Story last updated at 9/19/2012 - 12:46 pm
The Filipino Community, Inc. is the oldest established Filipino organization in the State of Alaska. History records the earliest Filipinos arriving in Alaska in the 1700's on board merchant ships seeking fur trade with Alaska Natives, followed by others serving on whaling ships to the Alaskan Arctic. In the early 1900's Filipino's, known as "Manila Men" served on board the cable ship Burnside helped to lay the underwater communication cables that linked Juneau and other Southeast Alaskan communities with Seattle. By 1929, a significant contingent of Filipinos had settled in Juneau and married Tlingit women. Marriage statistics showed that more Filipinos settled in Juneau than elsewhere in Southeast Alaska. These individuals raised their families through working at the mines, in department stores, owning a poultry farm, and opening restaurants and cafes. Many descendants of the original families still reside in Juneau today.
Today, the Filipino Community, Inc. carries on with a younger generation whose goal is to preserve the legacy of Filipinos in Juneau. The organization's stated purpose is to foster better and harmonious relationships, understanding and brotherhood among ourselves and with other ethnic groups; and to keep alive the Filipino heritage, culture, customs, and traditions.
There are many newcomers to Juneau who have found their way to the Filipino Community Hall located at 251 South Franklin Street. There are more than 1,000 islands that comprise the Philippines, and members of the Filipino Community, Inc. are from many different areas. Individuals married to Filipinos, or those who have a legal relationship with Filipinos, and even those who are just interested in Filipino culture and traditions are welcome.
You are likely to find a Filipino anywhere in Juneau. Filipino youngsters excel in academics and athletics in the School District. Many Filipinos are teachers, government workers, accountants, bank workers, in retail stores and many other places. The Filipino Community Hall has been a social gathering place to meet and share values of importance to those from the Philippines, with interest in the Philippines, or whose ethnicity is Filipino.
The Filipino Community, Inc. offers a scholarship program for youngsters who excel in their studies, and for those who excel in athletics. A new scholarship endowment was also established with the University of Alaska Southeast. Most major U.S. holidays are celebrated at the Filipino Community Hall, in addition to some important dates to the Philippines such as "Rizal Day" celebrated in June, in honor of the Philippine National Hero Dr. Jose Rizal. The "Manila Square" located close to the Filipino Community Hall was named in honor of Dr. Jose Rizal. Of course, the Filipino Community Inc. is also well known for its participation in the July 4th parade.
Everyone is welcome to the Filipino Community, Inc. and if you are interested in learning more about the Philippines, stop by the Hall and take a look at the displays inside. Filipinos helped to shape the economy and diversity in Juneau. The Legacy continues.
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