To be Filipino in pre-war Philly

‘Filipinos of Greater Philadelphia’
By Eliseo Art Arambulo Silva
Arcadia Publishing
August 2012

Artist and author Eliseo Art Arambulo Silva invites the public to the September 15 launch of his book “Filipinos of Greater Philadelphia,” which highlights the nation’s oldest Filipino American organization.

The book signing will be held from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at the Hilton Philadelphia City Avenue at 4200 City Avenue, in conjunction with the Centennial Gala for the Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI).

The book is the newest addition to Arcadia Publishing’s popular Images of America series. It has more than 200 vintage images and memories of days gone by, according to the author.

Regarded as the first book to document the history of Filipinos in Philadelphia, this landmark publication contains pioneering documentation of Filipino boxers on the East Coast, pre-war Filipinos participating in Philadelphia’s Mummer’s Parade, the first Filipino painter to receive international acclaim, and some of the earliest Asian American participants in the American Revolution and the U.S. Civil War. In addition, the history of the Philippines is ingeniously interwoven within the sequential narrative of the book, expanding the background and knowledge of Filipino culture and history often missing in the United States academia.

Rare photographs are included in this collection, e.g. Philippine exhibition at the 1876 Philadelphia Exposition, a photograph of Cesar Chavez, director of the United Farm Workers of America, receiving an award from Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos, and the earliest photograph of a Jose Rizal Day celebration in the United States, a 1923 FAAPI Rizal banquet held in Philadelphia’s Hotel Majestic. In fact, FAAPI is the only Filipino American organization that has consistently celebrated Rizal Day for over a century.

The book reveals why Filipino sailors in the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard would cross state lines during their liberty breaks to be in Philadelphia, doubling the local Filipino population. Discover the largest permanent exhibition of Philippine heritage and artifacts in the United States on public display for more than half a century (1909-1961), featured in this book with several photographs taken in 1910.

Silva, is an artist and founding president of the Pennsylvania chapter of the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS). He served as events coordinator for Gawad Kalinga, Pennsylvania, a teaching alumnus at the Asian Arts Initiative Youth program, and producer of over 25 public art projects for various Philadelphia neighborhoods including a centennial mural in Hershey, Pennsylvania as a contract mural artist for the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program (MAP) from 2002 to 2012.

A 1995 graduate of Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles, where he earned a BFA, Silva relocated to the East Coast in 2000 after receiving a Hoffberger Scholarship from the Maryland Institute College of Art and Design’s Hoffberger School of Painting, where he obtained his MFA in 2003 under the auspices of Grace Hartigan and Dominique Nahas.

In 2002, after receiving his first MAP mural project, Eliseo created a historical timeline of Filipinos in Philadelphia, which was used in a 2003 Filipino community proposal to design and create the very first public art to honor East Coast Filipinos. This initial research led Eliseo to the pre-1965 Filipino Philadelphian resources belonging to Temple University Urban Archives, which alerted him to the Filipino American Association of Philadelphia, Inc. (FAAPI), the oldest Filipino organization in continuous existence in the United States. Afterwards, the national office of FANHS was informed about this discovery, and in 2005, the local chapter of FANHS was established.

Silva is internationally recognized for creating the largest Filipino American mural in the United States at the age of 22, which is located in Los Angeles’ Historic Filipinotown.

He hopes that this book will give readers a better understanding of what it was like to be a Filipino in Greater Philadelphia; and spark a more comprehensive effort to gather, collect, preserve and present images and narratives that tell the story of Americans of Filipino descent in the City of Brotherly Love.

The book is available at area bookstores, independent retailers and online retailers, FAAPI, through Arcadia Publishing or by calling 888-313-2665.

One Comment

  1. M. Matthews wrote:

    It is an honor to read and to know about the contribution Filipino Americans have made to this country since the early days of our republic and to discover about the Filipinos in the great city of Philadelphia, PA.

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