Since 9/11, more than 1,000 Filipino TNTs (overstaying tourists or immigrants with criminal convictions) have been deported back to the Philippines at US government expense. This is not the first time the United States has engaged in the wholesale removal of Filipinos from the US.
The first concerted effort, occurring about 70 years ago, was covered by Time magazine in an article published on October 3, 1938. The title of the piece "Philippine Flop" represented Time's editorialized view of the "repatriation" (the euphemism then for "deportation") of Filipinos back to the Philippines:
"Aboard the S. S. President Coolidge when it cleared the Golden Gate for Manila last week were 75 guests of the U. S. Government. They were Filipinos taking their next-to-last chance to go home at U. S. expense. Already 1,900 had taken a free ride home since the Filipino Repatriation Act was passed in the summer of 1935. Just one more Filipino repatriation party is to be given before December 31, when the Act expires.
"Although $237,000 has been spent to date on Filipino fares, both Immigration officials and California Labor regard the repatriation program as a flop. Remaining in the U. S. are 120,000 low-paid Filipino farm workers, houseboys, janitors, cooks. Half are in California, 97% are bachelors about 30 years old."
"The boys," explained Dr. Hilario C. Moncado, president of the Filipino Federation of America, "do not want to go back without money or assurance they will earn a living." Another good reason is that, in some cases, boys are loathe to leave a country where, as a California judge remarked (TIME, April 13, 1936), "they boast of enjoying the favors of white girls because they are a very superior grade of lovers."
It was considered a "flop" because 120,000 Filipinos refused to be "repatriated" back to the Philippines. If all 120,000 Filipinos had been repatriated as the Act anticipated, it would have been hailed as a success.
The April 13, 1936 issue of Time carried a piece ("Lovers' Departure") that would not be shocking if it appeared in an anti-Filipino racist journal (maybe that's what Time was). It surely had the effect of inflaming anti-Filipino sentiment in towns throughout the United States where one would surmise, if Filipino men appeared, the white men there would hide their women and prepare their ropes.
The article explained that the enactment of the Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935 was the result of the lobbying of Pacific Coast Labor which resented Filipinos for "selling their services for 10¢ an hour in competition with white men."
[Believe it or not, the racial stereotype of "big black men" now (as having "superior male attractions") were once the province of "little brown men."]
Here is an excerpt from the Time article: "The Pacific Coast was interested in this subsidized exodus not only from the standpoint of labor but also from the standpoint of race and sex. In many places Filipinos are "problem children" for Pacific Coast authorities. To the intense dismay of race-conscious Californians, these little brown men not only have a preference for white girls, particularly blondes, but have even established to many a white girl's satisfaction their superior male attractions."
The Time article quoted extensively from San Francisco Municipal Court Judge Sylvain Lazarus who ruled in a case involving a Filipino man coveted by two white women. "This is a deplorable situation," Judge Lazarus said. "It is a dreadful thing when these Filipinos, scarcely more than savages, come to San Francisco, work for practically nothing, and obtain the society of these girls. Because they work for nothing, decent white boys cannot get jobs."
The widely-publicized Lazarus denunciation of Filipinos prompted the Filipino community in San Francisco to pass a resolution denouncing the judge for his racist view of Filipinos. The resolution was sent to Washington DC to Philippine Resident Commissioner Quintin Paredes (no RP Ambassador as the Philippines was a US Commonwealth). Paredes promptly wrote Judge Lazarus a note stating that "I cannot believe that you had in any way intended to refer to my people as a whole."
Judge Lazarus immediately responded to Paredes: "I intend to be as straightforward with you as you have been considerate with me. Basing my conclusions on years of observation, I regret to say that there is probably no group in this city, proportionate to its members, that supplies us with more criminal business than the local Filipino colony. It is no compliment to the predominant race that most crimes committed by Filipinos have as background intimate relations with white girls."
Judge Lazarus continued: "I am making allowance for the fact that there is a scarcity -- I imagine almost a total absence -- of Filipino girls in this country and that the kind of white girls who associate with these Filipino lads is not calculated to provide the best influences for them. However, the girls are satisfied and generally very happy in their relations with these boys. Their sweethearts are working -- all of them -- as waiters, elevator operators, janitors, bell boys, etc. and are able to supply them, according to their notions, with abundant attentions and diversion. . . . "
"Some of these boys, with perfect candor, have told me bluntly and boastfully that they practice the art of love with more perfection than white boys, and occasionally one of the girls has supplied me with information to the same effect. In fact some of the disclosures in this regard are perfectly startling in their nature." "Well," said Senor Paredes urbanely, "the Judge admits that Filipinos are great lovers." [Time, April 13, 1936].
If Time magazine were to publish an article like this now or if a judge or any US official were to make a statement denouncing Filipinos as "scarcely more than savages" or such drivel, there would be picket lines throughout the US against Time and the US official organized by the National Federation of Filipino Associations in America (NaFFAA).
Instead of denouncing Judge Lazarus for his racism, Commissioner Paredes was content to simply provide him with an excuse which the judge refused to use. Instead of denouncing the Repatriation Act, the Filipino Federation of America under Hilario Moncado was simply interested in explaining why Filipinos do not want to leave the US. Unfortunately, there was no NaFFAA then.
To celebrate 100 years of Filipinos in Hawaii, join us in Honolulu on September 28-October 1 this year for the 4th Global Filipino Networking Convention and the 7th NaFFAA National Empowerment Conference. For more information, log on to www.naffaa.org.
I hope to see you there this year for the 1st centennial celebration. I doubt if anyone of us can make it to the 2nd centennial celebration in 2106.