Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Filipinos across Metro DC, in Maryland and Virginia help celebrate Asia Pacific Heritage Month starting this week.

The Smithsonian Institution is holding a Family Day at the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery along F Street NW on May 6.

The US Navy is also celebrating outstanding Asian Americans in the service, including the only Filipino in the US Navy to be decorated with the Medal of Honor.

Filipino students in Virginia Tech actually had jump start marking the annual event. The Filipino American Student Association held the 24th Culture Night with the theme “Ang Aming Sakripisyo” (Our Sacrifice) at the Blacksburg campus Burruss Hall Auditorium.

This has traditionally been the association’s biggest event of the school year, featuring more than 100 participants performing Filipino dances, skits and a fashion show.

Students from the Filipino Cultural Association of George Mason University and volunteers from the Virginia-based Migrant Heritage Commission (MHC) will show off native Philippine dances and a demonstration of the Eskrima martial arts at the Smithsonian event.

They Filipino segment begins at about 2:00 PM.

US Navy Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Personnel, Vice Adm. Scott R. Van Buskirk paid homage to sailors of Asian and Pacific heritage which include 9 flag officers, 11 members of the senior executive service and 191 master chief petty officers.

He noted that Asians and Pacific Islanders of various nationalities and ancestry, including Chinese, Filipino, Japanese, Korean, Southeast Asian, Asian Indian and Polynesian have served with the US Navy since the early 19th century.

They included Fireman 2nd Class Telesforo Trinidad, the only Filipino in the US Navy to be awarded the Medal of Honor, the highest military decoration awarded by the US government for “conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty”.

“In the wake of the Spanish-American War, Trinidad was aboard armored cruiser No. 6 when an obstructed tube in one of the ship’s boilers gave way, setting off a chain reaction of explosions,” the US Navy cable stated.

“Risking his own life and personal safety, Trinidad rescued several crewmates and led them to safety. Trinidad survived the ordeal.”

“All commands are strongly encouraged to engage their sailors in embracing the contributions of Asian and Pacific Americans to the Navy through programs, exhibits, publications and events celebrating Asian and Pacific American Heritage Month,” Adm. Buskirk’s message read.

Asian-Pacific Heritage Month originated in a congressional bill. In June 1977, Reps. Frank Horton of New York and Norman Y. Mineta of California introduced a House resolution that called upon the president to proclaim the first ten days of May as Asian-Pacific Heritage Week.

The following month, Senators Daniel Inouye and Spark Matsunaga introduced a similar bill in the Senate. Both were passed. On October 5, 1978, President Jimmy Carter signed a Joint Resolution designating the annual celebration.

Twelve years later, President George H.W. Bush signed an extension making the week-long celebration into a month-long celebration. In 1992, the official designation of May as Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month was signed into law.

California Rep. Judy Chu, who also chairs the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) sponsored House Resolution 621 that recognizes the significance of Asian Pacific Heritage Month.

The story of the Asian Pacific American is inextricably linked to that of the United States, the resolution noted. It pointed out that there are presently 41 members of Congress who have Asian Pacific roots.

“Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders are serving in State legislatures across the Nation, in States as diverse as Alaska, Arizona, California, Connecticut, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Utah, and Washington,” the resolution read.

The Chu resolution said “much remains to be done to ensure that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have access to resources, a voice in the United States Government and and continue to advance in the Nation's political landscape”.


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  2. Great post. Where can I find the details for the Smithsonian Institution Family Day at the Kogod Courtyard of the National Portrait Gallery along F Street NW on May 6 (i.e. website, time)? Many thanks!