Los Angeles is home to the largest Filipino population outside of the Philippines, and now that influence on local culture is being recognized as part of a city program to create an archive of things that are historically significant to the Filipino-American community in L.A. as well as other Asian-American groups in the city.
The city's Office of Historic Resources is working on a historic context document that will identify sites of importance to Filipino-American, Chinese-American, Japanese-American and Thai-American groups, all of whom are currently underrepresented among official historical and cultural landmarks. To help fill that gap, the OHR was recently given a $72,000 grant by the National Park Service to fund the research.
The project launched with a community meeting for Filipino-Americans at the Edendale Branch Library, not far from Historic Filipinotown. Officials are hoping community members can help them identify the business, religious institutions, residences and other physical landmarks that should be nominated for preservation.
“I don’t think many people realize how impactful Filipinos were and are in Los Angeles, and it’s nice to see [the city] make some kind of account of our history here,” community member Ronald Bonilla told the Asian Journal.
Identifying these landmarks for preservation now is particularly important to many activists because they’re concerned that, as gentrification continues to push through the city, the physical landmarks of historically immigrant communities may disappear.
After the Filipino-American historic context document is complete, OHR will continue the process of working with local groups from the other identified Asian diaspora communities. In all cases, the hope is to capture and preserve locations important to the themes of civil rights, labor history, segregation and cultural development.
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