In California, Filipinos make up the majority of the Asian-American population. The Little Manila district in Stockton, California is a historical Filipinotown that was established in the early 20th century. Many Filipinos crossed the Pacific after the United States annexed the Philippines as a colony in 1902 to pursue their fortunes closer to the heart of the empire. This community was centered around the city's Filipino Quarter, which was located near the waterfront. The Quarter was a popular destination for Filipino sailors, who often visited the area to buy and sell goods. It later become home to a large population of Filipino Americans, who worked in the agricultural fields surrounding the city. In the 1940s, the Little Manila district was the largest concentration of Filipinos in the United States. Filipino businesses, including restaurants, grocery stores, and bakeries were established in the area. It also became a center for Filipino cultural life, with Filipino clubs and organizations often holding meetings and events in the area.

(Photo Credits: Frank Mancao,Filipino American National Historic Society)

Little Manila had taken decades to develop, but from the 1960s through the 1980s, Stockton's municipal government implemented urban redevelopment plans that fundamentally altered the area. the district declined in the following decades as the Filipino town residents were displaced by urban redevelopment. What was once known as Little Manila in Stockton is largely gone. As urban growth and a highway encroached, the majority of the structures were demolished. Buildings and businesses were demolished to create room for a cross-town motorway.

(Photo Credits: Rachael Marcus/KQED)

Today, an organization called Little Manila Rising (formerly known as Little Manila Foundation), was founded to stop the neighborhood's continued devastation, and in 2001 they were successful in convincing the city to declare Little Manila as a historical site. Over the next two decades, Little Manila Rising grew as a historical preservation organization, and implemented an after-school program in partnership with groups like the Filipino American National Historical Society. Only two of Little Manila's original structures still stand.

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Ray Christian S. Lopez

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