Pilipino Americans share history with campus
Community presents heritage through month-long slate of
By Allison Lefkowitz
Daily Bruin Staff
For the first time ever, the UCLA Pilipino community is sharing
its history and heritage through a Pilipino American History
Inspired by a trip to the Filipino American National Historical
Society’s conference in San Francisco this past summer, students of
seven different campus Pilipino groups came together to organize
the history month.
"It is very important for people to know about the history of
Pilipino Americans because it is something that is never taught,"
said Dawn Mabalon, director of the Samahang Pilipino Education and
"We are the oldest Asian American group in the United States,
the largest in California and the second largest but fastest
growing Asian Americans in the nation," Mabalon continued.
The students chose October for the history month because the
first Pilipinos stepped foot in the Americas in October 1587. Large
waves of immigration began in 1898 after the United States annexed
the Philippines and since 1965, only Mexico has sent more
immigrants to the United States. Los Angeles is home to the largest
Pilipino American community outside of Manila.
The UCLA Pilipino American population Â which includes
almost 1,000 students Â is represented by Samahang Pilipino,
along with other groups including Pilipinos for Community Health
and the Pilipino Recruitment and Enrichment Program.
Students said they planned the history month to educate the
campus about Pilipino American history as well as its modern day
issues and struggles.
"We are receiving national recognition from the Pilipino
community," said Valerie Villaraza, coordinator of the history
month. "We are hoping to set a precedent for other college
communities to follow."
Beginning with a Culturefest held in Westwood Plaza earlier this
month, the history month programs have included a lecture series on
Gender and Sexuality in Modern Pilipino American Culture and a
forum about AIDS in the Pilipino American community.
"The lecture on Gender and Sexuality brought prominent feminist,
gay, lesbian and bisexual Pilipino leaders to campus to talk about
their experiences and give (the students) Pilipino role models,"
"The AIDS forum helped to make people feel comfortable talking
about the issue, especially since the Pilipino American community
has the largest number of AIDS cases within the Asian American
community," Mabalon continued.
The month’s activities will continue with programs including an
exhibit in the Kerckhoff Art Gallery, a film in Ackerman Grand
Ballroom and poetry readings.
Pilipino American History Month will conclude on October 27 with
a rally in Schoenberg Plaza to inform the UCLA community about
efforts to save a class on Tagalog, one of the languages of the
Philippines. The class is scheduled to end after this year, and the
Pilipino community is fighting to have it permanently implemented
into UCLA’s curriculum.
"If the administration claims this is a diverse university, then
why can’t Tagalog be offered permanently?" said Ernesto de Guzman,
president of Samahang Pilipino. "There is a demand and an interest
in the subject, and I don’t know why the administration is blind to