By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
The nation’s first museum dedicated to the history of Filipino Americans will officially open on Saturday in Stockton.
The California city was chosen as the site of the Filipino American National Historical Society Museum
due to its large Filipino American population and its historical significance to the Filipino community.
It was the home to many Filipino migrant farmworkers and at one point such historical figures as Larry Itliong, ,Carlos Bulosan, Philip Vera Cruz, Chris Mensalvas, Ernesto Mangaoang and Andy Imutan all worked in the city.
Photo by: FANHS
The idea of a museum was first approved by the board of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) in 1994.
“We feel that getting the history of Filipino Americans out to the public has been a long time coming and now there is a place that they can go to and learn all about it – even school children can come by on their field trips if they wanted to,”said Terri Torres, Treasurer/Secretary of FANHS said to AsAmNews
“A lot of work had to be done to raise funds, to figure out where, to learn how to run a Museum / business, etc. We are just a historical society and our main activity is to collect the history of Filipino Americans across the US, record it, save it, and disseminate it – so building a Museum was a huge learning curve for us.”
Photo by FANHS
Exhibits include a timeline of Filipinos in America starting in 1587 when the first Filipino and Asian Americans arrived in what is now the United States–33 years before the pilgrims landed on Plymouth Rock.
Many of the panels come from a traveling exhibition sponsored by the Smithsonian which ended in 2012.
Other highlights include a section on Filipino boxers and martial artists, contemporary motorcyclists and early local Filipino churches.
There is 1,000 square feet of space for the exhibits. A free open house will be held Saturday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. The Museum is located at 337 E Weber Ave – inside the old Newberry Building in Stockton.
“Hopefully they (visitors) will remember the history and the contributions that the Filipino Americans have made to make this country great,” said Torres.
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