In celebration of Filipino-American History that ran for the whole month of October, 34 Filipinos in America posed for one photo. The photoshoot organizers said these are the Filipinos who can inspire fellow Pinoys to champion their fields in American soil.
The photo op was organized by Nicole Ponseca, a restaurateur behind the Filipino restaurants Maharlika and Jeepney in New York; Liz Casasola, an actor, singer and producer who co-founded Broadway Barkada (roughly translates to Broadway peers) which is a group of all-Filipino Broadway performers; and Dr. Kevin Nadal, an activist and professor.
Speaking with BuzzFeed, Casasola described the shoot as something akin to a family reunion. Dr. Nadal said the photo displays in “many ways Fil-Ams have contributed to the fabric of this country, though we’ve remained unnoticed in history and other academic settings.”
In the photo was Lea Salonga, who is known to many Americans and the world as the voice behind Jasmine in “Aladdin” and Mulan in “Mulan.” She also won a Tony Award for her performance as Kim in Broadway’s “Miss Saigon.” Judge Lorna Schofield, the first Filipino-American federal judge in U.S. history, was also in the photo; as well as Cristeta Comerford, the first woman and Asian-American to have worked as executive chef for the White House since 2005; Jason Tengco, the deputy director of the White House Initiative on Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; Mark Bustos, a hairstylist based in New York who devotes his Sundays giving haircuts to homeless people; and Stella Abrera, the first Filipina-American principal dancer in the history of American ballet Theatre.
According to the Filipino American National Historical Society, the Filipino American History is celebrated in October because the first recorded presence of Filipinos in the United States was on October 18, 1587. The “Luzones Indios” landed at what is now Morro Bay, California.
In November of 2009, the United States House of Representative and Senate passed laws officially recognizing October as Filipino American History Month in the U.S. On Oct. 2, White House had its first ever celebration Filipino-American History Month. According to the White House, more than 175 Filipino-American leaders from almost 25 states celebrated the historic occasion with them. “We were proud to host the first-ever White House Celebration of, in order to commemorate the rich history, heritage, and culture that bond the Filipino American community with the larger mosaic of the American immigrant story,” White House said in the statement.