Filipino Americans in Alaska have included Larry Itliong, a national labor leader who organized Alaska cannery workers; Alaska Rep. Thelma Buchholdt, the first U.S. Filipino American legislator in the state; and current Rep. Genevieve Mina, who sponsored a bill to establish October as Filipino American History Month in Alaska. (Itliong photo courtesy of Walter P. Reuther Library, Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University; Buchholdt photo from Alaska Blue Book (Third edition), Alaska Department of Education, Division of State Libraries; Mina photo by James Brooks/Alaska Beacon)
October will be Filipino American History Month in Alaska if Gov. Mike Dunleavy approves a bill that passed the state Senate unanimously on Friday.
House Bill 23, from Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, is largely ceremonial — it does not declare an official holiday or require schools to teach lessons on Filipino American history — but supporters testified that passage of the bill would be an important honor.
The first recorded Filipino visitor to Alaska arrived in 1788, and immigrants from the Philippines were critical to the operations of salmon canneries here in the 19th and 20th centuries.
More immigrants come to Alaska from the Philippines than from any other country, but the state’s history of recognizing Philippine accomplishments is mixed.
The Glenn Highway, one of the state’s most prominent roadways, is named in honor of a war criminal who tortured Filipinos during the 20th century American occupation of the Philippines.
HB 23 now advances to Dunleavy’s desk for consideration.
Correction: The photo caption originally published with this article incorrectly said that Thelma Buchholdt was the first Filipino American legislator. While she was the first in Alaska, the first nationally was Hawaii state Rep. Peter Aduja.
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