The Filipino Immigrant Experience in Hawaii: A Look at the Impact of Filipino Culture on the Islands

From the moment they began arriving in droves to work on Hawaii's 45 sugar plantations, Filipinos were subject to grueling work for negligible pay and intense discrimination. Over the course of ten hours a day, they carried 75-pound bales of cane that left raw, infected stains on their necks. Filipinos are the fastest-growing ethnic minority in Hawaii, due to continued immigration from the Philippines and high birth rates in the Filipino community. Some 3,500 immigrants from the Philippines, mostly children, come to Hawaii every year.

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. The history of Filipinos in Hawaii dates back to the late 19th century, when Filipino workers were recruited to work on sugar plantations. At the time, the demand for sugar was increasing rapidly and plantations needed a large amount of labor to grow and harvest sugar cane.

The plantation owners went to the Philippines, a territory recently acquired by the United States, in search of labor. Filipino immigrants were treated as second-class citizens when it came to salaries, living conditions, and social life. Despite this, Filipinos in Hawaii have brought with them a deep sense of unity and support that continues to shape the social fabric of the islands. In the area of education, many Filipino teachers have had a positive impact on the lives of students, providing them with guidance and inspiration. Today, Filipinos constitute one of the largest ethnic groups in Hawaii, with a rich history and lasting cultural impact. The vast majority of Hawaii's Filipino community, at least 85 percent, are Ilokanos from northern Luzon, whose native language is Ilokano. Over the years, several Filipino leaders have been elected to public office, acting as advocates for their community and making important political decisions that benefit all residents of Hawaii.

This has led to a decline in the Filipino population as more and more Filipinos chose to leave plantations and seek work in other fields such as retail or service industries. Filipino dishes such as adobo, pancit and lumpia have become popular staple foods in Hawaiian food culture. Luluquisen (200) found that many young Filipinos were ashamed to identify themselves as Filipinos, and another study revealed that Filipinos born in Hawaii often echo negative messages and discriminate against newly arrived immigrants (Revilla, 199). Despite this, Filipino cultural events such as Fiesta del Barrio still showcase the rich traditions and vibrant heritage of the Filipino community in Hawaii. Rizal's visit to Hawaii helped inspire and galvanize the Filipino community, encouraging them to fight for their rights and embrace their cultural heritage. Bulosan's writings shed light on the experiences of Filipino immigrants in Hawaii and the challenges they faced. No, since Filipinos are not Hawaiians - not even Filipinos consider themselves as such - they have had a major influence on Hawaii's culture and economy over the past century.