By Ernabel Demillo
Host, Asian American Life
Dolores Alic sifted through the photos and mementos of her father’s life. There were pictures of a young, handsome Filipino man with his barkadas (translation: friends) hanging out in a nightclub in 1940s Manhattan. There were also newspaper clippings, carefully cut out from the New York Daily News. Alic’s father, Pio Fernandez, worked with one of history’s most celebrated generals.
“He worked with Douglas MacArthur,” Alic recalled. “He traveled with him around the world. He was Douglas MacArthur’s personal valet, houseboy. He would shine his shoes, make his rice and shine his buckles.”
Her father’s story, along with the Fernandez family’s history, is one of many stories included in a new book, Images of America: Filipinos in New York City. It’s one of the few books to chronicle the immigration history of Filipinos in the Northeast. CUNY professor Kevin Nadal is the author of the book.
“I think our stories need to be told,” he said. “Often times when you hear about the stories of Filipino Americans in the United States, you tend to hear about Filipinos in the West Coast or Hawaii, very seldom do you hear about Filipino Americans in the East Coast.”
Nadal worked with the Filipino American National Historical Society to compile all the stories and photos.
The Philippines and the United States have a long intertwined history. Filipino migration to New York began soon after the Spanish-American War in 1898, when the Philippines became a U.S. Colony. The book features early immigrants from the early 1900s to the largest wave of Filipino immigrants in 1965.
For more on this story watch this month’s Asian American Life below.
October’s all-new edition of CUNY TV’s Asian American Life, hosted by Ernabel Demillo, will come from the Peopling of America Exhibit at the newly-named Ellis Island National Museum of Immigration. The episode celebrates National Family History Month with original stories of the Asian American immigration experience from correspondents Paul Lin ,Minnie Roh and Kyung Yoon .