How to Celebrate Filipino American History Month in the Workplace

October 18, 2022
How to Celebrate Filipino American History Month in the Workplace
October is Filipino American History Month (FAHM). This month honors the first Filipinos to arrive in the United States on October 18th, 1587. The Filipino American National Historical Society introduced FAHM, and the U.S. Congress officially recognized it in 2009. If you lead an inclusive organization, celebrating FAHM in the workplace can be a great way to foster a sense of belonging among employees, as Filipinos make up 18% of the Asian population in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center. Supporting diversity in the workplace is also good for business: research shows that ethnically diverse teams outperform homogenous ones. So, how do you commemorate Filipino American history at work? Here are some ways you can get started.

Ways to celebrate Filipino American history month at work

At its heart, Filipino American History Month activities are about honoring the past by reflecting as a community. If you’re unsure where to begin, here are some ideas to celebrate FAHM this year!

Offer lunch and learns focused on Filipino culture

A great way to celebrate Filipino American history month is to host a ‘lunch and learn’ class on the history of the Philippines, covering topics like the Spanish colonization period and the Revolution against Spain in 1896. You could also help employees learn about the history of the Luzones Indios, who first set foot in California on October 18th, 1587 (435 years ago), and the historical oppression and resilience of Indigenous Peoples from the Philippines in the U.S.

Host A Kamayan

Feasting and celebrating with family is at the core of the Filipino American identity. The beauty of Filipino food is that it’s a blend of many cuisines like Chinese, Spanish, Mexican, American, and Malay. A fun way to introduce employees to Filpino culture or help them feel celebrated is with a feast. A Kamayan is a large Filipino feast with various dishes served up family style. It’s the perfect way to explore the culture while also keeping employees full and happy. Some dishes to bring to a Kamayan include:
  • Adobo
  • Lumpia
  • Inasal
  • Pancit
  • Sinigang
  • Cassava Cake
  • Arroz Caldo
  • Chicharon

Invite a speaker to come and share their story

Invite a speaker to come and share their story. They can be an expert in the field who worked hard to get where they are or someone who has been through something unique that you want your team members to learn from. For example, employees could share stories about their personal experiences growing up as Filipino American in America.

Make a Filipino parol

Are your employees crafty? If so, a Filipino parol-making class could be the best way to get them excited about FAHM. A parol is a Filipino ornamental lantern displayed during the holidays. The parol symbolizes the victory of light over darkness as well as hope and goodwill. To make a parol, you will need rubber bands, glue guns, bamboo or wood pieces, dowels, colored cellophane, and tissue paper. View a quick tutorial here.

Use posters to highlight important dates or events in Filipino American history

Posters or flyers are a great way to inform people about important dates, historical figures, or events in Filipino American history. You can use posters and flyers to educate your coworkers about how Filipinos have helped shape America. For example, you could display images of influential Filipino American leaders like Carlos Bulosan (Filipino novelist and poet) or Larry Itliong and Philip Vera Cruz (1965 Grape Strike and Boycott leaders). Some important historical dates include:
  • August 1919: The Filipino Labor Union was established in Hawai’i by Pablo Manlapit
  • 1931: Filipinos become eligible for U.S. citizenship.
  • 1946: The U.S. granted the Philippines “Independence”
  • September 8, 1965: The Delano grape strike, organized by a predominantly Filipino labor organization, fights against the exploitation of farm workers

Engage your community through partnerships with local Filipino cultural organizations

Engage your organization's community through partnerships with local Filipino cultural organizations. Several cultural organizations throughout the country will be excited to partner with you and help you celebrate Filipino American History Month.
The Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is 1 organization that provides resources for those interested in learning more about Filipino American history and culture.
For example, the Filipino American National Historical Society (FANHS) is 1 such organization that provides resources for those interested in learning more about Filipino American history and culture. FANHS’s website also lists its chapters where you can find local events and celebrations happening in your area. If there isn't an existing chapter near you, consider starting one!

Watch a Filipino-directed film

Sometimes the best way to honor a culture is to let those from that culture tell their stories. Watching a Filipino-directed film can help open your employees’ eyes to what it means to be Filipino in America. A great film to stream this month is Delano Manongs: The Forgotten Heroes of the UFW, which offers a glimpse into the Delano Grape Strike of 1965. Other films to consider include:
  • Mondomanila (2012)
  • A Portrait Of The Artist As Filipino (1965)
  • Independence (2009)
  • From What Is Before (2014)

Donate to groups that celebrate FAHM and fight racism

Giving back is a great way to celebrate Filipino American History Month and mitigate the harms of racism against Filipinos. Consider donating directly to organizations that support marginalized Filipino Americans and those that work to combat racism in America. Here are a few examples:

Why celebrating cultures at work is important

Builds cultural intelligence

R. SarDesai and Gita Bell introduced the term “cultural intelligence” in their book Cultural Intelligence: Maximizing Individual Performance Across Cultures. The idea is that cultural intelligence is the ability to be aware of the differences in how people from other cultures work, communicate, and think. It's essential to understand how these differences might affect your company's operations, whether hiring new employees or working with clients from different backgrounds. Some companies are already on top of this: Apple has made diversity a priority for years; Google organizes activities like cultural workshops for employees who want to learn about other cultures; Microsoft started an Immigrant Outreach Program at its headquarters so employees could volunteer as mentors for high school students interested in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math).

Creates a positive company culture

People like to work for companies that celebrate diversity. It shows you are open-minded and accepting, which is a great place to be if you want to attract new talent! People who don’t feel like they fit in may not apply for a position or stay at your company if they feel excluded from their culture. Celebrating different cultures allows people to shine and show their unique skillset, leading to creative solutions for problems and ideas for future projects or products.

Show support for FAHM and the Filipino American community

So there you have it — the workplace guide to celebrating Filipino American history month. We hope these tips will help your organization show its support for FAHM and celebrate the Filipino American community in all its diversity. Celebrating different cultures at work is good for business. In today's increasingly global and diverse workplace, celebrating different cultures can help your company achieve cultural intelligence. This means that your company will be able to better attract and retain talent from many different backgrounds, improving productivity and making it more likely that you'll meet or exceed your goals. Thinking ahead: Get ideas for celebrating Asian American/Pacific Islander culture at work during AAPI Heritage Month by reading our blog.

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