The Filipino Migration to Hawaii: A Historical Journey

The Filipino presence in Hawaii is a long and storied one, with the first wave of Filipino immigrants arriving in the early 20th century. Initially, the Hawaii Sugar Growers Association (HSPA) recruited Filipino men from the Philippines to work in the sugar cane fields. This marked the beginning of a rapid increase in Hawaii's Filipino population, with over 100,000 Filipino men recruited to work as sakadas in the booming sugar industry between 1906 and 1946. Today, Filipinos are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in Hawaii, due to continued immigration from the Philippines and high birth rates in the Filipino community. Nationally, Filipinos are second only to Chinese in terms of Asian immigration to the United States. There are approximately 2.5 million Filipinos in the United States, not counting the undocumented.

Filipinos also lead in terms of foreign workers around the world. On December 20, 1906, 15 Filipino plantation workers called sakadas arrived in Honolulu. The last wave of labor migration took place in 1946, when 6,000 Filipino men emigrated to Hawaii. A large number are hotel workers, and many prominent union leaders from the hospitality sector and other industries have emerged from the Philippine ranks over the years. If you're looking for information about a family member or friend who worked on a Sakada or Filipino plantation between 1906 and 1949, visit Brigham Young University's Filipino Workers Collection. This is accentuated by horrible ethnic jokes on the radio and the perception that Filipinos in Hawaii speak with an accent.

Filipinos have been allies of Kanaka Maoli and Kanaka Maoli had been an ally of the Filipinos, especially in the 19th century. For many Filipinos born and raised in Hawaii, they feel ashamed to be Filipinos, because there are terms such as “bukbok “, pinoy and “flip”.At that time, it was also an open secret that Princess Kaiulani had supported Filipino and Cuban nationalists, which is why she became involved in the Red Cross. Filipinos may have been in Hawaii at about the same time that Japanese and Chinese merchants began arriving in Hawaii during the reign of Kamehameha I because of Spanish trade (in particular, the Manila galleon trade). Despite worker strikes and emigration to the western mainland coast, an estimated 120,000 Filipino workers arrived in Hawaii between 1906 and 1934. Wilcox had even thought of forming a battalion of Hawaiian volunteers to go to the Philippines to support Filipinos in their quest for recognition of their independence from Spain and the United States.

Hawaii's current Filipino community has its roots in 1906, when the Hawaii Sugar Growers Association (HSPA) recruited 15 sakadas (contract workers) from the Philippines to work on sugar plantations in the then U. S. territory of Hawaii. Even outside of activism and within established circles, Filipinos have been successful in politics, healthcare, education, and the military. The vast majority of Hawaii's Filipino community, at least 85 percent, are Ilokanos from northern Luzon, whose native language is Ilokano.

We know from naturalization records that there were Filipinos who naturalized as Hawaiian subjects in the 1850s and that there were Filipinos in the Royal Hawaiian Band. The history of Filipino migration to Hawaii is a long one filled with stories of struggle and success. From humble beginnings as sakadas working on sugar plantations to becoming a major part of Hawaiian society today, Filipinos have made an indelible mark on Hawaiian culture. From their involvement in politics to their contributions to healthcare and education, Filipinos have played an important role in shaping modern-day Hawaii. The legacy of Filipino migration to Hawaii is one that should be celebrated and remembered for generations to come. It is a testament to how far we have come as a people and how much we can achieve when we work together towards a common goal.