The City of Los Angeles is considered the second-largest city in the United States of America (USA), following New York, with a population of almost four million people. It can be found in the southern region of California, with the Pacific Ocean next to it. With that being said, there is an entire 11,800km stretch of ocean separating it from the Philippines. However, that is not enough to prevent the city from having its own version of the Philippines: the Historic Filipinotown.

The Historic Filipinotown is located near the Temple-Beverly Corridor, northwest of Downtown Los Angeles. If one wishes to visit Los Angeles’ version of the Philippines, it would not be hard to find it since a big signage is present at the intersection of Temple Street and the 101 Freeway at the Alvarado Street exit.

(Photo credits to Sampaiii)

Another reason to easily spot the neighborhood is due to its crosswalks, lamp posts, street lights, and street banners–since it is decorated with traditional Filipino culture aesthetics such as basket-weaving patterns, Filipino cultural medallions, and more.

For a more Filipino fist-raising feeling, at the heart of the neighborhood lies a mural depicting ethnic solidarity, equality, Larry Itliong, who led a protest against the exploitation of Filipino-American farmers in California–and many more are showcased in USA’s largest Filipino-American mural entitled Gintong Kasaysayan, Gintong Pamana. The mural was painted by visual artist Eliseo Art Silva, stating that the mural symbolizes the history of Filipino-Americans

(Photo credits to Pop Inquirer)

During the 20th century, however, there were no grandiose signages, lamp posts, and murals. In fact, there was little to no recognition of the Philippines at all since the Historic Filipinotown back then was just a part of a much bigger ethnic minority neighborhood, Little Tokyo. Affecting its development and growth at the time were the effects of World War II in the USA, inequality, racism, exploitation, injustice, and a lot more.

However, as numerous waves of Filipino migrants came to Los Angeles in search of a better life in the succeeding years, Filipinos in the neighborhood gradually started to build their own stable and growing community.

They were then able to purchase their own properties and even own their own businesses. At this moment on, a continuous development of the neighborhood was present. It is now its own thriving community.

In 2002, the Historic Filipinotown was officially designated as a historic-cultural neighborhood by Los Angeles in the hopes of preserving the cultural heritage of the community. In 2011, it was then formally recognized as a Preserve America Community by then First Lady, Michelle Obama, providing it with support and access to resources for the betterment and preservation of the community.

Despite racism and discrimination still being present today, the camaraderie and love of the Filipinos residing in Los Angeles will always be greater than the unreasonable and unnecessary hatred thrown towards them. With all that being said, it is for certain that the Historic Filipinotown’s history will still be told to many generations to come.

Written by Lawrenze Empleo

Christian Lawrenze Empleo is currently a Digital Marketing Intern of PS Media Enterprise, and a 4th year Bachelor of Arts in Communication student of Colegio de San Juan de Letran Calamba.

Ray Christian S. Lopez

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