Chicago, 12 October 2022 - The Philippine Consulate General in Chicago lent its support to Filipino American History Month (FAHM) by attending the kickoff event on 02 October 2022 held at Bolingbrook Fountaindale Library. The event, with this year’s theme is Celebrating our History and Legacies: 50 Years of Filipino American Studies, 40 Years of Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS), and 30 Years of Filipino American History Month, was organized by the Filipino American National Historical Society (FAHNS).
Bolingbrook’s Mayor Mary Alexander-Basta was present as host of the event and jokingly mentioned that Bolingbrook proclaimed October as FAHM ahead of the White House. State of Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot, Niles Mayor George D. Alpogianis also made similar proclamations.
Meanwhile, FANHS Trustee Mr. Ruben Salazar gave a short history on the arrival of Filipinos in the US. This was followed by the highlight of the kickoff celebration which was a short feature film, “Everything Stays” written and directed by Cole Bacani who was present for a Q and A. The film tackled the warmth and closeness of extended Filipino families, and the challenges of leaving family behind to pursue opportunities.
Consul General Paez expressed appreciation for the recognition of the contribution of Filipino Americans in the last five decades albeit making their mark in American society much earlier, with the first recorded arrival of Filipino seafarers on board a Spanish galleon in Morro Bay, California in 1587, and the first recorded North American settlement in St. Malo, Louisiana in 1763.
The Consul General recounted that in the Midwest, Ms. Estrella Ravelo Alamar and Mr. Willi Red Buhay, through their photobook “Filipinos in Chicago,” recalled the pioneering Filipinos in the early 1900s, composed mainly of government-supported pensionados and self-supporting students, who settled in the city. With the massive waves of Filipino immigrants after World War II, Filipino Americans became the largest urban group of Asians in Chicago. According to the latest data from the US Bureau of Census, there are now about 268,000 Filipinos and Filipino Americans in the US Midwest, 121,000 of whom reside in Illinois, mainly in the Greater Chicago area.
It is for this reason - to foster close and mutually beneficial political, economic and cultural relations between the Philippines and the Midwestern region of the United States, and to address the needs of a growing Filipino population - that the Philippine Consulate General in Chicago was established in 1948. Even as the number of Filipinos has grown exponentially and their needs have become more complex, the essence of our mission to promote Philippine interests and to protect and promote the rights of Filipinos remains the same. END