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Book Review - Filipinos in Los Angeles
By Cynthia Lee   - 04/24/2007

UCLA Today

While the largest concentration of Filipinos outside of the Philippines lives in Southern California, many of the poignant, homespun stories of pioneers have gone missing, leaving behind the frayed tapestry of their history in Los Angeles. It's been 101 years since the first wave of Filipino migrant workers arrived in the U.S. from their homeland to work the sugar plantations in Hawaii. Nearly 90 years have passed since Filipino pioneers began settling into "Little Manila," an impoverished section of downtown Los Angeles that was the only place where they were allowed to rent because of discrimination. Mae Respicio Koerner, a second-generation Filipina and the recipient of a PEN Rosenthal Emerging Voices Fellowship, has pulled together from books, old academic papers and documents she found at the Los Angeles Public Library and the Filipino American Library a pictorial history that brings the nearly invisible generations of Filipinos in Los Angeles into sharp black-and-white focus: children in a Christmas pageant at the Filipino Christian Church in 1955. Filipino-American soldiers celebrating the end of World War II in downtown Los Angeles. Young Filipina extras in the movie "Back to Bataan" basking in the Hollywood limelight. When Koerner's search in the community led her to strangers, many graciously gave her their oral histories and family pictures. "There was always some hesitation about giving a piece of yourself away to others, but people were also so proud to share their culture," she said. To find out more, see www.Filipinosinla.com.




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