Filipinos were first–to America

Filipino American National Historical Society plaque marking the landing of Luzones Indios in Morro Bay, California. Photo via INQUIRER/Emil Guillermo

By Emil Guillermo/inquirer.net – By rights, it really should be called the United States of the Philippines.

I mean first is first, right?

And so who’s on first, as the joke goes, but we all know it was Filipinos.

History says so.

This year was special as I am scheduled to perform my one man show at the University of Pacific, in Stockton, California, a town that oozes Filipino American history.

But this year’s Filipino American History Month was even more special when I made a pilgrimage to a special landmark that you may miss—unless you happen to be looking for the only public restroom at a particular vista point in Morro Bay, California.

For Filipinos, maybe even for all Asian Americans, maybe it should be considered our Mecca.

Or perhaps our blarney stone to kiss in order to receive that gift of history.
Morro Bay is the place where the first Asians landed on what would become the most Asian American part of the nation.

Now I’ve been to Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts before, and I must say this is much more exciting.

In Morro Bay, a special rock marks the original landing of Filipinos to America on Oct. 18, 1587, some 33 years before the Pilgrims landed.

1587? The first Filipinos from Asia landed in America? Yes, and they didn’t grab a thing. At least, not for themselves. They even gave the indigenous Indians they met food and clothing, as peace offerings as fellow “Yndios.” They were the “Un-colonizers.”

And yet, we still make such a fuss about those Mayflower folks with their big hats and buckles, as if that’s something to be thankful for.

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