2015 Syllabus


M/W 2:10-4:00PM, Wellman 230

Instructor: Dr. Robyn Magalit Rodriguez

Office: Hart Hall 3115

Office Hours: Noon – 2:00PM (except for selected Wednesdays when there is a faculty meeting); I am also available by appointment

This course will introduce you to the Filipina and Filipino experience in the United States. Because the Filipino community in the United States is an incredibly diverse one, this course can conceivably cover lots of ground. It can include readings and lectures on the religious practices of Filipin@ in the U.S. like to what extent Filipinos are converting to Protestantism or Islam. Or, it can look at the health issues that plague Filipin@s in this country such as hypertension and diabetes. It can even look at Filipin@s educational experiences and outcomes from kindergarten to college. Though there is much research on these issues and though that research is important, they WILL NOT be covered in this course.

Instead, this course will draw primarily on topics I have focused on as a researcher, scholar and activist. I have studied and written about Filipino migration globally and to the United States for nearly twenty years. I have been especially committed to better understanding the experiences of low-wage Filipino workers for the purpose of supporting their rights to better working and living conditions. Indeed, this course will be especially focused on the question of how it is that Filipinos are in the United States to begin with and the fact is our history in the United States begins in with our migration to this country to work as low-wage laborers. To understand the history of Filipin@ immigration, however, is to understand the legacies of U.S. colonialism in the Philippines as well as how U.S. capital has historically and continues to depend on racialized labor. Therefore, this is a course that will focus on Filipinos’ exploitation as racialized labor for U.S. capital both domestically and globally.

Years ago, I attended a Pilipino Youth Coalition conference in San Jose, CA themed “Know History, Know Self.” It’s a perspective that I found really productive at the time and it is a theme I adopt in this course. To “know self” by “knowing history” is to recognize that despite the diversity of Filipin@/Pin@y/Filipin@-American individual experiences in this country we (because I share this experience) are connected to each other because of our collective historical roots in the Philippines and our displacement from the Philippines to the U.S.

I am a sociologist; so I will equip you with a sociological approach to understanding the Filipin@ experience in this country. In sociology, we examine the intersections of individual biographies and society. That is, we situate people’s lives and experiences within the context of history and broader social structures. We recognize that how people live, work, play, and love is not entirely a consequence of their unique choices and preferences, but crucially shaped by the economic, political and culture system in which we are situated. In addition, sociologists like me pay attention to how structures of inequality like racism, sexism, classism and heterosexism within societies like the United States, and indeed structures of inequality that characterize the relationship between the United States and the Philippines, impact the kinds of homes, jobs, forms of leisure and partners we are able to have.

You don’t have to be Filipin@ or Pin@y to benefit from this course. Ultimately, to study the experiences of a specific ethnic/racial immigrant group in the United States is vital to understanding this country from a critical perspective.


To cultivate critical understandings of:

·      what it means to be “Filipin@-American”

·      U.S.-Philippine relations

·      why Filipin@s have immigrated to United States/emigrated from the Philippines

·      Filipin@s’ experiences working and living in the U.S. and beyond

To offer perspectives on:

·      the ways Filipin@s have asserted their/our collective needs and found for social justice historically and in the present



1) Craig Scharlin and Lilia V Villanueva. XXX Philip Vera Cruz: A Personal History of Filipino Immigrants (PVC)

2) Dawn Mabalon: Little Manila Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American (MABALON)

3) Tiongson, Antonio and Ricardo Gutierrez and Edgardo Gutierrez. 2006. Positively No Filipinos Allowed: Building Communities and Discourse. Philadelphia: Temple University Press. (NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED)

4) Rodriguez, Robyn Magalit. 2010. Migrants for Export: How the Philippine State Brokers Labor to the World. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. (RODRIGUEZ)

5) Villegas, Mark R., Kuttin’ Kandi, and Roderick N. Labrador (Eds). 2014.  Empire of Funk Hip Hop and Representation in Filipina/o America. Cognella Press. (EMPIRE OF FUNK)

6) Misc Readings available on Filipino Studies website: wwww.filipinostudies.wordpress.com


1) Bulosan, Carlos. 2000. America is in the Heart: A Personal History. Seattle: University of Washington Press.

2) Vergara, Benito. Pinoy Capital: The Filipino Nation in Daly City

3) Also see the texts referred to on the Filipino Studies website:www.filipinostudies.wordpress.edu and any specific texts cited during lecture


This course is being offered in an Asian American Studies Department, a department that emerges from student struggles for Ethnic Studies. What students demanded was an education that both reflects the experiences of students of color and provides them with the skills to empower their communities. My perspective on the course requirements is inspired by the original aims of these struggles. Hence, much of the work you will be asked to do for this course will be directly tied to supporting the work of Filipin@ community organizations. For this year, you will be specifically focused on supporting the work of the AB123 Task Force. In 2013, Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 123 (or AB123) sponsored by Filipino-American state legislator Rob Bonta. This bill mandates the teaching of Filipino American’s contributions to the farmworker struggle. Amongst the work that Task Force members (particularly myself) are engaged in is to support the building of the Welga! Fiipino American Labor Archive (see https://welgadigitalarchive.omeka.net/)

Attendance:  10% (or 10 POINTS)

You are expected to attend every class meeting. I will take attendance. Part of your attendance grade will include you submitting the KWL form and the Short bio form. DUE APRIL 6th, 2015

Event attendance & Memo: 15% (OR 15 POINTS)

DUE May 7th, 2015

You are all to attend the Transnational Asia Conference on May 1, 2015. In the memo, provide an overview of the key points of a speaker of your choosing and then connect their points to specific ideas discussed in class.

Lesson Plan and Learning Tools: MID-TERM 20% (OR 20 POINTS)

DUE April 29th, 2014 ON SMARTSITE

You will be assigned a topic and you as to design a lesson plan that discusses it in a way that is accessible to students in high school.  The lesson plan should cover 80 minutes of class time and should have the following elements:

  • Warm Up (3-5 mins)
  • Objectives (3-5 mins)
  • Lecture  (20 – 25 mins)
  • Activity (15 – 20 mins)
  • Video/Audio/Primary Source/Reading  (15-20 mins)
  • Wrap Up and Exit Ticket (Reflection Question/Quiz or some kind of assessment to check for understanding) (3-5 mins)

The lesson plan should be 4-6 pages long (you will be provided with a sample on-line and more detailed instructions will be offered in class) where you provide a brief discussion each of these elements. The lecture portion, however, will require more extended discussion.

The lesson plan should be accompanied by a 7-10 PowerPoint/Keynote slides (for each of the elements covered).

You will be graded primarily on your ability to incorporate material from the course but I will also be evaluating how effective and creative your lesson plan is.

More detailed instructions will be posted/discussed over the course of the quarter.

Delano Trip and Oral History

OR Personal Contribution to the Community/Serve the People Final Project

OR Oral History with a Filipino Immigrant


DUE  Tuesday June 9th @ 12:30PM


Delano Trip

You will have an opportunity to join the Welga Project team on a field trip to Delano. If you choose this final exam option, you will be expected to go to Delano (this will involve a three hour drive and possibly an overnight stay there). While in Delano you will conduct an oral history with a community member (the transcript of which you will have to complete) and tour around key sites relevant to the 1965 Grape Strike.  You will be graded based on the quality the transcript of the oral history. DATES FOR DELANO TRIPS: April 17-19 (final date TBD based on students’ availability); May 15-17 (final date TBD based on students’ availability)

Personal Contribution

At the beginning of the quarter, you will be asked to think about what it is that you are good at (whether you are a good cook, a good gamer, etc.).  Your final assignment will be to build on your personal strengths and to develop a project that can contribute to the Filipino community in the U.S.

You are to draw from materials we have covered in the class in these projects. For example, if you are a good cook, you can develop a recipe or a video where you would not only share your cooking skills, but you might provide a discussion of how Filipino immigrant labor had historically (and also in the contemporary moment) contributed the farming and production of specific food products. Or, if you’re great at videogames, you can design a videogame with a Filipino historical figure as the protagonist. You might discuss who the figure is, and how the objectives and rules of the game serve to illustrate important aspects of that person’s life, etc. Be creative!

You will be graded primarily on your ability to address 4-5 concepts/topics from the course into your project and to craft a project that can effectively serve the audience you are targeting.

You may videotape your project and post it to YouTube (you will just have to email me the URL). The video should be between 5-7 minutes long (A voice-over for a video of 5-7 minutes is equivalent to 10-12 written pages).

Otherwise, you may submit a more traditional paper describing your project. This final paper should be 10-12 pages long, double-spaced, in New Times Roman, 12 pt. font.

However, beyond the grade, think of this as truly contribution to the community so take some time to think carefully about what you will do.

Final Paper

You will do an oral history with a Filipino immigrant.  This person can be someone you know (i.e. a relative, friend, co-worker, etc.) but you are encouraged to try to interview someone you do not know well.  I will provide you with a rough sketch of the questions you will ask your interviewees.

The final paper will require that provide a sociological analysis of your interviewee’s immigration experiences. Your grade will be assigned based on your ability to engage 4-5 concepts/topics covered in the course and I expect you to weave in portions of the interview (i.e. direct quotations) in your paper to demonstrate exactly how the concepts in the course manifest in your interviewee’s life.

The paper should be 10-12 pages, double spaced, in New Times Roman, 12 pt. font.

Group Work: 30% (or 30 POINTS)

CHECK-IN 1: April 20 (use class time to generate draft of plan; post draft to Smartsite on April 22)

CHECK-IN 2: May 20th Provide one-page report updating your progress on each project. You will be provided with a rubric to fill-in.

ALL MATERIALS DUE: Tuesday, June 9that 12:30PM

You will be assigned a permanent group early in the quarter to work with.

If you are on social media, you will be required to like and/or follow the Welga 65 Facebook page, Instgram and Tumblr.

PROJECT 1: You will be working to promote the Welga Digital Archive to high school social studies teachers as well as to local community organizations (from churches, regional associations, youth groups and etc) and any local Filipino American media in communities with large Filipino American populations You are to compile a list of teachers, community organizations and media contacts that you will reach out to and come up with an outreach campaign.  This outreach campaign can include in-person or virtual presentations, short videos etc. on Filipino-Americans’ contributions to the farmworker struggle and the Welga Archive that you distribute; press releases/conferences; one-on-one meetings with key stakeholders….you can be creative! You will be graded on the effectiveness of your campaign measured by:

1)    registrations by Filipino-American teachers for the FAEC (Filipino American Educators of California) Conference

2)    documented responses from individuals acknowledging that they have received information about the archive (sign in sheets for an event you organized; email correspondence; FB likes; Instagram and Tumblr followers). More weight will be given to people associated with schools, community organizations or the media.

YOU ARE TO HAVE EFFECTIVELY OUTREACHED TO A MINIMUM OF 15 PEOPLE (since you will be divided into groups of 5, that would mean about 3 contacts each)

PROJECT 2: Where’s Philip? campaign

You will be working to document the impact of Philip Vera Cruz on different community members’ lives. You can do any of the following:

·      Determine whether there are murals or other commemorations of Philip Vera Cruz (statues, painting, etc) and have someone in that community (or you can do it yourselves), take a photo with it and post it to their (or your) Instagram and/or Facebook. Make sure to put the hashtags #asaucd #projectbulosan #filipinostudies #philipveracruz #wheresphilip #welga65 and tag the Welga 65 Instagram and/or Facebook account.

·      Collect short video interviews of Filipino American leaders sharing how Philip Vera Cruz and the farmworker struggle touched their lives. Post these videos to Instagram and/or Facebook (see the directions above regarding hashtages and tags).

For both, more weight will be given to people associated with schools, community organizations or the media. They can be the same people as the above project but more weight will be given if you do entirely different people (i.e. 30 people as opposed to 15).


(since you will be divided into groups of 5, that would mean about 3 contacts each)

Meeting with Dr. Rodriguez

I will be available for individual meetings every Monday between Noon and 2PM in my office at Hart Hall Room 3115.



 “We Didn’t Cross the Border, The Border Crossed Us”: U.S. Colonialism and Early Filipino Immigration

Week 1

·      The First Vietnam: The U.S.-Philippine War of 1899,” by Luzviminda Francisco: SITE or go to http://www.historyisaweapon.org/defcon1/franciscofirstvietnam.html

·      “The Miseducation of the Filipino,” Renato Constantino; SITE

·       “ Filipino Bodies, Lynching and the Language of Empire,” Nerissa Balce in NO FILIPINO ALLOWED

·      “On Filipinos, Filipino Americans and U.S. Imperialism,” Oscar Campomanes in NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED

Labor & Employment; Living with Racism; Building Community

Week 2


·      “Preface,” PVC BOOK

·      “Still good at sitting own,” PVC BOOK

·      “From the Provinces to the Delta,” MABALON BOOK

·      “A matter of survival,” PVC BOOK

·      “Toiling in the ‘Valley of Opportunity,’” MABALON BOOK

Week 3



·       “The most important $2 in my life,” PVC BOOK

·      “Making a Filipina/o American World in Stockton,” MABALON BOOK

·      “So close to the good life,” PVC BOOK

·      “Women, Families and the Second Generation,” MABALON BOOK

Labor Activism

Week 4

NO CLASS on 4/20; meet with group instead


·      “I sacrificed too much…,” PVC BOOK

·      “A minority within a minority,” PVC BOOK

·      “The movement must go beyond its leaders,” PVC BOOK

·      “The Watershed of WWII,” MABALON BOOK

Contemporary Im/migration: The U.S. and Beyond

Week 5

MID-TERM DUE on 4/29


·      Introduction, RODRIGUEZ BOOK

·      Chapter 2, RODRIGUEZ BOOK

·      Chapter 3, RODRIGUEZ BOOK

Labor & Employment; Living with Racism; Building Community

Week 6


·      “Securing Their Added Export Value,” by Anna Guevarra: SITE

·       “Filipino Americans, Foreigner Discrimination and the Lines of Racial Sovereignty,” by Angelo Ancheta in NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED

·      Resisting Homeland Security: Organizing Against Unjust Removals of U.S. Filipinos,” by Critical Filipino and Filipina Studies Collective (only pgs. 1-18): SITE

The Second Generation

Week 7


·       “On the Politics of Filipino (Youth) Culture,” in NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED

·      “Filming Appeal,” EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      “Hip Hop, Films and Being Filipina/o,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      “In a Strange Land,” EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      “Travelling Man…” EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      Also peruse the photo series from 197-225 in EMPIRE OF FUNK

Gender and Sexuality

Week 8:

  •  ‘“Out There” The Topography of Race and Desire in the Global City,” by Martin Manalansan: SITE.
  •  “The Gay Second Generation: Sexual Identity and Family Relations of Filipino and Latino Gay Men, ” by Anthony Ocampo: SITE
  • “Booty Pop Madness,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK
  •  “Filipina.com: Wives, Workers, Whores on the Cyberfrontier,” by Robyn Rodriguez and Vernadette Gonzalez: SITE
  • “Hip Hop Pinayism Front and Center,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK
  • “Resistance and Struggle are Sisters,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK

Today’s Activisms

Week 9:

·       “Toward a Filipino Critical Pedagogy: Exposure Programs to the Philippines and the Politicization of Melissa Roxas,” by Michael Viola: SITE

·       “Toward Praxis-Oriented Filipina/o American Hip Hop,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      “Can Hip Hop Be Political,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK

·      “Identity and Resistance,” in EMPIRE OF FUNK

Week 10:

·      “American Insecurity and Radical Filipino Community Politics,” by Rodriguez, Robyn and Nerissa Balce: SITE

·      A Different Breed of Balikbayans,” by S. Lily Mendoza in NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED

·      “A Million Deaths,” by Dylan Rodriguez in NO FILIPINOS ALLOWED


Don’t forget to submit your evaluation of the course!

Also turn in the final box of your KWL Form


WELGA! Filipino-American Labor Archives

Image of Philip Vera Cruz found on a tile at Cesar Chavez Park, Oakland CA
Image of Philip Vera Cruz found on a tile at Cesar Chavez Park, Oakland CA







For the Spring 2015 quarter of the Filipino-American Experience course I am teaching at UC Davis, we will be focused on helping to build and promote the digital archive that I and a team of students and community members are building as a resource to support the implementation of AB 123 which mandates the teaching of Filipino-Americans’ contributions to the farmworker struggle in the state of California. Check out the site and make sure to follow us! We’ve already got a great set of resources posted.

Spring 2015!

It’s been nearly a year since I’ve posted here but I am teaching the Filipino-American Experience this year with a new syllabus. I’m keeping most of the readings here intact but hope to be adding supplementary materials over the course of the quarter. Stay tuned!