Why would someone open a restaurant and try to keep it a secret? That’s what Pegi and Fermina Mariano did when they first opened a Filipino restaurant in Annapolis, MD in 1920. They wanted their restaurant to be a gathering place for Filipinos and feared opposition from non-Filipinos.
University of Maryland graduate student Kathrina Aben discovered stories like this and others which documented the racism faced by Filipino Americans at the time. She found many Filipino families were anxious to tell their stories.
“They just don’t think that people are interested,” Aben said. “They would say to me, ‘No one has ever asked us about this, we thought no one cared,’” Aben told the Diamondback, the University of Maryland’s student newspaper.
Filipino immigrants arrived in the Annapolis area after the Spanish American War in search of jobs. They were not allowed to become citizens and were largely unwelcomed by the community.
“It wasn’t even a question of color,” Aben said. “It was about political status. Were you an American or not?”
The article in the Diamondback details Aben’s research and her efforts to discover more about the past of Filipino Americans.