America’s fascination with Filipino brides

by Bobby Reyes

“Historical Illustration of Buffalo Soldiers” | Image via Flickr/Creative Commons by NPS/Patrick Myers

Part V of the “Filipino Melting Pot Series”

In Part IV of this series, I said we could bring at least three million Filipino nurses to work in North America and Europe. Provided we lobby for it and give lots of financial and moral support to Filipino wannabe nurses or medical personnel. Because the World Health Organization said — before the coronavirus-caused pandemic started — that there would be a shortage of at least six million qualified nurses by 2030. We know that Filipino nurses and other medical professionals, including caregivers, are known for their TLC (Tender-Loving Care). If we can partner with our Mexican “first cousins,” oops, brethren, and all Filipino and Mexican nurses would be bilingual. Naturally, they would have to undergo part of their medical education in Mexico. They give bilingual medical professionals preference in hiring and command extra pay, if not bonuses.

It was, therefore, easy to forecast (more of an educated guess) that by 2030, the world may find more than 4 million fully-trained Filipino nurses and other medical providers serving humanity in North America, Europe, and other developed countries.

Remember that in Part III of this series, I reported that “In 1994, 19,000 Filipinas left to join husbands and fiancees in other nations, mostly in the U.S.” Also, I wrote that “In 1989 alone, over 700,000 Filipinas were married and became fiancées to Australians, Germans, Taiwanese and British nationals. In Australia, a total of 20,000 Filipino women is married to Australian men, some 90 percent of whom came through serial sponsorship. In 1995-96 hundreds of Filipino women were married in a mass ceremony to the members of a religious organization called the Moonies, most South Korean men. In the U.S., some 50,000 Filipinas married through mail-order (sic) practice.”

Nobody — not even Philippine government agencies — knows how many of the said Filipino brides were (or are) nurses or medical professionals. Your educated guess is as good as mine.

“Nobody — not even Philippine government agencies — knows how many of the said Filipino brides were (or are) nurses or medical professionals.”

Presumably, many of the coming million or more Filipino nurses are single ladies or gentlemen. One does not have to be a Nostradamus to predict that many wannabe foreign grooms (and brides, too) will find themselves fascinated by the Filipino TLC practitioners. And among single foreigners, their fascination is also anchored on having a spouse that can help make the LTC (long-term care) more personal, if not romantic (and of course, more affordable).

Early Filipino brides for American grooms

Probably the earliest accounts of mass weddings between American grooms and Filipino brides came with the more than 6,000 Buffalo soldiers that the U.S. Army sent to the Philippines after the so-called “Christian version of the Filipino-American War” erupted on Feb. 4, 1899. The American troops’ adversaries were the First Philippine Republic soldiers, inaugurated on June 12, 1898, when Filipinos declared their political independence from Spain.

After 20 of the Buffalo soldiers defected to the Filipino Army and died fighting for Philippine independence, peace was declared on July 4, 1902. After that, the U.S. Army began sending back to the Continental United States (CONUS) the Black-American soldiers. But more than 1,200 of them chose to remain in the Philippine Islands (P.I.), as they married Filipino brides.

On May 14, 2007, I wrote on how Filipinos became known as Brown Brothers by the Buffalo soldiers and then by Civil Governor William Howard Taft. An article explains why some people of color call Filipinos in the United States the Brown Americans.

“Probably the earliest accounts of mass weddings between American grooms and Filipino brides came with the more than 6,000 Buffalo soldiers that the U.S. Army sent to the Philippines after the so-called “Christian version of the Filipino-American War” erupted on Feb. 4, 1899.”

I prepared a note in July 2006 for the Los Angeles Dodgers announcer to read before the pre-game show that featured H.E. Amb. Willy C. Gaa. He was then the acting top Filipino envoy to the United States. We invited him to throw the historical and ceremonial first pitch in the first-ever “Filipino-American Community Night” in any Major League stadium. I wrote in the note that the Buffalo soldiers were the first to teach Filipinos how to play baseball in the early 1900s. And by the way, the Filipino national anthem (in the Tagalog language) was sung by Ms. Chelsea Emata at the Dodgers Stadium for the first time in Major League’s history baseball before they performed the U.S. national anthem with a color guard. Here are some photos of the said event at Dodgers Stadium.

Charter members of the Philippine History Group of Los Angeles, including this writer, classified the Filipino-American War into two stages. First, the Christian phase, followed by the “Muslim version of the Filipino-American War.” The Muslims chose to continue fighting for their independence on the Island of Mindanao long after the Christian-Filipino soldiers surrendered and took an oath of allegiance to the United States. The Muslim freedom fighters fought perhaps up to 1913 or longer before Mindanao was in relative peace.

The link about “reclassifying the Filipino-American War” is a brief description of Gen. John J. “Black Jack” Pershing, the U.S. military governor for Mindanao. Considered one of the Top Ten army leaders, General Pershing commanded the American Expeditionary Force to Europe before World War I. Perhaps he brought with him his favorite Filipino soldiers and their regiments to Europe during that war.

It may interest you to know that of the other nine in the list of American military “greats” were four others that also served in the Philippines. The four others were Admiral George Dewey, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower (who was General MacArthur’s top aide as a young major), and Gen. George C. Marshall. Many do not know that General Marshall had two stints in the P.I., served on General Pershing staff during World War I, and he continued as Mr. Pershing’s aide when the “Black Jack” became the Army chief-of-staff in 1921.

The next edition of this column will discuss the alleged but highly-probable adventure of General Pershing’s heart in Zamboanga. The reason for telling it is that the Philippine Daily Mirror may have to lobby the U.S. Military and its Commander-in-Chief to allow DNA testing. Why? Because some natural-born American citizens of Filipino descent claim that General Pershing was their great-grandfather. But the Pershing clan refuses to acknowledge their kinship. How it happened will be revealed next in The Straphanger.

And to top it, we will narrate in another edition also how a Clark scion migrated to Palawan and started quite a clan. Yes, a relative of the explorer who was part of the now-famous Lewis and Clark Expedition. The voyage happened from Aug. 31, 1803, to Sept. 25, 1806. It was also known as the Corps of Discovery Expedition. Yes, the United States expedition “discovered” the then newly-acquired western portion of the country after the Louisiana Purchase. And yes, John Clark (of Palawan) also had a Filipino bride.

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