Filipino American Collectibles
Guide to Filipino American Collectibles
by   Eloisa Gomez Borah.
Contact me at:
eloisa  -omit-this-spam-guard-

NOTE:  Items from my collection were loaned to the Wing Luke Museum in Seattle, WA for their special exhibition
Playing for Keeps: Asian Pacific Americans in Sports, April 18 to November 30, 2003.

NOTE 2:  Items from my collection were also on display in the
When the World Came To Long Beach exhibit,
commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Pacific Southwest Exposition of 1928
at the Main Library in Long Beach, CA, July 26 to September 3, 2003.

When I bring along items from my collection in my lecture circuit, I often get asked how does one start collecting Filipino American collectibles.   Well, it isn't as easy as collecting Philippine collectibles, but if you have some knowledge of the history of Americans of Filipino Descent, you could start collecting anything about Filipino Americans or focus on a specific type of collectible (postcards, books, photos, etc.) or a type of collection.


A Yo-Yo is part of most everyone's childhood memories, so collecting Yo-Yos is a very popular hobby, with many serious collectors.   Therefore, a genuine Flores Yo-Yo (made by Pedro Flores and his Flores Yo-Yo Corporation in the 1920s) often sells for almost $1,000.   Flores sold his company to Donald Duncan in 1930, who then started making Duncan Yo-Yos, so you see how serious yo-yo collectors all over the world desire a Flores Yo-Yo (see photo at left below).   Other Yo-Yo makers that are part of Filipino-American history are Joe Radovan's Royal Yo-Yo (see string pack below middle) and the Goody Filipino Twirlers from the 1920s and 1930s.

Even in the POLITICAL memorabiblia arena, there are collectible. For example the 1964 Goldwater-Miller button (see photo at right below) with campaign slogan "Freedom For All" written in Tagalog, "Buklod Sa Kalayaan".


You may want to consider additional types of collectibles, such as military collectibles focusing on medals, documents, etc. of Filipino Americans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, or even collectibles on beauty queens such as beauty queen postcards and photos from many towns in California, Hawaii and the West Coast in the 1920s and 1930s.

SOME TYPES OF COLLECTIONS:     on a Person     on an Event     of a Place     of a Time Period

Perhaps the easiest way to start is to collect around a PERSON, so this is great for beginners.   Let's take as an example Football Hall of Fame quarterback Roman Gabriel.   Roman played football (1960s-1970s) for the Los Angeles RAMS and a couple of years with the Philadelphia EAGLES.

If you already collect sports cards, this should be a cinch for you.   His rookie card would be a must, but a really nice card to have is one of him when he played in college for the North Carolina State (see first photo below).   In addition to sports cards on Roman Gabriel, there is at least one book, dozens of magazine covers, posters, and even two jigsaw puzzles (see the two photos at right below).


A few additional suggestions for persons to focus on would include:   Major League Baseball Player Bobby Balcena of the 1956 Cincinnati Reds, 1948 U.S. Olympic Gold Medalist (Diving) Victoria Manalo Draves, writer Carlos Bulosan, and farm labor activist Philip Vera Cruz.

Collecting around an EVENT gives you a chance to learn a lot about that event.   Take for instance, Filipinos exhibited at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair.   Filipinos were exhibited in each U.S. World's Fair from 1898 to about 1915, and even at smaller venues across the U.S.   Postcards picturing Filipinos at the Fairs (Igorots, Bagobos, etc.) are very collectible (see photo at left below).   There are also books and Fair-related items on these events.   Among the harder to find items of that time is the visitor's guide brochure to the Philippine Village at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair (see photo at right below).


You can select any event that you feel has significance, for example, the 1977 International Hotel incident in San Francisco.

Another good start is to concentrate on a PLACE.   Take for example Hawaii and the many manongs (and a few manangs) who worked the pineapple plantations back around the turn of the century.   Among the many collectibles that are around is this book (see below) written for new and prospective plantation workers from the Philippines by a Filipino entrepreneur who may have been working for a labor contractor.


There are other places with relevance to the history of Filipino Americans.   There is Stockton (CA) in the 1920s, with great numbers of Filipino farm workers -- as well as other farm communities, such as Lompoc and Guadalupe in California.   There were also the Filipino Cannery Workers or Alaskeros in the Alaska salmon industry in the 1920s and 1930s, and even in Monterey (CA) at the height of the sardine industry there.

One popular TIME PERIOD to focus on is the World War II years, focusing on Filipino-American veterans.

A difficult time period to concentrate on is the pre-1898 years, such as items on Filipinos in Spanish California years, in the Gold Rush years, and in the years of the building of the railroads.   Perhaps a much easier option is concentrating on the post-1965 wave of Filipino immigrants.   Let me know is you collect pre-1898, because that is my favorite era.


Plan to hand down your collection to your family by explaining to them how you started your collection and the meaning behind each item.   You can also plan to donate your collection to one of several planned Filipino American National Museums, for example the Filipino American National Historical Association's National Museum in Stockton, currently a fund-raising campaign by the FANHS Stockton chapter.
Copyright © 1999-2003   Eloisa Gomez Borah.   All Rights Reserved.

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