In Search of the Ubiquitous Filipinos

[an interactive work-in-progress -- comments to Eloisa Gomez Borah:
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        While ample documented evidence exists that Filipinos came to America in the 15th and 16th centuries as seamen during the 250 years of the Manila Galleon Trade, little is known about the subsequent whereabouts of these early arrivals.

        Did they just disappear?     No.

        We know that Antonio Miranda Rodriquez became a soldado de cuera, traveled from Sonora to Los Angeles, and died an old man in Santa Barbara, California in the 17th century.   We also know that there are 9th-generation decendants of Manila men that are currently living in New Orleans, Louisiana.   (The Philippines was also a U.S. colony for fifty years (until 1946), and during these years Philippine nationals could travel freely into the U.S.)

        Why aren't Filipino Americans more visible?

        Perhaps it is because, given even just a couple of generations as Americans, Filipinos become so well woven into the fabric of what is America that they become invisible.   Some reasons that Filipinos are an "invisible minority":

  •     most are Spanish-surnamed,
  •     most speak English when they first arrive in the U.S.,
  •     physical traits are recessive -- children of interracial marriages "don't look Filipino", and
  •     interracial marriages are common and have no cultural stigma among Filipino immigrants and those U.S. born.

  •         These "invisibles" are Americans with more than 400 years of history in America.   They have been part of America's grief and America's joy, and almost everything American.   They were not "invisible" to some great Americans.   If all Americans were more aware of how the history of Filipinos in America is the history of America itself, this could promote a better understanding of Americans of Filipino descent.   This is the goal of this essay.   Reader input is most welcome.

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    Index to Profiles:

    Do You Know Us?   They Knew Us Well.

    Lafcadio Hearn   (1850-1904)   noted and prolific journalist, described in detail St. Malo, a village of Manila Men that had existed for over 50 years in the bayous of Louisiana on the outskirts of New Orleans.
          "Saint Malo, A Lacustrine Village in Louisiana", Harper's Weekly, March 31, 1883.
    He also mentions Manila Men and their Manilla settlements in Louisiana in his first novel published in 1889, Chita: A Memory of Last Island

    T.S. Eliot   (1888-1965)   poet and writer, in 1948 received the Nobel Prize for literature, born in St. Louis, MO.   When he was 16 years old, "During his last year at Smith he visited the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair and was so taken with the fair's native villages [Philippine Village was largest] that he wrote short stories about primitive life for the Smith Academy Record." -- from American National Biography  (see first paragraph, next to last sentence)

    Mark Twain   (1835-1910)   writer, under the name Samuel Clemens.   Wrote essays on the Spanish American War and his views on the Philippines as an American colony.

    Andrew Carnegie   (1835-1919)   Industrialist, member of the Anti-Imperialist League of New York along with Twain, he also wrote about the Philippines at the turn of the century.

    William Howard Taft   (1857-1930)   U.S. President 1909-1913, President McKinley sent him to the Philippines in 1900 as chief civil administrator - First Civil Governor of the Philippines 1901-04.

    Do You Know Us?   We Shared in America's Grief.
    Iraq Ambush     U.S. POWs in Iraq     9-11 Attack     U.S. Hostages in China
        Hate Crime     Embassy Bombings     Williams Kidnapping

    IRAQ Ambush - November 23, 2003 - Operation Iraqi Freedom

    Army Spc. Rel A. Ravago IV, 21, of Glendale, Calif.; assigned to 1st Battalion, 502nd Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), based in Fort Campbell, Kentucky.; was killed Nov. 23 when hostile forces attacked the vehicle in which he was riding in Mosul, Iraq.   Ravago and 35-year-old Staff Sergeant Eddie Menyweather of Los Angeles were both killed, as witnesses say gunmen started shooting as the American soldiers drove through the city center sending their vehicle crashing into a wall.  

    Ravago's parents had watched television reports of the attack before learning the victim was their own son. Dozens of friends and family visited their home Monday in a suburb of Los Angeles to offer condolences and grieve.

    His grandfather recalled trying to talk the Hoover High School graduate out of joining the military, telling the youth the family could afford to pay for his education.

    "But, the one thing is, he wants to serve his country," Rel Ravago told KABC-TV.

    On Saturday morning, Army Spc. Rel A. Ravago IV was online from Iraq with his mother, Maryann, in Glendale, wishing her a happy birthday and telling her that he had met a Filipina who worked in the Army mess hall.

    Confusion swirled Monday as a U.S. military official retracted his earlier report that the throats of two U.S. soldiers had been slashed during an attack Sunday in Mosul.

    The official, who said he was receiving his information from written military reports, said the two soldiers had died of gunshot wounds to the head and that their bodies had been pulled from their car by Iraqis and robbed of their personal belongings. Contrary to some news service accounts Sunday from the northern city of Mosul, the bodies of the men had not been mutilated or pummeled with rocks, he said.

    Despite Monday's statements, important questions remained about the incident. One was why the men were traveling through the streets of Mosul alone. Military rules in Mosul and other parts of Iraq prohibit troops from traveling outside their bases except in a convoy. The Americans who were killed were traveling in an unarmored sport utility vehicle without an escort.

    "There is no excuse," the military official said.

    Equally mysterious were the origins of the report about the throat slitting. The military official said he could offer no explanation.

                (Sources:   AP News, ABC News, Chicago Tribune, Los Angeles Times.
                  Photo source:

    Rel A. Ravago IV was one of the Screeming Eagle soldiers teamed with locals to beautify Mozul earlier this year.   He felt for the Iraqi people.   This was evident in his own words, as he was among those interviwed for an article in a military magazine.   Here is a brief abstract:

    "Organization is a task that will take some time. 'Itís going to take a lot of effort,' said Spc. Rel Ravago, Co. B, 1 st Bn., 502 nd Inf. Rgt.   The Glendale, Calif. native went on to say that Saddam had basically taught the people to be unorganized while he was in power.   'One guy told me that he had been throwing garbage in the street all his life.   It's hard to believe,' he said".

                "Soldiers, locals clean streets in Mosul"
                Iraqi Destiny, v.1 #15, May 31 2003, page 4

    U.S. POWs IN IRAQ - March, 2003

    Joseph Hudson, 23, an Army Specialist with the U.S. Army's 507th Maintenance unit of the 11th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, is among the U.S. POWs currently in Iraqi hands.

    Joseph is from El Paso Texas, and graduated in 1998 from Alamogordo High School in New Mexico, where his mother, Aniceta Hudson, still lives.   He is married, and has a 5-year-old daughter.

        See also information from the
    newsgroups: soc.culture.filipino.

    (Source: 3/24/03)


    Among those that perished in the Attack on America on September 11, 2001 were 21 of Filipino ancestry or origin.   They may lay buried in more than one way -- as among the Spanish-surnamed, among those who look Chinese, etc.

    Those among these 21 can be found among the:
  • First Responders - to South Tower, David Marc Sullins, emergency medical technician.
  • United Airlines flight #175 - Ronald Gamboa, on his way back to Los Angeles.
  • American Airlines flight #77 - Ruben Ornedo, on plane that crashed into Pentagon.
  • United Airlines flight #93 - Manolito Kaur, en route to San Francisco.
  • Wall Street Firm Employees
                    -- of Cantor Fitzgerald (Judy Fernandez, Carl Allen Peralta),
                    -- of Marsh & McClennan (Cesar Alviar, Cecile M. Caguicla, Manuel Lopez,
                              and Larry Sumaya).

    We are part of the grief in every way.    (Source:   Filipinas Magazine September, 2003)

  • U.S. PLANE HOSTAGES IN CHINA, April 1-11, 2001

    Ramon Mercado Jr., 23, an Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class in the U.S. Navy was one of the 24 Americans (crew of the Navy
    EP-3 surveillance plane) who were taken into custody and detained for 11 days on Hainan Island in the South China Sea, while the U.S. and China were in a diplomatic impasse.

    Ramon was born in the Philippines, but was raised in Moreno Valley, California, where he attended March Mountain High School.   He enlisted in the Navy upon graduation in 1996, and just this past December, he re-enlisted for another four years.   His father, Ramon Sr., said his son was hoping for a transfer to San Diego, where he would be closer to family.

    (Source:   AP Photo, MSNBC 4/01, ABCNews/ 04/12/01, and LA Times, 4/13/01)


    Filipino-American postal carrier Joseph Santos Ileto, 39, was shot to death by Buford O'Neal Furrow Jr. in the Los Angeles suburb of Chatsworth, about an hour after the white supremacist opened fire in a nearby Jewish community center, a few miles west, wounding three boys, a receptionist and a camp counselor.   Joe Ileto was the only victim killed in this racially-motivated rampage.

    Ileto was shot "willfully, deliberately, maliciously and with premeditation," said U.S. Attorney Alejandro Mayorkas as he revealed a detailed account of how postal worker Joseph Santos Ileto, a part-time letter carrier, was gunned down as he was "engaged in the performance of his official duties" Tuesday when he filled in for another carrier on a route through a quiet San Fernando Valley neighborhood.   Mayorkas said they found nine 9mm casings near the body of Ileto, who had been shot in the chest and the back of the head.

    Furrow confessed that he saw Ileto, who he said appeared to be Hispanic or Asian, standing in his postal service uniform next to his postal van and he asked if Ileto would mail a letter for him.   When he agreed, Furrow pulled out a gun and shot him several times in the chest and head with a 9mm handgun at point-blank range while delivering mail on a driveway in the community of Chatsworth.   Ileto bent over and attempted to run away.   Furrow then shot Ileto a few times in the back, until he saw the mail carrier fall to the ground face-down.

    "He stated that the postal worker was a good `target of opportunity' to kill, because he was `non-white' and worked for the federal government.

    Ileto, who immigrated to the U.S. when he wa 14, had worked for the U.S. Postal Service for two years as substitute carrier who took the routes of sick or vacationing co-workers.   According to David Mazer, USPS spokesman, his colleagues "really liked him and he seemed to be a happy-go-lucky kind of guy, always smiling."

    "We feel a deep loss with the death of this letter carrier," John Freeman, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.   "We have 800,000 employees, and we take very seriously when we lose one of them."   In honor of Ileto, the postmaster general ordered all flags in Southern California to be flown at half mast today, said Freeman.

    Ileto's relatives at his mother's home in Monterey Park could not watch the prosecutors' televised news conference.   "It's hard for us to hear," cousin Thomas Tiangco said, his eyes filling with tears.   "It hurts."

    Ileto, who lived in Chino Hills, Calif., is survived by his mother Lilian, and four sisters (including Carmen and Raquel) and a brother, Ismael.   The Ileto family has set up an assistance fund to pay for funeral expenses.   Anyone interested in contributing can contact Washington Mutual Savings Bank, Monterey Park branch at (626) 576-7081.

    (A review of information from ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN, Fox News, San Francisco Chronicle, and AP News Wire)


    Marine Sgt. Jesse Nathanael Aliganga, 21, killed by a car-bomb explosion along with eleven fellow Americans as he guarded the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi, Kenya on Friday, August 7, 1998.   Aliganga was serving in the Marine Security Unit, and "He died serving his country," said Marine Corps public relations officer, Captain Landon Hutchens.

    Nathan, as they called him, joined the Marines in 1994, shortly after graduating from highschool in Tallahassee, Florida, where his family still lives.   His mother Clara Aliganga, 43, said, "He was so proud to be a Marine.   (Being a Marine) was something he was bound and determined to do.   He was so proud he made it through boot camp at Parris Island (So. Carolina).   It was something he was really good at".

    Nathan's sister, Leah Colston, 26, of Tallahassee, FL, recalled how he was a little prone to putting on weight.   Then he joined the Marines and when he came back from basic training the next year her little brother Nathan was slim and had toughened up so that she barely recognized him.   "He's not big in stature, but he's got a big heart," she said.

    Nathan original enlistment was in January 1995.   His training included recruit training at Parris Island, combat training at Camp Lejeune, N.C., training as a communications specialist at the Marine Air Ground Combat Center in Twenty-Nine Palms, California, and the Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi, Mississippi.

    Nathan was sent to Nairobi in late February 1998, when he completed Marine Security Guard School at Quantico, VA.   Nathan held posts in Okinawa, Japan and Camp Pendleton, California.   At the end of his original three-year enlistment last year, he agreed to a 30-month extension.

    Nathan wanted to become sergeant before the end of his first four-year tour of duty with the Marines, in July 1998.   "He had so many goals," his mother Clara said.   This was one of the goals he did attain.   Despite the initial U.S. Embassy press release that erroneously listed him as "Corporal Nathan Aliganga", it was Sergeant Jesse Nathanael Aliganga who died in Kenya.

    At a memorial service at Quantico, VA, Nathan's mother was given her son's Purple Heart medal.   "They told me how wonderful my son was and that he was a good soldier.   I know he was." said Clara Aliganga.   Burial is planned in Arlington National Cemetery.

    (Sources:   Atlanta Constitution 8/9/98 p.19A, Los Angeles Times 8/9/98 p.A15, New York Times 8/10/98 p.A7, San Jose Mercury News 8/9/98, AP Oline 8/9/98 & 8/13/98, 8/9/98, Agence France Presse 8/9/98)


                    her grieving parents

    Christina Marie Williams was last seen on June 12, 1998.   Christina took her dog, Greg, for a walk near her home in Seaside, California (near Monterey), and a half hour later Greg wandered home alone.   Investigators have followed hundreds of leads, and the media have reported the latest developments.

    Celebrities like Clint Eastwood, Mariah Carey and Reggie Jackson have made public service announcements to call the FBI Hotline at (800) 671-3343 or the Polly Klass Foundation at (800) 587-4357.   The Williams family needs your help.

    (Sources:   New York Times 8/7/98 Sec. A p.14, Sacramento Bee 8/1/98 p.A1, San Francisco Chronicle 8/15/98 p.A24)

    Scattered remains, found earlier in the week in a rugged area three miles from the her Seaside home, were confirmed to be those of Christina Williams, who disappeared seven months ago.   The Monterey County Coroner's office made the identification from dental records.   Cause and time of death are still unknown, but the criminal investigation continues.   The FBI continues to offer a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for Christina's disappearance.

    (Sources:   Los Angeles Times 1/15/99, San Francisco Chronicle 1/15/99)



    Do You Know Us?   We Shared in America's Joy.
    Miss America 2001     Miss Teen USA 1998     1948 Olympics Double Gold

    Miss America 2001

    The reigning
    Miss America 2001 is Miss Hawaii, Angela Perez Baraquio.   She was crowned at the 80th Annual Miss America Pageant in late 2000.   Angela is a 5th grade school teacher in Hawaii, whose parents immigrated from the Philippines

            (Source:   Honolulu Advertiser, October 15, 2000, and the Miss America Pageant)

    Miss Teen USA 1998

    On the evening of August 17, 1998, Vanessa Minnillo, Miss South Carolina Teen USA, was crowned MISS TEEN USA 1998, and witnessed by TV viewers on the CBS Network.   Miss South Carolina Teen USA was one of 51 State Delegates competing for the title.   The final competition was held at the Hirsch Coliseum in Shreveport, Louisiana.

    Minnillo, a 17-year-old from Charleston, SC, is a Senior at Bishop England High School.   She is a member of the National Honor Society, Junior Beta Club, and is also enrolled in several honors courses. Her many community involvements include the Special Olympics, Habitat for Humanity, and the Beach Clean-up Crew.

    According to Molly A. Miles, CEO of the Miss Universe Organization, "Her reign will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience with enriching opportunities for growth and self-discovery.   We will work closely with Vanessa to plan a program designed to help her reach her personal, professional and humanitarian goals."

    Ms. Minnillo was also presented with the Congeniality award, a HOYA Crystal statuette and one thousand dollars.   The 51 State Delegates selected Minnillo as the recipient of this award for the extra energy and spirit that she exhibited during pre-pageant activities.

    Vanessa will spend her spectacular year-long reign as Miss Teen USA traveling throughout the country, making special appearances on behalf of the Miss Universe Organization, its sponsors and affiliated charities.   Miss Teen USA will also be represented by the William Morris Agency.

            (Source:   Business Wire, August 18, 1998)

    1948 Olympics Double Gold Medalist

    U.S. Olympic Gold Medal Champion Victoria Manalo Daves was the first U.S. woman to win two Olympic gold medals in an Olympics.   These were in the Diving events in London in 1948, both in platform diving and springboard diving.

    California Inventor of the Modern Yo-Yo in 1928 - Pedro Flores

    Do You Know Us?   We Shared in Almost Everything American.
    Clinton White House Scandal

    1998 Clinton White House Scandal

    "White House steward Bayani Nelvis, who works in a small kitchen that adjoins the president's private room adjacent to the Oval Office, was called for a third time before the grand jury" on March 12, 1998.

            (Source:   MSNBC, March 12, 1998)

    Asians With Spanish Surnames

    Bilingual When We Got Here

    No stigma for interracial marriage

    "Research Note on the Measurement of Interracial Marriage"
    by John H. Burma
    The American Journal of Sociology, Vol.57, No.6 (May 1952), pp.587-589

    "Interracial Marriages and Transnational Families: Chicago's Filipinos in the Aftermath of World War II"
    by Roland L. Guyotte and Barbara M. Posadas
    Journal of American Ethnic History, vol.25, No.2-3 (Winter-Spring 2006)

    "Interracial Dating & Marriage"
    by C. N. Le
    Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America, 2007

    What Does a Filipino American Look Like?

    Rob Schneider       |     Phoebe Cates     | Lou Diamond Phillips |       Tia Carrere       |   Andrew Cunanan

    In Conclusion ...

    An essay by Eloisa Gomez Borah
    Copyright © 1998-2001   Eloisa Gomez Borah.   All Rights Reserved.

    Abstract | Spanish Surnames | English-Speaking | Physical Traits | No Interracial Stigma

    Pinoy public service pages at this site:
    Americans of Filipino Descent - FAQs        Chronology of Filipinos in America Pre-1898        
    In Search of the Ubiquitous Filipinos           Guide to Filipino American Collectibles        
    Barangay Yaptinchay                                       Filipino American Links
    Mama's Filipino Recipes                                 Baguio, City of Pines

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