Thursday, October 10, 2013
Wednesday, October 9, 2013
|Filipino Amerian International Book Festival Exhibit|
Inspired by images in the book Filipinos in San Francisco and from the San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, Artists Cece Carpio, Wilfred Galila, and Peggy Peralta are taking a series of photographs and video images of the contemporary Filipino community—both in posed and casual settings—to create a media project that explores changing expressions of Pilipino cultural identity over time. By juxtaposing images of "then and now," we contextualize the Filipino American narrative and examine perceptions of what/who is Filipino.
A program about the exhibit will be held during the Filipino American International Book Festival.
Saturday, October 19th
Main Library, Lower Level
For information about the exhibit or program please visit: http://kularts.org/wp/
Posted by Filipino American Center of SFPL at 4:41 PM
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Abe Ignacio, FANHS member, co-author of the Forbidden Book: the Philippine-American War in political cartoons and guest scholar of the Filipino American Center of the San Francisco Public Library.
October is Filipino American History. Have you ever wondered how October became Filipino American History Month? Why not some other month of the year? The origins of Filipino American History Month start some twenty-two years ago with the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS). FANHS is nationwide network of 30 chapters promoting awareness about the history of Filipinos in America. In early 1991, the FANHS trustees approved a resolution to establish and promote October as Filipino American History Month to be celebrated throughout the United States and its territories. FANHS members persisted in shepherding legislation to gain (California) state and national approval for this resolution. Finally in 2009, the California State Legislature and more importantly, the U.S. Congress adopted resolutions declaring October Filipino American History Month. From start to finish, it took some 18 years of hard work to make this resolution a reality.
What happened in October that involved Filipinos? Nearly 426 years ago, Filipinos were members of the crew of the Spanish frigate, Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza, commanded by Captain Pedro de Unamuno. He and his crew started their voyage from the Philippines on July 12, 1587 and arrived in Acapulco, Mexico on November 22, 1587. In his log, we have one of the earliest known documents that mentions Filipinos making landfall on what is now the central coast of California. FANHS chose October to commemorate this first known landing of Filipinos in the Americas. Filipinos were not Filipinos back then, but referred to as Indios Luzones or Luzon Indians in Unamuno’s writings. The ship reached the waters off the central California coast mid-October and a decision was made to explore the area. The Nuestra Señora de Buena Esperanza dropped anchor on Sunday, October 18, 1587 and remained there for three days before continuing on to Acapulco. These Indios Luzones are mentioned within the written account of the three-day land expedition. Here are two snippets from facsimiles of Pedro Unamuno’s log that are the two instances in the narrative that directly names Indios Luzones and Indios Lucones(variant spelling by Unamuno):
The first snippet above is from Unamuno’s log entry for Sunday, October 18. The English translation of the sentence reads: “I landed with twelve soldiers, with Loyola carrying a cross in his hands, preceding with some Luzon Indians, with their swords and targets.”
In the second snippet above the English translation of the sentence reads: “ Monday, 19th of said month, at about ten o’clock in the morning, I set out on this exploration with Padre (Fray) Francisco de Noguera and the twelve soldiers and eight Luzon Indians with their swords and targets.” The source for these facsimiles is from Henry Raup Wagner’s book, Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast of America in the Sixteenth Century, San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1929 (hereafter referred to as Spanish Voyages). 
Central Coast of California
Where in California did Pedro Unamuno’s undertake his three-day land exploration? The most widely accepted location places the Unamuno landing at Morro Bay on the central California coast. Wagner’s Spanish Voyages forms the bedrock for this popular knowledge. However, some scholars and writers through the years have cited other possible sites for the Unamuno landing — Monterey, Santa Cruz, San Luis Obispo Bay or “has never been definitely located.” Why are there differing scholarly views on the Unamuno landing? At the heart of their arguments is Morro Bay’s topography, the lack of its physical description in Unamuno’s log, and the likely inaccuracies in the computation of latitudes by 16th century mariners.
Here are a series of three paleogeographic maps created by the Far Western Anthropological Research Group for an educational website created in 1997 after archaeological studies at Morro Bay. The first map depicts Morro Bay at the time of the Great Ice Age. During this period, the sea levels were much lower. As you can see from the map, Morro Rock and Morro Bay were far from the coast during this time. From distance scale created for this map, Morro Rock was about a mile inland.
The second map advances the clock some 3000 years. The glaciers have melted and sea level has moved a mile or so inland. Morro Rock is now submerged and the long Morro Sandspit or Barrier has emerged. This is Morro Bay at its peak size. Morro Bay is not widely open to the ocean. The north and south entrances are much wider and the bay itself is much bigger. But the key features of Morro Bay have been set some 3000 to 5500 years ago—Morro Rock at the entrance to Morro Bay and the long Morro Sandspit or Barrier separating Morro Bay from the larger Estero Bay. Archaeological studies conducted in the 1990’s have found middens or refuse piles of Native Americans on Morro Barrier that date humans living on the barrier from 2000 to 3000 years ago.
The third and final map created for this website now places Morro Bay in the sixteenth century. The north and south entrances are much narrower. The Morro Sandspit has grown bigger through sand deposits and sedimentation from the surrounding creeks. This has created mudflats and wetlands that have reduced the size of Morro Bay.
While this following map was created by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1897.
Some 300 plus years later, Morro Bay looks much like it did in 1587. Now, lets read excerpts from the 1889 U.S. Coast Pilot for California, Oregon and Washington describing the features of Morro Rock, and Morro Bay nearly 300 years later. Morro Bay and Morro Rock are part of the much larger Estero Bay or Esteros Bay as it was named in the 1889 Coast Pilot:
El Morro(Morro Rock)—This is a large, high, conical, granitic islet, nearly six hundred yards in extent and five hundred and seventy-three feet elevation. It is a very marked feature in the bay and approaches…Behind El Morro are the several lagoons and sloughs known collectively as Morro Bay…It is triangular in shape, with a base of three miles towards the ocean, south of the Morro, and its apex two miles towards the east…The entrance to the bay is on the north side of El Morro, and has only nine feet of water in it, although steamers drawing eleven feet are reported to have entered, stirring up the quicksand bottom. It is very narrow, crooked, and close up to the walls of the rock. The tide rushes in and out with great velocity, and no vessel or boat should venture through with the full strength of the ebb…It is hazardous to enter…
As this description reads, it would be a risky challenge to enter into the much smaller Morro Bay. The Unamuno’s narrative makes no mention at all of the towering Morro Rock, the narrow channel to enter into the bay, and the long sandspit barrier that separates Morro Bay from Estero Bay. Because of these topographical omissions, noted scholar W. Michael Mathes corrected Unamuno’s landing to Santa Cruz. In his narrative, Mathes also adjusts Unamuno’s latitude where he makes first landfall from 35 ½ to 37 30’. The 37 30’ latitude reading would place Unamuno just south of Half Moon Bay and then coasting down to Santa Cruz at about 37. As, Unamuno notes in his narrative they were nearly run aground on the evening of October 17 because of two small islands. After being battered about by storms during his long voyage, Unamuno and other mariners like him, would have been extremely conservative and probably would not attempt to enter the narrow northern or southern channel to Morro Bay for fear of having their ship break apart.
Because of the missing topographic description of Morro Rock or Bay from Unamuno’s account, other scholars and writers have proposed alternative landings such as Monterey Bay, San Luis Obispo and Santa Cruz. Most likely, Richman and Schurz, who were in the Monterey landing camp, viewed Monterey with its long arcing, sandy beach and the Salinas River emptying into its bay, as fitting the Unamuno’s physical description. Arda Haenszel also expressed her doubts about fully supporting Wagner’s position and offered her own thoughts that Unamuno possibly anchored at San Luis Obispo Bay with its San Luis Creek. But in closing her narrative on Pedro de Unamuno said, “The site of the landing has never been definitely located.”  In his critique of the Unamuno Morro Bay landing, writer Hector Santos asserts that because of the long passage of time we can only really be sure of the dates of Unamuno’s expedition and that we can place it somewhere in Central California.
Another element of doubt to the Morro Bay landing were the devices used to calculate latitude. The mariner’s astrolabe, a rudimentary device most commonly used in the 16th century was notoriously inaccurate. A reading taken at sea during the day could be off as much as 5 degrees or 300 miles. In order for a mariner at the time to get an accurate reading during the day, the position of the sun at high noon would have to be factored in, and Polaris or the North Star would have to be referenced to figure latitude at night. However, a much larger land astrolabe (as large as two feet in diameter) afforded the most accurate measurement and ease of reading the larger dial. Mr. Wagner in his article on the Voyage of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo corrects a number of the latitudes in his explanatory and analytical narrative. One wonders why he did not do any corrections of the latitudes in Pedro de Unamuno’s log? Instead, he pinpoints Puerto de San Lucas in the Central California coast now known as Morro Bay, as corresponding to 35 ½ degree latitude in Unamuno’s log, and the likely landing site of Unamuno’s party. Wagner contends that some physical features of the area -- the San Luis range, the small islands south of Pt. Buchon, and the sand point which runs to the north - all agree with Unamuno’s log, as does the topography in the eastern side of the bay. What is more problematic is how Unamuno’s galleon negotiated the narrow entrance of the bay. Wagner offers that the entrance to the bay was once more navigable: “An examination of the bay develops the conviction that it was once of considerable size, although now almost filled with sand…What has occurred no doubt has been that the long sand-bar was formed which gradually extended north until the entrance of the bay became so narrow as it is now.” Wagner’s 90-year old conjecture about the Morro Barrier or sandspit forming after the Unamuno landing was based on the scholarship and knowledge of that time. However, as we have shown early in this essay, archaeological and geographical studies undertaken in the last twenty years have found that the key features of Morro Bay were established some 3000 to 5500 years ago. If Unamuno did land at Morro Bay in 1587, he would had to pass by Morro Rock before entering through either the narrow north and south openings to Morro Bay and making his way down navigable parts of the lagoon to White Point. And there is that glaring oversight: Unamuno makes no mention of the looming Morro Rock that stands like a lonely sentinel at the mouth of the Bay, and is the iconic landmark that defines the area.
Wagner accedes as much: “ His (Unamuno’s) failure to mention Morro Rock, certainly a very conspicuous object in the landscape at Morro Bay … might well be urged as negativing the theory that he had been in Morro Bay…” However, this doubt is supposed to be dispelled by the encounter some eight years later by Spanish explorer Cermeno with the local Indians in San Luis Obispo, who said they encountered Mexican explorers like him, presumed to possibly be Unamuno’s party. Could such an encounter in fact have transpired in San Luis Obispo bay, a short distance south of Morro Bay? Wagner dismissed such a hypotheses and contends that the physical description of the shore and land of San Luis Obispo Bay does not conform to Unamuno’s description. His conclusion: “he (Unamuno) simply forgot to speak of the Morro.”
Celebrating October as Filipino American History Month
Where are we now? October is the month where we will commemorate the 426th year, when in 1587, Filipinos (then Indios Luzones) set foot on the Americas. Further research needs to be conducted to see if the location of Unamuno’s landing can ever be truly fixed. One starting point could be to try to discover why noted scholar; W. Michael Mathes changed the Unamuno landing to Santa Cruz. Another area to explore would be San Luis Obispo Bay. Over four centuries have passed; the task will be a daunting one. But while the landing site of Unamuno remains in dispute, the presence of Filipinos in his crew and exploration party is undeniable. It is a time to reflect not only on the history and contribution of Filipinos in the United States, but step back and consider the history of Filipinos in all of the Americas. Consider this, California became the 31st state of the U.S. in 1850. Before that it was known as Alta California, a part of Mexico and under Spanish rule for some three centuries. Filipinos had a long history in Spanish America way before the U.S. ever came into the being.
 “October is Filipino American History Month,” Filipino American National Historical Society. Accessed August 30, 2013, http://www.emilylawsin.files.wordpress.com/2008/09/fa-history-month.pdf
 California Senate Bill Number: SCR 48 enrolled:
U.S. Congress (111th Congress) House Resolution 780:
 The first and second snippets are from Wagner, Henry R. Spanish Voyages to the Northwest Coast of America in the Sixteenth Century. San Francisco, California Historical Society, 1929. The first was taken from page 487 and the second from page 492.
 The first translation is taken from Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 143.
 The second translation is taken from Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 145.
 The book is available for reading only at the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library Main Branch. It cannot be checked out because it is a rare and out-of-print book. However, if you have San Francisco Public Library card and create an online account for yourself, you can access the electronic databases that the library has made available to the public. The database you would access is called JSTOR. The database gives you access to full text academic journals going all the way back to 1838. You can access Mr. Wagner’s 1923 article on the Pedro de Unamuno’s voyage to California via JSTOR. H. R. Wagner and Pedro de Unamuno “The Voyage of Pedro de Unamuno to California in 1587,”
California Historical Society Quarterly , Vol. 2, No. 2 (Jul., 1923), pp. 140-160. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org.libaccess.sjlibrary.org/stable/25177703
See also, an historical account predating Wagner that provides a partial translation of the Unamuno voyage and noting the presence of “Indians from Lucon armed with swords and buckler…” Richman, Irving Berdine. California under Spain and Mexico: A Contribution Toward the History of the Pacific Coast of the United States Based on Original Sources, Chiefly Manuscript, in the Spanish and Mexican Archives and Other Repositories. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1911., p.26. This 1911 book was digitized and is available via Google Books. See also, Filipino American librarian and scholar, Eloisa Gomez Borah’s article, “Filipinos in Unamuno’s California Expedition of 1587”, Amerasia Journal 21:3 (Winter 1995/1996). Los Angeles: UCLA Asian American Studies Press, 175-183 and her webpage, “Americans of Filipino Descent – FAQs” http://personal.anderson.ucla.edu/eloisa.borah/filfaqs.htm#chronology
If you would like to read Ms. Borah’s article, the San Francisco Public Library main branch carries the Amerasia Journal. Her 1995 journal article broke new ground in revealing the long history of Filipinos in the Americas.
 Richman, Irving Berdine. California Under Spain and Mexico, 1535-1847, A Contribution Toward the History of Pacific Coast of the United States, based on Original Sources, Chiefly Manuscripts in the Spanish and Mexican Archives and Other Repositories, 1911; William Lytle Schurz, “The Manila Galleon and California.” The Southwestern Historical Quarterly 21, no. 2, 1917, 112. Schurz is basing his Monterey assertion on Richman’s work, California Under Spain and Mexico… The Richman book can be accessed through Google books. Mr. Schurz’s article can be accessed through the SFPL electronic databases.
 Mathes, W. Michael. Vizcaíno and Spanish Expansion in the Pacific Ocean, 1580-1630. San Francisco: California Historical Society, 1968, 14-18. Like Wagner’s book, Mr. Mathes’ book can only be read at the San Francisco History Center at the San Francisco Public Library Main branch.
 Haenszel, Arda. “The Visual Knowledge of California to 1700.” California Historical Society Quarterly 36, no. 3 (Sept 1957), 226-227. Ms. Haenszel’s article can be accessed via the SFPL electronic databases. See also, Santos, Hector. “Did Philippine indios really land in Morro Bay?” Mr. Santos offers an extensive critique of the Unamuno landing at Morro Bay. Retrieved from http://www.bibingka.com/sst/esperanza/morrobay.htm
 Far Western Anthropological Group, Inc., “8000 Years of Change at Morro Bay: An Archaeological Perspective.” Retrieved from http://www.farwestern.com/morrobay/morro.htm.
 Orme, Antony R., “The instability of Holocene coastal dunes: the case of the Morro dunes, California”, in Nordstrom, Karl, Norbert Psuty, and Bill Carter, eds. Coastal Dunes, Form and Process. Chichester, UK: John Wiley and Sons, 1990, 322.
 Davidson, George. Coast Pilot of California, Oregon, and Washington. Washington: Government Printing Office, 1889. Retrieved from http://docs.lib.noaa.gov/rescue/csc/103_pdf/CSC-0023.PDF
 Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 141-151.
 Mathes in his footnote to Unamuno’s voyages writes, “From the description (Unamuno mentions no large headlands, rocks, or morro) and latitude, this probably was Santa Cruz rather than Morro Bay, the site often stated as Unamuno’s anchorage.”, Mathes, Vizcaíno and Spanish Expansion, (See chap. 2, footnote 19),15.
 Sadly Mr. Mathes passed away on August 13, 2012. If Mr. Mathes’ personal papers are in an archive, further research could be done to see if he kept notes on his books, and if so, possibly find out what facts he was able to uncover that led him to correct Unamuno’s latitude to the North versus South and why Santa Cruz as the site of Unamuno’s landing.
 Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 142.
 Haenszel, “The Visual Knowledge”, 227.
 Santos, “Did Philippine indios.” Retrieved from http://www.bibingka.com/sst/esperanza/morrobay.htm
 “Astrolabe,” from the Mariner’s Musuem website. Retrieved from http://ageofex.marinersmuseum.org/index.php?type=navigationtool&id=12. See also, Santos, “Did Philippine indios.” Retrieved from http://www.bibingka.com/sst/esperanza/morrobay.htm
 Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 72-79.
 Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 151-152.
 Wagner, Spanish Voyages, 152.
Posted by Filipino American Center of SFPL at 6:07 PM
Friday, September 20, 2013
Filipino American International BookFestival II
Like the highly successful Filbookfest I, also held at the San Francisco Main Library in 2011 and which garnered a Certificate of Honor from the City and County of San Francisco for being a milestone event for the Filipino American community, Filbookfest II will once again showcase the richness of Philippine culture through books, the visual and culinary arts, and music. The three-day festival will open in the afternoon of October 18 with three film documentaries based on award-winning books written by prominent artists from the Philippines. Musician and writer Richie Quirino will be present for the screening of his documentary about Filipino jazz based on his award-winning book Pinoy Jazz Traditions. Also coming from Manila, noted film historian, director and author Nick Deocampo will also be present for two of his documentaries, one on Spanish influences in early Philippine cinema and another on American influences based on his books that are highly regarded.
Saturday and Sunday will feature award-winning authors and artists from the Philippines and the United States such as Evelina Galang, Criselda Yabes, Jon Pineda and Claude Tayag. In “Hot Off The Press,” published authors will read from their most recent books. In addition, there will be story-telling for children, teens reading their poetry and panels and lectures on a variety of topics including self-publishing, blogging, endangered Philippine species, and on Carlos Bulosan, one of the revered pioneers of Fil Am literature. The library events will close with a balagtasan, a poetic debate/joust that is unique to the Philippines and was a big hit in the 2011 book festival.
Throughout the festival, books will be available for purchase at the Latino/Hispanic Community Meeting Rooms where authors will also sign. Supporters of the festival such as the University of San Francisco, Chevron, San Francisco Filipino American Jazz Festival, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) and other organizations will also be participating.
FilBookFest II, presented by the Filipino American Center of the San Francisco Public Library, in conjunction with Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA) and the Philippine Consulate General of San Francisco, promises to be an entertaining, culturally enriching and informative experience.
FREE AND OPEN TO THE PUBLIC!!!
Posted by Filipino American Center of SFPL at 10:09 AM
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
The Filipino American Center of the San Francisco Public Library opened with the New Main Library on April 18th, 1996. The purpose of the center is to highlight the Filipino American experience. The collection contains materials in English, Filipino and other dialects. Filipino fiction, literature and history are a significant part of the collection. Please visit the blog for updates and news on new books, events and more. If you are interested in collaborating with the Fil-Am Center on an event, exhibit or program please contact Mitchell Yangson at 415-557-4430.
Posted by Filipino American Center of SFPL at 2:11 PM