Legislature votes to honor Filipino Americans in Alaska

    Filipino Americans in Alaska have included Larry Itliong, Alaska Rep. Thelma Buchholdt, the first U.S. Filipino American legislator; and current Rep. Genevieve Mina (Photo Courtesy of Alaska Beacon)

    Juneau, Alaska (Alaska Beacon) - October will be Filipino American History Month in Alaska if Gov. Mike Dunleavy approves a bill that passed the state Senate unanimously on Friday.

    House Bill 23, from Rep. Genevieve Mina, D-Anchorage, is largely ceremonial — it does not declare an official holiday or require schools to teach lessons on Filipino American history — but supporters testified that passage of the bill would be an important honor.

    The first recorded Filipino visitor to Alaska arrived in 1788, and immigrants from the Philippines were critical to the operations of salmon canneries here in the 19th and 20th centuries.

    More immigrants come to Alaska from the Philippines than from any other country, but the state’s history of recognizing Philippine accomplishments is mixed. 

    The Glenn Highway, one of the state’s most prominent roadways, is named in honor of a war criminal who tortured Filipinos during the 20th century American occupation of the Philippines.

    HB 23 now advances to Dunleavy’s desk for consideration.

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