ANGKOP NA BABASAHIN
The Republic of the Philippines: History and Its Immigrants to the United States
(© Juanita Santos Nacu, 2002)
“Filipinos were sailing across to the New World since June, 1565, the start of the 250-year Manila-Acapulco galleon trade. Pinoys were arriving in the New World forty-two years before the first permanent English settlement was established in Jamestown” (Macabenta, 1994, p. 38). Unlike European pioneers and immigrants, the first Filipino immigrants did not come with their families. This situation continued even as the New World became the United States. Early male Filipino laborers in the United States were neither allowed to bring their wives and families with them from the Philippines nor to marry whites in this country. Filipino immigrants were granted formal citizenship only after serving in the US military in World War II, and as a result of the Immigration Act of July 2, 1946 (Ciria-Cruz, 1994, p. 43). After many years of exclusion, Filipinos were allowed to become American citizens.
Filipino immigration is described in four waves.
1. First wave, 1763 to 1906-seafaring exiles and working sojourners who also landed in Alaska and Hawaii
2. Second wave, 1906 to 1934-pensionados: students subsidized by the Philippine territorial government, self-supporting students, and laborers
3. Third wave, 1945 to 1965-post-war arrivals: American citizens (children/grandchildren of Spanish- American War veterans), military personnel (US Army’s Philippine scouts) and dependents (war brides and children), students, exchange workers (MDs, nurses, accountants, engineers, technicians, white collar workers)
4. Fourth wave, 1965 to present-beneficiaries of the amendment to the Immigration Nationality Act which abolished the 1924 “national origins” quota system, designed to favor Nordics in order to preserve the ethnic “balance” of the US population. (Cordova, 1983; Castillo, 1990)
The post-1965 immigration changed both the size and composition of the Filipino American population. The amendment allowed entry for both professionals and relatives of immigrants already here (Chan, 1992, p. 265). Since 1965, almost two-thirds of the immigrants have been professionals, the majority of them Filipino American nurses (Kitano & Daniels, 1995, 91). Back home in the Philippines, we called it the “brain drain” (Carino, Fawcett, Gardner & Arnold, 1990).
The 1965 Immigration Act also had a great impact on Filipino American families since the presence of Filipinos with national status in the U.S. prior to 1965 facilitated the entry of large numbers of family members under the categories of blood or marital relationships (Carino, 1987, p. 310). Within twenty years of the law’s passage, Filipinos were the largest group of Asian immigrants, comprising about a quarter of the total (Liu, et al., 1991, p. 488). “Between 1966 and 1985, Filipinos legally joining their families through the preference system or the exempted categories constituted from 55 to 98 percent of the total immigration” (p. 492). After Filipino Americans already here sponsored relatives, the sponsored family members themselves formed a chain of migration by sponsoring other family members: spouses, children, parents, and adult siblings.
What is the relationship of this history to the present status of Filipino American families? The 1965 Immigration Act brought in more adult immigrants, including grandparents, to the U.S. There was an increase of adult family members who had Filipino cultural values living with children born or raised in the U.S. with “American” values, giving rise to intergenerational conflict. According to Baptiste (1993):
Immigrants, who become adolescent in the U.S. often experience intergenerational clashes of values with parents and grandparents, because of a fundamental difference between what the adolescents may want for themselves in the U.S. and what parents want for the adolescents. (p.342)
The differences in the acculturation of parents, children, and grandparents definitely created conflict and stress (Rick & Forward, 1992; Heras & Revilla, 1994; Nguyen & Williams, 1989; Wakil, et al., 1981; Rosenthal, 1984).
Santos Nacu, J. (2002). Storytelling in Project Heart to Heart: A means to bridge generational gap in post-1965 Filipino immigrant families. Philippines: Self-publication.