Filpino American History Month helps students look towards the future

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Santiago Cuevas

Graphic by Phoenix Agyepong.
From Hispanic Heritage month to Halloween, there’s much to celebrate during Oct. However, one celebration in Oct. that goes unnoticed is Filipino American History Month.
Filipino American History Month was first celebrated in 1992 after the idea for the celebration was founded in 1991.
In 2009, Congress would finally recognize Oct. as Filipino History Month, and with that recognition, many states would hold different celebrations for the occasion. Although the month is recognized nationally, there is not much awareness about it. Thus, the celebration generally goes unnoticed.
Filipino American History month, not to be confused with Filipino American Heritage month, serves the purpose of remembering their cultural history while also bringing awareness to the fact that Filipinos have played an important role in American history and will continue to play a vital role in the future.
Although Filipinos make up the third biggest minority group in the US, Filipino culture is still underrepresented.
“It’s definitely one of the groups that doesn’t get talked about as much as,” Blake Traylor, sophomore, said. “I think Filipino culture is given some representation, but it’s not something that I think is sort of in the spotlight or given a lot of attention.”
Each year the Filipino American National Historical Society (NAHS) chooses a theme to go along with Filipino American History Month. This year calls attention to “The history of Filipino American activism”. This theme goes along with the current issues our society faces, while also bringing to light issues that Filipino Americans face across the nation, one of those issues being the model minority myth.
The model minority myth affects many Filipino Americans. The notion of trying to be the best holds Asian minorities at a higher standard. Joyce Matanguihan, sophomore, said that the model minority myth plays an important role in what she does, and how she succeeds in life
“I feel like I’ve always had to have high expectations for myself and had to fulfill the high expectations of my family. So, like, a lot of the time, I’m just kind of streamlined towards this path of success, and anything that I do that strays away from that is kind of wrong,” Matanguihan said.
The model minority myth encourages the idea that Asian immigrants and Asian-Americans hold more promise than other minorities when it comes to academic and economic success. This is due to the stereotype that Asian parents are much stricter on their kids compared to other cultures, and many of their traditions revolve around their children’s success. With that being said, the pressure to be the best is often higher which can lead to a lot of stress.
Traylor expresses similar concerns when it comes to the model minority.
“I just identified with the model minority, because a lot of the time there’s that additional pressure that you have to be better than most people. What you do, you have to be excellent. You can’t just be OK at it or you can’t relax and sit back and have a moment to enjoy not being the best of the best,” Blake said.
The model minority myth is one issue that many Asian minorities have to deal with simply because of how their group is stereotyped.
Right now, many minority groups and support groups are tackling the issue of racial injustice, Filipino Americans included. The Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement has shed a light on minorities across the country. But more specifically on struggles that the black community faces. The BLM movement has helped people open up and discuss race more than ever, and has helped communities demand change.
For Matanguihan, the BLM movement has made her realize that in order for there to be peace, people have to realize that black lives matter before realizing that all lives matter. Matanguinhan wrote a speech at the candlelight vigil two weeks ago in honor of all the lives lost to racial injustice. Her speech was delivered by Lyka May Canto, the Asian Student Organization (ASO) president while Matanguihan was sequestering.
In her speech, Matanguihan discussed various issues concerning the Asian community and how those struggles connect to the BLM movement.
“My main point was that all of us can’t matter until black lives matter. I notice that even within the POC community we put our struggles against each other. People will say ‘oh were struggling too’ but until black lives get the justice that they deserve, then we can’t do too much because they’re the most repressed right now,” Matanguinhan said. “People are dying and getting harassed, and it just isn’t being talked about as much.”
At Augustana, Filipino culture is very much celebrated, though Filipino History doesn’t receive the same attention as most Asian holidays. The recognized national month is relatively new. Consequently, many Americans are unaware it is celebrated.
To combat the lack of awareness, the Filipino Student Organization (FSO) is planning to establish more programming and materials to advertise the month.“We had to rush to get involved and talk about planning an event or something or like planning posters and stuff,” Matanguihan said.
The FSO was established last year in hopes of bringing together more students who are interested in Filipino culture or those who are of Filipino descent. With the newly established FSO, many Filipino students at Augustana feel like their culture is being better represented and feel more comfortable having people they can relate to.
“We want to create a community of Filipinos and people who are interested in Filipino culture to create a sense of community. Filipinos have a sense of really tight communities, we prefer to do things with our family, and like having that strong connection to a family is something that I want to bring to the Augustana campus,” Jude Albert Salazar, junior and Vice President of FSO, said.
Although Augustana hasn’t put much emphasis on Filipino History month historically, it does make those of Filipino descent feel at home with where they are.
“Having that close cultural background connection with the Filipino student organization is just really fun,” Matanguihan said. “It reminds me of home.”