In October 2021, I decided to dive into Filipino American History Month through an illustration series. Here are a few highlights prior to the 1900’s.

Manila Galleon, 1587

Fun fact: the first Filipinos arrived on the continental US (current-day San Luis Obispo, CA) in ✨1587✨. Yep, you read that right! A couple centuries before the US was even a country. They arrived on board a Manila Galleon, a type of Spanish trade ship.

St. Malo Fishing Village, 1700’s

The first known settlement of Filipinos on the continental US was in St. Malo, Louisiana, made up of Filipinos who escaped the Manila Galleons and indentured servitude in the 1700s. The settlers established this as a “floating” fishing village (houses on stilts) and were known as the Manilamen. Being skilled fishermen, they introduced ways of preserving and drying fish to the seafood industry long before refrigeration was invented.

Over the years, these settlements became multi-ethnic communities as they intermarried with other ethnicities and became part of Louisiana’s multicultural society.

Sadly, multiple major hurricanes destroyed the village over time. The descendants of the Manilamen were forced to relocate due to weather conditions but are still actively involved in preserving the St. Malo historical site.