Episode 151 – Filipino American Heritage…er History Month

Happy Filipino American Heritage…er History Month!

It’s hard to believe, but in the five years this podcast has been around, we haven’t dedicated an episode to Filipino American History Month (FAHM).  So this episode, the TFAL crew discusses our experiences with October ever since the Filipino American National Historical Society declared the month as FAHM.  Listen as we discuss how we first learned about FAHM, what we did and currently do during the month of October, why it’s called Filipino American History, and not Heritage, Month, how we all can contribute to and expand the definition of “Filipino American History,” and what happens when months such as these get appropriated by corporations.

This is also the first time we’ve recorded in-person after close to two years of social distancing, which may have enhanced our conversation.  All we can say is it was definitely more fun in the TFAL Studio!

Listen or download the episode through the embedded player on this page, find us on Mixcloud or subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts here. And for folks on Spotify, you can take a listen to us here.

What do you do during Filipino American History Month?  Let us know by leaving a voicemail at (805) 394-TFAL or email us at thisfilipinoamericanlife@gmail.com.

Photos from PIC Magazine (March 3, 1942) and James Wood Collection (UC Berkeley, Bancroft Library).

4 comments on Episode 151 – Filipino American Heritage…er History Month

  1. Johann Diel says:

    FANHS National board of trustees proclaimed October as FAHM in 1992, US Congress recognized the month officially in 2009. Those two dates are not in dispute…it’s actually recorded.

      1. Johann Diel says:

        This is why context is key and including that context in the conversation would and could help create a “delta” in making the practice and recognition of celebrating History Month and focus what folk do for it…1988 started the practice of the different FANHS chapters (mainly Seattle where the headquarters are) to start claiming the month and develop activities within their communities to get the month recognized. 1992 was when the National board of trustees actually proclaimed with a resolution that it would make October official and work to get it recognized Nationally and potentially by Congress. 17 years later, through lots of lobbying and also gaining allies in the process, Congress finally declares it recognizes the month as well. So there was a process…in the episode there was an air that all of this is frivolous and in a way lacks legitimacy…which was disappointing to hear. It would have been a great way to create a “delta” for how the celebration is perceived and practice if like so many of your other episodes you had brought in someone from FANHS-National (who has spent decades to get this recognition legitimized), a Emily Lawsin, Meg Thornton or Alan Aquino to be your sounding board for all those things you discussed (just like you do for many of your episodes that deal with, I’ll say “bigger” community topics). In a way, not having that “outside” contextual element made the episode disconnected because the four of you came with your individual experiences which was good to a point, but because none of you had a “bigger” context…things like, the bigger mission of FAHM were discussed kind of superfluously…the various contemporary research, practices and other things that go beyond the stereotypical things being done (some by as you even acknowledge, less informed groups or organizations). Here’s an example, one of the basic tenets of FAHM is that it wants all Filipinos/Filipino Americans to write/record/archive their own history…FANHS provides the resources to help folks to do that. Seattle has the National Pinoy archives, which is a repository of information about the accomplishments of different Pinoys well known or not that are or can be submitted to the archives by anyone, to help record that Pinoys are creating history here. The Canon as you mentioned…needed to be developed, because “no one” was writing, researching and recording that history to a significant degree before FANHS and the academics they help grow in the AAS programs around the country. The “canon” needed to be recorded because many of the 1st and 2nd hand sources were dying and a concerted effort had to be done to get that information before it was lost. There is no restriction on what anyone should research or write as Filipino American History…but understandably the standard has to be that the subject or point of view should be more from a pov of the diaspora as it pertains to what and who here in the US as opposed to in the Philippines. All this to say that, the episode was a good listen, thank you, but I hope a follow up can be in the cards and be built upon to beyond, ube, lumpia, tinikling, mayor’s wearing barong Tagalongs… to more of what you all were speaking of in the end..which is research, write, record and share actual history…

      2. thisfilipinoamericanlife says:

        Thank you for your words and feedback. Throughout the episode we were implicitly and explicitly critiquing the misinterpretation of FAHM by many Filipino Americans from its historical roots to things such as ube, lumpia, and the like. As we do in many of our episodes, we do include our personal experiences with an issue. At the same time, we were informing folks of the original intention of FAHM, as laid out by FANHS many years ago. We’re not sure how this could be interpreted as “frivolous” or “lack[ing] legitimacy.” We did not intend to diminish the work of FANHS-National or its chapters, so we apologize if you interpreted our conversation as such. That said, we understand that putting something out there publicly does not absolve our work from any critique. So again, thanks for your feedback.

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