Senate approves my resolution honoring Filipinos

On Wednesday, the Washington State Senate unanimously passed a measure that honors the long and proud history of the Filipino people in the United States.

Senate Resolution 8668, which I sponsored, recognizes the honorable service of Filipinos and Filipino-Americans in the United States military and society, celebrates their contributions to Washington, and designates October 2010, the 423rd anniversary of the presence of Filipinos in the United States, as the inaugural “Filipino American History Month.”

It is really an honor to sponsor this resolution. The Filipino-American community is a wonderful group of people and they have many activities that preserve their heritage and culture, including traditional dances and a strong interest in education. They work hard in their communities and never neglect their elders – the ‘aunties’ and ‘uncles.’

Plus, they have fantastic food that I really enjoy!

The Filipino-American National Historical Society recognizes 1763 as the year of the first permanent Filipino settlement in the United States, in St. Malo Parish, La. Filipino-Americans have contributed to economic, cultural, social, and military toward the development of the United States.

Washington has the fourth largest population of Filipino-Americans in the United States and is the home to historic Filipino communities in Wapato, Bainbridge Island, Seattle, Tacoma, Auburn, and Bremerton, among others. Filipino-Americans form the largest Asian/Pacific Islander ethnic population in the state.

Several Filipino leaders were in Olympia today to accept the honor on their community’s behalf. Among those present in the Senate gallery were Rey Pascua, president of the Yakima Valley Filipino American National Historical Society and other members; Dr. Frederic Cordova of the National Filipino American Historical Society and his wife, Dorothy Cordova; former Washington State Representative Velma Veloria; Alma Kern, president of the Filipino American Community of Seattle, and other members; Kendee Yamaguchi, executive director of the Commission on Asian Pacific/American Affairs, and other members; Jose Calugas, Jr., son of Medal of Honor winner Jose Calugas and chairman of the Philippine Scout Heritage Society, Tacoma Chapter; Alex Borromeo, president of the Filipino American Chamber of Commerce of the Pacific Northwest, and other officers; Dr. Pio DeCano; and Richard Gurtiza, president of the Filipino American Political Action Group of Washington, and other members; and Diane Narasaki, chairwoman of the American Pacific Islander Coalition, as well as other chapter members.

They call themselves the Filipino American community, but I always joke that they should call themselves American Filipino, because they really value their American citizenship, but at the same time they do so much to preserve their culture. That is something I really appreciate about this great community.

The 13th Biennial National Conference of the Filipino American National Historical Society will be held in July in Seattle, which was also the site of the first National Conference.