Filipino American History Month with San Francisco Public Library


Celebration of Culture and Resilience

San Francisco, CA - On October 18, 1857, the first known Filipinos, then known as Indios Luzones, landed in the Americas. Today, the Bay Area is home to the largest Filipino community outside of the Philippines. For many, the arc of this history is unknown, but San Francisco Public Library’s upcoming Filipino American History Month aims to change that. This year, the Library’s celebration honors the Filipino American community in the Bay Area’s resilience against the tragedies and travails of the COVID0-19 pandemic with the theme darating ang liwanag, or “Hope will come.” Throughout the month of October, the public is invited to learn more about the unique history and contributions of this community through interactive workshops, demonstrations, book readings and more. 

“Commemorating Filipino American History month this year has special meaning while the COVID-19 pandemic still rages around this country and the world,” says Abraham Ignacio, Jr., librarian for the Filipino American Center at the Main Library. “Each event represents an act of courage and love. Courage to carry on our creative endeavors regardless of the great uncertainties this time brings. And the love for self and community that propels us forward to create and share our arts and culture that enriches this world. I hope the public will join us virtually or in person this October to create and grow this community of courage and love as we move forward together in these trying times.”

The origins of Filipino American History Month start some 30 years ago with the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS); a nationwide network of 30 chapters that work to raise 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. In California, Filipino American History Month was first recognized in 2006 by the California Department of Education. In 2009, both the 111th U.S. Congress and California State Senator Leland Yee adopted resolutions declaring October Filipino American History Month. 

The library will host a number of authors, poets and artists to share Filipino-American history and culture. Some highlights include: a talk and reading with poet Barbara Jane Reyes who will be joined by other authors offering their perspectives on the Filipino experience; a reading featuring the work of Joaquin Legaspi (1896-1975), an artist, poet and intellectual who was a staple of the Filipino American community in the mid-twentieth century and a discussion on twentieth century Philippine history with MC Canlas, the SoMa Pilipinas community historian, and Abraham Ignacio, Filipino American Center librarian. Local chef and influencer Reina Montenegro, owner of Chef Reina, will recount her journey with plant-based Filipino food. The family-owned Diosa Blooms will offer a flower arranging workshop, and the Library will host a matinee screening of the futuristic Filipino sci-fi film Alimuom followed by a discussion with writer and director Keith Sicat. 

For youth, families can join a tour of historic Manilatown with author and activist Tony Robles. Filipina authors Tracy Badua and Brighton Rose will share their new projects and their connection to their culture. Author of My Heart Underwater, Laurel Fantauzzo, will lead a writing workshop with a Q&A to help future writers learn how to create their own characters. Author Tif Marcelo of The Holiday Switch will discuss her journey and inspiration for writing, and a cooking demonstration will reveal the history and origins of the popular Filipino dessert halo-halo.  

For the full list of events and recommended books, 

All events are in-person unless indicated otherwise (*). 

Filipino American History Month 

Adult Programs

Reina Montenegro - Oct. 1, 12 p.m.
Successful entrepreneur/chef Reina Montenegro shares her plant-based Filipino food journey.

Barbara Jane Reyes, Jason Magabo Perez, Pamela Santos and Charles Valle - Oct. 4, 7 p.m.
Barbara Jane Reyes, author and poet, curates an evening of poetry celebrating the Filipino American experience.

The Hot Off the Press Literary Reading - Oct. 9, 5 p.m.
Featuring Filipino and Filipino American authors: Gina Apostol, Jhoanna Lynn Cruz, George Deoso, Caroline Sy Hau, Mae Respicio, Randy Ribay, Brian Ascalon Roley, Ricco Siasoco and Lara Stapleton.

Shrimp Chips Bouquet - Oct. 13, 1 p.m.
Diosa Blooms, a Filipinx-owned, family-owned flower and plant shop, demonstrates how to create a beautiful floral bouquet.

Screening and Director Talk - Oct. 16, 3 p.m.
A matinee screening of the Filipino sci-fi film Alimuom, followed by a discussion with director Keith Sicat. 

Book Launch with Philippine American Writers and Artists (PAWA)* - Oct. 21, 6 p.m., Main Library, Latino/Hispanic Community Room (lower level)
Readings from the newly reprinted collection of poetry by Joaquin Legaspi (1896-1975). 

The Case of the American War in the Philippines at the Turn of the 20th Century - Oct. 23, 1 p.m.
MC Canlas, the SoMa Pilipinas community historian, and Abraham Ignacio, Filipino American Center librarian in conversation. 

Lydia Ortiz - Oct. 28, 7 p.m.
SFPL celebrates the work of Lydia Ortiz, our Filipino American History Artist Spotlight for 2021.

Healthy Filipino Food - date/time details to come
SOMCAN and a local Filipino chef demonstrate how to prepare a healthy and tasty Filipino dish.

San Francisco Girls Chorus - Oct. TBD
The San Francisco Girls Chorus will tell us about their upcoming opera based on the diary of young Filipina Angeles Monrayo Raymundo, Tomorrow’s Memories.

Youth Programs 

Tony Robles, Lakas and the Manilatown Fish - Oct. 1, 2 p.m.
Take a tour with Lakas to San Francisco’s historic Manilatown with Tony Robles – “The People’s Poet ” –award-winning author and social justice activist. For kids and their families.

Tracy Badua and Brighton Rose in Conversation - Oct. 8, 3 p.m.
Forthcoming middle-grade Filipina authors share their latest and upcoming projects, discuss cultural elements in their work and answer questions with a drawing demonstration. For ages 8 and older.

The Journey of Being an Artist - Oct. 15, 3 p.m.
Janine, a 2021 YELL (Youth Engaged in Library Leadership) teen intern, explores the intersection of her Filipina identity and art in an original video incorporating historical archives and personal artifacts in a unique storytelling experience. For ages 12 and older.

Laurel Fantauzzo - Oct. 20, 6 p.m.
Drawing inspiration from her 2020 YA novel My Heart Underwater, Fantauzzo leads an interactive writing workshop where participants learn how to build a fictional character. Q&A follows. For ages 13 and older.  

Tif Marcelo, The Holiday Switch - Oct. 27, 6 p.m. 
Tif Marcelo reads from her first YA novel and shares about her writing journey, inspiration and advice for young writers. Q&A follows. For ages 13 and older.  

Who Really Invented Halo-Halo? -  Oct. 29, 3 p.m.
Take a stroll through the fascinatingly significant, though often unacknowledged story, of the beloved Filipino dessert halo-halo. Learn how to make it in the comfort of your own kitchen. For kids and their families.

Kate Patterson, San Francisco Public Library
(415) 557-4252 /


September 9, 2021