October is Filipino/a American
History Month! Duke University Press author Dawn Bohulano Mabalon celebrates
this history in her recent book, Little Manila
Is in the Heart: The Making of the Filipina/o American Community in Stockton,
California (2013). Mabalon is Associate
Professor of History at San Francisco State University. In her book she
traces the growth of Stockton, California's Filipina/o American community, the
birth and eventual destruction of the neighborhood of Little Manila, and recent
efforts to remember and preserve it.
In the early twentieth century—not long after 1898, when the
United States claimed the Philippines as an American colony—Filipinas/os became
a vital part of the agricultural economy of California's fertile San Joaquin
Delta. In downtown Stockton, they created Little Manila, a vibrant community of
hotels, pool halls, dance halls, restaurants, grocery stores, churches, union
halls, and barbershops. Little Manila was home to the largest community of
Filipinas/os outside of the Philippines until the neighborhood was decimated by
urban redevelopment in the 1960s. Mabalon draws on oral histories, newspapers,
photographs, personal archives, and her own family's history in Stockton. She
reveals how Filipina/o immigrants created a community and ethnic culture shaped
by their identities as colonial subjects of the United States, their
racialization in Stockton as brown people, and their collective experiences in
the fields and in the Little Manila neighborhood. In the process, Mabalon
places Filipinas/os at the center of the development of California agriculture
and the urban West.
For some insights into the history of Filipino Americans in
California, check out Stephen
Magagnini’s Q&A with Mabalon in The
Sacramento Bee. Christopher Patterson offers a review in the International Examiner, the oldest
and largest nonprofit, pan-Asian American publication in the Pacific Northwest.
Patterson also interviews Mabalon on the podcast New
Books in Asian American Studies.
This has been a busy
month for Mabalon, who has participated in some exciting events concerning the
book and Filipino/a
American History Month. Mabalon signed copies at the Stockton Is Magnificent Festival on
October 5. The San Francisco Public Library hosted the second, bi-annual Filipino American International Book
Festival from October 18-20 where Mabalon was part of a panel about Carlos
Bulosan, one of the most revered pioneers of Fil-Am literature.
not too late to meet Mabalon and participate in Filipino/a American History Month! Today The
Center for Southeast Asia Studies at UC Berkeley is hosting a talk with Mabalon. This Saturday, October 26, Mabalon
will join the Stockton community for a dedication ceremony
honoring Stockton World War II veteran and Escrima master, Manong Leo Giron,
who is having a street named after him.