About two years ago, the Hawaii State Legislature approved HB 3343 declaring October as Filipino-American History Month. This law recognized the significant and fecund contributions of the Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the social, political, and economic life of Hawaii. Likewise, it affirmed that Filipino and Filipino Americans, indeed, have the right to celebrate its history in their new homeland.
The plantation workers--popularly known as the 'sakadas'--initially coming from the Ilocos, paved the way for this history to have its own place within the larger history of the state, and by extension, the broader historical narrative of the United States.
Across the years, we see them, these workers, and in tandem with the other workers contributing both brains and brawns, they helped propel Hawaii economy and moved this state to a development phase never before seen. We see the trajectory of this narrative: from the plantations to factories, from the hotels to hospitals, and from resorts to schools.
Today, Filipinos operate their own businesses. Today, they occupy major positions in the banking, hotel, and retail industries. We have also witnessed Filipino Americans occupying positions in the government.
Locally, Maui County, through Mayor Charmaine Tavares/ proclamation, declared October as Filipino-American History Month. The proclamation recognizes the contributions of Filipinos in the development of Maui.
Last October 1st, Filipinos converged at the front lawn of the Maui County building and witnessed the raising of the Philippine flag and in the singing of the national anthem.
In his article, “Honoring the Past by Creating the Future,” as published in “ANAK,” Vince Bagoyo emphatically asked, “Where do we go from here?
He wrote, “We are politicians, attorneys, soldiers, entrepreneurs, bakers, gardeners, and bankers. Can you imagine if we all unite and become one entity? We would be indestructible. So where do we go from here? We stay united and always work on strengthening that unity. We stay less concerned with our own selfish ambition and remember the greater good. We teach our children struggle so that they might be stronger. We educate ourselves. We celebrate the past.”
With that said, let us be proud of who we are--we Filipinos living in the diaspora. Let us also rejoice for all our collective achievements. And let us look ahead and move forward towards a brighter future for community.
Aloha and Mabuhay!