Celebrating Filipino American History Month

Celebrating Filipino American History Month

Published in Chinese in Sing Tao Daily and in Spanish in El Tecolote.

By Dr. Vincent Matthews

Kamusta! That’s “hello” in Tagalog, one of the seven languages most frequently spoken by our SFUSD students and families. 

If you’re in our schools, you may hear this and other Tagalog words even more throughout the month of October as many of our schools have joined in celebrating Filipino American History Month. (Fun Fact: the month of October was chosen to commemorate the arrival of the first Filipinos who landed in California in 1587)!

This year’s theme from the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is “50 Years Since the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention.” The year 2021 marks the 50th anniversary of the First Young Filipino People’s Far West Convention, a meeting that took place at Seattle University in 1971 and brought over 300 young Filipino American participants from the West Coast of the U.S., and is hailed as the beginning of the Filipino American Movement. 

In SFUSD, we are committed to uplifting the cultural brilliance and historic contributions of the Filipino community in our City and within our schools. It is absolutely necessary in order to provide each and every student in our care with a humanizing learning experience. 

SFUSD celebrates the Filipinx community all year round through Kababayan SFUSD, an organization of SFUSD Filipinx employees who organize community events and help support the success and well-being of Filipinx students. In May, they held their third annual districtwide graduation ceremony virtually for Filipinx seniors and families. They also partner closely with the Filipino Mental Health Initiative of San Francisco.

One way schools support students’ interests and cultures year round is to offer clubs. At James Denman Middle School, there is a Filipinx Club for students to gather together and learn more about and celebrate Filipino culture. During distance learning last year, members were given ingredients to cook together on Zoom and made dishes like ube (purple yam) Rice Krispies and chicken adobo. As school is back in person, they’ve gone back to weekly lunchtime meetings and will continue cooking at home together after school once a month.

To celebrate the history and not only the heritage of Filipino Americans means that we have to see the ways the Filipino community helped build and change this nation. This month and throughout the year, I encourage you to learn about how Filipinos have participated in and helped lead social justice movements in America.

Ingat! (That means “Take care! See you later!”)


This page was last updated on October 25, 2021