Filipino American Historical Society
photos from Mar 2021 rally photos from Mar 2021 rally photos from Mar 2021 rally photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic photos from Oct 2021 picnic

News and Events

Local News

The Laugh Cellar

In celebration of Filipino American History Month, on October 28 The Laugh Cellar held a virtual comedy show featuring comedians Alec Mapa, Kevin Camia, Nina Gosiengfiao and Chris Thigpen. Not only did the show generate lots of laughs, but thanks to a generous donation from the Laugh Cellar, the show’s ticket sales revenue will benefit FANHS Sonoma’s Katherine Baguio Scholarship fund. 

In a November 8 letter to FANHS Sonoma, Laugh Cellar co-owner Lisa Pidge states “On behalf of the Laugh Cellar and Grace Villafuerte, we'd like to present this donation to your wonderful organization.” A check for $468 was enclosed. 

Founded in 2014 by Ms. Pidge, a Sonoma County native Filipina, and her wife Carlee, the Kenwood-based Laugh Cellar presents world class stand-up comedy at world class wineries throughout Sonoma County and the Napa Valley.


Commission on Human Rights

Through the leadership of Commissioner Elizabeth Escalante, on October 26 the Sonoma County Human Rights Commission passed a Resolution in Recognition of October as Filipino American History Month. Community members who spoke in support of the resolution included Jeannette Anglin, Leo Tacate and Michael Viloria.


Rohnert Park City Council

At its October 12th meeting the Rohnert Park City Council presented FANHS Sonoma with a proclamation recognizing October 2021 as the 434th anniversary of Filipino presence in the U.S., and October as Filipino American History Month. City employee Leo Tacate, who is Filipino, spearheaded the project, working closely with Mayor Gerard Giudice. FANHS Sonoma member Jeannette Anglin received the proclamation on behalf of the Filipino community. Her father, the late Nicanor Usita Tipon, worked at the Rohnert Park Seed Farm, which operated from the 1930s through the 1950s. At one time, the seed farm was the largest wholesale seed company in the U.S., as well as a major employer of Filipino workers. 

With funding assistance from Mr. Tacate, FANHS Sonoma donated to the City a large, historic portrait of seed farm workers and their families, circa 1950. The portrait includes Ms. Anglin as a young child, along with her family and many others. The large photograph will be prominently displayed at Rohnert Park City Hall. In addition to Ms. Anglin, Mr. Tacate and FANHS Sonoma Chapter President Michael Viloria addressed the council. Also in attendance were Sonoma County Human Rights Commissioner Elizabeth Escalante and some 30 members of the Filipino community, including representatives of the former Pilipino American Association of Rohnert Park and the Filipino American Association of Sonoma State University.


Celebrating Filipino American History Month

Filipino American National History

On October 9th, FANHS Sonoma hosted a barbecue picnic at Riverfront Park, set among the towering Redwoods in Windsor. More than 50 members, friends and their families attended. Guests of all ages spent the afternoon feasting on delicious food, visiting with friends old and new, playing games, and relaxing in Sonoma County’s perfect Fall weather.  Many tried their luck with raffle tickets, vying for a variety of highly desired prizes.  More than a dozen lucky winners came away with artfully potted plants, confections of all kinds, unique handmade crafts, and more.

Recognizing local Filipino history, several members shared personal stories and memories of events that once took place in the surrounding area.  FANHS Sonoma President Michael Viloria recalled three large ranches where Filipino men, many of whom had come to the U.S. as teens, lived and worked from the 1930s through 1960s.  One such place was Wohler Ranch located a few miles from the picnic area, on Eastside Road near Ya-Ka-Ama. Up and across the river off of Westside Road in Healdsburg was the Grace Brothers Ranch.  Another was the Seimer Ranch located in Santa Rosa where West Third Street now meets Fulton Rd. All three of the ranches originally grew hops until just after World War II when prune and apple orchards, and later vineyards, gradually replaced the hop fields.

Michael’s fondest memory was of the Sunday “picnics” that rotated among the three ranches. Filipinos, including single working men as well as families, attended the weekend festivities. There, the men gambled and relaxed after a hard week’s work, the women visited, and the children played. Some of the women were known and appreciated for preparing delicious food for others to purchase. 

Note: The Bosman Ranch located on Woolsey Road in Windsor was also such a location that stopped holding picnics years earlier.



National News

Bataan Death March Veterans Anniversary

On April 6, 2019 the Bataan Legacy Historical Society commemorated the 77th Anniversary of the Bataan Death March. This annual event commemorates the long-awaited recognition of Filipino and American soldiers who valiently fought side by side in World War II.

The brutal march began on April 4, 1942, when the US surrendered the Philippines’ Bataan Peninsula to the Japanese Imperial Army. Seventy-five thousand Philippine and US soldiers, along with civilians, were forced to walk 65 miles in the sweltering heat of tag-init from Mariveles to San Fernando, Pampanga and finally, Camp O’Donnell, Capas, Tarlac.The prisoners suffered severe abuse and senseless killings. Weakened by starvation and sickness, many perished along the way. Those unable to walk were left to die. Those who survived were taken to San Fernando train station and crammed into stifling boxcars bound for prisoner-of-war camps where many died of starvation, mistreatment and disease.

It wasn’t until February 1945, nearly three years later, that US General Douglas MacArthur made good on his word to return to the Philippines. US-Philippine forces then recaptured the Bataan Peninsula, and liberated Manila that March. A military tribunal tried and convicted Lieutenant General Homma Masaharu, Commander of the Japanese invasion Forces in the Philippines, for war crimes, after finding him responsible for the death march.

The Bataan Legacy Historical Society’s foremost goals are to include this seminal part of World War II history in high school history and social science curriculums throughout the US, and to document the stories of WWII veterans and survivors in the Philippines.

Sonoma County resident MaryAnne Tabor, daughter of John Tabor, shares the story of her father’s own experience in War World II in this excerpt from Remembering Our Manongs, Sonoma County’s Filipino American History. It is a poignant testament to the resilience and tenacity of a man who endured the dark days of war, then immigrated to the United States where he raised a family, and established himself as a successful business owner and community leader.

…And when the war broke out, he was teaching, so he was immediately enlisted in the American Army. He was a survivor of the Bataan Death March. He was captured and taken to a prison camp. He was thrown amongst the dead in the prison camp because he had been so emaciated from starvation and dysentery that they didn’t even think he was alive. He had been down to skin and bones and was able to through escape through the wires. He then joined the Philippine Scouts in the mountains and he fought as a guerrilla until the end of the war.

Bells of Balangiga Returned

After 117 years, the Bells of Balangiga were returned to the Philippines on December 11, 2018.  In 1901, in the town of Balangiga, Central Samar, hundreds of Filipino villagers, armed with bolos, used one of the town's church bells to signal the start of a massive attack, one of the bloodiest single-battle losses of American occupation forces in the Philippines.  The U.S. Army brutally retaliated, killing thousands of villagers, during the Philippine-American War.

According to Filipino historian, Rolando Borringaga, American soldiers were told to shoot villagers 10 years and older and to turn the island into a "howling wilderness." After the war, the Americans took the three bells claiming them as spoils of war.  For decades, Filipinos have been demanding that the bells be returned.  Two of the bells had been displayed for decades at FE Warren Army Base in Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The third bell  was with the US Army in South Korea.  The return of the bells was accomplished through a concerted effort supported bv varioius Filipino-American organizations, U.S. Veteran organizations and goverment agencies.  At a special ceremony, Philippine Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said, "It's time for healing, it is time for closure, it is time to look ahead as two nations should with a shared history as allies." 


Calendar/Upcoming Events

FANHS National Conference

FANHS 2022 Conference (Past, Present, Future) will be held on August 11-13 in Seattle, Washington. The FANHS national network, comprised of over 30 chapters throughout the United States, was founded by Dr. Dorothy Laigo Cordova and Dr. Fred Cordova in 1982. The FANHS 2022 Conference in Seattle will celebrate the 40th anniversary of the founding of FANHS!