at Cypress College right now is the Social Justice Studies focus on Asian-American Studies.”
Asian-Americans make up 26% of the student population at Cypress College in the Fall 2022 semester, with 3,493 enrolled. There are 883 Filipino students enrolled, representing a large percentage (25.3%) of the Asian student population, according to Cypress College Senior Research and Planning Analyst, Kristina Oganesian.
The retention rate of Filipino students was 83.8% in Spring 2022.
In a study from the Stanford-San Francisco Unified School District in 2016 in the aforementioned Bulosan Center policy report, “Culturally relevant studies increase youth empowerment, political and social awareness, attendance, and GPA.”
Lind said that he hopes to bring in a full time faculty member to the Ethnic Studies Department that specializes in Asian-Pacific American education. Albeit a small push in FANHS’s nationwide goal towards in-depth Filipino-American history education, Cypress College is planning to be a part of the movement. “We need someone who doesn’t just teach the classes, but can also help to facilitate or help organize campus events.”