100 years of Filipinos in Hawaii and legal immigration to the USA
<----Leslie Abanilla, 18, of Waiçanae, practiced her runway moves at the Filipino Community Center in Waipahu on Tuesday for a fashion show that was held Friday at the center. The event featured Avel Bacudio, a designer from Manila. The models were Hawaiçi Filipinas.
Below is a lengthy article from Sunday's Honolulu Advertiser. It is about the growing Filipino population in Hawaii. One hundred years since the first immigrants came to the islands they are now its second biggest ethnic group.
Filipinos have been legal immigrants to the US. Many came here as nurses, this country has a large shortage of those vital workers and has been recruiting them from overseas for years. My sister-in-law Leonette came in 1999. Some Filipinas married US citizens, usually our military servicemen. That was my wife who came to the US in 1989. There have been many reasons for Filipinos to come to the USA.
They are hardworking people who have added much to this country. Why then do some in the anti-illegal immigration crowd want to limit legal aliens too? I'm no fans of illegals, read this post. This country does have a need for legal immigrants and that should be a whole other issue. Measures like eliminating birthright citizenship are dumb, and so are other measures that would cut or restrict legal immigration. It is a fact this country has a declining birthright. To maintain our prosperity we need more people. Stop illegal aliens, deport them and do what needs to be done. But don't put more obstacles in the way of Filipinos and others who can contribute to this country.
Open Post- Jo's Cafe, Right Wing Nation, Adam's Blog, Pursuing Holiness,
They first traveled from the Philippine Islands to Hawai'i's shores nearly 100 years ago. Today, they are still coming, and in numbers far greater than migrants from any other country.
On the eve of a yearlong party celebrating their centennial, Hawai'i's Filipinos are on the verge of becoming the largest ethnic group in the state. Already a significant political force, the added influence will put them in a position to flex more socio-economic muscle.
"We as Filipinos need to recognize that ... we have a responsibility, not just to our own community, but to the community at large," said Elias Beniga, chairman of the Filipino Centennial Celebration Commission. The 43-year-old financial adviser who arrived from the Philippines at age 9 added: "We have a responsibility to the next generation of Hawai'i's people."
The first Filipino plantation workers, known as sakadas, faced many of the same struggles as the Hawaiians, Caucasians, Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Puerto Ricans, Spanish and Koreans who came here before them.
But the experience of Filipinos is also one uniquely their own.
There are many success stories among Filipinos in Hawai'i, including a governor and a Miss America. But they continue to be underrepresented in the typically higher-paying professions.
"People still tend to be in hotel-service industries, hotels, tourism and small business," said Belinda Aquino, director of the Center for Philippine Studies at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa.
Census figures point to the Filipinos overtaking the Japanese as the biggest ethnic minority in Hawai'i in the coming years.
According to figures released five years ago, 22.8 percent of the state's population identified itself as Filipino or part-Filipino. That's right behind the 24.5 percent who checked Japanese or part-Japanese. Topping the list were 39.3 percent who identified themselves as Caucasian or part-Caucasian.
Eugene Tian, the state's research and statistics officer, said he expects the Filipino and part-Filipino population will overtake the Japanese and part-Japanese in the next three to five years.
Birth and immigration rates are causing the population surge.
Filipino babies accounted for 16.9 percent of births in the state from 1996 to 2004, according to an analysis of state Department of Health data. Japanese babies accounted for 10.5 percent of births.
Filipinos made up 53 percent of those who immigrated to the U.S. from 1973 to 2004 and identified Hawai'i as their final destination, according to numbers culled from the federal Office of Immigration Statistics. That's an average of 3,879 Filipinos a year. An average of 416 Japanese-born immigrants arrived in Hawai'i each year, less than 6 percent of the total.
TSUNAMI OF MIGRANTS
What local Filipino observers describe as the most recent wave of Filipino immigrants began in 1965, when U.S. immigration laws were liberalized, allowing professionals to be considered for admittance for the first time. This wave "has been more of a tidal wave or a tsunami," said Dean Alegado, chairman of ethnic studies at UH-Manoa. He added, "I don't see that ending unless there's a radical change in U.S. immigration law."
The Associated Press reported last week that a recent survey conducted by an independent pollster found that one in three residents of the impoverished Philippines would move to another country if given the chance.
"In places like the Philippines or Mexico, a certain culture of migration has developed," Alegado said. Those in the new country maintain strong ties with family and friends in the homeland through correspondence, and by sending money home. That lures more people away from the homeland, and soon a network is formed, he said.
A culture of migration took root here with the arrival of the initial 15 sakadas aboard the ship Doric, which reached Honolulu Harbor on Dec. 26, 1906. They came, in part, at the invitation of the Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association, which had contended with strikes spurred by the Chinese, Japanese and other immigrant workers who had come before.
"They decided to recruit from places for not only cheap, but docile labor," Aquino said.
But by the 1920s, the Filipinos, too, found themselves embroiled in plantation labor disputes. In decades that followed, Filipino and Japanese plantation workers joined forces through the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which helped win benefits for workers and eventually changed the socioeconomic landscape of the Islands.
Among those who came to work on plantations were the grandparents of Roberto Los Banos, 39, whose Kaua'i-born father, Domingo, served in World War II and later became a teacher, public schools district superintendent and advocate for Filipino soldiers who assisted the U.S. military during the war.
Roberto Los Banos, half-Filipino and half-Caucasian, grew up in a home in Wai'anae surrounded by ethnic foods and other reminders of the homeland.
"Growing up, we were all proud to be Filipino," said Los Banos, the sous chef at the Hilton Hawaiian Village — second-in-command of all cooking at Waikiki's largest resort.
As a young kitchen worker, Los Banos said, he learned how to prepare traditional dishes from cooks who were mostly Filipino immigrants. "My success is the result of all the people who have worked alongside me in the past," Los Banos said. "And a majority of them were Filipinos."
FAME AND SUCCESS
There are scores of other Filipino success stories.
Ben Cayetano, who grew up in Kalihi, would eventually become the country's first Filipino-American governor. Lorraine Rodero Inouye, the daughter of a Pauka'a plantation family, was the nation's first Filipina mayor when she was elected on the Big Island, and today is a state senator. One-third of the Honolulu City Council is Filipino, and there have been numerous Filipino state lawmakers.
In the entertainment industry, the likes of Faustino Respicio of the "Filipino Fiesta" TV show, radio man Tommy Tomimbang, the Society of Seven, jazz man Gabe Baltazar and Nohelani Cypriano preceded Miss America Angela Baraquio, comedian Augie Tulba, and "American Idol" finalists Jasmine Trias and Camile Velasco.
Several Filipino attorneys have become judges, among them Hawai'i Supreme Court Associate Justice Simeon Acoba Jr. and his predecessors on the high court, the late Benjamin Menor and retired Mario Ramil.
Filipinos here also have carved out a niche in the eldercare industry. Ron Gallegos, outgoing president of the Alliance of Residential Care Administrators, said 98 percent of the nearly 1,200 home-based caregivers in the state are Filipino.
STUCK IN SERVICE JOBS
Collectively, though, Filipino-Americans in Hawai'i have yet to match strides made by other ethnic groups, according to 2000 Census figures.
Among Filipinos, 8.4 percent of men and 13.6 percent of women listed themselves in professional categories — doctors, lawyers, engineers, architects and other jobs requiring college degrees — below the statewide 16.6 percent of men and 22.2 percent of women.
Meanwhile, 31.4 percent of Filipino men and 30.3 percent of Filipino women counted themselves under a service category, which includes hotel and maintenance workers, waiters, police and firefighters. Among the state's entire population, 20.9 percent of both men and women counted themselves as service workers.
"Socially, economically ... they have not obtained the type of mobility that, say, Japanese-Americans, Chinese-Americans experienced historically," said UH-Manoa ethnic studies associate professor Jonathan Okamura. The Filipino-Americans, he said, are "very much mired in the same sort of position that they held 30 years ago."
He blames the slow upward mobility of Filipinos on a local economy that's based largely on visitor and construction industry jobs. It's a problem that affects all ethnic groups, but especially those who are looking to move up the socioeconomic ladder.
"The economy itself does not provide the kinds of jobs required for collective occupational and income mobility," he said.
TOIL FOR A BETTER LIFE
Rose Aguinaldo, 64, is among the hundreds of Filipino women who work as hotel housekeepers in Waikiki.
She arrived in Hawai'i from Laoag, the major city on the island of Ilocos Norte, more than 33 years ago and almost immediately began working at a hotel.
"If I had my choice, I don't want to be a housekeeper, but I have to support my family and myself," Aguinaldo said.
She also wanted a better life for her children, and today both are college graduates and in the nursing profession. She and her husband, a retired construction laborer, purchased land in Waipahu and built a house there.
Aguinaldo, also a shop steward for Local 5, the Hotel Employees and Restaurant Employees, said being part of the union has helped her family.
"We have good benefits because of the union," she said. "We have medical, we have a pension plan."
Eric Gill, Local 5 secretary-treasurer, said about 60 percent of his union's members are Filipino, and a majority are women.
"The Filipinos, as a group in Hawai'i, are struggling to make a similar transition as the Chinese and Japanese before them, where they're actually able to move beyond labor and develop an internal professional class, middle class ... that most immigrants come to America to get," he said.
Gill said that unlike earlier immigrants, who tended to come from the same regions of their home countries, Filipino immigrants have the burden of coming from culturally diverse areas of the Philippines, with different languages and customs that have made it harder for them to communicate with one another.
Another reason behind the comparatively slow socioeconomic ascent may be tied to that initial recruiting of sakadas. At the turn of the 20th century, the plantations sought out single men or discouraged the immigrants from bringing wives or children, and many chose not to marry interracially. Consequently, there were significantly fewer second-generation or locally born Filipinos until later in the 20th century, said Aquino, the Philippines studies professor.
"So there's no bridge to that first era (of immigrants)," she said. "There were so many obstacles in the plantation era that prevented Filipino progress. They recruited mostly single, illiterate men from Ilocos, so how can you sustain a community with that kind of infrastructure?"
Former Gov. Cayetano agreed, noting that unlike early Chinese or Japanese families, those Filipino men were more concerned with earning money to send back home than starting families here. "Families give rise to community organization, development of business, etc. — single men don't," he said.
Still, Aquino said, "Despite all of the barriers they had to undergo in the early days ... the Filipino community developed quite well, especially after World War II. I think it's a tribute to their resiliency and their resourcefulness that they were able to survive."
Cayetano envisions the Filipino community building its successes in Hawai'i's legal, political and labor circles. Looking toward the future, he said, parity with the other successful immigrant groups is inevitable.
"Eventually," he said, "the Filipino community will become full partners in the Hawai'i community."