Happy FAHM 2019!

October is Filipino American History Month! FAHM was signed into Washington law this year by Governor Jay Inslee.

For the latest Seattle chapter activities & updates visit our Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook group.

If you want to know about stuff across America please visit our National or through http://www.fanhs-national.org or @fanhs_national

#FAHM #FAHM2019 #PinayVisionary

Cheers from Seattle!




Kalsada – International Women’s Day Highlight


Today, March 8th, is International Women’s Day!

bio-pic-carmelWe are giving a highlight to Carmel Laurino who is the founder of the Kalsada Coffee Company.  Their beans are grown in the Philippines and roasted in Seattle.

Carmel is truly an international woman, and leads a team composed primarily of women across two global hemispheres.  She is also a former FANHS archive researcher who worked with Fred & Dorothy Cordova. It is because of a Filipino American historical reference that Kalsada was conceived.

   1. What is Kalsada and what role do you play in it?

Kalsada Coffee Company is a social corporation working to bring to the international market Philippine coffee.  We work closely with our producer partners in quality building initiatives so that they may reach specialty quality standards.  As the founder, I wear many hats, currently I live in the Philippines and handle the operations and manage the Philippine based team.

    2. How is Filipino coffee distinct from other varieties?  What are your beans?

12248210_10207453714043313_5610582460074264729_oThe coffees we’re sourcing from the Philippines are different varietals of arabica coffee from upland communities of the Cordillera region.  Since we’re in the Asia Pacific Region, most would assume the flavor profiles would be similar to Indonesian or Vietnamese coffees but the Philippines has surprised us! We’re finding flavor notes that are normally associated with African coffees – floral and citrusy, but also nutty and chocolate-y notes that you would find in South American coffee.  We continue to strive and work closely on the farm level to uncover other flavor notes and continue to define and redefine the Philippine coffee profile.

    3. What was your experience at FANHS and how did it shape you?

I remember spending some time as an undergraduate at the University of Washington visiting and doing archival research at FANHS.  I enjoyed listening to the stories of Auntie Dorothy and Uncle Fred.  Their passion for storytelling and documenting the Filipino American experiences was inspiring and is part of my journey in starting Kalsada.  I was doing research on the presence of Filipinos in the Pacific Northwest at the turn of the century, the pensionados and part of that research was at FANHS.

    4. What is the historical significance of Filipino coffee?

12079603_10153575712325801_6983437125054525883_nThe Philippines was once one of the major coffee exporters in the 1800s and was once sold in Pike Place Market before Starbucks even set up shop. There’s a distinct photo of the Filipino Coffee Company taken in 1909 that inspired my journey and was the initial spark in my curiosity in exploring what happened to this industry and what it would take to bring it back to Seattle.

    5. How is your enterprise influencing the Filipino and American business circles?

We began exporting and roasting our product late last year and we’re slowly gaining traction in the US and our initial supporters have been Filipino American business owners.  I believe there is a desire to support brands that connect back to our shared heritage and build meaningful and sustainable impact in our global community.  This connection through great tasting coffee (perhaps I’m biased) seemed only natural and we hope to continue to build our relationships with local and national businesses so that we may be able to support more coffee growers in the Philippines.

For more amazing stories on the experience of Kalsada’s social enterprise please visit their page. https://kalsada.com/stories/


A Brown Story Behind the Photograph

The Seattle Times front page had my friend and fellow history partner Dr. Joe Castleberry alongside a vintage photo.  He’s making waves in American Conservative circles for his Pro-Immigration stance and his love of Hispanic America.  For the political spin read the Sunday article. For the historical background on the vintage photo he’s in front of, read below.

Why are there Filipinos in that picture?

Vintage Filipinos with President Joseph Castleberry at Northwest University, Seattle Times.

This extremely giant wall image is Northwest University’s first student body picture found in their prayer room at the Kirkland campus.  The brown men you can spot are Filipinos from Ilocano speaking regions of the Philippines, which is typical of the American “Manong” diaspora.  In 1934 Northwest’s school was in the Roosevelt (Hollywood) neighborhood of Seattle in what is now Cavalry Assembly alongside I-5.  This was very far from the confines of Chinatown where Filipino Americans were segregated to, and in a Seattle where racial covenants denied them residency. They were the first People of Color  at the school and were part of it’s forming foundation.

Example of racial intolerance against Filipino American migrant workers from early 20th century.

The nature of the school’s ethnic immigrant composition is important because it defied the institutional racism and violent bigotry of the era. It shows a school founded by immigrants, of people who did not look the same, but were bound together by radical convictions in their new Christian faith.  At the same time Christianity is a reason why this dynamic Filipino American history is so little known, because Filipinos are normally seen as Catholic.

One larger reason why Filipino immigrants were connected and admitted to the school is because of Pacific Northwest labor industries.  Census evidence I’ve found shows that all of these early Filipino students came to the United States as migrant laborers.  They worked the same jobs as Norwegian immigrant workers in the Northwest.  Pentecostalism grew amongst Norwegians, and the school’s first President Henry H. Ness was also a Norwegian immigrant.  Evidence at FANHS National Archives shows Filipinos & Norwegians as fellow loggers and lumber mill laborers in the local region.  Additionally, many Filipinos worked in the fishing and cannery industry with Swedes and Norwegians.  As the fervor of Christian revivalism  grew among these European immigrants, it carried along to their fellow co-workers in Asian immigrants as well.

1938 Senior Class, Northwest University Archives.
1938 Senior Class photo, Northwest University Archives.

Maybe six years ago I was walking the school halls and noticed an image of Filipinos peppered into the student body picture of Northwest University. I thought it would have been impossible to figure out who they were.  As I dug into better research a couple years ago, I found the story of NU’s Filipino students to be amazing considering their freedom and how they were later celebrated in their denomination.  Since then, I’ve brought audiences with me through the past about connections between the Manong Generation, Seattle’s Chinatown, and the Assemblies of God (AG). I’m glad to share some of the finer points again.

Continue reading “A Brown Story Behind the Photograph”

Cecilia Suyat Marshall: A Blessed Life in Civil Rights

Here is a video interview of Filipina American Cecilia “Cissy” Suyat Marshall reflecting on her life, husband Thurgood Marshall, and experiences at the NAACP.

“We’ve come a long way, but we’ve still a long way to go.” – Cissy

Cecilia Suyat went to Columbia University to study as a stenographer and then became an employee at the NAACP where she met many influential people working towards civil rights.  She reflects on working in the New York offices of the NAACP as a blessing, possibly from her guardian angel.  Although they were working towards equality, she was fearful of Thurgood Marshall’s marriage proposal to her.  Although not black or white, many people still treated her as a foreigner. Her sons are Thurgood Marshall Jr. and John W. Marshall.

Thank you to all our FANHS members and our African American supporters who recognize and remember the shared race issues that Black and Brown people have gone through during this October: Filipino American History Month. #FAHM (See FANHS Seattle prior statement on #BlackLivesMatter here)

An All American Family
An All American Family
This interview is from the Library of Congress, conducted on June 30th 2013 by Emilye Crosby.  Only 435 people have viewed this YouTube video as of this posting.  Share Cecilia’s voice this FAHM. Thanks, dc

Appeal for historically accurate Hollywood movie about farm workers

The following is an open letter written by FANHS member Devin Cabanilla that was published in the International Examiner Sept 16, 2015 issue:

An Open Letter to James Franco About Farm Labor Movement Filming

Dear James Franco,

First, I want to thank you for seeking to film part of In Dubious Battle in Yakima, WA.  I saw your extras casting call on my sister’s facebook feed.  It was awesome.  Secondly, thank you for highlighting the amazing work of John Steinbeck.  He is arguably the best 20th century American author I’ve enjoyed.  Your own work in film has been something I have enjoyed greatly as well.  In lighter fare, I thought This is the End was hilarious with the cameos and camp.  More recently, you deserve extra kudos for The Interview and your decision to stand up to the oppressive regime and policies of the DPRK.  I want to encourage your continued courage in film and admirable efforts by asking that you please specifically call for Asian American actors as part of your extras casting in Yakima. (You only asked for bearded guy extras.)

The reason I am asking you to highlight and include Asian Americans is because they were integral to the farm work and labor movement of California and America.  Steinbeck effectively highlights class warfare, and socialist labor union efforts in his work.  Race issues are definitely part of that schema. Chinese, Japanese, and Korean farm workers were part of early California’s population, and at one point they were barred from coming to America by racist laws. Filipinos began migrating to the United States to supplant the farm labor force and were still among the most oppressed.  During the 1930’s Filipino Americans in particular began organizing farm labor unions amidst riots. All ethnic groups travelled to wherever agriculture needed harvesting.  Asian Americans continued to seek the American Dream in their new homeland and sought to gain acceptance.  Even John Steinbeck accepted Asian dilemmas in the United States. He wrote in an integral and intelligent Asian character in the form of Lee for East of Eden.  Steinbeck was authentic, ahead of his time, and honored the Asian American population of the era.  Like him, please highlight the reality of the era with Asian American cast inclusion.

I did make some effort and reviewed the cast of In Dubious Battle on IMDB for hints of diversity. There were some likely Hispanic actors cast in memorable roles like “Apple Picker” and “Migrant Woman #2”.   I did not notice any Asian names in the list.  Also, your instagram pictures I found  seem to show a mostly white cast on set.  Granted your film is probably almost done, and you’re in post-production; this my overall request may seem a bit late. However, I’m not even asking for anything drastic like re-shooting the whole movie.  I just want you to have more historically accurate Asian American extras which you can definitely find in the Pacific Northwest.  Washington for sure has real good apple trees.  We for sure had Japanese American apple pickers in Washington state too, their descendants are here still. Cast them. Additionally, the Yakima area is actually home to one of the largest Filipino communities on the west coast in Wapato. They would be some of the most authentic extras. Some of them are even still farmers!  Maybe you want a late Lee character cameo now. Chinese people? They’re here still too.

I wish you the best success and want to constructively guide you, not just criticize.  I am just a hobby historian, and maybe a concerned citizen at best, but I can recommend groups who can testify on this history and give you advice on accurate ethnic casting.  I recommend the Filipino American National Historical Society (I’m a member), the Japanese American Citizens League (I’m not a member), and the Chinese Citizens Alliance (I like their food).  All of them have, or know, legit historians.  There is even a new documentary film maker named Marissa Aroy who made a piece on the Filipino Farm Labor Movement you could track down.  Maybe it’s best you just go to a university and grab an ethnic studies professor to spruce things up in post-production.

This whole letter may have a Chinaman’s chance to change things, but more personally, I ask you on behalf of the past relatives I’ve had here in the United States who suffered through farming in the 1930’s to include historically accurate Asian American extras. Don’t whitewash your film.  Do not oppress or be part of a system that ignores social history.  While I’m getting real here, honestly I haven’t even read In Dubious Battle. Even more honestly white farm laborers would have been in separate work camps from other groups; but artists have a choice to express fiction in truer realities.  Please, be authentic like Steinbeck by better honoring the ethnic labor and class landscape in the story that you are telling the world.  Cast AAPI’s.  

Sincerely & Satirically,

Devin Israel Cabanilla, MBA
4th-generation Asian American
Migrant Office Worker #3

“There is more beauty in truth, even if it is a dreadful beauty. The storytellers at the city gate twist life so that it looks sweet to the lazy and the stupid and the weak, and this only strengthens their infirmities and teaches nothing, cures nothing, nor does it let the heart soar.”

John Steinbeck, East of Eden

Throwback Thursday: A Shared Segregation

Navy Blacks/Filipinos Signage; FANHS National Archives, Seattle
Navy Blacks/Filipinos Signage; FANHS National Archives, Seattle

February is recognized as Black History Month (African American History) throughout the United States.  The picture posted for this Throwback Thursday is a stark reminder that race issues and concerns experienced by Black people have been intertwined with Brown people as well.  People of Color have been part of the U.S. military services for generations and continue to proudly serve beyond the difficult circumstances they faced in our institutions and past systems of segregation.

The artifact pictured above was brought to light to me by FANHS trustee Pio DeCano during a recent conversation about race relations.  We both recognized the value of bringing awareness and recognition to the shared struggles our communities have gone through together.  It can be easy to forget, but these dark touchstones of the past are necessary as we navigate into the light of the future.

More artifacts and documents around Filipino American history can be found at the Pinoy National Archives in Seattle.  Please visit us, and also be on the lookout for future events around Black/Brown history this month.

Throwback Thursday: Kona Kai

We’re going far back with this post, all the way to August of the year 2014.

This post is about you Greater Seattle FANHS, and the time we had at the Kona Kai Resort for the national conference. There was a large contingent of us from Seattle for the conference. See the Storify below to travel down summer memory lane.

FANHS 2014 National Conference

Share your great memories of any past conferences in the comments section.

If you’ve enjoyed exploring our Seattle events and online posts during this Filipino American History Month, we want you to join our membership  or volunteer with FANHS Greater Seattle throughout the year!

Thanks for FAHM2014 everyone!  TBT posts will convert to a monthly series.