Historical Timeline

Filipino American Experience

Historical Timeline/Major Events


(additional items and details may be added over the course of the quarter as relevant)

1492                Columbus’ (failed) expedition to India.

1587                The landing of the Spanish galleon Nuestra Señora de Esperanza in Morro Bay marking the first presence of Filipinos (referred to in the ship’s logs as Luzones Indios) in the continental United States.

1760s              Filipino slaves escaped their Spanish colonial masters and settled in present-day Louisiana.

1790                First U.S. nationality act grants naturalized citizenship to “free white persons.” (Amended in 1870 to include “persons of African nativity and descent.”)

1839                “Manifest Destiny” genocide of First Nations/Native Americans

1848                Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo ending the Mexican-American War and leads to U.S. possession of California. Gold is discovered. Chinese begin to arrive in large numbers.

1865                Ratification of the 13th Amendment ending the enslavement of Africans

1869-               Chinese recruited in large numbers to complete the transcontinental railroad.

1878                In re Ah Yup court ruling determines Chinese ineligible for citizenship because they are not “white” (first in a series of similar test cases).

1880                Section 69 of California’s Civil Code refuses marriage licenses to whites and “Mongolians, Negroes, mulattoes and persons of mixed blood.”

1881                Removal of Queen Liliuokalani from the throne in Hawaii.

1882                Chinese Exclusion Act

1898                Treaty of Paris: From Spain to the U.S.; Philippines is sold for $20 million; Annexation of Hawaii

1899                Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Man’s Burden”

1903                The Pensionado Act allowed Filipino college students to enter the U.S.

1907                Gentlemen’s Agreement

1907+              Systematic recruitment of Filipino agricultural workers and manual laborers to the U.S. (and Hawaii) was instituted. Their presence prompted anti-Filipino riots later. Filipino workers in the U.S. formed mutual support organizations and joined labor unions.

1917                Immigration Act

1924                Immigration Act

1931                Filipinos in the U.S. armed forces become eligible for U.S. citizenship

1933                Salvador Roldan vs. LA County, tests the anti-miscegenation laws. The anti-Filipino forces however soon get legislation added onto existing laws to include Filipino-white in anti-miscegenation prohibitions.

1934                Morrison vs. California holds Filipinos ineligible for citizenship.

1934                Tydings-McDuffie Act assigned an annual quota of 50 Filipinos to enter the U.S. per year and promised Philippine independence after a 10-year commonwealth period.

1935                The U.S. Congress passed Repatriation Bill to facilitate the expulsion of Filipinos from the U.S.

1941                The U.S. enters WWII.

1942-1945       Japanese occupation of the Philippines.

1944                Bretton-Woods and the establishment of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank

1945                WWII ends/Cold War Begins

1945-50           The War Brides Act allowed Filipinas married to U.S. Armed Forces personnel to settle in the U.S.

1946                The U.S. granted the Philippines “Independence”

1946                The Philippine Trade Act granted nonquota immigrant status to Philippine citizens, their spouses, and children who have resided in the U.S. for a continuous period of three years prior to November 30, 1941.

1946                The Filipino Naturalization Act (also known as the Luce-Cellar Act) conferred the right of naturalization and set annual immigration quota of 100 for Filipinos.

1946                The Rescission Act deemed that U.S. Filipino WWII veterans did not engage in military service and therefore did not deserve full veteran benefits.

1950-1953       Korean War

1961-1975       Vietnam War

1965                Immigration and Naturalization Act increased the quota for Filipinos through family unification and professional worker provisions.

1970                First Quarter Storm in the Philippines

1972                Marcos declared martial law in the Philippines forcing many to seek political refugee status in the U.S.

1974                The Marcos regime in the Philippine enacted the Labor Export Program (LEP) to systematically export Filipino workers as commodities to work in other countries and use their remittances to finance the underdeveloped Philippine economy.

1976                Health Professions Educational Assistance Act reduced influx of foreign doctors, nurses, and pharmacists. The Eilberg Act further restricted immigration of professionals.

1986                The Marcos regime collapsed after decades of people’s legal and underground resistance.

1986                The Immigration Reform and Control Act penalized employers for hiring undocumented workers while provided amnesty to the undocumented who could prove they worked and resided in the U.S. before 1982.

1989                Immigration Nursing Relief Act allowed foreign nurses holding temporary work visas to become permanent residents. Also created the H-1A visa which is a temporary visa for foreign nurses.

1990                Immigration Act new preference system introduced; three admission tracts including: family-sponsorship (excluding exempted categories of parents, spouses and children); employment-based (no longer tied to admissions linked to family-sponsorship) diversity visas. Also created visas for employment-creating investors

1996                The Illegal Immigrant Reform and Individual Responsibility Act (IIRIRA) moved to criminalize and deport U.S. Filipinos who are contract workers, immigrants, and U.S. citizens.

2001                Bombings of the WTC in NYC and the beginnings of the global “war on terror”

2002                The USA PATRIOT Act (Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism) and the Homeland Security Act allowed for the implementation of IIRIRA in an expanded manner through the dissolution of the INS and the establishment of the Department of Homeland Security. Within the Department of Homeland Security, the government’s immigration enforcement capacities were bolstered with the formation of ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement).

2003                Iraq War (extension of the “global war on terror”)

Drawn in part from several sources:

1)    Ating Kalagayan: The Social and Economic Profile of U.S. Filipinos by Peter Chua in conjunction with the National Bulosan Center and the National Alliance for Filipino Concerns. National Bulosan Center: 4021 69th Street, Suite A, Woodside, NY 11377, 2009. (items in BOLD)

2)     Asian American Studies, edited by Jean Yu-Wen Shen Wu and Min Song. New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press. 2000.

3)    “U.S. Immigration Policies and Asian Migration,” by Paul Ong and John M. Liu in Contemporary Asian America: A Multidisciplinary Reader edited by Min Zhou and James Gatewood. New York: New York University. 2000.


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