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Tres Reyes Island view of the Marinduque Mainland

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Summary of Philippine-American History, 1898-1946

Filipino Immigrants to US in the 1930's
In the early 1930's Macrine's uncle immigrated to the US. Although he had an engineering degree, the only job he was accepted to do was either a waiter or a dishwasher. He was not also allowed to date a Caucasian woman. In the late 1930's he came back to the Philippines, married Macrine's aunt and later become Governor of the province of Marinduque. He did feel the anti-filipino or anti-asian discriminatory practices of those times.

Anti-Filipino riot occurred in Watsonville, California and in Kent Washington. The five days of the Watsonville riots, throwing two counties into turmoil and spreading fear and hatred throughout the state, had a profound impact on California's attitude toward imported Asian labor. As a result, Filipino immigration plummeted, and while they remained a significant part of the labor in the fields, they began to be replaced by Mexicans. The Japanese American Citizens League's first national convention was held in Seattle on August 29.

The struggle for better working conditions was given a decided boost when a group of Filipino farm workers organized the Agricultural Workers League in 1930. The organization was set up to initiate large-scale unionization of Filipino workers and threaten field owners with the real possibility of paralyzing strikes. With the seeds planted, unionization moved forward. In 1933 Rufo Canete and other Filipino labor leaders met in Salinas and formed the Filipino Labor Union (FLU). Largely as a result of grower recruiting in the Philippines and Hawaii, where thousands of young Filipinos worked in the sugar fields, the California Filipino population grew from only five in 1900 to over 30,000 by 1930, when Filipino workers made up nearly 15 percent of all California agricultural workers.

Nearly 3000 Filipinos were working in the Alaskan canneries.

The Filipino Labor Union, founded in 1933, organized the Salinas Lettuce Strike. Filipino Agricultural Workers Union publishes the Filipino Journal. Some of these men formed the first Filipino-led union ever organized in the United States: the Cannery Workers’ and Farm Labors’ Union Local 18257. Based in Seattle, it was organized by "Alaskeros" who worked in the Alaska salmon canneries each summer and in the harvest fields of Washington, Oregon, and California in the other seasons. The union was in its shaky beginnings when two of its founders were murdered. Yet, although its leaders were dead, the union would not die. Instead in the next few years, it grew stronger, becoming effective up and down the West Coast.

This paper investigates the early history of the Cannery Workers’ and Farm Laborers' Union and the sense of pride and fraternity within the Alaskero brotherhood that made the union possible. Much of the credit has to be given to the Filipino community. The workers believed in community and unity. The Cannery Workers’ and Farmers’ Union’s motto was "Unity is Strength." This motto and spirit kept the union together after the death of its founders, Virgil S. Duyungan and Aurelio Simon. The union elected a new president and soon emerged stronger than before. The camaraderie and fraternity within this group of men helped them build a successful union, one of the first lasting organizations led by Asian American workers.

Filipinos are ruled ineligible for citizenship and therefore are barred from immigrating to the US.

Cannery Workers' and Farm Laborers' Union formed in Seattle. Virgil Duyungan, a Filipino cannery worker, is the first president.

In Manila, though, a vigorous expatriate cigar manufacturer from Cincinnati had been playing poker and bridge with the likes of Col. Dwight D. Eisenhower; Paul V. McNutt, the American high commissioner; and Manuel L. Quezon, the first Philippines president.

When Alex Frieder, a expatriate cigar manufacturer from Cincinnati, saw refugees straggling to the port pleading for entry, he cajoled his high-profiled poker cronies (Dwight D. Eisenhower, Paul V. McNutt - the American high commissioner and Manuel L. Quezon - the 1st Philippines president - to let the Philippines become a haven for thousands more.

Through his efforts and Phillip - along with his two other brothers (Morris, Herbert & Henry), about 1,200 German and Austrian Jews eventually found sanctuary in the Philippines in the late 1930's, then an American protectorate, even as the liner St. Louis was turned away from Miami with a boatload of 900 Jews in a more typical example of American policy.

The story of the Manila rescue begins in 1918 with the decision of the Frieder family to move much of its two-for-a-nickel cigar business from Manhattan to the Philippines, where production would be cheaper. Alex, Philip, Herbert and Morris took turns living in Manila for two years each.

Frank Ephraim who as a child was one of the Jewish refugees in Manila and who wrote a history of the rescue, "Escape to Manila: From Nazi Tyranny to Japanese Terror" (University of Illinois Press, 2003), said that in 1937 Philip Frieder saw European Jews arriving in Manila's port from Shanghai while it was under siege by the Japanese. Shanghai remained an open port and eventually harbored 17,000 German Jews. Mr. McNutt, the high commissioner, was able to finesse State Department bureaucrats to turn a blind eye to quotas and admit 1,000 Jews a year.

Mr. Quezon's approval was also needed. Dr. Racelle Weiman, the Holocaust center's director, said there was a letter written by Alex Frieder to Morris Frieder that said skeptics in Mr. Quezon's administration spoke of Jews as "Communists and schemers" bent on "controlling the world." "He assured us that big or little, he raised hell with every one of those persons," Alex Frieder wrote of Mr. Quezon in August 1939. "He made them ashamed of themselves for being a victim of propaganda intended to further victimize an already persecuted people." Mr. Frieder combed lists of imperiled Jews for needed skills and advertised in German newspapers. The brothers and the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee arranged visas, jobs and housing and raised thousands of dollars for sustenance.

Source: US_asian.tripod.com/timeline

Manila in the 1930's
Philippine-American War (1898 - 1946)

In February, 1899, Aguinaldo led a new revolt, this time against U.S. rule. Defeated on the battlefield, the Filipinos turned to guerrilla warfare, and their defeat became a mammoth project for the United States— Thus began the Philippine-American War, one that cost far more money and took far more lives than the Spanish-American War. Fighting broke out on February 4, 1899, after two American privates on patrol killed three Filipino soldiers in San Juan, Metro Manila. Some 126,000 American soldiers would be committed to the conflict; 4,234 American and 16,000 Filipino soldiers, part of a nationwide guerrilla movement of indeterminate numbers, died. Estimates on civilian deaths during the war range between 250,000 and 1,000,000, largely because of famine and disease. Atrocities were committed by both sides.

The poorly equipped Filipino troops were handily overpowered by American troops in open combat, but they were frightening opponents in guerrilla warfare. Malolos, the revolutionary capital, was captured on March 31, 1899. Aguinaldo and his government escaped, however, establishing a new capital at San Isidro, Nueva Ecija. Antonio Luna, Aguinaldo's most capable military commander, was murdered in June. With his best commander dead and his troops suffering continued defeats as American forces pushed into northern Luzon, Aguinaldo dissolved the regular army in November 1899 and ordered the establishment of decentralized guerrilla commands in each of several military zones. The general population, caught between Americans and rebels, suffered significantly.

The revolution was effectively ended with the capture (1901) of Aguinaldo by Gen. Frederick Funston at Palanan, Isabela on March 23, 1901 and was brought to Manila, but the question of Philippine independence remained a burning issue in the politics of both the United States and the islands. The matter was complex by the growing economic ties between the two countries. Although moderately little American capital was invested in island industries, U.S. trade bulked larger and larger until the Philippines became almost entirely dependent upon the American market. Free trade, established by an act of 1909, was expanded in 1913. Influenced of the uselessness of further resistance, he swore allegiance to the United States and issued a proclamation calling on his compatriots to lay down their arms, officially bringing an end to the war. However, sporadic insurgent resistance continued in various parts of the Philippines, especially in the Muslim south, until 1913.

U.S. colony

Civil government was established by the Americans in 1901, with William Howard Taft as the first American Governor-General of the Philippines. English was declared the official language. Six hundred American teachers were imported aboard the USS Thomas. Also, the Catholic Church was disestablished, and a substantial amount of church land was purchased and redistributed. Some measures of Filipino self-rule were allowed, however. An elected Filipino legislature was established in 1907.

When Woodrow Wilson became U.S. President in 1913, there was a major change in official American policy concerning the Philippines. While the previous Republican administrations had predicted the Philippines as a perpetual American colony, the Wilson administration decided to start a process that would slowly lead to Philippine independence. U.S. administration of the Philippines was declared to be temporary and aimed to develop institutions that would permit and encourage the eventual establishment of a free and democratic government. Therefore, U.S. officials concentrated on the creation of such practical supports for democratic government as public education and a sound legal system. The Philippines were granted free trade status, with the U.S.

In 1916, the Philippine Autonomy Act, widely known as the Jones Law, was passed by the U.S. Congress. The law which served as the new organic act (or constitution) for the Philippines, stated in its preamble that the ultimate independence of the Philippines would be American policy, subject to the establishment of a stable government. The law placed executive power in the Governor General of the Philippines, appointed by the President of the United States, but established a bicameral Philippine Legislature to replace the elected Philippine Assembly (lower house) and appointive Philippine Commission (upper house) previously in place. The Filipino House of Representatives would be purely elected, while the new Philippine Senate would have the majority of its members elected by senatorial district with senators representing non-Christian areas appointed by the Governor-General.

The 1920s saw alternating periods of cooperation and confrontation with American governors-general, depending on how intent the official who holds an office was on exercising his powers vis-à-vis the Philippine legislature. Members to the elected legislature lost no time in lobbying for immediate and complete independence from the United States. Several independence missions were sent to Washington, D.C. A civil service was formed and was regularly taken over by Filipinos, who had effectively gained control by the end of World War I.

When the Republicans regained power in 1921, the trend toward bringing Filipinos into the government was inverted. Gen. Leonard Wood, who was appointed governor-general, largely replaced Filipino activities with a semi military rule. However, the advent of the Great Depression in the United States in the 1930s and the first aggressive moves by Japan in Asia (1931) shifted U.S. sentiment sharply toward the granting of immediate independence to the Philippines.

In 1934, the United States Congress, having originally passed the Hare-Hawes-Cutting Act as a Philippine Independence Act over President Hoover's refusal, only to have the law rejected by the Philippine legislature, finally passed a new Philippine Independence Act, popularly known as the Tydings-McDuffie Act. The law provided for the granting of Philippine independence by 1946.

U.S. rule was accompanied by improvements in the education and health systems of the Philippines; school enrollment rates multiplied fivefold. By the 1930s, literacy rates had reached 50%. Several diseases were virtually eliminated. However, the Philippines remained economically backward. U.S. trade policies encouraged the export of cash crops and the importation of manufactured goods; little industrial development occurred. Meanwhile, landlessness became a serious problem in rural areas; peasants were often reduced to the status of serfs.


The period 1935–1946 would ideally be dedicated to the final adjustments required for a peaceful transition to full independence, great latitude in autonomy being granted in the meantime.

The Hare-Hawes Cutting Act, passed by Congress in 1932, provided for complete independence of the islands in 1945 after 10 years of self-government under U.S. supervision. The bill had been drawn up with the aid of a commission from the Philippines, but Manuel L. Quezon, the leader of the leading Nationalist party, opposed it, partially because of its threat of American tariffs against Philippine products but principally because of the provisions leaving naval bases in U.S. hands. Under his influence, the Philippine legislature rejected the bill. The Tydings-McDuffie Independence Act (1934) closely looks like the Hare-Hawes Cutting Act, but struck the provisions for American bases and carried a promise of further study to correct “imperfections or inequalities.”

The Philippine legislature approved the bill; a constitution, approved by President Roosevelt (Mar., 1935) was accepted by the Philippine people in a vote by the electorate determining public opinion on a question of national importance (May); and Quezon was elected the first president (Sept.). On May 14, 1935, an election to fill the newly created office of President of the Commonwealth of the Philippines was won by Manuel L. Quezon (Nacionalista Party) and a Filipino government was formed on the basis of principles apparently similar to the US Constitution. When Quezon was inaugurated on Nov. 15, 1935, the Commonwealth was formally established in 1935, featured a very strong executive, a unicameral National Assembly, and a Supreme Court composed entirely of Filipinos for the first time since 1901. The new government embarked on an ambitious agenda of establishing the basis for national defense, greater control over the economy, reforms in education, improvement of transport, the colonization of the island of Mindanao, and the promotion of local capital and industrialization. The Commonwealth however, was also faced with agrarian unrest, an uncertain diplomatic and military situation in South East Asia, and uncertainty about the level of United States commitment to the future Republic of the Philippines.

In 1939-40, the Philippine Constitution was revised to restore a bicameral Congress, and permit the reelection of President Quezon, previously restricted to a single, six-year term. Quezon was reelected in Nov., 1941. To develop defensive forces against possible aggression, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was brought to the islands as military adviser in 1935, and the following year he became field marshal of the Commonwealth army.

During the Commonwealth years, Philippines sent one elected Resident Commissioner to the United States House of Representatives, as Puerto Rico currently does today.

Source: www.philippinecountry.com/history

Note: A more detailed discussion of the Filipino-American War of 1898-1901 and the Japanese-American War in the Philippines from 1941-1945 has been posted on my blog

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