Remarks of Mr. Lynch on H.Res. 780

Mr. LYNCH. Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, I am proud to present H. Res. 780 for consideration. This resolution recognizes the celebration of Filipino American History Month.

House Resolution 780 was introduced on September 25, 2009, by my friend and colleague Representative Bob Filner of California. In addition, this resolution was favorably reported out of the Oversight Committee by unanimous consent on October 29, 2009, and it enjoys the support of over 50 Members of Congress. Moreover, the United States Senate passed a companion resolution to this legislation, Senate Resolution 298, by unanimous consent on October 1, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, House Resolution 780 recognizes the celebration of Filipino American History Month as a unique opportunity to reflect upon the significant advancements of Filipino Americans in our country as well as highlight the countless and diverse contributions of Filipino Americans to our national history and culture.

This monthlong celebration of Filipino American History Month was established in 1988 by the Filipino American National Historical Society to coincide with the 225th anniversary of the permanent settlement of Filipinos in the continental United States.

Notably, the Filipino American National Historical Society recognizes the year 1763 as the date of the first permanent Filipino settlement in the continental United States in the small fishing village of Saint Malo, located in what is now Saint Bernard Parish in Louisiana. These early settlers were formerly impressed sailors who escaped their oppressive conditions aboard Spanish galleons to establish a Filipino community in present-day Louisiana. The existence of this Filipino settlement was first reported in an 1883 Harper’s Weekly article, which is widely believed to be the first article written about Filipino settlers in these United States.

Today, according to the most recent United States Census Bureau estimate, the Filipino American population in the United States is nearly 3.1 million, making the Filipino American community the second largest Asian American group in the United States. And while the majority of our Filipino American population is concentrated in the States of California and Hawaii, Filipino contributions in the field of public service, literature, business, science and other areas have deeply enriched the lives of all Americans across our Nation.

Whether we recall the approximately 250,000 brave Filipino Americans that served during World War II, or our Filipino Americans deployed in the support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, our brave Filipino American servicemen and -women have continually demonstrated their commitment to safeguarding our Nation at great personal sacrifice.

Accordingly, I would like to thank the sponsor of this resolution, my friend and colleague Mr. Filner of California, for his great work as chairman of our Veterans’ Affairs Committee and for ensuring that the economic stimulus legislation signed by President Obama earlier this year included a provision which required that our roughly 15,000 living Filipino veterans of World War II receive their full and deserved veterans benefits.

The contributions of Filipino Americans to our national history are also evident in various other areas, including government and journalism. Notably, in 1994, Benjamin J. Cayetano became the first Filipino American elected a United States Governor. And in 1997, Filipino American journalists Byron Acohido and Alex Tizon of The Seattle Times were the recipients of Pulitzer Prizes for their outstanding contributions to American journalism.

Mr. Tizon, a native of Manila who came to the United States at the age of 4, was honored for a series of investigative articles about the widespread corruption and inequities in the Federally sponsored housing program for Native Americans. Mr. Acohido received his Pulitzer for his reporting on the conditions of the American aerospace industry.

Mr. Speaker, these are only a few of the many Filipino Americans whose achievements have greatly contributed to our national history. It is my hope that we can commemorate the contributions of all Filipino Americansthrough the passage of House Resolution 780 and by recognizing the significance of Filipino American History Month.

I urge my colleagues to join us in supporting H. Res. 780.

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