The Philippine-American Chronicle begins publication in Seattle on September 15, 1934.

  • By Antonia Rath
  • Posted 11/02/2015
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 11136

On September 15, 1934, The Philippine-American Chronicle publishes its first issue. With the statement "For Truth, Freedom, and Justice, We Champion the Cause of Labor" emblazoned on the front page of several of its issues, the bi-weekly publication contains articles both tracing the Filipino American experience specific to Seattle and the Pacific Northwest and also reflecting a broad range of obstacles and accomplishments felt nationally and internationally. Throughout its publication the Chronicle maintains ties with the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers Union Local 18257 of the American Federation of Labor. In the newspaper's nearly-two-year run, its writers explore a range of subjects including labor issues, the relationship between the United States and the Philippines, and the "gambling syndicate" in Seattle. In addition, the paper routinely includes articles advertising local Filipino and labor events, a "Wit and Humor" section, poetry, and an editorial piece titled "Chinatown Whispers." The Philippine-American Chronicle will publish through March of 1936.

Voice of Filipino Americans

The Philippine-American Chronicle was a member of the International News Service written by and for the Filipino American community. Editor Frank Alonzo characterized the local Seattle newspaper as the "Largest Philippine News Service along the Pacific Coast" in a tagline at the top of the pages in various editions. The founders explained that they established The Philippine-American Chronicle to "be instructive and educational, to act as a medium of exchange between the Filipino workers, employers, and the general public" ("Hot C-H-U C-H-A," October 15, 1934).

At the time, the Filipino American community confronted racial discrimination throughout the United States. This discrimination was expressed in a variety of ways, often being introduced in legal measures. For example Filipinos, who had been considered American "nationals" rather than "aliens" (because the Philippines became a U.S. territory following the 1898 Spanish-American War), were declared to be aliens in the 1930s, and a state law purported to make it illegal for Filipino Americans to own property in Washington. Discriminatory measures such as these limited the type of work and wages that Filipino Americans could obtain. This was only made worse by the effects of the Great Depression.

The Philippine-American Chronicle educated the Filipino American community about current labor issues, what legal rights they had as workers, and the importance of the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers Union Local 18257. Founded in 1933, this was the first cannery workers association with a Filipino majority. Reminders to "Eat More Salmon" were scattered among classified ads or tucked beneath articles, while the paper published updates on the salmon market and information outlining the benefits of joining the Cannery Workers Union and argued the detrimental effects of Initiative 77, which banned fish traps and, according to the Chronicle, created "an absolute monopoly ... for purse seiners, trollers and gillnetters" ("Vote Against Initiative 77," October 15, 1934).

In addition to state and local news, The Philippine-American Chronicle traced national labor news, including pieces on the National Recovery Act hearings and updates on the proposed 30-hour work week.

"Gambling Syndicate"

The presence of a "gambling syndicate" in Seattle was addressed with some frequency in the Chronicle. The significance of this topic was made apparent in the paper's very first edition, whose lead article was titled "$1,000,000 Pay-Roll Goes to Chinese Gambling Syndicate." The article reported:

"There are 2,000 Filipinos, residents of Seattle, whose payroll amounts to $200,000 or $400,000 during the Alaska salmon season. Sixty-five per cent of their earnings have found their way to the golden coffers of the gambling syndicate" ("$1,000,000 Pay-roll ...," September 15, 1934).

In addition to demonstrating certain societal tensions within the community, the articles that trace Seattle's gambling syndicate reflect the broader concern over wage earnings and savings by the Filipino American community. Leaders of the Cannery Workers and Farm Laborers Union 18257 appealed to Seattle Mayor Charles L. Smith to padlock gambling establishments, as well as imploring local Filipinos to keep away from gambling houses.

Homeland and Repatriation

The Philippine-American Chronicle frequently discussed events happening in the Philippines. These included the commemoration of Dr. José Rizal (1861-1896), a Filipino nationalist and patriot, as well as the inauguration celebration of Manuel L. Quezon (1878-1944) as the first president of the Commonwealth of the Philippines. Other pieces in the newspaper discussed the relationships between the Philippines and the United States, China, and Japan.

A major topic of discussion in the Chronicle was repatriation. The Filipino Repatriation Act of 1935 provided "free transportation and maintenance from his present residence to a part of the west coast of the United States and [subsequent] transportation and maintenance ... to Manila" (Daniels, 71). The repatriation act, seen as as attempt to pressure Filipino Americans to leave the U.S. for the Philippines, was eventually declared unconstitutional, but repatriation was not without support in the Filipino community. As a result of labor issues and discrimination, many Filipino Americans were enduring hardships in the United States. A Chronicle article published in 1934, before the act was passed, reported that a Manila publisher, Manuel Insigne, favored repatriation. According to Insigne, "The condition of the Filipinos in the United States is intolerable. They are not paid white man's wages. They come to the United States to find opportunity and instead find oppression" ("Filipinos Ask Protection or Repatriation," October 15, 1934). The Philippine-American Chronicle traced the various ways in which repatriation was not a clear-cut topic throughout the Filipino American community.

Local Filipino Community

In addition to addressing events taking place in their homeland, the writers of The Philippine-American Chronicle frequently highlighted local Filipino events, organizations, and individuals, including the Filipino Women's Club of Seattle, the Filipino Mothers Club of Seattle, and even the impressive record of a young Filipino boxer, Clarence Corpuz, known by many as the "Iron Man" ("A Promising Boxer," April 15, 1935). The newspaper also published poetry, "Humor and Wit" sections, and editorials, as well as articles written in Tagalog. Even the newspaper's advertisements supported the local Filipino community, with ads from local businesses that were either owned by Filipino Americans or served the local Filipino community.

In March of 1936, The Philippine-American Chronicle published its last edition. For nearly two years, the newspaper had served Seattle's Filipino community by tracing local and national labor issues, international political developments, and everything in between.

Sources: The Philippine-American Chronicle, 1934-1936, Microfilm A6140 and Microfilm A5612, Reel 1, Item 7, Microforms and Newspaper Collection, University of Washington Libraries, Seattle, Washington; "$1,000,000 Pay-roll Goes to Chinese Gambling Syndicate," The Philippine-American Chronicle, September 15, 1934, p. 1; "Hot C-H-U C-H-A," Ibid., October 15, 1934, p. 1; "Filipinos Ask Protection or Repatriation," Ibid., October 15, 1934, p. 1; "Vote Against Initiative 77," Ibid., October 15, 1934, p. 3; "A Promising Boxer," Ibid., April 15, 1935, p. 4; Dorothy B. Fujita-Rony, American Workers, Colonial Power (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003), 89-161; "Manuel L. Quezon (1878-1944)," PBS American Experience website accessed October 17, 2015 (http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/amex/macarthur/peopleevents/pandeAMEX108.html); Crystal Fresco, "Cannery Workers' and Farm Laborers' Union 1933-39: Their Strength in Unity," 1999, University of Washington Seattle Civil Rights & Labor History Project website accessed October 17, 2015 (https://depts.washington.edu/civilr/cwflu.htm); Rache Stotts-Johnson, "Philippine-American Chronicle," University of Washington Labor Press Project website accessed October 17, 2015 (http://depts.washington.edu/labhist/laborpress/Philippine-American_Chronicle.htm); HistoryLink.org Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History, "Filipino Cannery Workers" (by Cynthia Mejia-Giudici) and "Filipino Americans in Seattle" (by Cynthia Mejia-Giudici), HistoryLink.org/ (accessed October 14, 2015); Roger Daniels, Guarding the Golden Door: American Immigration Policy and Immigrants Since 1882 (New York: Hill and Wang), 71.

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