Bipartisan Resolution to Recognize Filipino American History Month

October 5, 2016, 4:09 PM HST · Updated October 6, 8:55 PM
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Senator Hirono with Filipino World War II veterans. File courtesy photo.

Senator Hirono with Filipino World War II veterans. File courtesy photo.

US Senator Mazie K. Hirono introduced a bipartisan resolution in the United States Senate to recognize the month of October as Filipino American History Month.

The resolution aims to acknowledge the key role Filipino Americans play in shaping the country. Representative Mike Honda (D-CA) introduced an identical measure in the House of Representatives.

“This resolution pays tribute to the wide-ranging contributions that Filipino Americans have made to our country,” said Senator Hirono. “Nearly 200,000 Filipino Americans, including Filipino World War II veterans who fought for the United States, enrich communities across Hawaii every day. To honor them, we must see through the effort to award these veterans the Congressional Gold Medal, and ensure that their eligible family members apply for the Obama Administration’s program to reunite with their parents and other relatives in the United States.”

PC: courtesy Ryan Piros/Maui County

PC: courtesy Ryan Piros/Maui County

“Filipino Americans have an extraordinary legacy that includes the valor of those who fought for the US during World War II, the progressive change in the labor movement driven by farm workers in Delano, and all the unique voices that amplify the rich diversity that America champions,” said Representative Honda. “Every day in Silicon Valley, I see evidence of the continued courage, innovation, and hard work that Filipino Americans have displayed throughout American history as labor leaders, service members, artists, and business owners.”

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The Senate resolution is co-sponsored by Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Maria Cantwell (D-WA), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Mark Kirk (R-IL), Bob Menendez (D-NJ ), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Patty Murray (D-WA), Harry Reid (D-NV), Brian Schatz (D-HI), and Chuck Schumer (D-NY).

The resolution is also supported by the National Council of Asian Pacific Americans and Asian Americans Advancing Justice.

“NCAPA thanks Senator Hirono for once again introducing the Filipino American History Month resolution and for all of her advocacy on behalf of the Filipino American community,” said NCAPA National Director Christopher Kang.

In July, the United States Senate unanimously passed legislation authored by Senator Hirono to award Filipino World War II veterans the Congressional Gold Medal. After years of advocacy, the Obama Administration announced last May 2016 that it would create a parole program to reunite the families of Filipino World War II veterans. Senator Hirono is now working with veterans groups and US Citizenship and Immigration Services to ensure that eligible family members apply for the program. The Senator also successfully prevented the Department of Veterans Affairs from taking funds from the Filipino Veterans Equity Compensation Fund to pay for other projects.

The resolution honors the earliest documented Filipino presence in the continental US, the very first permanent Filipino settlement in the nation, and the economic, cultural, and social contributions of Filipino Americans.

Currently, there are nearly 3.9 million Filipino Americans living in the United States, including WWII Filipino American veterans who fought under the American flag at the request of President Roosevelt. Click here to read the full resolution.

“Every October, we recognize the long history and achievements of Filipino Americans in our nation. This year, we’ve made tremendous strides in honoring our Filipino American World War II veterans, including the launch of a program to reunite veterans with their family members and the Senate passage of the Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act. While we celebrate Filipino American History Month, we also urge the House of Representatives to pass this Gold Medal bill, to fully recognize the courage and bravery of our Filipino American veterans,” said Kang.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Celebrates Filipino American History Month:

Today, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) released the following statement in recognition of Filipino American History Month:

“For centuries, Filipino Americans have made exceptional contributions to U.S. businesses, culture and arts, government, technology, sports, health care, military, and more. In Hawaiʻi, Filipino Americans have been integral to our history, from driving our plantation-based economy in the early 20th century to becoming leaders across every industry in our state. As we celebrate Filipino American History Month and the many positive contributions the Filipino community has made, we must also continue to fight for issues like family reunification and honoring our Filipino veterans. 305 Members of Congress have supported my bill to award our Filipino World War II veterans with the Congressional Gold Medal (H.R.2737), and I am continuing to work with my colleagues and our Filipino community to get this bill passed before the end of the year. With just 18,000 Filipino WWII veterans alive today, time is truly of the essence to honor these courageous men with the long overdue recognition they deserve.”

Last year, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) introduced bipartisan legislation to award the Congressional Gold Medal to WWII Filipino veterans. The legislation acknowledges over 200,000 Filipino and Filipino-American soldiers who responded to President Roosevelt’s call-to-duty and fought under the American flag against the Imperial Forces of Japan during World War II.  In 2009, the United States Congress passed legislation recognizing October as Filipino American History Month.

Schatz Celebrates Filipino American History Month:

U.S. Senator Brian Schatz (D-Hawai‘i) issued the following statement in honor of Filipino American History Month:

“This month, we celebrate the vibrant culture, hard work, and strong values of the Filipino American community. For generations, Filipinos have made Hawai‘i and the United States their home. From labor to business to arts and education, Filipinos have helped write the history of our state and our country. Some of the most significant contributions came from the more than 200,000 Filipinos who fought alongside American service members during World War II. Far too many of them have still not received the basic veterans’ rights they earned. As we celebrate Filipino American History Month, we must continue our efforts to honor those brave Filipino veterans and their families by finally giving them the benefits and recognition they deserve.”

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