A NONDESCRIPT BOULDER on the beach facing Morro Rock in Morro Bay, California has a brass plaque embedded onto the flat face of the rock.
Filipino-American history began on this spit of sand 427 years ago. On October 18, 1587, Filipino crew members of the Manila Galleon Nuestra Señora de Esperanza were part of the landing party on what was to become part of the United States. That was 33 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock and 20 years before the founding of Jamestown in the colony of Virginia.
The plaque reads:
During the Manila-Acapulco Galleon Trade era from 1565 to 1815 Spanish galleons crossed the pacific between the Philippines and Mexico. On October 18, 1587, the Manila Galleon Nuestra Senora de Esperanza commanded by Pedro de Unamuno entered Morro Bay near here. A landing party was sent to shore which included Luzon Indios, marking the first landing of Filipinos in the continental United States. The landing party took official possession of the area for Spain by putting up a cross made of branches. The group was attacked by native Indians two days later, and one of the Filipinos was killed. Unamuno and his crew gave up further exploration of this part of the coast.
Historical Landmark Declared by the
Filipino American National Historical Society
California Central Coast Chapter
Dedicated October 21, 1995
Ironically, when the monument was dedicated, part of the ceremonies included a Native American ceremony performed by Choi Slo, who is part Chumash Indian and part Filipino. His birth name was George Pagaling. The Filipino-American journey had come full circle.
The theme for this year, as chosen by the Filipino American National Historical Society, is tulay, bridging two countries and generations.
The San Francisco Bay Area is marking Filipino-American History month with a full slate of activities starting with a full day of presentations and performances of music, dances, songs and martial arts at the Asian Art Museum on Oct. 5.
The SF Pinoy Jazz Festival, Oct. 10-12 at the Manilatown Heritage Center has an impressive lineup. The center is located at the site of the famous International Hotel on Kearney Street, San Francisco, where many manongs (or, elderly) spent their retirement years before being forcibly evicted.
For a fresh, funny (and probably irreverent) "counter culture" interpretation of what has become a rite of passage for Filipino-American college students, you might be interested in the Pilipino Cultural Night (PCN}. Performed by Bindlestiff Studios on Oct. 2-4 in San Francisco.
There's more. From New York City to San Diego, Washington DC to San Francisco and Hawaii, a lot of local events are scheduled to mark the month's significance. Check out your local media to find an event near you.