By Grace Garcia
Even before the first wave of Filipino immigrants, Filipinos have assimilated and have made their own lives in the United States which is presented in an exhibit called the SINGGALOT (The Ties that Bind). It is a traveling exhibition of Filipino history in North America developed by the Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Program and can be viewed at the Trickster Gallery in Schaumburg, IL until July 25.
The exhibit presents photos of Filipinos from the beginning of the 20th century onward living in North America. Currently, there are 2.5 million Filipinos in the U.S.
One of the exhibit’s photos is of the First Wave of Immigrants (1906-1935) who worked as laborers. In fact, one of the photos is of the father of one of the children of the First Wave-Estrella Alamar, who is the mastermind behind bringing the exhibit to Chicago. Ms. Alamar explained her reasons for bringing the SINGGALOT- she feels Filipinos are not familiar with Filipino American history.
“Books are not readily available on the subject,” she explained. She also holds a position as board member of the Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago.
“The spectrum of Asian American Filipinos are not as visible as some of the Asian groups in terms of reaching out into the mainstream,” she said.
One obstacle that Ms. Alamar faced in bringing the exhibit was that she could not find the building space to hold the exhibition. Fortunately, she knew a friend from the Cultural Alliance, Joe Podlasek, who is the Executive Director of the American Indian Center Trickster Gallery , Inc. who allowed the SINGGALOT to occupy the second floor of his Trickster Gallery.
Another descendent of the First Wave of Immigrants is Alex Gonzales, also a member of the Filipino American Historical Society of Chicago. His father was a pensionado, a term used to describe a Filipino sent to study in the US by the Philippine government to return after graduation to occupy prominent positions in the RP government.
The ribbon cutting ceremony for the SINGGALOT was attended by the Mayor of Schaumburg and other officials. One of these officials was the Chief of Police of Schaumburg, Brian Howerton, who said that after he viewed the exhibit, he learned that the “Filipinos helped fight with US during World War II.”
The admission to SINGGALOT is free and is open to the public on Wed, Thurs, Sat, from 11 am to 6 pm; Fridays 11 am to 8 pm and Sundays 1pm – 6 p.m. Its address is 190 S. Roselle Road, Schaumburg, IL 60193. •