1. Early Period
After the Spanish-American War (1898)
The US colonization of the Philippines from 1900 to 1934 had a tremendous impact on Philippine immigration. Mass migrations began, as Filipinos became US nationals and were given the opportunity to live legally in the US under the protection of its law. Demand for labor on Hawaiian plantations and California farmlands attracted thousands of Filipino immigrants known as Sakadas (plantation workers) who came mostly from the provinces of Ilocos and Cebu to replace the Japanese work force who intended to leave the Hawaiian plantations. Although the Sakadas came to Hawaii as American Nationals, they were not given full rights as American citizens and were the first Filipino Americans to experience racial discrimination and cultural oppression (Cordova, 1983). The Pensionados were a special group of privileged elite young men who came to the US in the early 1900s as government sponsored scholars. The scholarship program was intended to educate these young men about the US government system, so that they would return to the Philippines to administer their own government in a similar fashion. After attaining their degrees most of them went back to the Philippines, but some remained in the US and blended in with the later Filipino immigrants known as Pinoys. Most of the Pinoys worked as farmers in California in the San Joaquin Valley, Salinas, and Sacramento. Some became factory workers in the Alaskan fishing and cannery industries, while others took low-paying custodian, busboy, and domestic service jobs. The Pinoys had the most extensive experience with racial discrimination resulting from:
- changes in immigration policies
- anti-miscegenation laws (see below)
- and oppressive farm management practices
Many migrant families lived in poverty and children were forced to get educated, speak English only, and mainstream quickly.
Also known as miscegenation laws, anti-miscegenation laws were laws that banned interracial marriage and, in some cases, sex between members of two different racial groups. These laws were enforced in the North American Thirteen Colonies from the late seventeenth century on. They continued to be enforced in several US states and territories until 1967 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-miscegenation_laws). Some Filipino older adults and family caregivers may have been part of this group (McBride, 2006; Tompar – Tui & Sustento-Seneriches, 1995; Yeo, 1998). In 1934 the US Federal law known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act was passed to limit Filipino migration to 50 persons per year. This law was later offset by the US Navy’s recruitment of Filipino Americans who were exempt from such law.
During this period more Filipino women and families immigrated to the US. They were a combination of US military dependents (war brides), World War II veterans, professionals, and students, The Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 permitted many Asian residents in the US, including Filipino Americans, to apply for citizenship. The law also gave those who had served honorably for three years in the US Armed Forces the opportunity to become eligible for naturalization. The law also allowed US citizens and permanent residents to sponsor family members to immigrate to join them in the US Filipino Americans during this period experienced significant economic exploitation and social injustice despite their contributions to American society.