Arkansas proclaims October as Filipino American History Month


Joshua Ang Price receives the proclamation from Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde | Contributed Photo

Little Rock, ARK. — For the first time in Arkansas’ history, three separate proclamations were issued to recognize October 2022 as Filipino American History at each level of government — the City of Little Rock, Pulaski County, and Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson.

According to Filipino American Joshua Ang Price, the deputy director of Arkansas United, an immigrant rights advocacy group, the proclamation said 260,000 Filipino and Filipino American soldiers served under the Little Rock native General Douglas MacArthur. The Filipino Veterans of World War II Congressional Gold Medal Act was unanimously passed through Congress and signed into law on December 2016.

The proclamation also sought to “instill in our youth the importance of education, history, and ethnic diversity” and encourages “all citizens to recognize and celebrate the contributions and accomplishments of Filipino American men and women in our communities.”

Price led the petition for the proclamations. He is also a former election commissioner in Pulaski County, the former president of the Filipino Young Leaders Program (FYLPRO), and the first Arkansan to be inducted into the Knights of Rizal, the Order created to honor and uphold the ideals of the Philippine national hero, Jose P. Rizal. Its ranks and insignia are recognized in the Honors Code of the Philippines as official awards of the Republic.

Price received the proclamations in person from Pulaski County Judge Barry Hyde at October’s Quorum Court meeting and Mayor Frank Scott, Jr. at the Little Rock City Board of Directors meeting.

The U.S. Congress first recognized October as Filipino American History Month in 2009 to recognize and celebrate the rich culture and traditions the Filipino community has shared with the U.S. Filipino Americans are one of the largest Asian American ethnic groups in the U.S. Of the 85,000 Asian American Pacific Islanders in Arkansas, Filipino Americans are the third largest group, the majority living in Little Rock and Pulaski County.

“My mother is a registered nurse from the Philippines who was recruited to work in Murfreesboro, Arkansas in the 1970’s. This is a story shared by so many members of our state’s Filipino American community in Central Arkansas and in our rural areas as well,” said Price. “This historic proclamation greatly honors Filipino culture and our contributions to our capital city, largest county, and our entire state.”

Other leaders of Arkansas’s Filipino American communities also praised the issuing of the proclamation.

Mimi San Pedro, Chief Strategy Officer of the Little Rock Venture Center and board member of the Arkansas Association of Asian Businesses (AAAB), said, “Filipinos have been in the fabric of American history since 1587. As the country’s second largest Asian-American community, the contributions and achievements of Filipinos have been exemplary and need to be celebrated and appreciated.”

“Seeing Filipino American History Month be recognized in Arkansas is a history-making event and means everything to our community,” said TJ Simba-Medel, board member of the Arkansas Philippine Association (APA). “We are grateful that Arkansas recognizes the people power of our ancestors. We look forward to sharing that education and having it be a vehicle for coalition-building, civic engagement, and preserving the FIlipino notion of Kapwa (shared identity with fellow humankind) for generations to come.” — With Jay Domingo/PDM

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